This winter has brought an average snowpack to the Mt. Adams region. Generally speaking, we don’t settle for ‘average’ at Wet Planet – but average water levels are actually great for a fun whitewater season here.
Current data from the Northwest River Forecast Center reports that the White Salmon River is at 97% of its annual snowpack and the Klickitat River is at 85%. As a result, we’re anticipating a typical summer schedule:
- We will be running the Wind River and Klickitat River rafting trips in April and May.
- Followed by the Class IV/V Farmlands section of the White Salmon River in June
- And of course the White Salmon River runs all season long. We started running our first trips of the season this week!
While the snowpack dictates the water flow in most free flowing rivers, there are other factors that contribute to water levels in the White Salmon River (including the Farmlands stretch). The White Salmon River is an anomaly among free flowing rivers, in that once the snow has melted, the White Salmon continues to receive a healthy amount of water. This is thanks to the Adams Glacier located on Mt. Adams, as well as to a series of aquifers, or underground lakes, that contribute water to the White Salmon River via springs. The water added from the springs is nearly impossible to gauge and can explain differences in water levels reported at the Husum gauge and what it looks like upstream at the Farmlands in the Trout Lake area.
One big caveat – the water level descriptions below change regularly. As rocks shift and rapids change, our policies on appropriate water levels for different rivers and different rapids change. Other outfitters and other paddlers may also have different ideas on what is appropriate. We are constantly evaluating river conditions and making changes accordingly. The information below is accurate only as of the posting of this blog, and could change anytime. Use the information for reference only, not as a substitute for your own good judgment!
Commercial Rafting Range: Up to 5.5 feet
This river has become the PNW favorite for its ability to be exciting no matter what time of year! Friendly for first time rafters and experienced boaters alike, each season brings out a different personality on the White Salmon River. This year, we anticipate normal spring water flows continuing into June, where the increased water flows make the rapids feed into one another, creating a continuous, thrilling, and splashy roller coaster ride. We recommend visiting the White Salmon River during various parts of the season for totally different experiences!
Commercial Rafting Range: 4.8 – 7 Feet (on the old “phone” gauge – not the Stabler gauge)
The Wind River is one of the most challenging commercial river rafting runs in the Pacific Northwest, cascading through tightly spaced boulder gardens and steep ledge drops in a series of class IV to class V rapids. The Wind River is fed by low elevation snow melt and rain. With the current conditions, we’re booking trips this year on weekends between April 14-May 27 in hopes to catch a majority of that run off. If you’re feeling up to challenging yourself on the Wind River, we recommend reserving your trip early.
Commercial Rafting Range: roughly 3-3.5 feet (however this stretch of river does not always correlate to the gauge in Husum)
Located near the town of Trout Lake, at the base of Mt Adams and 10 miles north of the Forest Service put-in for the main section of the White Salmon River, this narrow gorge is awe inspiring – if you take your eyes off the rapids long enough to look around! The Farmlands offers continuous class IV-V whitewater rafting in a series of canyons defined by vertical cliff walls and the horizon-lines of stair-stepping rapids. This run is usually at the perfect flow just after the Wind season, likely in June this year. If you’re not already on the call list for this incredible PNW run, you should be!
Commercial Rafting Range: 1800 – 4500 CFS (cubic feet per second)
Weaving through thick pine forests, steep canyons, and basalt cliffs, whitewater rafting on the Klickitat River is the only way to truly see the beauty of this deep wilderness area. This is our longest spring trip, crashing through continuous class III wave trains and discovering its wildlife, spring bloom and massive basalt cliff walls unique to the area all day long. We are booking rafting trips on the Klickitat River for weekends in late April through May, and as long as water levels permit. Friends of the Columbia Gorge and Wet Planet are teaming up to offer a unique trip down the Klickitat River on May 6th when natural and historic interpreters from FOTG will bring the past alive with stories and facts.
Dubbed the Grand Canyon of Oregon, the Owyhee River is easily one of the most underrated multi-day trips. Check out OPB’s segment featuring the Owyhee River for a glimpse of this desert oasis! The Owyhee River typically runs in April and May. While our Owyhee River multi-day rafting trips in Oregon are almost full this year, we invite you to join us for our multi-day trips on the Main Salmon River in Idaho, later in the summer.
If everything else is too high, the Hood River will be just right! The West Fork and Main Hood are where you’ll see our guides playing during the winter months, weaving through the steep boulder gardens in the morning, then crashing through the big, continuous wave trains in the afternoon. When the White Salmon or Wind River are too high to raft, the Hood River will be offered as an alternative run if applicable. While we’re not anticipating the Hood River running this season, you can ask to be added to the Hood River call list; call or email us if you’re interested.
If you can’t decide which river you want to run, book one of our Multi River Spring Packages for the opportunity to explore several of them in one action-packed weekend!
For the highly adventurous, we’re currently booking trips for the class IV/V Wind River on weekends this April and May, and have a waiting list for the class IV/V Farmlands in June. Call us at 877-390-9445 for more information or to sign up for the waiting list!
The White Salmon River, a PNW classic, is perfect for first time rafters as well as veteran rafters any time of year! Other ways to discover the wonders of spring in the Pacific Northwest are by spending a day on the Klickitat River, with its continuous class III rapids winding through basalt cliffs and dense forests.
*All early season trips are water dependent. We always send out scouting trips to evaluate our spring runs prior to commercially running them for any obstacles that may have changed and accuracy of the river flow gauges.