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Showcasing the Tieton River

Tieton, Washington


Labor Day has come and gone, the Seahawks are starting the football season, Seattle is in the midst of breaking a record for days without rain and - as I type these words - the Tieton River, a mere 30 minutes from Yakima, begins its annual white water rebirth.  Why, you may ask, is there water sluicing down the red rock canyon on the east side of White Pass, while every other commercial rafting river in the state flows at a trickle?



The Tieton River owes its September existence to two factors: irrigation and fish.  Irrigation needs place a demand on the river late in the summer and that is why, toward the end of August and the beginning of our 'Indian summer', the outflow from Rimrock Lake starts to escalate.  But fish are the true driving force behind the September resurrection of one of the busiest Class III white water rivers in the Northwest.

Thanks to our government accommodating the needs of fish every year immediately after Labor Day weekend, white water enthusiasts have - at least - three weeks to get out and play on the busy, fun waters of the appropriately named Tieton River, which is said to be an Indian word for "roaring waters".  The Tieton River includes a dozen or more boat-drenching rapids and innumerable sets of delightful waves.  The best white water can be found between the dam and mile or so below Rimrock Retreat, Washington, with rapid names like Double Barrel, Dodge City, Grimy Gulch, High Noon and Waffle Wall.

Camping is rarely an issue on the Tieton River because 90% of the land appears to be Forest Service.  Besides the half-dozen established campgrounds along the river, there are another half-dozen on Rimrock Lake and more primitive, undeveloped camp sites than can be counted.  Call the Naches Ranger District (1-877-444-6777 ) in Naches, Washington if you are concerned about reserving a site or reserve online.

So, if your summer just flew by and you were unable to get out rafting, the Tieton River is your last chance for 2012 before the fall rains begin to inundate the region.  Combine your 14 mile river trip with a leisurely drive through Mount Rainier National Park or a spontaneous visit to the wineries around Yakima.  You can also drive up to the artist colony/town of 'Mighty' Tieton on the plateau above the river for a dose of creativity with jaw-dropping views of the Cascades.

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