Kayaking in Washington State

Washington State is a coastal state, and the most visited and largest city, Seattle, is located on Puget Sound, which is the gateway to the Pacific Ocean, not to mention a number of protected islands that are home to such wildlife as whales, sea otters, and a variety of bird species.

12 Most Popular Places to Kayaking in Washington state

The Rocky Mountains also pass through Washington State, which is stunning with its majestic mountains, dense forests, glacier-fed lakes, and rushing rivers. This abundance of beautiful natural scenery makes Washington State an outdoor paradise for tourists and residents alike.

The rivers flowing throughout Washington State offer tremendous opportunities for kayaking. Rivers range from large bodies of water to technical creeks. The Olympic Peninsula offers some of the most breathtaking terrains in the world. But these rivers can be misleading because they only flow when it rains. It’s hard to pick just one river in this vast basin, but in my opinion, the rivers described below are some of the best white-water kayaking in Washington State.

Orcas Island

Orcas Island

Orcas Island is one of the largest islands within the San Juan Islands, just off the coast of Washington to the north of Seattle. The islands, and specifically, Orcas Island, is loved by tourists because of the numerous occasions to go out on the water to watch whales.

Obstruction Pass State Park could be a perfect spot to set off your yak or to stop to stay overnight. There’s a campsite near the shoreline of the Cascadia Marine Trail that is available reserved for those who arrive by kayak or wind-powered craft.

The calm waters surrounding Orcas Island can offer amazing opportunities to see marine life, such as dolphins, sea lions, and killer whales orcas.

There are many outfitters on Orcas Island that offer kayak rentals as well as guided kayaking tours. If you’d like to spend some time in the open There are many hiking trails around the island where you can walk around and walk through the forest and mountains.

At the western end on the western edge of San Juan Islands is San Juan Island which is one of the islands that is larger in the group. San Juan Island is also the ideal place to wander the coastline and observe the orcas. Friday Harbor is the main town on the island, where there are numerous Kayak outfitters as well as tour companies.

Methow River

Methow River

It is the Methow River is perhaps the most suitable river for rafting and kayaking in Washington and is a major part of the vast amount of activities available in the region. The Methow River is located north of Lake Chelan in the eastern part of Washington and with water flowing out of North Cascades National Park and the Methow River is a central circulation route for the whole Methow Valley. The Methow River is accessible through the popular tourist towns of Winthrop, Twisp, and Methow.

The ideal time to take a ride on the white waters of the Methow River is between May and June. It is the time when the banks are flooded by melting snow and springtime rain and snow, offering a wide variety of rapids as well as stunning scenic views. The most notable features of the Methow River include “Hurricane Rapids” and “Another Roadside Attraction.”

The river plunges over 500 feet in 19 miles, which is where the majority of commercial guiding firms put in the river in McFarland Creek. The paddlers who go here can expect Class II-III rapids that will test their paddling strokes. The river swiftly turns into the spectacular Black Canyon Rapids and will treat rafters to adrenaline-pumping action Rapids in Class IV as well as some of the features. One of them includes The Giant Black Hole and is one that is a must-do for paddlers to stay clear of.

A number of commercial outfitters in the Methow Valley offer guided trips to the Methow River. Other services offered by commercial outfitters include tubing tours, kayak tours, and shuttles.

White Salmon River

White Salmon River

Paddlers can be seen fazed to the flowing White Salmon River 365 days all year. With classes II-III, IV, and V sections there’s plenty to test anyone. One of the reasons why the White Salmon River offers the most excellent whitewater kayaking experience is that the five distinct sections are the perfect starting point to advance.

After studying the lower section kayakers are able to proceed into the lower part of the gorge, or to the “middle” run. With the lower flow, paddlers are able to study, practice, and master their boof stroke at Husum Falls. Once their boof stroke has been adjusted, they are able to proceed towards The Farmlands section. The Farmlands is an incredibly small class IV gorge, with gorgeous pool drop rapids brimming with fun boof movements. Additionally, it is worth noting that the Green Truss section is an incredible class IV+/V run that includes the well-known drop known as Big Brother. The most memorable adventure on White Salmon is a top to bottom journey, starting with the Farmlands and moving on to sections of the Green Truss, Middle, Lower, and Lower Gorge runs to end with the Columbia River.

Kayaks that can be used all year round and offer sections that cater to every level of paddler make White Salmon White Salmon the best river in Washington State.

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Lakes are typically the easiest bodies of water to kayak and therefore are ideal for those who are just starting out as they don’t be fighting the raging currents you’ll find in oceans or rivers.

Lake Wenatchee provides kayakers with the view of forests-covered mountains and a serene glacier-fed lake that reflects the mountains and sky so well that you’ll feel as if you’re sailing across the sky.

Lake Wenatchee is in the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest and is, therefore, is surrounded by camping sites, hiking trails and picnic areas, restrooms, and a dock for launching canoes and kayaks. Also, there’s a beach along the shoreline next to the dock, where you can relax after a kayak trip in the event of a sunny day.

Alki Beach

Alki Beach

Alki Beach Park located in West Seattle can let you start your kayak and go on the water to discover Puget Sound. Alki Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Seattle because it was the place of landing to the town’s first white settlement in 1851.

The beach park is equipped to rent kayaks and paddleboards or you can take your own kayak and explore the area on your own. There are many kayak excursions that can inform you about the story of the city as well as the region while you paddle.

If you look out of Puget Sound, you will enjoy a stunning view of Seattle which includes Seattle’s famed tower which is the Space Needle. It is also possible to view marine animals like seals and the city’s national bird the Bald Eagle.

In Puget Sound, southwest from Alki Beach, you’ll find Blake Island Marine State Park and you’re able to get to it by boat. There are numerous spots to stay around the islands, which makes it a great option for those who won’t go on a tour of the island and its five-mile coastline.

There are trails for hiking as well as restrooms, beaches, trails, and great views. This makes it an ideal location to stay for an evening or two.

Upper Skagit River

Upper Skagit River

The stunning Skagit River is accessible from the Goodell Creek Campground located in North Cascades National Park. The River is home to some of the most beautiful kayaking and rafting experiences available in the entire state. With moderate rapids that range in Class I-Class III. the ideal spot to begin the white-water river experience.

It’s the Skagit River is the second-longest river in Washington. It’s the first stretch of 25 miles of water between Goodell Creek and Sauk River which is a great place to try white-water sports. Its Upper Skagit River has a range of rapids, whereas its Lower Skagit is generally flattered and is easier for paddling enthusiasts to traverse.

The months of summer and late autumn are the times that attract the majority of water-sports enthusiasts to Skagit River. Skagit River. The winter months are still filled with activity throughout the winter months it is an ideal place to see bald eagles soaring close to the river’s banks.

Wind River

Wind River

It is situated near the town located in Carson, WA, the Wind River has two different sections for paddlers. Upper Wind Upper Wind, a class IV/V big watercourse is an incredible winter and spring paddling location. Be aware of the wood that is in this river since it is susceptible to flooding in winter storms. New trees can be able to catch you by surprise. The fun begins with an explosion, the toughest rapid, known as Rams Horn is only a mile away from where it began. The fun continues after that with a handful of big rapids and concludes with some great boogie surf waves. A very different run to the Upper Wind, lower Wind is famous for its fourth and final waterfalls. After a fun climbing boulder gardens of class III and an IV class Flume the paddlers can try running four diverse, 10-15 footfalls. It is a good choice for novices as it’s easy to find and portage the drops.

After experiencing the adrenaline rush after a thrilling paddle, kayakers can take a dip into the natural hot springs which spring up when the water level is low enough. From large waterfalls to big water to waterfalls, the Wind River has two unique trails for kayakers to experience and making it one of the most beautiful whitewater rivers for kayaking located in Washington State.

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent is a glacier-fed lake that lies within the foothills of the north of the Olympic Mountains with both panoramic and mirror-image views of the lake’s surface. the surrounding mountains as well as the forest.

It is possible to rent kayaks and launch them from a dock offered through Lake Crescent Lodge. There is no requirement to be staying at the lodge to get kayaks.

Many trails for hiking branch off to Lake Crescent, so we recommend that you reserve a few hours on your schedule to kayak and explore this stunning region.

Skykomish River

Skykomish River

Rafting along the Skykomish River also referred to simply as the “Sky,” can be reached in less than half an hour’s drive from Seattle. This river section is not recommended for your first white-water excursion. The river has exciting white water throughout the year, however, the majority of commercial excursions on the Sky are scheduled from April through July. The trips generally begin from Gold Bar and require a shuttle.

Kayakers and rafters can expect to run into a few Class III rapids right off the start. This helps them prepare for the ultimate difficulty which is that of the class V Boulder Drop, in which boats must navigate through boulders that are the size of a house. It is believed that it is the longest most difficult speed that the entire state has.

Although the sparkling waters of the Skykomish River are inviting, the white waters and rapids of this river must be only accessed by experienced paddlers. Commercial guides are accessible to help raft the Skykomish and provide a more secure option for paddlers who are not experts.

Wenatchee River

Wenatchee River

The next one up on our list of priorities is Wenatchee River for its two distinct sections. The most frequent run accessible through Leavenworth is called the state’s playboater’s paradise. Kayakers can enjoy hours of exploring the well-known Rodeo Hole, Turkey Shoot, and Granny’s Waves. There are also several different put-ins to accommodate paddlers of different levels. Ideal for getting comfortable in the big waters, the rapids of the Wenatchee are quite tolerant. There are some areas to be mindful of such as Satan’s Eyeball which is a kayak-eating hole as well as the low-head dam near the confluence of Pashastin Creek.

If kayakers want to improve their paddling should go to classes IV and V in Tumwater Canyon. It is most suitable from the road advanced paddlers are able to traverse the canyon in both the spring runoff that is high in water and the lower summer flows. The technical, big rapids such as Perfection of Whitewater and Chaos Cascade are difficult even for those who have completed many runs across the valley.

Play-boating options and the exciting Tumwater Canyon make the Wenatchee River one of the top paddling rivers for whitewater located in Washington State.

Lake Union

Lake Union

Lake Union is in the center of Seattle and is filled with Seattleites enjoying strolling, eating, kayaking, picnicking, and, quite literally, living by the water.

The Lake is huge and is surrounded by various communities, there are many places to dock and picnic or eat at an outdoor restaurant.

Washington Park Arboretum is located along a portion of the shores that Lake Union has with wild birds and turtles all over. Seattle also has a charming and beautiful large community of houseboats to cruise through.

Lake Union is a great location to go on a sunset kayak trip and evening tours that allow you to grow along the lake and admire the beautiful and bright Seattle skyline.

There are many rental options for kayaks and paddleboards at Lake Union that you can locate on this page.

Green River

Green River

It is the closest kayaking whitewater experience to Seattle is the Green River has a couple of gorgeous sections for you to paddle. The upper section is a fantastic beginner section for beginners. However, it’s more beneficial to have a skilled paddler in charge to avoid problems in difficult spots like Railroad Bridge. The most common route is fourteen miles along the Green River Gorge. Starting with a nice warm-up play wave, this course begins to enter the Class III/IV Gorge. The gorge becomes more difficult with higher flows and may be filled with sieves during low flow, so make sure you know the river’s levels prior to the time. Within the river are numerous fishing opportunities on the fly, as well as Eddy service waves such as Paradise Ledge. 

The natural beauty of the area and the proximity to Seattle makes this area and its proximity to Seattle make Green River one of the most popular whitewater kayaking rivers located in Washington State.

Conclusion

Washington state is awash with breathtaking saltwater and freshwater bodies and saltwater, along with national parks, nature reserves, and urban areas on their shores.

Rent kayaks for exploring the cityscapes, wildlife, and the vast mountainous landscapes of this beautiful state through a variety of water sports businesses that provide guided tours for those who aren’t experienced in kayaking.

If you are a resident of Washington or are coming on your first visit, a kayaking trip is a must on your list of activities for recreation.

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