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Floating The Yakima River
Places to Stay
- Bureau of Land Management - Sites on the Yakima
There are a small number of sites available on a first come first served basis along the river at Lmuma, Umtanum, and Roza, and Big Pines (The Slab). These are managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
- KOA in Ellensburg
The KOA has camping spots right on the river, but suffers a little from highway noise. It is a great option if you have young kids, they have lots of activities for kids including a playground, a small swimming pool, and four wheel bikes.
- Canyon River Ranch
The Lodge at Canyon River Ranch is an upscale, rustic lodge with 10, 880-square-foot, two-bedroom condos with fully appointed kitchens, an one and one-half bathrooms, each with a private patio or veranda.
Fishing on the Yakima
Good Raft for the Yakima
Floating the Yakima river is a popular way to spend a summer weekend. Ellensburg is the closest city to the start of the trip and is a 2 hour drive from Seattle. The Yakima moves fast and can be floated with an inexpensive inflatable raft, or a canoe. We used the Challenger raft displayed on this hub, but we recommend buying paddles, which are not included. Also, the Challenger can only fit 2 adults, not 4 as claimed. For a more comfortable and spacious ride, try the Fish Hunter, which does come with paddles.
Where to put in
Although there is a boat launch at the KOA in Ellensburg, only boats with frames are allowed to put in there, and even then it is not recommended due to obstructions in the water from the KOA to Ringer. The best put in site is Ringer Loop Rd, off Canyon Rd, and you need a fishing permit to park there. Fishing Licenses/ Parking Permits are available at the Fred Meyer in Ellensburg, among other places. If you are willing to carry your water craft to the river, you can park on the road just outside for free.
UPDATE Aug 2009: See the comment below, apparently it may not be safe to put in at Ringer Road.
Where to take out
Here is a good map of the Yakima from Red's website with places to take out marked. A good place is The Slab. Count on going about 3 miles per hour while on the river.
The Smiley Face is a cliff along the river that is a popular place to stop and jump off a cliff. Currents can be tricky so only jump if you are a confident swimmer.
The hills on the right side of the river, early on, are known as the Rattlesnake Hills and rattlesnakes can often be heard. Obviously, not a good place to take off for a hike.