The Wind River
is one of the premier white water rafting trips in the Pacific
Northwest. Class IV and V rapids highlight this stretch of
river, with almost solid whitewater for the duration of the
eleven-mile trip. Cutting through a hundred-foot deep
canyon, about 90 miles east of Portland, the Wind River is one of most
scenic and picturesque rivers in the northwest. You'll find a
hot springs (beware of naked men), a
cliff for diving, excellent fly fishing, and secluded swimming
holes, along with the thrilling rapids. The Wind River is only
runnable from November through May. The best time of year to run
is probably mid- April. Water temperature runs a chilly 40°F.
Back in the
boat, you'll slam through
High Bridge (named for the bridge high above the canyon),
the Flume, and Fish Ladder Falls, each a healthy Class V run.
Fish Ladder Falls is a double whammy, as you crash through the first
stretch, and hardly have time to catch your breath before dropping
over a ten-foot drop. You'll have to portage around Class
Shepherds Falls, which is unrunnable to sane individuals, though
we were told that our guide had run it in a kayak. The portage
is fairly dangerous, as you first do some Class V climbing up a
rock face, then scale the face through poison oak , until your lower
yourself down on a rope to the trail below. There is a side
trail to a good spot for some
cliff jumping here, just below the falls.
falls, the river flattens out, as you come by the river side hot
springs at Carson. We didn't realize we were coming up on it
until there were naked men on the beach! We quickly moved on
past, though you can stop there for a dip and some sunbathing if you
like. You'll enjoy some leisurely floating as the water warms up
and becomes quite nice for swimming, picnicking, or sunbathing.
It is a nice change of pace after you've exhausted yourself on the
constant pounding of the rapids on the section above.
You take out
at the parking lot at the mouth of the Columbia, along Wind River
Highway, just north of its intersection with SR-14. A full-day
guided trip along the Wind River runs about $90/day, and is only
offered by a few companies. We went with
All-Star Rafting, who were excellent. The guides were
knowledgeable and fun, and really knew how to handle intense
situations. We would definitely go with All-Star again in
of river is fantastic, both in its excitement and in its beauty.
It's also quite uncluttered with rafts, though you're bound to meet a
few kayakers and fishermen. However, Class V whitewater is not
for everyone. You need to be in good physical shape, and prior
Class IV experience is a must. If you're not sure if you can do
Class V, don't do it. If you're at all unsure about your
capabilities to handle this trip, ask an experienced guide service
such as River Drifters. They take your safety very seriously, and
make extra sure that you have the knowledge that you need to stay
safe. Their level of caution may come at the expense of a little
excitement, but we felt very confident in their ability to take care
of us. We pass along this advice with the knowledge that this
river has claimed the life of more than one boater over the years.
In fact, we saw it happen on this trip!!!