Flatwater paddling in WA

Hi everyone,

I know this is probably a long shot, but was wondering if anyone had an experience flatwater paddling in Washington state? I will be in the Ellensburg/Yakima area (about 2 hours SE of Seattle I think) next week and wanted to see about finding a tour while I’m out there since I don’t have my own boat. Any prior experience or resources you know of would be greatly appreciated.



No experience, but I’ve always wanted
to paddle up Lake Chelan to Stehekin. Even if you only get halfway, I think you will be pleased.

Potholes near Moses Lake
Kinda cool area with lots of islands, channels, nice weather, bird life etc.

Columbia Gorge near Vantage also nice.

Lake Chelan
I agree. While I did not have a kayak with me, it looked beautiful, and there is no road access along most of it.

Depends on what is meant by
"flatwater." If you’re unexperienced, paddling the Gorge wouldn’t be my choice. The winds make it a good training spot though and there are some, like George Gronseth’s Kayak Academy, that do (or at least did) high wind training down there.

There are kayak rentals available on Lake Chelan and there is at least one oufit that does tours. I’m not going to post a link because I’ve never dealt with them but you can do a google search.

Key words
"near Vantage". Not where you are thinking. I used to teach surf kayaking for George… BTW Chelan can get very choppy…as can they all, but the coastline of the river near vantage offers interesting scenery and places to pull off.

Chelan, maybe not the best choice…
…I have done some paddling on Chelan and spent a bunch of time there hang gliding. I have looked at paddling up to Stehekin and I will do it sometime but probably in winter. Chelan has some flaws as a paddling destination, especially if one is interested in camping.

From the town of Chelan to 25 Mile Creek there is a lot of private property so camping in that stretch isn’t an option for outsiders. I suppose that you could camp at the State Park of Watson’s Harverine but you may spend some time in rough water getting there. Once there you have the typical mob scene camp site. Proceeding up the lake from 25 Mile Creek there are very few campsites and those that exist aren’t large. If you arrived at some of them to find them occupied there would be no place for you to set up camp. Options suck.

Over the years I have spent many, many nights camped legally and illegally on Chelan Butte under trees bent and whistling with the katabatic winds flowing down the lake out of the North Cascades. Rising early we would set our gliders up and ridge soar the Lakeside until the flow subsided.

A window of time exists between the cessation of the katabatic and the afternoon boat traffic. If there is a southwesterly flow it will run up the Columbia River, push up over the ridge smashing down onto the lake. That moves the hangglider launches over to Green Monster.

Also, once the power boat and PWC crowd is up and moving the lake turns into a beautiful blue choppy mess. I like it for play but wouldn’t describe it as “flat water”.

Bottom line is that, while I love the Lake Chelan area I don’t recommend it as an eastern Washington flat water paddling location. Nice town, beautiful lake (my daughter’s middle name is Chelanne) but probably not what you are after.

There is a gentleman who lives in Moses Lake, WA and posts on westcoastpaddler.com as oldsailer. I would suggest that you go to the WCP site and PM oldsailor to see what he recommends.

Personally, the Pot Holes really appeal to me. I have no idea about kayak rentals. Oldsailor would know. The Vantage area is cool. Washington desert. Great geology. Geological uplift, plant fossils, petrified Ginko forests, a choke point for the Bretz Floods. I love that land but have never kayaked there.

I wonder about paddling on Banks Lake after Labor Day. I don’t know about rentals have driven the highway on the eastern shore and flown over it at 11,000 feet. The south end is dammed and south of that is Dry Falls…

Sorry. I lost focus. I love that area but think that there are better places to paddle than Chelan. I guess that I really haven’t helped here at all.

Jon out!

this might be along the lines
of what you are looking for (“Paddling Washington: 100 Flatwater and Whitewater Routes in Washington State and the Inland Northwest”)


Roosevelt NRA
It’s a big dammed-up river. Clear, warm water where I paddled (near Kettle Falls). Lots of access points.

Long ways
from Ellensburg (253 miles) and Yakima (283).