Cle Elum River

A short, Class II river in a beautiful alpine setting east of Seattle that can be paddled in a half day. As long as the reservoir is full, this run typically has good flows throughout the summer.



  • Winston Road: From the take-out, drive 2.3 miles east to the intersection with SR-903 and turn left. At this point SR-903 becomes Salmon La Sac Road. Drive trough the town of Rosyln and continue north for 4.4 miles. At mile 8.6 on Salmon La Sac Road turn left onto Winston Road and drive 1.2 miles to an access point on the river. It is a gravel road and there are several turns that branch off to gravel pits and staging areas but just stay generally straight and near the end go down a hill to the river. There should be a Forest Service sign board and some informal camp sites.
  • Salmon Viewing Trailhead: To put in higher upstream, a high-clearance vehicle is recommended. Turn left off Salmon La Sac Road at mile 9.1 onto Lake Cabin Road. Go straight following the sign to Cle Elum Dam. Continue 0.3 miles toward the dam then turn left onto a dirt road. Drive 0.4 miles down to the lower parking area for the Salmon Viewing Trail. This site claims to be the premier location for viewing wild salmon in the Pacific Northwest. 

  • Bullfrog Road Bridge:  Take Exit 80 off of I-90 take exit 80 and head for Roslyn/Salmon La Sac. At 0.4 miles from I-90 just before crossing the bridge over the Cle Elum River there is a pull-out for 10-12 cars on the right. Just downstream of the bridge on river right there is a nice eddy. Alternatively, cross over the bridge and after a couple hundred feet turn right onto a dirt road that winds through a primitive camping area. Park at a wide camp spot just before a bog crossing (47.1897, -121.0119). It is a 2 minute walk to the river. This requires a take out in current. 


This river has fairly continuous Class II rapids with some good wave trains.  Log hazards are a prevalent along the run.  Although a bit of rough road for about ½ mile, it is worth the effort to go to the upper put-in, because the site has been formally developed as a salmon viewing site—it's a great place to watch fish in the fall.


  • Suitable Activities: Packrafting
  • Seasons: May, June, July, August, September
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Class II River
  • Length: 6.0 mi
  • Land Manager: Land Manager Varies
  • Parking Permit Required: see Land Manager
  • Recommended Party Size: 7
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12

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