Nisqually River: McKenna to Yelm Hydro Plant

A great float along a Puget lowland river that has not been extensively developed. Most of the rapids are class II except a couple that push class III in higher flows. There are several good boulder gardens that make ideal training areas for catching eddies.



  • McKenna Park:  Put in at the park immediately upstream of the Highway 507 Bridge on river right. This access has a good concrete ramp down to the water.


  • Nisqually River Powerhouse Park:  As you see the powerhouse on river left, continue just past it to the boat ramp on river left.  


The first part of the run passes through some residential areas interspersed with patches of forest but as the run passes along the Fort Lewis Military Reservation mature forests border both sides of the river. There are two named rapids on this reach. About 5 miles into the run, after coming out of a large meander, the first, Kahuna, is encountered.  About a half mile on the second, Little Kahuna, is encountered.  


  • Difficulty: Class II+ River, Class III River
  • Length: 9.3 mi
  • Land Manager: Land Manager Varies
  • Parking Permit Required: see Land Manager
  • Recommended Party Size: 6
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
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  • Nisqually River: Class III Intro

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