Can you bring your own rafts on wenatchee river
The Wenatchee River Rafting Tips
The Wenatchee River in Leavenworth, WA is one of the best rivers in the Washington state to go whitewater rafting !
In this blog post I want to share my tips as a former river guide, a customer, and a parent on what make the Wenatchee River the best place to go rafting, what you need to know before going, how to pick the best rafting company, and how much it will cost you.
Depending on the ( snow ) season, the Wenatchee River levels range between mellow class I to raging class V ( in the Tumwater Canyon ).
When the river level is high ( usually in April-late June ), the river turns into an exciting roller coaster with big white waves, and fast rapids ! If you’re an adrenaline junky, this is definitely the time to go rafting !
If you’re traveling with kids under 13, or anybody who doesn’t want to fall out of a boat, and go for a ( somewhat terrifying ) swim in frigid waters, then I’d recommend to wait till later in the season.
At the same time, if you’re looking for excitement, don’t wait till late July ( as we did in the video below ) b/c otherwise, you’ll end up on a boring social “rafting float”.
All the river guiding companies on the Wenatchee River provide their own wetsuits, booties, life vests, and some companies even offer helmets.
That’s why, personally I recommend to bring your own wetsuit ( like this shorty ), and maybe wear wool sock for extra warmth, and protection.
Regardless of the month you’re visiting Leavenworth, it’s going to be super hot ! And you’ll be spending about 3-4 hours in a boat ! So, make sure you apply enough sunscreen to last you that long !
Bring your own water bottle ! It gets hot ! And you get tired paddling for 3-4 hours ! Bring a water bottle with a carabiner to easily click it into one of many straps on the boat.
Most guiding companies provide some kind of lunch/snacks before, after or during the trip ( depending on the time of your trip ). But just in case, you might bring a snack/power bar ( the guides usually have waterproof bags that you can store your belongings ).
The rapids are fast, big, and freakishly cold ! And underwater boulders, and debris don’t make it safer.
Even after guiding on the Wenatchee River for 3 seasons, I never got used to that part of ( mandatory ) guide training where you’d have to flip your boat, jump in, swim through a rapid, then climb back on top of the raft, and flip it back on
And even though all guiding companies provide ( brief ) training for each group of rafters before the trips ( how to swim through a rapid, back to the raft, how to climb back in ), it’s one thing to hear, and another – to experience it !
TIP: as a mentioned above, you’ll be provided with a “shorty/farmer style wetsuit” that doesn’t have sleeves/pants. If you’re really concerned about getting cold/falling out, go with 3m full wetsuit. On the down side, while paddling, you might get a bit too hot ( but it’s easier, and more pleasant to just jump into the water to cool down than to be freezing )
But. as I mentioned above, if the river level is high, I’d personally wait to take my kid till he/she’s 12-13
As I mentioned above, chances are, you won’t be able to catch an action picture of you/your crew going through the rapids
There is a professional photographer/company that takes pictures of boaters at the most exciting spot ! Your guide will tell you about the spot beforehand so you can strike a pose/face !
After your tip you’ll be able to buy that picture online or directly from the photographer to remember your action packed trip !
Also, there are different types of trips to choose from ( rafting + wine testing; rafting + beer testing; rafting+kayaking; overnight trips. ).
TIP: personally, I’d recommend to stay away from River Recreation. but if you decide to go with them, ONLY buy through Groupon
We got overcharged, and the worst part, at the end of the trip, we came back to the company’s location to be met by local cops who were giving away ($100) packing tickets.
According to the company’s Google reviews, we were not the only ones. The guides don’t bother to mention the parking situation before the trip, and the owners don’t even bother to fix the problem
Wenatchee River Rafting Guidebook
This guide covers the major features of the Wenatchee River. We cover the stretch from the Put-In in Leavenworth to the Take-out in Cashmere.
The Wenatchee is an intermediate run. You should have some experience with whitewater if you plan to raft it. Wet suits or dry suits are recommended in the springtime.
A permit is not required to run the Wenatchee.
The Wenatchee is runnable from 2,000 CFS – 20,000 CFS.
Low Flow: 2,500 – 5,000 CFS
Medium Flow: 5,000 – 12,000 CFS
High Flow: >12,000 CFS
Gauge data provided by USGS
Wenatchee River Map & Guide
WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment or experience.
Point of Interest
Bridges, private property, etc.
Raft Surf Wave
Indicates well known surf waves.
Put-In / Take-Out
The most commonly used access points.
Class II Rapid
Class II rapid or river feature.
Class III Rapid
Class III rapid or river feature.
Wenatchee River – Class II & III
The raftable section of the Wenatchee River runs from Leavenworth, WA to Cashmere, WA before joining the Columbia River.
Leavenworth Public Boat Launch Put-In to Riverside Park is 14.64 miles.
The Wenatchee River drops ~23 feet per mile.
Leavenworth Public Boat Launch to Cashmere Riverside Park is 35 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.
Mile 0 – Leavenworth Public Boat Launch: River Right. The Leavenworth Public Boat Launch is a public access point on river right located off of East Leavenworth Road. Featuring a maintained boat ramp, this starting point has a good amount of parking that tends to fill up on weekends. Use this access point to launch for the “Play Run” from Leavenworth to Cashmere. There are no permanent amenities, but there are usually a few portajohns here during the summer months.
Mile 0.15 – Cupcake: Class II. The first rapid of the day is really just a little riffle after Barnes Beach (located river left, abutting the city of Leavenworth) as the river bends left and out of sight. A large boulder river right at the crux of the turn makes a nice boof into a boiley eddy at higher flows. Otherwise, it is a nice, crisp eddy line. There’s a collection eddy river right immediately following the curve that can fit more than 12 rafts and is a great place to gather a group before heading down the straightaway to Boulder Bend.
Mile 0.59 – Wenatchee River Bridge #1: Also known as “High Bridge”, this first bridge (Highway 2) is the marker for the Class II lead-in to Boulder Bend. Wave trains in the center of the channel are generally friendly, though you want to be working right as you approach the river’s right bend and the river appears to widen. At lower flows (<7kcfs), fun ferrying moves can be made from one bank to the other. Strong lateral waves and some boiley holes develop on the right side at higher (>8kcfs) flows.
Mile 0.95 – Boulder Bend Rapid: Class III. This rapid is Class III below 13,000 CFS and is Class IV above 13,000 CFS. When approaching the first rapid of this run, avoid the big wave hole in the center, known as the “Flapper” or “Aguirre,” then stay right of the pile of boulders that is in the middle of the river until this stretch opens up into a read-and-run series of big holes and waves, avoiding the left side of the river where wood tends to collect. It would be prudent to scout the river left lines, as the outside of this curve can collect a good amount of wood. Learn more about Boulder Bend Rapid.
Mile 1.77 – Apple Juice Pipeline: After the Class II run-out of Boulder Bend, catch your breath and look up to see the Apple Juice Pipeline. If you see any commercial trips on the water, ask a raft guide to explain how it got its name.
Mile 1.79 – Hippo Holes: Class II. So-called because the rocks making up these holes on river right look like hippos lying in wait under the surface. Becoming pretty retentive for both rafts and swimmers at most flows when they’re pour overs and holes, the top hippo becomes a good hit around 9.4kcfs. Don’t touch the hippos at moderate flows (6k-8.5kcfs) – deceptively munchy hits can pack a serious bite and flip even the most T’d up raft. At lower flows (<6kcfs), the hippos are fully exposed and become a fun slalom course for R2’s and kayaks.
Mile 3.29 – Happy Wave: Class II. River-wide, disorganized waves make a splashy tenth of a mile. Rafts, kayakers, and river boarders find a wide, eddy-service wave close to the river right bank. Best for kayakers between flows of 5kcfs and 6kcfs, this wave comes back into play between 13.5kcfs and 14.5kcfs.
Mile 3.29 – Happy Wave Beach Club. Private Access River Right. Owned by Osprey Rafting Company, this access point is on private property. Purchase an annual pass from Osprey for $50 or a day pass for $5 to rip the eddy-service waves and use the beach as an alternate put-in and take-out.
Mile 4.09 – Abandoned Helicopter Landing Shack: River Left. With a couple river-wide riffles that turn into shallow rocks at lower flows, an abandoned helicopter tour office sits watch over the Wenatchee on river left.
Mile 4.63 – Wenatchee River Bridge #2: Also known as the “Peshastin Bridge”. Leading up to the Peshastin Bridge, zig zag around to play in the waves and holes that polka dot the Peshastin Flats between Happy Wave and Rock and Roll. At the town of Peshastin, you will encounter a small bridge. Look up while you’re under the bridge to admire the mud and spit nests of a colony of cliff or cave swallows.
Mile 5.33 – Peshastin Put-In: River Left. Also known as Fisherman’s or School Street Put-In. This is a primitive put-in without any amenities, and requires a Discover Pass. Easy raft access, room for several trailers, and an eddy large enough for a small handful of rafts. Putting on at Fisherman’s cuts out 4 miles of flatwater and still allows you to run one of the punchiest rapids of this section, Rock and Roll.
Mile 6.17 – Rock and Roll Rapid: Class III. The second major rapid of this stretch occurs just as the Wenatchee splits into two channels. Most boaters head to the river right channel with most of the current, finding their way around the two main features: Satan’s Eyeball (center right) and Satan’s Asshole (center left). Approach both features with caution, as the fatal Dryden Dam lies approximately half a mile downstream. Hitting the Eyeball requires a calculated effort at most flows (4kcfs – 14kcfs), and the Asshole can be trouble at nearly all levels (washes out at 9kcfs). Learn more about Rock and Roll rapid.
Mile 6.78 – Peshastin Creek Confluence: River Right. Peshastin Creek enters the Wenatchee River on river right above the Dryden Dam. Peshastin can add anywhere between 20 cfs and 2000cfs to the Wenatchee, with those greater additions coming during the peak snow melt. Just downstream lies the Dryden Dam portage, so start moving to the right bank once you hit this creek. At high Wenatchee flows (>10000cfs), crossing the Peshastin stream might require more of an aggressive upstream ferry pointing towards river right. Continue bobbling downstream beside the right bank until you pull into the eddy behind the brush above the dam to make the portage around the Dryden Dam.
Mile 6.92 – Dryden Dam Portage: Class VI. The Dryden Dam has a dogleg quality to it, with the right side that is perpendicular to the river being a low-head dam. Catch the eddy above the dam on the right side and make the easy walk around. We do not recommend running this rapid.
Mile 6.92 – Dryden Dam River Access: River Right. A Discover Pass required. The Dryden Dam Public Access is a popular put in for commercial and private boaters. There are no permanent restrooms at this location, though a few Port-a-Johns pop up during the summer months. There is a primitive boat ramp that enables boaters to back a trailer practically to the water, and loads of parking. Be prepared for a busy parking lot on spring and summer weekends, and make note that low flows and hot days will bring locals to one of their favorite swimming spots. Known as going “Dam Down” (i.e. the Dam to Cashmere Riverside Park), this nearly eight-mile stretch is the most bang for your buck. The gradient picks up and rapids are closer together following the dam, though the pool-drop nature of the Wenatchee is maintained.
Mile 6.94 – Indigestion/Gopher Holes: Class II. At moderate to high flows (>3kcfs), Indigestion or Gopher Holes is a splashy stretch of waves and holes immediately following the Dryden Dam. Big waves and good hits are found along the river left side after you pass the dogleg of the Dam. The initial channel gets technical at low flows (<3kcfs), with rafts pivoting and spinning to avoid shallow rocks before they make it to the main flow.
Mile 7.55 – Upper Gorilla: Class III. Catch a slight break as the river bends to the right and the third bridge of the run comes into view. Enter Upper Gorilla through the middle arch of this bridge – the typical line is near the right pillar, as several very sticky holes develop (4kcfs-9kcfs) near the left pillar. Those holes on the left become a rowdy wave train around 7.5kcfs, and become a bit more predictable above 9k. At low flows (<2kcfs), attempt to catch the eddy behind the right pillar to set yourself up to avoid the boulders that emerge immediately after passing below the bridge.
Mile 7.63 – Wenatchee River Bridge 3: This third bridge is Highway 2 and passes over the Wenatchee River just above the Upper Dryden Public Access.
Mile 7.72 – Upper Dryden Public Access: River Left. A Discover Pass required. A very rarely used access point on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) land just below the third bridge and above Lower Gorilla. This small, cobbled beach on the left-hand side of the river is nestled in amongst private property. There are no amenities available, and if you are going to use this access point, make sure to be courteous to the property owners.
Mile 7.8 – Upper Dryden Riffle: Class II. Also known as Lower Gorilla or Shark’s Tooth. This is Class II at flows >10,000 CFS and becomes pushy with some big holes that can feel like Class III. There’s a rock on the outside right that has a sharp quality to it that has popped a few rafts and earned the name “Shark’s Tooth”, but at moderate to low flows (<7kcfs) a creeky, slalom line around these boulders is revealed. Above 12 kcfs, head left early to avoid the strong push to the outside right where wood tends to collect.
Mile 8.12 – Auto Return Eddy: Class II. Also known as Arco. As the river bends to the left, some fun surf waves with eddy service develop on river right. Great surf spot around 9.8kcfs, but stays good down to 5.5kcfs and gets spicier – still surfable – much higher. The eddy on the right has strong upstream current, so much so that it is said to auto return boaters to the top. The eddy fence is powerful and swirly enough that it has sucked tubes and flipped rafts trying to make it downstream through the waves.
Mile 8.19 – Wenatchee River Bridge #4: Highway 2 crosses over the Wenatchee again, the first of three overpasses you’ll experience in quick succession. The general line is to go straight through the middle, but at higher flows the right portal also goes. Just commit to one side or the other at flows >10kcfs, else Arco’s eddy line is likely to push you into a wrap on a pillar.
Mile 8.20 – Boney and Shallow: Class II. Class II. After the first of the triplet of bridges, this shallow section of river is just splashy waves. Meandering your way to the left sets you up for a fun wave train under the railroad bridge at almost all flows.
Mile 8.36 – Wenatchee River Bridge #5: Main Street connects Upper and Lower Dryden overhead as you pass under the fifth bridge of the stretch and the second of the triplet.
Mile 8.37 – Wenatchee Railroad Bridge #1: This is the first railroad crossing of this stretch of the Wenatchee river. In a mile or so, this track crosses back over the river.
Mile 8.57 – The Cave: Class II. The Cave comes into view around the bend following the first Railroad Bridge overpass. A double wave train protects an interesting geological feature of the Wenatchee. Swirly eddies line the cliffside above the Cave, and can be fun to catch and play with edges and tubes. At most flows, catch the eddy on river right and you can ferry into the cave, or try surfing the double wave upstream of it. The eddy line gets really strong above 10kcfs, so be prepared for tube suck as you make the move.
Mile 9.0 – Lunch Island: Lunch Island splits Pig Snout and Pinball. Private groups like to stop here by catching an eddy from the left channel (known as Pig Snout).
Mile 9.0 – Pig Snout (Left Channel of Lunch Island): Class II. The “usual line” is to take the left channel around Lunch Island and through Pig Snout at most flows (>1.9kcfs). Avoid a sneaky little pourover to enter a wave train that leads smack into a cliff that oddly resembles a pig’s snout. Swirly eddies abound on either side of the main current. If you’ve got kayakers along for the lap, tell them about a fun, but shallow, eddy line for stern squirts that develops on the island’s bank around 9kcfs.
Mile 9.09 – Pinball (Right Channel of Lunch Island): Class II. If you’re running the Wenatchee below 2kcfs, think about taking the right channel around Lunch Island and running Pinball instead of Pig Snout. A read and run boulder garden: the shallow rocks are the pins, your boat is the ball trying to make it to the exit on the right.
Mile 9.24 – Waterfall Eddy: After the currents meld behind Lunch Island, an eddy with an irrigation-fed waterfall can be seen on river left against the cliffs. In late summer, locals use the Lower Dryden Access Point to get to a popular swimming spot.
Mile 9.38 – Lower Dryden Public Access: River right. Discover Pass Required, pit toilet available. Another rarely used WDFW put in or take out, besides for summertime swimming.
Mile 9.49 – Barking Dog: Class II. A little riffle as you come around the bend and the next sets of bridges come into view. There are some fun waves to try to catch on the left side of the island at higher flows (>8kcfs).
Mile 9.78 – Wenatchee Railroad Bridge #2: Remember that railroad from a mile or so ago? Here it is again.
Mile 9.77 – Killer Pillar: Class III. So-called because the right-most pillar of the highway bridge has claimed more than a few rafts. Most flows greater than 5kcfs bring to life a strong wave train that pushes up against the Killer Pillar of the Highway Bridge, though it is pushiest around 7.5kcfs. Set up by being just to the left of the center pillar of the railroad bridge, bust through a couple big waves with a left-angled bow, and keep paddling until you’ve made it past the Highway Bridge.
Mile 9.88 – Wenatchee River Bridge #6: This is the bridge with the Killer Pillar. Highway 2 crosses back over the Wenatchee River one final time.
Mile 10.06 – Roadside Access: River right. No pass required, no amenities. Kayakers frequently use the Roadside put in for pre- or post-work surf-heavy laps. There are two areas commonly used to put-in here: a steep, bouldery bank and a small, tree-lined eddy. Neither is very convenient for rafts, but with the right crew of folks you can lower a raft down the bouldery bank.
Mile 10.83 – Rodeo Hole: Class II 7.5kcfs. A great play spot for rafters, kayakers,and river boarders alike. Coming around the bend backed up by the cliff and following the mobile homes, you’ll find a fun wave hugging the cliff face that can be hit anywhere from 7.5kcfs to 13kcfs. Plenty of other, smaller waves speckle the intro to Rodeo proper, allowing many fun, splashy lines. Eddies on either side to the final, largest wave, with “normal” service being river right. Learn more about Rodeo Hole.
Mile 10.95 – Fox Miller Public Access: River Right. No boat ramp, Discover Pass required, pit toilet. Can be a pain to get a raft through the trail on this WDFW site. Locals just call this “Rodeo” or “that one swimming hole” once the weather warms up and the flows drop out, turning the surf wave into a great spot for the family to take a dip. Watch for poison oak along the trail to the river.
Mile 10.99 – Wenatchee Railroad Bridge #3: Just below Fox Miller Public lies a railroad bridge, and the last time you’ll encounter any railroads. The line at low water (<3kcfs) is definitely to go to the left of the gravel bar above the bridge and then continue through the left portal to avoid getting caught up on a shallow shoal of rocks.
Mile 11.50 – Drunkard’s Drop: Class III. Drunkard’s, Drunkard’s, Drunkard’s. This drop has waves at all flows above 3.5kcfs, multiplying and towering higher as the flows increase. At most flows(>3kcfs), and especially moderate and beyond (>5.6kcfs) flows, tall waves are found on the very left or center left, the most predominant being Hawaii 5-0. Find it beside the cliff and T-up; you’ll end up riding the train through to the end. Flows Learn more about Drunkard’s Drop.
Mile 12.32 – Turkey Shoot Access: River Right. Discover Pass required, no boat ramp, pit toilet present. A rarely-used access point, especially for rafting groups, as it’s just a bankside slow spot and not much of an eddy.
Mile 12.52 – Turkey Shoot: Class II. A popular play spot for kayakers, rafters also enjoy surfing this wave when flows are above 5kcfs. Eddy service on river left allows crafts of all kinds multiple reps on the wide wave. A tuned-up R2 will find it easy to catch the wave around 9kcfs, and higher flows make the wave that much more retentive. Lower flows (<2kcfs) will require tight maneuvering through shallow shoals and bedrock ledges.
Mile 12.90 – Railroad: Class II. A fun, read and run wave train as the river bends to the left. The left side of the wave train is longer, the center has some boils that, at flows >9kcfs, have created some random tube-suck events, and the right side eventually carries you towards the left.
Mile 13.34 – Goodwin Road Bridge: This is the penultimate bridge before the take-out. It was recently replaced, and now has only one pillar in the middle of the current.
Mile 13.75 – Snowblind Rapid: Class III. Snowblind has three different moods: low water ( <2kcfs)- uptight technicality; moderate flows – playfully consequential; high flows – paddle hard and line’er up straight. Flows below 2kcfs require a Z-shaped rapid line, from 2kcfs up to around 9.5kcfs anywhere goes with the biggest holes in the bottom center, and above 15kcfs a huge wave at the top right, “Avalanche” comes in ready to toss your raft even before you make it into the rest of the melée. Learn more about Snowblind.Learn more about Snowblind Rapid.
Mile 14.2 – Granny’s: Class III. Granny’s is the final rapid of the stretch. In a paradoxical sense, the waves of this rapid only seem to get larger and more punctuated as water levels drop, until flows reach around 2.5kcfs. A fun wave train with towering, breaking peaks runs down the right side of the river while a behemoth of a glassy wave topped with a very sticky foam pile sits on the left. That glass wave is known simply as “Granny’s Wave”, and, if your boat can catch some slack water on river left and you’ve got the right skills, it can be surfed in a raft. Careful! Coming into the foam pile without being T’ed up is likely to at least accidentally surf you, if not flip’n’strip your boat. Regardless of your wave choice, head left once you are through the first train and aim to catch the last big wave train. What was once “Suffocator” – a demon of a hole on the bottom river right – is now “Fluffy Bunny”, a wave/hole that won’t leave you quite as breathless as before.
Mile 14.44 – Take-out Bridge: This final bridge you will see lies just above the Cashmere Riverside Park Take-out is Aplets Way. Be in the right portal and then hug the reeds/gravel to prepare to catch the takeout eddy. At lowest flows (<2.5kcfs), drop paddlers under the bridge behind the right pillar and then R1 your raft to the takeout.
Mile 14.64 – Cashmere Riverside Park Take-out: River Right. A maintained boat ramp waits for paddlers at Cashmere Riverside Park. It is a tight turn into the boat ramp. Hug the right reeds and shoreline, then when you see a break in them, angle your boat and get going. If you have never run this section, make sure to scout the take-out when you are setting shuttle. If you miss the take-out, your next option is in Monitor, 4 miles downstream. Learn more about Cashmere Takeout.
Leavenworth WA: 8 Tips for Tubing the Wenatchee River
Imagine yourself on a big fat tube on a hot day, cruising the river with a stunning Northwest view. The Wenatchee River runs through Leavenworth in North Central Washington. This is one of the most epic experiences I’ve had in the great outdoors!
8 Tips for Tubing on the Wenatchee River: Leavenworth
If you plan to tube on the Wenatchee River, I don’t advise doing it without the guidance of local professionals. We did see several rafters with flotation devices navigating the river on their own. The river is rough in spots and unpredictable. You definitely need the best equipment and professional advice to have a safe experience.
Leavenworth Outdoor Center handles all the details of the tubing experience from beginning to end. Currently reservations are only being accepted online. Do reserve your adventure a few months in advance. As you can imagine, this activity sells out fast. The center also offers paddleboard and kayak rentals.
After arrival at the Outdoor Center downtown Leavenworth, a guide will direct you where to hop on a van. The vans are open air, no windows and a mask is required. It’s a short ride up to the mouth of the river. This is where your tube adventure will begin. It takes about 5 minutes to arrive.
When you hop off the van, a guide will be there to greet you. A short 5 minute presentation is made to inform you of the ” dos and dont’s” of tube rafting the river. This is where to pick up your tube and life jacket. Listen carefully to the instructions. I promise you will be glad you did!
HOW TO GET TO LEAVENWORTH:
If you are traveling from Western WA: Take Interstate 90. Then cut off at Highwway 97 and take Blewett Pass. Follow the signs. It takes about the same amount of time if you take Hwy 2. Amtrak also serves Leavenworth from Spokane and Seattle daily. If you are traveling from Eastern WA, check out directions on Trippy.
Wear a Life Jacket
The Leavenworth Outdoor Center will strongly advise you to wear a life jacket. It makes no difference if you are a strong swimmer or not. The strong currents can pull you under fast, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You may be concerned about sweating or getting too hot, no worries the water will cool you off quick. Even thought it was 94 degrees, I kept the life device on most of the trip.
Wear A Waterproof Pouch
Of course you will want photos and video of this remarkable experience . How do you navigate the river without drowing your cell phone? Where a waterproof pouch around your neck, and actually keep it closed. ( guess who didn’t ? ha ha) The one I bought was not great quality for taking pictures, so I had to take my phone out to get good snaps.
It’s tempting to bring stuff such as food, extra clothing etc. with you on the tube. All you need is a bottle of water. I brought an extra bag and jacket, both got soaked! Do yourself a favor and bring only water, a waterproof pouch and medications if needed.
Wear Quality Water Shoes
Invest in a sturdy pair of water shoes before you go tubing. When I first entered the river, I had a hard time grounding my feet to hop on the tube. I was finally able to secure myself and jump on. If I was barefoot or wearing cheap shoes, it would’ve been almost impossible.
Steer the Tube Strategically
Two VERY IMPORTANT PIECES OF EQUIPMENT are frisbies for paddles. Some opt to use their hands to paddle. I promise you will be sorry if you don’t use the frisbies! I was using my hands to start off with. That strategy did not pan out so well. I kept spinning in circles and ended up in some very precarious places!
The guide gives detailed instructions on how to use the frisbies to steer yourself down the river. It took the first hour to get used to steering the tube. Let’s just say; I spent a good portion of the time cruising the river backwards ha! The frisbies did not want to work with me.
It’s important to pay close attention where you steering, like this curvy bend near the end of the ride. The current tends to pull tubes towards either side of the shore, instead of staying in the middle. I had to battle my tube to keep in the middle. This part of the river is full of pointy sticks and logs. It was not easy to navigate around them.
Stop for Breaks
The ride down the river takes a total of 2 hours, and you are free to take more time if you wish. There are many places where you can jump off your tube and rest on the shore. I saw several picnics going on. The guides at the Outdoor Center tell you to take all the time you like. The only requirement is to have all tubes back to the main check point by 6 p.m.
Let me tell ya, tube rafting down the Wenatchee is not as easy as it looks. OH MY GOSH, it was so much work! Luckily several spots along the river are shallow and you can hop off to rest on the shore. We certainly took advantage of those places.
Be Prepared to Jump to End the Ride
This small cove is where the tube rafting adventure ends. Just before the cove is a HUGE warning sign. It tells you stop and get off the tube! The river starts to widen and pick up speed and you could be swept away. I was drifting backwards and not paying attention and was caught off guard. I almost was carried down stream. I jumped off fast, and carried my tube while fighting the current; not fun! I advise jumping off way before the departure spot, where the water is shallow and calm.
After you’re finished tubing, head 4o minutes east to Lake Chelan for some R & R! It’s a dreamy oasis you will fall in love with immediately. I’ve lived in WA state 30 years and visited for the first time this summer. I know crazy right.