Spectacular Cle Elum River
By Jim – Owner of Troutwater Fly Shop & Guide Service
Suncadia blows me away. Over the last 100 years, the 6,400 acres of mixed pine and fir trees has hosted numerous industry activities. Starting at the turn of the last century, a coal mining industry fueled significant train travel from Chicago to Seattle and the growth of Puget Sound. About 80 years ago a dam was built creating a huge reservoir to store water for the agricultural industry. Up until about 30 years ago, the property supported a logging industry. Today the land is home to golf courses, a five star lodge, spas, fine dining, and a winery, just to scratch the surface. Despite the industrial history and now resort development, the wildness and beauty of the area continues to exist.
Just steps from the 263 room lodge is a prime habitat for numerous species of migratory song birds of the Pacific flyway, bald eagles, falcons, hawks, elk, mule deer, pine martins, and an occasional black bear.
The other morning from the incredible view of the Suncadia Great Room (Located in the Main Lodge) overlooking the Cle Elum river corridor and the “1,000 Steps”, I watched an eagle gently rising on the air currents lifting its’ body higher and higher eventually out of sight. It was like the eagle was walking up the steps to the lodge and above. I actually looked down instead of up on a bald eagle!
Hike to the bottom of the 1,000 Steps you will find one of the most impressive treasures of the Suncadia property: the Cle Elum River. The river flows from Lake Cle Elum, a large reservoir built in the 1930’s to bring water from the Cascade Mountains to the arid basin of central Washington. From middle June through Labor Day the irrigation needs of the fruit orchards and vineyards the Yakima Valley are met from water reserved behind the Cle Elum Dam. Ice cold snow melt the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area fills Lake Cle Elum and keeps the river frigid and high during the summer.
Floating the Cle Elum River in a raft is a great way to experience the wildness of the Suncadia property. However, it is highly discouraged without a qualified guide who has the proper equipment and knowledge of the river. The summertime flows are significant in both speed and volume creating difficult obstacles to navigate. Log jams, boulders, cut banks, and trees sweepers to name a few. The river has an increased water flow from 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) to about 4,000 cfs. That’s right, 4,000 cfs, or about twenty times its’ non-summer flow. Recreational floaters can easily get in trouble attempting to navigate the dangerous flows without good equipment and experience. A professional river guide is highly recommended to safely experience this spectacular river float.
Through Suncadia you can reserve professional river floats in rafts on the Cle Elum during the summer months and the Yakima River throughout the year. The Gourmet Lunch Float or Beverage Float and this is a great way to relax, have fun, eat outstanding food and be safe. River floats can be scheduled any time on any day. Big groups, small groups, families and kids are all welcomed.
If floating the river is not your thing, there are numerous hiking trails through the river corridor. Check out the Fish Shed just down from the Lodge. It has a picnic area with tables and the river has a calm side channel for getting your feet wet. Continue past the Fish Shed to find an old air shaft that provided ventilation to the cold mines under Roslyn. When hiking along the open pine forest of the Cle Elum river corridor, keep an eye out for wild flowers, elk, deer, and an incredible variety of song birds. Maps are available at the lodge showing all the trails.
Get blown away this summer exploring the Cle Elum River corridor with a float or hike.
Jim - Troutwater Fly Shop & Guide Service 1
13 E. 1st StreetCle Elum, WA 98922 | 509-674-2144
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