- Similkameen River
Similkameen River, WA
Coyote Falls to Okanogan River (Base of Coyote Falls to Okanogan River Confluence)
Known for good whitewater on the Canadian side of the border, the Similkameen carves a more mellow course in Washington State. The first few miles downstream of Palmer Lake are a gentle float through ranch land. Below Nighthawk the gradient picks up and the river soon enters a very scenic section of public land managed by Bureau of Land Management. This section has a few good class II rapids that taper off as you reach Shankers Bend and the slackwater of Enloe Reservoir. The river then cascades over Enloe Dam and the dramatic Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls), at one time used for power production, before continuing on it's course through a gorge with class III rapids. The action tapers off at you get to the town of Oroville with the river continuing down to the confluence with the Okanogan River.
Enloe Dam was part of a hydropower project that generated electricity up until 1958. Although the local PUD has made various attempts to resurrect the project over the years, the economics are poor and the site offers very limited capacity for hydropower production. The dam has long been a candidate for removal. Removing the dam would open up a very scenic 9-mile whitewater run from Similkameen Recreation Site, through Shankers Bend, and through the lower canyon below the dam with a likely portage at Coyote Falls.
Logistics: The put-in is up at Palmer Lake where access is available from a DNR site and the run starts out with a short stretch on Palmer Creek. An intermediate access point at Similkameen Recreation Site can be used as a take-out for those who want to focus on the mellow section or a put-in for others who want to concentrate on the more challenging section. It is worth checking out Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls) just below Enloe Dam as the focus of the Similkameen River Trail, which will become part of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. You can put in here to continue a run through the very scenic lower gorge down to the town of Oroville and on to the confluence of the Okanogan River. (American Whitewater)
||Bureau of Land Management, Spokane District Office
|Wild & Scenic