Undammed White Salmon River Opens To Paddlers

Nov 12, 2012

A new stretch of whitewater opened this month on the White Salmon River in Southwest Washington. It’s a river that used to be blocked by the Condit Dam.

Photo of the Condit Dam before it was blown up.
Credit Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

For a hundred years sediment built up behind the dam.

Now the free-flowing river has sliced down through it. Rope swings that once hurled children into a reservoir dangle 80 feet above the water.

A small pile of rocks at a narrow spot is the only sign of where Condit Dam stood before it was blown up a year ago.

Downstream, the river plunges through a canyon. Biologist Jeanette Burkhardt can reach out and almost touch the rock walls with her fingertips.

Burkhardt: “So it looks so different, now that all of that water that is supposed to be in the river is back in this stretch. And it’s gorgeous.”

Guides say the newly opened section of the White Salmon is changing every month.

Don’t try it unless you’re a confident class four (IV) paddler.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio