114-tieton-suits.jpgWhitewater rafting on the Tieton River in Washington State has become something of a semi-regular event for us thanks to our friends Jeff and Kim Ayars. These exciting adventures are made possible by several different rafting and expedition companies in the Northwest. The company that we’ve gone with is called River Riders, Inc. (Woodinville, WA). They provide nice self-bailing rafts, full wetsuits and safety equipment, experienced guides, a great picnic, and lots of fun.

The Tieton River flows out of Rimrock Lake which is on the east side of White Pass (Highway 12) in Washington State. The Tieton flows for just over 20 miles down the east side of the Cascades and then dumps into the Naches River. Of this length, River Riders runs 15 miles, starting just below Tieton Dam (on Rimrock Lake) and pulling out at Windy Point.

The Tieton has a short rafting season (3-4 weeks in September) that is dictated by releases at Tieton Dam. These releases tend to be an all or nothing event, making the Tieton a wild, rip-roaring river of rapids. When the dam’s flood gates are open, the Tieton swells over its banks by several feet. Officially rated as a Class III river, the Tieton is basically nonstop rapids for the entire run of 3.5 hours. It has the steepest gradient of any of the commonly rafted rivers in Washington. Dropping 58 feet for each mile, the Tieton is actually considered to be a Class IV river by many.

We love river rafting, and over the years, we’ve been down several rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Without question, the Tieton is one of the most exciting rides there is. It’s been several years since we last did the Tieton. The following is a write-up from one of our trips.

These pictures were taken by professional photographers along the river, and they illustrate the kind of rapids that can be found on the Tieton. I am in the front of the raft on the starboard side; Jen is sitting behind me. We both have on yellow helmets. Our friends, Kim and Jeff, are both sitting on the port side of the raft toward the rear.

Further downstream, we actually take the raft over a small diversion dam. The guides like to present this in a real nonchalant manner and freak everyone out. It really only works the first time, of course. Repeat trips are still fun, though. The guides tend to adjust the nature of the trip with the experience level of the crew. This is something that we look forward to doing now whenever we get the chance. It’s a real rush careening down the river hanging over the side of the raft.