Whether you like to paddle, float or fish, get ready for fun on the water this summer. Just a short drive from Yakima takes you to several stunning lakes and rivers where you can refresh yourself under sunny skies with abundant recreation and leisure activities. Float, paddle or raft Yakima Valley rivers, enjoy stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) for beginners and experts alike or fish pristine lakes and experience Washington’s only blue ribbon trout stream. We’ve listed the most popular spots for SUP, kayaking, canoeing, rafting and fishing*, but there are many more lakes and rivers to explore.
Rimrock Lake is a beautiful, large, clear blue lake surrounded by lush, evergreen-covered mountain. It’s located along Highway 12, the White Pass Scenic Byway, at an elevation of 2,926 feet, approximately 40 minutes from Yakima. This lake holds water for irrigation which is released during the month of September. The release of water makes the Tieton River a popular class 3 whitewater rafting destination. The expansive lake is ideal for exploring by kayak or canoe and SUP. Sara Washburn Yoga offers SUP classes, SUP fitness training and SUP yoga instruction from the only certified SUP instructor in the area. Fishing enthusiasts know the lake is popular for Kokanee and rainbows. The best time to catch fish is May through August.
- Silver Beach Resort features a day use area with sandy beach access, camping, cabins, motel rooms, a designated swimming area, a boat launch, a convenience store and a small restaurant. The beach area is shallow quite far out during the early summer, making it a great place for SUP beginners. You’ll even find a small island a short distance offshore to paddle out to.
- Peninsula Campground West offers a dispersed camping area for RVs or tents and group camping on the eastern shore of Rimrock Lake near a boat launch. Kayakers, canoers, SUPers can head to a small island across the cove. Keep in mind that the water levels will be low in late summer, especially by the end of September.
- Horseshoe Cove Day Use Area is a popular day use area with a boat launch for putting in your kayak or canoe and picnic sites with access to the north shore of Rimrock Lake.
- Tieton River runs east from Rimrock Lake along Highway 12. The month of September is the best time for experienced kayakers, white water rafters and SUPers looking for extreme whitewater rafting and paddle boarding! When water levels rise because the dam spillways open and water is let out from Rimrock Lake, down the Tieton River for Valley irrigation. During the water release, most adventurers put in at mile 166.3 on Highway 12, which parallels the river and take out at Windy Bridge Campground at mile 177.1 and 176.6. You will experience fast water, shallow boulders, a well-marked dam to portage around on river left plus continuous brush along the river banks. Book your class 3White Water Rafting experience with Osprey Rafting Company, taking beginners on a thrill ride, which is the last one of the season in Washington State. Call Osprey Rafting to reserve your spot at 509-548-6800.
Clear Lake is a beautiful, much smaller lake just to the west of Rimrock Lake off Highway 12. You’ll find a small dock and picnic area with restrooms on the south side of the lake. Clear Lake is a lovely, peaceful place to explore by kayak, canoe or SUP. This lake has two small dams on the east end and a small island. There is a great shallow area to learn to SUP in small cove next to boat launch. There are two campgrounds nearby and a designated day use area on the north side of the lake. The fishing season is open year round for fishing planted and carryover rainbow trout.
Yakima River Canyon is a popular destination for floating and fishing. The Yakima River is Washington’s only blue ribbon trout stream, making it a haven for Pacific Northwest fly fishing. Red’s Fly Shop, located at the beautiful Canyon River Ranch is your source for fly fishing gear and expert-led guided trips and classes. Canyon River Ranch is a premier riverside resort with beautifully appointed condominium style accommodations, a pool and a half mile of private riverfront space to enjoy, along with the delicious offerings from the Canyon River Grill. Altogether, they create the ideal Northwest river escape. Or, stop by the grill for a lunch or a bite after a day on the river.
- The Roza Recreation Area in the Yakima River Canyon has opportunities for swimming in the river, with picnic tables and restrooms nearby. This area has small lake area behind the dam which is also used by motorized vessels.
- For those who prefer floating to fishing, the Yakima River provides a perfect, leisurely trip downstream with the dramatic canyon cliffs rising on both sides of the river. The Umtanum Recreation Area is where most put in rafts, tubes or paddle boards to float down to get out at Roza Recreation Area boat launch. This is about a 31/2 hour float. There are very few mid-river obstacles at this point in the river and shoreline hazards are overgrown brush, rocks, and rock walls. Unless you are pulling out, avoid the shoreline. Peak season for floating is July through August when the temperatures soar. Rill Adventures Raft & Gear Rentals will rent everything you need for a Yakima River float from Big Horn Campground to Big Pines
Campground from April to September. This is a 13-mile, 3 1/2 hour float on class 1 rapids.
- The Yakima River above the Roza Dam, north to Easton Dam is known for its premier blue ribbon fly fshing, with catch and release and selective gear rules. To learn about what the fish are biting on and book guided fishing tours contact Red’s Fly Shop.
Bumping Lake is located off Highway 410 along the Chinook Pass Scenic Byway. This lake was created naturally by glaciers and is fed by snowmelt. Expect cold water in the early summer. It’s surrounded by rugged mountain terrain, wetlands and old-growth conifer forests. There are campgrounds nearby, day use parking and a boat launch. This is a great lake for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and SUP with picnic tables and fire pits along the south lake shore.
The crystal clear Bumping Lake is at an elevation of more than 2,500 feet above sea level, with a year-round open fishing season. Good fishing for six- to nine-inch Kokanee starts in mid-May and there is a limit of 16 fish. Trolling or still fishing is popular and chumming is permitted. Rainbow and Cutthroat are also caught. You can enjoy fishing on the Bumping River below the lake following selective gear rules. Enjoy fair fishing for rainbow, plus whitefish only in winter season with fish from six to 12 inches. You’ll find good river access and campgrounds.
The Naches River is located adjacent to Highway 410, along the Chinook Scenic Byway. The Bumping River and the Little Naches River feed into the larger Naches River. Put-in at Sawmill Flats Campground at milepost 93.3 for easy access to this class 2 or 3 river. Enjoy the Okanagan-Wenatchee National Forest, paddling past a few cabins and the riverside communities at Cliffdell and Nile and a number of small bridges. You can float to the bridge before the confluence of the Tieton and Naches Rivers at approximately 23 miles and take out at that point. Beyond is a dangerous dam that must be portaged to continue to the town of Naches another six miles.
- Stay on the Naches River at Elk Ridge Campgound and take out there after your run (about nine miles in from Sawmill Flats), with nine cabins, 20 RV sites and large meadow for tent camping and river access, about 30 minutes from Yakima. On the Naches River, you’ll find easy access and the open season for trout is June 1 to October 1 with a 2 per day limit and 12-inch minimum and 20-inch maximum.
*Excerpts on fishing from WDFW, visit WDFW webpage for complete rules.