Where to Cool Down on Yakima Valley Waterways

Where to Cool Down on Yakima Valley Waterways

July 17, 2023

Float, Fish and Paddle all Around the Valley

With the Yakima Valley’s reliably sunny skies come summertime highs. With warm weather ahead, where can you cool off all around the Yakima Valley?

Whether you like to fish, float or paddle, it’s time to get out 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 with abundant adventures to be found. Float 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. Here are some of the most popular spots for SUP, kayaking, canoeing, rafting and fishing, but you can find many more lakes and rivers to explore.

Rimrock Lake Yakima Valley

Rimrock Lake

Looking for a pristine mountain lakes with scenic mountain vistas? Rimrock Lake, with its expansive, clear blue waters surrounded by lush, evergreen-covered mountains, is the perfect place to cool off on hot, summer days. Just 40 minutes from the city of Yakima, it’s located along Highway 12, on the White Pass Scenic Byway. At an elevation of 2,926 feet, you can feel the temperature drop as you ascend. This unique lake is just made for explorations by kayak, canoe or paddle board. Be sure to check out SUP clinics and classes below.

So, where to go on Lake Rimrock?

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 portions of the 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. 

Clear Lake

You’ll find Clear Lake, beautiful, much smaller lake just to the west of Rimrock Lake off Highway 12. Discover a small dock and picnic area with restrooms on the south side of the lake. For non-motorized vessels only, 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 Fishing

Yakima River Canyon

The Yakima River Canyon is a popular destination for floating, fishing and paddling. 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. Be sure to check out Red’s University of Fly Fishing classes for anglers of all levels. The best time to catch fish is May through end of August, so now’s the time to book your fishing adventure.

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, headed by acclaimed chef, Kevin Davis. Altogether, they create the ideal Northwest river escape.

Yakima River Canyon Floating

For the third year, Canyon River Ranch has brought back their Yakima River Canyon Cruise. Meet your guide at Red’s Fly Shop and enjoy a two- to three-hour scenic float through the canyon in a comfortable raft complete with a shade canopy, comfy seats and tables for your favorite snacks and beverages. In addition to identifying local wildlife and fauna, guests will learn about the formation of this spectacular recreation area.

If you’re looking for a safe swimming spot on the river, visit The Roza Recreation Area in the Yakima River Canyon is where you want to head. Complete with picnic tables and restrooms nearby, it’s a popular destination for cooling off on hot summer afternoons.

For those who prefer floating to fishing, the Yakima River provides a perfect, leisurely trip downstream whether on raft, tube or paddle board, with the dramatic canyon cliffs rising on both sides of the river. Most folks tend to put in at Umtanum Recreation Area. Plan to get out at Roza Recreation Area boat launch. The float takes about 3 1/2 hours, just perfect for a leisurely summer afternoon. Rill Adventures is your resource for all you need to enjoy a leisurely float or paddle on the upper or lower Yakima River. Check out a variety of three- to four-hour trips on their website and reserve your raft, tube, kayak or SUP.

Bumping Lake

Another stunning mountain lake, 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. Surrounded by rugged mountain terrain, wetlands and old-growth conifer forests, you’ll find campgrounds, 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.

Naches River

Another of the Valley’s distinct recreational rivers, 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 to float this class 2 or 3 river.

Tieton River - Yakima Valley White Water Rafting

Tieton River

Well-known by most white water lovers, the 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! The annual Tieton River flip-flop is a one-time-a-year experience when you can enjoy the thrill of the fastest whitewater in Washington State! For one short month every September, the Tieton River becomes a wild ride on Class 3 rapids, dropping 55 feet of elevation each mile! This special time of year happens when the water flowing out of the Rimrock Reservoir is increased, dramatically affecting the flow of the Tieton and Naches rivers, turning the Tieton River into one of the best whitewater rafting areas in all of Washington! Since the water has been warmed in Rimrock Lake all summer, this is also some of the warmest whitewater rafting in the state! To ensure you have a safe and exhilarating experience without the worry, book a professionally guided rafting trip. Book your class 3 white water rafting experience with Osprey Rafting Company.

Specialty Clinics & Classes

Mahre MADE and Girls with Grit offer an array of lake and river SUP clinics, classes and private tours for beginners and experts alike. One of their most popular clinics is Intro to River SUP, which begins on a private lake and ends with tasty snacks and beverages. Continue on with intermediate and advanced SUP, or book private clinics or classes of your choice on river or lake.

*Excerpts on fishing from WDFW, visit WDFW webpage for complete rules.

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