If you’re lucky, you’ll see bald eagles overhead on this relatively gentle 9-mile river run, which is punctuated by Class II and III rapids as the river courses through old-growth forest.
Outfitters/guide: Triad River Tours
Distance from Seattle: 90 miles (two-hour drive northeast)
Pass through the stunning ponderosa-pine-lined Black Canyon over Class III and IV rapids on this gnarly eastern Washington ribbon of water.
Outfitters/guide: Methow River Raft and Kayak
Distance from Seattle: 230 miles (four-and-a-half-hour drive northeast across North Cascades Highway, although alternate routes are possible)
Open only in the early fall, the fastest-moving and fastest-dropping river in Washington features 14 miles of practically nonstop Class III+ white water through rugged basalt cliffs.
Outfitters/guide: Alpine Adventures
Distance from Seattle: 145 miles (two-hour, 45-minute drive east of Seattle, near Yakima)
White Salmon River
Covering some of the hairiest and most remote white water in the state, a rafting trip down the White Salmon—a federally designated Wild and Scenic River—delivers “gin clear” water, rolling and tumbling over nearly nonstop Class III and IV rapids.
Outfitters/guides: River Drifters
Distance from Seattle: 230 miles (four-hour drive south to the north side of the Columbia River Gorge)
Waves of Class III and III+ white water combined with long peaceful stretches make this geologically unique river Washington’s most popular river-running destination.
Outfitters/guides: Blue Sky Outfitters
Distance from Seattle: 120 miles (two-hour drive east on U.S. Highway 2)
Novice paddlers and families with smaller kids will love paddling the glacier-gray Class I and II rapids of the Hoh as it passes through some of the most verdant temperate rain forest this side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Outfitters/guides: Rainforest Paddlers
Distance from Seattle: 200 miles (four-hour drive west to Olympic Peninsula interior)