With all the wildfires burning in the Western states, it might be a good idea to go jump in the river. The Yakima River, to be more precise. With an inner tube or raft you can float a 16-mile stretch of the river between Ellensburg and Yakima, Washington, along State Route 821 (Canyon Road).
This is a quiet stretch of the river, with its cool, refreshing, rapid-free water which attracts hundreds of float fans, kids and adults, whose idea of the perfect way to while away a hot day is on an inner tube along this slow-moving river, writes Sarah Edwards in the August issue of Seattle Magazine.
Best places to launch inner tubes on the river, and best routes: Traveling north to south, look for drop-off points along State Route 821. Choose your route based on how long you want to be in the river:
Big Pines Campground to Roza (about 1 hour, 4 miles)
Lmuma Creek to Roza (1.5-2 hours, 6.8 miles)
Umtanum Creek to Roza (3 hours, 10.9 miles)
Bighorn Campground to Roza (5-6 hours, 16.1 miles)
Last place to take out: The Roza Diversion Dam, which is the last spot for all nonmotorized boats/watercraft to get out. If you go beyond this point you will run into the dam.
Where to get a tube: A number of area companies rent sturdy inner tubes or rafts, including Red’s Fly Shop (Ellensburg, 14706 State Route 821; raft rental for two-three occupants, $99) and Rill Adventures (no storefront location; reserve online, rilladventures.com; tubes, $25/person; four-man raft, $125). Or buy one at a store that sells outdoor gear.
Supplies: Bring an air pump for your inner tube; a good investment is an electric pump that can be clipped to a car battery. Attach an extra tube or raft to your own (or someone else’s in your party) for stowing supplies such as food, beverage containers, a dry bag, patch kit, an oar and bungee cords to connect tubes/rafts in your group. This will also serve as a repository for any garbage (don’t throw it in the river!).
Pro tips: Travel with two vehicles. Park the one with tubes and supplies at your launch point, and the other at the takeout point.
Need refreshment? The Canyon River Ranch, a lodge about midpoint into the float route, is home of the Canyon River Grill and is a great place to stop for a meal.