Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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River Rafting on Tieton River


Over the recent Labor Day weekend, my son (age 12) and I experienced a very fun river rafting trip down the Tieton River. I had purchased two Groupon certificates at for a river rafting trip at 51% off with a river rafting company named Orion River Rafting. I have never river rafting before but have always wanted to do it so when the Groupon coupon came up I was very interested. With an adventurous glee in my eye, I click on the purchase button on my computer and set the wheels in motion.

Fast forward a 5 months later when my certificate is about to expire in less than 20 days, school has started, and I’m about to get slammed with work. I called and made my reservations and was delighted to get two slots for the Saturday September 3. I figured they would be full but they had some spots open.

The Tieton River is located in Naches Valley area of Eastern Washington and roughly a 3 hour drive from my house. It is a very pretty drive over through Enumclaw, past Greenwater, and past Mt. Rainier (and through a small section of Mt. Rainier National Park). The drive over on a sunny day is well worth the trip in itself.

The Tieton River is river that is used for agricultural purposes and the water flow is restricted until the month of September. Then they release the water from the Rimrock Reservoir, pushing up the level of the Tieton River up and creating a whitewater river rafting experience.

Our trip was on a beautiful sunny day, the air temperature 85 degrees. Water temperature was said to be around 45 degrees. One thing I liked about Orion was everyone was given a wetsuit, wetsuit booties, a helmet, and a PDF (personal floatation device). The rafts could carry up to nine people but today, we had four customers and one guide on our trip.

Overall, this was a very fun rafting trip with Class II and Class III rapids. There is a diversion dam to shunt off irrigation water that produces a Class IV experience. It was pretty mild and as long as your guide does it correctly, it isn’t a problem. Our guide Rachel was very good and we didn’t hit any huge rocks. At one rapids area called “High Noon” you have to decide to either go thru the less traveled route (with a chance of getting stuck on a rock) or take the full on ‘into the huge boulder we might crash route’.

Our guide sent us thru the tamer section and we did high center the raft precariously sideways. We felt like we might be in trouble but it ending up not being a big deal. Being stuck did allow us the opportunity to watch two other rafts hit the boulder sideways. The river pushed one raft up and one of the rafters fell one. It was pretty sweet to watch firsthand (and be glad it wasn’t you!).

The rafting trip is roughly 3.5 hours long. We is a fairly constant river, the water was lower since it was the beginning of the release. The Tieton River flows through a beautiful canyon and Highway 12 is sometimes visible from the river. Most people onshore would wave when we floated by.

We all had a great time on the trip and I would recommend it. Being my first river rafting trip, it scores a 10 for fun with me. At the river level we were floating at, I thought it was a good causal ride with a few good rapids but nothing too scary. For a beginner going out for a short day adventure, I’d recommend it highly. I really can’t wait for my daughter to turn 11 so she can go on a trip like this.

Here is the link to Orion. http://leavenworthriverrafting.com/

As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome!

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