On October 26, 2011 the Condit Dam on the White Salmon River was removed after years of negotiations between environmental groups, FERC, and state and local governments. It was built in 1913 to supply power to paper companies in Washington and was decommissioned to comply with modern environmental laws and increased maintenance costs.
This is great news for rafters and kayakers and even better news for the Columbia’s salmon and steelhead. Removal of the Condit Dam restored approximately 33 miles for steelhead and 14 miles for chinook to spawn.
The Condit Dam
The 125 foot tall dam was built in 1913 and created a 1.6 mile long reservoir.
Water impounded by the dam was diverted around the downstream riverbed via canal to an old powerhouse. This left only a minimum amount of water for fish to swim up and spawn on the White Salmon River. Three miles of the river known as the White Salmon Narrows has since opened up for fish to travel and whitewater paddlers to kayak, SUP, and raft.
The White Salmon Narrows
The bottom half of the White Salmon Narrows is an amazingly beautiful section of river that is now appreciated by many. This section starts in a beautiful, deep gorge with fun class II and III rapids. The Class V Steelhead Falls is about half way down and portaged by most paddlers on the left.
There are several more class II and III rapids in the narrows, and the rock formations look like they’re from another world. The whitewater is fun and the scenery is unreal.
Kayakers and rafters now finish this iconic trip just before the White Salmon meets the Columbia River.