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Rafting on the White Salmon River

River Drifters guides rafting trips on several rivers in Oregon and Washington. No matter your age or skill level, there are great ways to get out there in a raft.

HUSUM, Wash. — In this week's Let's Get Out There, we get out on the river with River Drifters on a half-day rafting trip on the White Salmon River.

In the spring and summer months, Mount Adams snowmelt snowballs to feed the White Salmon River.

“You feel like you're in a very, very remote place. Like there's nothing else around you,” said Oscar Arguedas.

The water first travels through underground lava tubes, giving the already cold river a frigid personality. The water temperature in late June was around 40 degrees.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

RELATED: Let's Get Out There: Rafting the Clackamas River

For a much warmer reception, let’s head to River Drifters in Husum, Washington, for some rafting. Arguedas is the river manager.

“We do rafting. We have two different options on the White Salmon River," Arguedas said. "We have a half day trip, which is a three-and-a-half-hour trip and then we have a full day where we usually spend about five hours, and then we have lunch in the river and all that.”

As a result of the late season snow, the river has been higher than usual, so full day trips resumed in early July.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

“Every trip is different, new people. And even when you paddle the same river every day, every rapid changes and there is a hundred ways to run the rapids, so it’s always a different trip and it’s always great,” Arguedas said.

I brought my wife, Jen, along for this adventure. Full disclosure, I bought us each a spot on a half-day rafting trip and thought, 'Hey, this would make for a great Let’s Get Out There!' 

Arguedas gave a brief safety talk, and everyone was fitted for gear, including mandatory wetsuits. After that, it was a very short drive to the put-in where we went over paddling techniques before we hit the water.

Our group had two rafts led by Arguedas and Mary Morgan.

“Some people think that this is not for them, you know, and I can assure you that we have an option for everybody,” said Arguedas.

Credit: Jon Goodwin, KGW

We were a little nervous after hearing how cold the water was, but with wetsuits on, it was actually quite refreshing. Rafting is great for team building, and great for meeting new people. Along with Arguedas, we shared a raft with Matt and Kathy McGovern. They live in New York and were visiting family in Seattle.

“There were so many rapids, I thought it was a good mix ... refreshing just to be on the water,” said Kathy McGovern. 

“A lof of fun. What a beautiful day, blue sky,” added Matt.

Our trip spanned seven miles in about three hours. It was a great balance of paddling and enjoying the beauty of the river. Because of the high water, we skipped some of the bigger waterfalls, but they looked pretty gnarly.

River Drifters recommends this White Salmon trip for kids aged 10 and older. They offer other guided trips on more mellow rivers across Washington and Oregon. No matter you age or skill level, there’s something for you.

“Rafting doesn't get much better than in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.,” Arguedas said. “So if you're around here, just make sure you come here and you experience these beautiful rivers and just the beautiful summer that we're having right now.”

To book a trip with River Drifters, or find out where they guide, visit: riverdrifters.net

Another lovely day on the White Salmon River with such great flows right now!! 📸 @oscar_arguedas

Posted by River Drifters Rafting in Oregon & Washington on Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Let's Get Out there airs once a week on KGW's 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We're including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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