Sultan River, WA

Location: Western WA, east of Everett & Monroe on Highway 2. We ran the Sultan for about 6 miles above the town of Sultan.
Character: Beautiful temperate / rainy granite gorge, with a really ‘creeky,’ pool-drop field. Moss, ferns, etc.
Technical Difficulty: Class III with a little IV, depending on water level. Varying sweeper/strainer hazard, do to the enclosed nature and big fores.
Temperature & Conditions: We ran it in mid-February. Cold water, partly snow-fed.
Sultan Small.jpg
Ben splashdown.jpg
Put-in is at a location known as Powerhouse, a river power station. Whitewater Rivers of Washington State has OK directions here, but better than I can give… borrow it off the bookshelf at REI (or, if you’re in WA, I’d say it’s a good investment - I have a copy).

I ran an open yak and Ben ran his kayak. I recommend having good eddying-out skills on the Sultan. There were 2 rapids we called IV on it, and both could portaged easily in a packraft, but scouting and possibly portaging the first one involves eddying out just below a smaller couple III drops. It’s the one I’m running in the picture, and the eddy you want to catch is directly upstream of me, just out of sight on picture left.

On this first IV drop, which is shortly below Powerhouse, there’s a water pillow (I’m hitting it in the pic) you could power over and ‘boof’ into the pool below. More likely, as we did, you do a hard 90 right around the rock into an intermediate pool, then go immediately over a second drop (which the pic of Ben shows him landing). If you’re comfortable in a little IV and with close proximity to rock, it’s great fun.

The second IV, known as “Little Nasty,” is relatively low on the river, and has a big horn in the middle that could put a dent in your butt. We ran it river-right fine, without scouting, but it’s easy to scout if you’d like.

Great pictures Andrew…what camera were you using?



I’m not sure what the camera was: it was Ben’s camera.

:smiley: Can’t resist giving Ben a shout out: on my first Grand Canyon trip, he taught me how to paddle his kayak, which eventually led to me being a part of Alpacka - AND he’s sort of my paddling mentor! So that guy is responsable for all sorts of chaos in the world…