Exploring the Elwha River

Written by Tom O’Keefe

We see communities building new hiking or mountain biking trails, but it’s not every day that river runners get a brand new river to explore, yet that’s exactly what has happened on the Elwha River with the removal of a couple of big dams.

Two decades ago, American Whitewater, a longtime KEEN Hybrid.Care partner, joined the conversation calling for removal of the Elwha Dam. Over the years, American Whitewater made the case that recreational opportunities would not be “lost,” but would change with the removal of the dams and the draining of the reservoirs. Salmon have quickly begun to colonize new habitat that has been inaccessible and kayakers are finding new challenges to enjoy with the whitewater that has emerged.

Local paddlers recently got out to explore this new stretch of river that has been buried beneath the waters of a reservoir for the past century.