Whitewater rafting businesses adapt to slow rivers

LEAVENWORTH, Wash. -- A lot of people will be trying to cool off this weekend with some white water rafting, but on many Western Washington rivers the sport doesn't pack quite the same punch this year, a result of historically low snow in the mountains.

Rafting businesses, however, are finding ways to adapt and still have fun on the water.

"In a way it might actually help us because we're going to be able to see a lot higher numbers of rentals a lot sooner in the season," said owner David Johnson, owner of Leavenworth Outdoor Center.

He pulled his rafts onshore for the season. A note posted on his website informs customers that they aren't doing whitewater trips.

Instead of rafting, they're doing tubing, kayaking, and paddle boarding. Those are rentals that typically don't happen until later in the season, when the water is calmer.

"Normally the beach that we're standing on now is covered with water this time of year and you cannot be out paddle boarding and tubing safely. This year we can be," said Johnson.

Across town, Osprey Rafting is trying to rebound from a difficult start to the year. They rent skis during the winter, and many ski areas didn't have enough snow this past year.

"It was pretty tough," said owner Gary Planagan.

He's found a way to still offer an exciting ride on the Wenatchee River. He runs customers down the same stretch of rapids multiple times. He calls it "hot laps."

"It's so fun we have to go back and do it a second time," he said.

Some of the guides at Osprey came to Leavenworth from California, where a drought means there's virtually no work for someone who's in the rafting business. The conditions in Washington might not be ideal, but they're certainly better than what other regions are dealing with.

"The river is an amazing environment to be on, whether it's high water or low water," said Planagan.

The slower current just means there's more time to take in the views.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment