Kayaking the Yaak River – Yaak to Whitetail Campground

We’re always looking for new places to take the kayaks out. This week, someone recommended the Yaak River. We’ve been up the Yaak before but never on the river. I’m always a little nervous to jump onto a river that I’m not familiar with, but I actually found a segment in our Northwest guide-book that covers that area. There’s only one real rapid of any size and the stretch is considered class II.

From the 3 mile junction north of Bonners Ferry, you drive east on Hwy 2. A few miles after cross the Montana line, take a left on Hwy 508. Drive roughly 24 miles to the Whitetail campground…..it’s on the right. Drop a vehicle and continue another 6ish miles to Yaak.

We asked permission to launch behind the Yaak mercantile. The people were super nice and told us to have at it.

Launching behind the Yaak mercantile…..

The river starts out deep and calm. If the water weren’t so cold there would be a ton of great places to swim along the way. The only drawback would be that the banks are steep and the property along this stretch is mostly, if not all, private.

You move along slowly for the first half of the trip. Around the halfway point, the river gets shallower and picks up speed. You’ll encounter riffles for some decent stretches in the second half. Don’t wait too late into the season or the water will become too shallow in spots.

There is a small rapid behind the Pete Creek campground. It’s a fun little place to play….nothing too serious but enough to add a little extra interest to the trip.

After passing the rapid, you float through some more gentle riffles and the river continues to move along pretty well. About 45 minutes prior to the take out you’ll hit some really slow-moving water. The river opens up into more of a little “pond” back there. Once on the other side of that it picks up again and it moves pretty well again as you approach Whitetail.

Watch that log!!!!

The entire run takes between 2 1/2 and 4 hours depending on how much you dawdle. It’s relaxing and beautiful. I recommend it! We liked it so much we did it 2 days in a row.

Happy paddling!!
M

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