Pewee Falls and the Pend Oreille River Year Round Flat Water

People go to Moab, Utah for world class mountain biking, hiking, and climbing, or Whistler-Backcomb for world class skiing. Well this location is the equivalent in flat water paddling. This section of the Pend Oreiile River sits between two dams 12 miles apart. The paddle starts at Boundary Dam north of Metaline Falls, Washington. Seattle Power & Lights operate the dam and provide a free campsite just up stream from the dam. If you ever saw the Kevin Costner film ”The Postman”, you have seen the dam. As you set out on this epic adventure, you will notice a small island up stream about ½ a mile. Paddle around it and notice the wildflowers and geese that hag out on it. Because this section of the river is between two dam, the water level fluctuated between 5 and 16 feet, depending on the amount of electricity they are producing for Seattle. Sometimes the island is almost under water, flowers and all, sometimes it is a normal island. Keep this fact in mind if you decide to camp anywhere along it's banks. After rounding the island, head southwest to an obvious bay on the opposite side of the river about ½ a mile from the island. As you round the point of this bay, 200 foot Pewee Falls comes into view. Pewee Falls, falls onto the river surface before you. Paddle over to it for great views. There is a small beach about 100 feet from the falls on the right (north) side to get one person out on to set up your tripod for photography. Watch for sun glare from behind the falls. When the water is low the base of the falls debris pile shows, but the spray is so intense, its like being in a shower. After enjoying this wonderful falls, head back out onto the body of the river and up stream. If the water is low there are caves on both sides of the river you can back into. Proceed up stream enjoying the unique shore line. About 4 miles up stream you will enter Z Canyon with 200 to 300 foot walls on each side. Just past Z Canyon is a primitive place to camp, and just a little further is a nice waterfall on the east side of the river. Continue up stream another 2 miles to a spot on the river with two waterfalls, one on each side of the river. Position your kayak somewhere in the middle and enjoy stereophonic waterfalls. This is a good spot to meditate with great sounds. In another two miles Flume Creek Falls is on the right. At this sharp bend in the river to the left (east) is a good elevated place to camp. Be sure to take your kayaks up to the upper level by the old machinery. One year, all our kayaks floated away. Another good thing about this paddle is you get to experience it all over going back down stream to the Put In .
To get to Boundary Dam, drive north of Spokane to the town of Metaline. Just past Metaline is the turn off to Boundary Dam. Follow this road all the way to the dam. In the fall this stretch of the road is very picturesque. Also while you are in the area, do the Dam tour. Its an unusual dam site. They provide a free campground at the dam site for those who wish to stay overnight.

Cool things to see: 200 foot waterfall, several other falls, caves, island, towering cliffs, wildflowers, dam tour and cave tour.

Crawford State Park & Gardner Cave near Boundary Dam

During the summer months Washington State Parks operates the Gardner Cave in Crawford State Park. As long as you are here, be sure to visit this interpreted lit cave. To get to the cave go back as if you are heading home and turn right (north) on the road you originally came in on. The cave and park are about 4 miles toward Canada.

Cool things to see: Underground cave artifacts and darkness.

All photographs are copyrighted by Chic Burge and are not to be copied.

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