Fun in the Ellensburg sunshine

Andrew Kollar

Andrew Kollar

Andrew Kollar, Staff Reporter

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Ellensburg and the surrounding area presents plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation during the summer. Some recreational activities include river rafting, camping and hiking.

Outdoor Pursuits and Rentals (OPR) provides students with the gear and knowledge to get students outside in every season.

Tessa Carlin of OPR recommends getting out on the water to take advantage of the summer heat, whether that be paddleboarding at People’s Pond or rafting the Yakima River.

Aside from the 16 or more guided rafting trips OPR has planned already, students can create their own outdoor trip. If students are looking to go on a guided trip, OPR will provide the gear and a guide for the group at a rate of $30 per student.

“When people come in for individual trips, those are the most fun, I think,” Carlin said. “You can get a small group of people that know each other well.”

If students are experienced and just looking to be provided with gear, they can rent six-person rafts, standup paddleboards, inflatable kayaks, inner tubes and lifejackets.

In years prior, OPR has taken reservations in advance, due to the high volume of raft rentals during the summer. But with recent changes to computer software, they will not be taking reservations for the summer of 2017. It is a temporary issue that should be resolved for next year, but students need to be aware that raft rentals are extremely desired and it is not likely that rafts will be available in the middle of the day.

“We open at 9 (a.m.) and I would suggest getting here at 9 (a.m.) on the day that you want to go,” Carlin said.

OPR is a convenient resource for students but it isn’t the only outdoor recreation hub in town. Mountain High Sports is another option for students looking to buy or purchase gear.

Rafting gear and paddleboards are the most popular items to rent in the summer, but there are more activities to do.

OPR and Mountain High Sports have everything that hikers and campers will need to go car camping or backpacking. Hiking and camping are still good ways to spend time and there are many areas to camp and hike around the Ellensburg area. It might get too hot to hike up Manastash or around the Yakima River Canyon, but there are a few hikes within a short drive that provide more shade and cooler temperatures.

One of the closer hikes to downtown would be Umptanum Falls. This hike is only three miles round trip and will provide hikers with a rewarding, cool pond that is fed by the waterfall. Umptanum is rated as an “easy stroll,” according to the Washington Trails Association.

People looking to do more advanced hiking can head west and explore the Salmon La Sac area, which provides hikers and campers with scenic views of Cle Elum Lake from all directions.

Salmon La Sac is home to nine different trails, including the ever-popular Coal Mines Trail and John Wayne Trail, about 45 minutes from downtown. The hiking trails are shaded by old growth forest and there are plenty of different styles of camping to choose from.

While some people like the comfort of having neighbors and a public bathroom, others look to isolate themselves from the crowd. Salmon La Sac has both within a short distance of all of the trails and the lake.

Teanaway is another area to camp and hike, providing enthusiasts with ample backpacking and day-hiking trips. Through Teanaway, hikers can access popular destinations including Mt. Stewart, the biggest slab of exposed granite in the U.S., standing 9,416 feet above sea level;  Lake Ingalls, one of the most desired destinations in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness;  and Miller Peak, the 3,200-vertical climb that brings hikers through alpine meadows and a panoramic view of the cascades from its peak.

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Fun in the Ellensburg sunshine