- Your Public Lands
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- What To Do
A handful of dispersed camping options along the Snake River offer direct access to the water. Many sites have a fire ring. There are definitely more trees to enjoy shade under than its upriver neighbor Little Goose Landing. The shoreline isn't as accessible either.
The boat launch is frequented by many local fishermen. Ample parking allows for proper parking of tow vehicle and trailer. The boat launch is protected from the main flow of the river, and the dock provides an added break from any choppy water.
- Paddleboarding/ Kayaking
Brave the open waters of the Snake River or hug the shoreline and enjoy the landscape. You don't have to venture far to feel the grandeur and power of the river. Always wear a life jacket, and don't underestimate the current. Flat water is obviously ideal for this type of activity, so check the weather and consider an early morning or evening paddle.
How To Get There
Please do not solely rely on Google Maps as their route might not always reflect what is maintained. From Walla Walla, take HWY 125 north for three miles and turn left on Harvey Shaw Road. Follow Harvey Shaw Road for 42 miles to its end at the junction with HWY 261 and turn right. Take HWY 261 for five miles and turn left onto Little Goose Dam Road. Drive another five miles to the entrance of Texas Rapids Recreation Area (Lake Herbert G. West).
When To Go
Texas Rapids Recreation Area is open year round. If kayaking or paddleboarding, we recommend mornings or evenings when the water is typically calmer. A kayak is likely preferred on most occasions. Wind can make the water a little too choppy for paddleboarding. The sky is huge and unobstructed, making for impeccable star gazing. The drive north of town is always changing with the harvest cycle, and the journey will no doubt instill a sense of awe at the scale of agricultural efforts embarked upon around the valley.
What To Expect
Texas Rapids Recreation Area offers a single lane boat ramp, picnic area, and dispersed camping. Hot and/ or windy are likely the conditions you will encounter. Even though the river appears to meander through the desert, don't underestimate its power. The current is strong, and the boats traveling the waterway create significant wake. Always wear a life jacket when recreating near or in the water.
Wood fires are not allowed from June 10 to October 10, but charcoal or propane are allowed during that time. Keep pets on leash.
Valid Washington fishing license (if fishing). Fishing licenses are available at the marina store, online via the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, or local retail shops such as Bi-Mart, Wal-Mart, Sportsman's Warehouse, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Cascade Farm and Outdoor, and Dunning Irrigation.
Paddleboards and kayaks are considered vessels. Washington State requires all vessels to have a life jacket on board along with a noise maker (whistle). They are also not allowed in bouyed areas such as swimming beaches or any sandy area along the river. Also of note, barges travel along the Snake River regularly and can create large wakes. They also do not have the ability to make turns, so keep clear. For more information about boater safety refer to the boater education link provided.
The camping area has fire pits and picnic tables. The day-use area offers ADA accessible covered picnic tables and fire pits as well as a restrooms (flush in summer/ vault in winter). The single lane boat ramp launches into the Snake River.
We are all so fortunate to recreate in the Blue Mountains and surrounding valley. So many opportunities exist to play outside whether in a national forest, wilderness area, on a Wild and Scenic River, and more! With these opportunities comes great responsibility to appreciate that we are mere visitors and should all take pride in being good stewards of the wild. Many animals call these protected places home, including moose, elk, bear, cougar, bobcat, and snakes to name a few. Take precautions to respect their home and understand the appropriate response should an encounter occur. Additionally, many plant species thrive in the Blue Mountains, so staying on trail is always good practice. Carry First Aid supplies to better respond to accidents or encounters, and always let others know where the day's adventure is taking you.
Pets: In general, pets are allowed on a leash and under control throughout jurisdictions. The only restrictions we have encountered are around swimming areas. As a best practice, be mindful of riparian habitat in general. You never know where a precious spawning area might be located. Pack it in and pack it out applies to your furry friend as well.