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Meet Me At the River trips include kayaks, guides and insight on the Spokane River. (File / The Spokesman-Review)
Meet Me At the River trips include kayaks, guides and insight on the Spokane River. (File / The Spokesman-Review)

Rainier, etc., offer free ride

OUTBREAK – There’s no charge to drive into national parks on July 18-19 and Aug. 15-16 under a new entrance-fee-free weekend program to help families become reacquainted with some of the best natural scenery in the world.

These fee-free weekends are in addition to the usual fee-free days: National Public Lands Day, which falls on Sept. 26 this year, and Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

The waiver does not include fees charged for camping, reservations, climbing, or use of concessions.


Get acquainted with your river

OUTPADDLE – The whitewater raft trips were a hit, now the summer-fall series of “Meet Me At the River” group trips has shifted into kayak paddling.

The trip series is open to the public, sponsored by the Spokane River Forum to help locals learn about all or a portion of the 111 miles of the Spokane River.

Last week’s trips included family raft trips, including one that ends at Meenach Bridge today, and a sold-out full-moon paddle in downtown punctuated with dinner at Anthony’s.

The next trip is a July 23 flatwater kayak paddle from Plante’s Ferry to SIRTI, complete with a portage around Upriver Dam.

August and September feature a long list of trips on various segments of the river, including another moonlight paddle Aug. 5 plus family kayak tours and even a couple of overnighters.

Local river companies, Spokane Parks and Recreation Department and other groups provide the expertise, boats and equipment.

Preregistration required:

Info: Spokane River Forum, 535-7084.

Salmon anglers thinking pink

OUTFISH – The 2009 pink salmon forecast calls for a sensational 5 million pink salmon entering Puget Sound. That’s 2 million more than 2007, which wasn’t a bad year.

This every-other-year fishing bonanza is a must-do: Don’t miss it.

Tip: Bleed and ice pink salmon quickly after they are caught to prevent their flesh from going soft.

Peak timing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca should be around early- to mid-August and it will likely get crazy around the Mukilteo area and the beach immediately south known as “Humpie Hollow.”