Beginning on the south side of Mt. Rainier, the glacial-fed Nisqually River travels 81 miles through the towns of Elbe, Ashford and McKenna to the southern end of Puget Sound near Lacey, Washington. On its descent, it passes through two dams - Alder and La Grande - which form reservoirs of the same names and are popular recreational areas near Mount Rainier National Park.
Alder Lake Park offers year-round camping at four campgrounds on the lake, as well as two day-use areas. There are two boat launches at the park, lake level permitting.
Further down the river in Thurston County, the Nisqually HNDCP features a boat launch and ADA-accessible fishing pier, where anglers can find a variety of salmon as well as steelhead and trout.
The Nisqually River completes its journey at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, where 3,000 acres of salt and freshwater marshes and grasslands provide resting and nesting areas for a variety of migratory birds. Several walking trails throughout the refuge provide numerous opportunites for wildlife observation.
Nisqually River Access Points:
- Various river access spots along Hwy 706 from Elbe to the Nisqually Entrance at Mt. Rainier National Park
- Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife - Water Access Sites : Nisqually River
- McKenna Park & Boat Launch - McKenna, WA