Planning Your Visit

The Nisqually Watershed encompasses the communities of Ashford, Elbe, Eatonville, Yelm, McKenna and Roy, the Nisqually Indian Reservation, and parts of Lacey and DuPont. In short, there is a lot to do before and after your trip down the river!

Ashford is the gateway to Mount Rainier, and offers lodging, restaurants, and tourist activities for visitors. Although located above the navigable reaches of the Nisqually River, Ashford is a must-see community. Just down the road is Elbe, home of the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, and in close proximity of Alder Lake. For those wishing to enjoy flat lake water instead of a river, Elbe may be the place for you.

The Town of Eatonville is located near the upper most stretches of the Nisqually River Water Trail. It offers services to visitors, including cafes and restaurants, a Visitor’s Center, grocery store, and a few lodging options. When not enjoying the Nisqually River, Eatonville is in close proximity to multiple hiking trails, including UW Pack Forest, Nisqually State Park or the Bud Blancher Trail.

The City of Yelm is close two access points on the Nisqually River: McKenna Park and Nisqually Park at Yelm Powerhouse. Pick up food supplies at the grocery store or Food Co-op, enjoy a meal at a local restaurant, or stay the night in one of the town’s hotels.

Areas open to camping along the Nisqually River are very limited. The only developed campground along the Nisqually River Water Trail is Riverbend Campground (1040 Clubhouse Lane SE, Olympia WA 98513) offers nightly, weekly or monthly rates. In addition, Riverbend Campground allows day use of their property for a small fee. The location is convenient for boaters who wish to spend more than one day enjoying the water trail!

The Nisqually Indian Tribe’s Red Wind Casino is located between several access points to the Nisqually River. The casino features a smoking and non-smoking section, a variety of food and beverages, and a wide range of games.

Learn more about other recreation opportunities in the watershed, including hiking, biking, horseback riding and more. No matter what activities you enjoy, the Nisqually Watershed has something for you.