The Sauk River, a National Wild and Scenic River that rises in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness  and joins the Skagit River near Rockport , offers a combination of fast and complex rapids, fantastic mountain scenery, and plenty of wildlife. Orion Expeditions (800/553-7466, http://orionexp.com , $75–90) runs trips that start 10 miles upriver and end in Darrington , with lots of class III–IV white water along the way. The primary season is May to mid-August. Orion provides lunch after the trip.
The Suiattle River (soo-AT-ul) starts in the Glacier Peak Wilderness  and meets the Sauk River north of Darrington. This is a good white-water river for families and folks starting out, with great mountain scenery and lots of small rapids along the 13 miles of river. Because of its glacial origins, the Suiattle has a milky, silt-laden appearance and braided channels. The main season for river-running is June to early September. Both Blue Sky Outfitters (800/228-7238, www.blueskyoutfitters.com ) and North Cascades River Expeditions (800/634-8433, www.riverexpeditions.com ) send rafts down the Suiattle, with lunch served after.
Experienced, do-it-yourself river runners can also enjoy the challenges of the Sauk and Suiattle Rivers on their own. The Suiattle is the tamer of the two, rated class II–III from Boundary Bridge to the Sauk River; it’s not navigable within the national forest due to logjams, hidden stumps, and debris. Put in at Boundary bridge. The Sauk River ranges from class I to V; from the White Chuck launch area to Clear Creek it’s a IV or V, with difficult rapids through narrow passages. From Bedal to White Chuck, the river is classified as a class III–IV, and below Clear Creek it ranges from class I to III. North of Darrington , the river is considerably calmer and is popular for canoeing.