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Summer Recreation Makes a Comeback in Darrington

PHOTO: It's prime time to raft the Sauk River in northwestern Washington, and the town of Darrington is hoping people won't stay away in the aftermath of this year's deadly Oso mudslide. Photo courtesy Adventure Cascades.
PHOTO: It's prime time to raft the Sauk River in northwestern Washington, and the town of Darrington is hoping people won't stay away in the aftermath of this year's deadly Oso mudslide. Photo courtesy Adventure Cascades.
June 2, 2014

DARRINGTON, Wash. – Before becoming widely known for the devastating Oso mudslide in March, Snohomish County was perhaps best known for its outdoor recreation.

The conservation community is lending a hand to help restore that reputation.

Nine Washington groups have created a colorful brochure and map to highlight recreational opportunities around the town of Darrington, and they're hoping more people will make the area a summer destination.

Thomas O'Keefe, Northwest stewardship director of American Whitewater, says two new breweries are among the local businesses hoping for a boost now that one lane of State Highway 530 has reopened.

"The recreational economy – and the people who come visit that community in the summer – is incredibly important,” he says. “And we wanted to encourage people to remember there are these great recreational opportunities there, and that community really depends on that summer traffic."

The Oso mudslide restricted road access to Darrington for the past two months except to local residents and rescue workers.

Gov. Jay Inslee was among the visitors at Darrington Day on Saturday. O'Keefe also was in town last week, and says the family recreation options are many, including two of his favorites.

"There is a great trail up there,” he points out. “The Old Sauk Trail runs along the wild and scenic Sauk River. People can also raft the Sauk River – right now, it's just at an ideal level and it's one of our state's most scenic rivers that can be rafted."

The recreation map will be available at no cost in REI and Outdoor Research stores starting this week.

It's also available online at DestinationDarringtonMap.com.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA