The Kettle River headwaters are approximately 90 miles north of the US / Canada border deep in the Monashee Mountains, a sub-range of the Columbia Mountains. The river crosses the international boundary just southeast of Midway B.C. entering the United States in Ferry County, Washington. For another 26 meandering miles the Kettle River winds thru the foothills of the Kettle River Range, cutting a path at the toe of towering cliffs, passing open pine meadows and lined with intermittent stands of black cottonwood. In this stretch of current the river is traveling east south east until it reaches the confluence with Curlew Creek, a stream draining a large valley and Curlew Lake, located several miles southward. Here, in a big bend of the Kettle River, is the town of Curlew and the point where, for the first time the flow of the river now travels north east. One of the unique features of this mountain river is that it once again crosses the international boundary and enters Canada, although not for long. Now the drift is nearly due east with the river tumbling over Cascade Falls just before another big bend, this time heading back to the south, and for the third time crossing the international border, returning to the States and forming the county line between Ferry County (to the west) and Stevens County (to the east). The Kettle River flows another 27 miles southwards, thru two gorges and finally, at the southern tip of Kamloops Island enters the mighty Columbia River draining into what is now within the northern reach of Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake.
Autumn on the Kettle River upstream from Curlew with Bamber Mountain in the background.
J. Foster Fanning photography
After meandering many miles through the Monashee Mountains, bending around the northern reaches of the Kettle River Range and crossing the international border three times the Kettle River Canyon (gorge) at the mouth of the river and it’s junction with Lake Roosevelt in the Columbia River Valley mark the end of this unique waterflow. The associated image captures the river during the annual draw-down of the lake exposing the canyon submerged by the impeded waters behind the Grand Coulee Dam.