Monday, December 13, 2010

Nature Tourism in the Yakima Valley

Nature tourism is defined as the enjoyment of travel through the natural world, its seasonal cycle and events, carried out in a manner that promotes the protection of natural and human communities.

Whether you choose the high desert route (I-82 E) over the sage and grass hilltops to overlook the valley stretching out below, or the route along the Yakima River at the bottom of the canyon, the natural scenery is spectacular. The Yakima River Canyon drive offers opportunities to spot eagles fishing in the winter as well as big horn sheep and mule deer on the cliffs and talus slopes. There are numerous places to pull off the road to view the wildlife and take pictures.

The Oak Creek Wildlife Feeding Station is located off The White Pass Scenic Byway (Hwy 12) Elk migrate from the mountains
when the snow pack gets deep, to the foothills where the station is located. The Rocky Mountain Elk bulls average weight is 450-900 lbs and their antler racks are impressive. During severe winters, as many as 8,000 elk may use feeding areas. The migration affords the opportunity to see these majestic animals up close as they are being fed. You may watch the feeding, which is generally around 1:30 every day and usually the elk stay nearby after the feeding.

Selah Winter Wildlife Tour:
  • The Winter Wildlife Tour is a nature themed getaway on January 22, 2011. You will have a chance to view Bighorn sheep at the Cleman Mountain winter feeding station, where up to 150 sheep congregate during feeding times and the elk that gather at Oak Creek Wildlife Area. Not many have the chance to get this close to the animals for the unique viewing and photographic opportunity. The cost is $45/person and includes breakfast, lunch and transportation. Call 509-698-7300 to reserve your space.

The Yakima Area Wildlife Viewing Guide
is a valuable resource outlining all the Nature tourism areas in the Yakima Valley. This brochure includes a map to all the natural areas and descriptions of the wildlife that one will see. The printed brochure is available at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center.

The Wenas Creek Wildlife Area was designated as a bird sanctuary in 1966 in honor of Hazel Wolf, a renown naturalist and Audubon mentor. Every Memorial Weekend, Washington State's Audubon Chapters and their friends gather in the Wenas Valley. There are campfire programs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. Field Trips, which include both birding trips and wildflower trips. are scheduled Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. This is a free event. The gathering is held in the vicinity of the Larrison Tree along Wenas Creek within the Wenas Creek Campground. The camping is primitive, if you would like to attending the programs and not camp there are many accommodation choices available in Yakima Area . The closest being the North Park Lodge in Selah.
  • The North Park Lodge in Selah is a great place stay with rustic log furniture and over sized rooms, a free continental breakfast, use of arcade, heated indoor pool and evening lounge.
Everyone is welcome to join in this free family friendly outing which is attended each year by around 200 men, women and children.

The Audobon Society produces an excellent series of birding trail maps for all areas in Washington State. The Sun and Sage Loop map features the birds seen in the Yakima Valley Area.

Video update Added 1/2010
Text updated 12/8/2010

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