Horse Rock Ridge

On May 20 Greg and I headed to Horse Rock Ridge. He ADORES this hike and goes at least once every spring. This was my first time here during the wildflower bloom. In addition to the flowers, we caught a lucky break with the views when the morning cloud cover burned off in the afternoon.

Long ago a road led right up to the edge of the meadow, but the BLM has decommissioned that road to protect the area. Now you have to hike it, but it’s an easy stroll.

Then you emerge from the forest into the meadow, which stretches away into the distance.

The meadow doesn’t have the spectacular displays of showy balsamroot and lupine that have been blooming in the eastern Gorge, but it has plenty of other wildflowers.

The BLM recognized the site’s botanical importance and established it as a Research Natural Area (RNA) in June 1995. It had previously been established as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in 1984. But although this spot of land is protected, the surrounding area is not, and the view is unfortunately peppered with clearcuts.

At the far end of the meadow the trail climbs up through the trees to a radio tower. I went up there while I waited for Greg. No views here.

But the tower is at the end of a road and down that road a very short distance a clearcut enables a view of the Willamette Valley:

Back at the meadow we sat and enjoyed the view. Mt. Jefferson had its head in the clouds:

The Three Sisters:

Hiking back:

This is a great hike if you have kids because it’s short and easy with a nice payoff at the end. Greg says there should be wildflowers blooming for another two weeks or so.

Ginko Petrified Forest State Park

May 1, 2017

Today was our last day and since it would only take a few hours to drive home we visited several places first. Yesterday we had stopped at the Ginko Petrified Forest State Park visitor’s center. They had some good interpretive displays and a film explaining the whole petrified tree thing. The center sits on a bluff above the Columbia River. It was hard to stand out here and enjoy the view, though, due to the exceedingly high winds.

Wanapum Lake

Outside the visitor’s center were these petroglyphs on display. The Vantage Petroglyphs were originally located along the Columbia River about one mile north of here. At one time over 300 separate figures were visible on the basaltic columns. These petroglyphs are considered one of the best examples of petroglyphic art in Central Washington. They were removed from the original site, now under the waters of Wanapum Lake.

Vantage Petroglyphs

Vantage Petroglyphs

Today we hiked the interpretive trail a few miles west of the visitor’s center. Along this trail are numerous examples of petrified trees protected by these stone enclosures. 12 to 17 million years ago lava poured out of cracks in the earth. The silica-enriched lava flows covered 63,000 square miles, burying this area. One of these flows spilled into an ancient lake that once existed here. As the lava cooled around the water-soaked logs, the silica from the lava slowly replaced organic cells in the trees. Over time these trees became petrified, and today you can see some some along this trail:
Petrified tree cages

Petrified maple

Petrified douglas-fir

The high winds yesterday brought a mess of clouds and it was totally overcast today:

Petrified forest trail

The ginko tree appeared more than 150 million years ago and still grows today, although it still lives only because of its cultivation in gardens. Nowhere in the world does it exist in its wild state. This is petrified ginko:

Petrified Ginko

The enclosures at Ginko Petrified Forest State Park are good for protecting the trees but not so good for any creatures that fall in and can’t get out.

Trapped

There’s an old ranger house at the trailhead for the interpretive trails. It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938. It’s in good shape although it doesn’t appear to be used anymore.

Ranger house

Ranger house

Before leaving Vantage we went down to see the Rocky Coulee Recreation Area, which turned out to have a campground we didn’t know about:

Rocky Coulee Recreation Area

It also had the remains of this old rusty old wrecked car:

Rocky Coulee Recreation Area

Rocky Coulee Recreation Area

The road ends at this recreation area, but there used to be a river crossing here. First a ferry in 1914 then a bridge in 1927. That bridge was dismantled when the Interstage 90 bridge opened just downstream in 1962.

Over on the other side of the river we visited the Wild Horse Monument just off the freeway. This neat outdoor artwork was created by Spokane artist David Govedare in 1989 for Washington’s Centennial Celebration. It’s located on a hill above Wanapum Lake, just off Interstate 90. Unfortunately the horses have been defaced by quite a lot of graffiti.

Wild Horse Monument

From there we could see back across to Vantage where we had just been. You can see the road on the right dead-ending at the old river crossing where Rocky Coulee Recreation Area is now:

View from Wild Horse Monument

The Interstate 90 bridge:

View from Wild Horse Monument

From there we drove southeast over to the Wahluke Unit of the Hanford Reach National Monument. We followed a gravel road south from Highway 24 down to a viewpoint that looked out over the Columbia River and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation:

Columbia River

Hanford, of course, was the epicenter of the Manhattan Project. Plutonium manufactured at the site was used in the bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. Today they are working on cleaning up the site, but it’s quite an undertaking. The white building in the foreground is the F Reactor:

Hanford

We took a side road off the gravel road down to a boat ramp. According to a sign here, this cabin is one of the oldest buildings in Franklin County. It was part of the White Bluffs settlement, and the community included a Wanapum village, ferry, army depot, saloon, trading post, warehouse, and houses. White Bluffs became an important transportation hub where supplies shipped by steamers from The Dalles were loaded onto pack trains destined for mining sites in northern Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, and Fort Colville, Washington. Its most prosperous years were between 1858 and 1870. In the early 1900s most of the town was relocated across the river, but in 1943 the newly established Hanford site meant that residents had to go. They were given just 30 days to evacuate.

Old cabin

Old cabin

Looking across the Columbia River to the Hanford Nuclear Site. That’s where the town used to be before it was evacuated and razed during WWII:

Columbia River

We could see north up the Columbia River to the feature known as White Bluffs. Ice Age floods and the river carved away 600 feet of ancient river and lake deposits of the Ringold Formation to expose these bluffs.

White Bluffs

White Bluffs

So that was our trip! It was fun to explore a bit of Central Washington, an area where neither of us had spent any time. Pretty cool place!

<< Day 5: Whiskey Dick Mountain

Whiskey Dick Mountain

April 30, 2017

Today we drove east from Vantage, WA where we were camped and did the Whiskey Dick hike. Following directions in Best Desert Hikes Washington, we turned off Highway 14 and followed a bumpy road for a bit before parking. We could see north to Whiskey Dick Mountain from our parking spot:

Whiskey Dick Hike

We hiked east down the road under very high winds.

Whiskey Dick Hike

In the distance we could see the Columbia River. The depression running from foreground to background is known as Rocky Coulee and we’d be going down in it:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Another look at Rocky Coulee:

Whiskey Dick Hike

The road headed down into the coulee. At points the road was a real mess, definitely not drivable in a regular vehicle. Looks like off-roaders have come through here in muddier times and ripped the road to shreds. This picture doesn’t accurately convey the steepness of this stretch of the massive ruts:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Down in Rocky Coulee; you can just make out the road that we descended:

Whiskey Dick Hike

We came across this one spot on the road where the clay had curled and dried. Super cool-looking!

Whiskey Dick Hike

Whiskey Dick Hike

Now the road ascended steeply, climbing up out of Rocky Coulee. This is looking back at the route we hiked down:

Whiskey Dick Hike

We were delighted to discover that the hedgehog cactus was blooming. Hedgehog Cactus (also called snowball cactus) is the only pincushion-type cactus found in Washington. Despite the fact that it rarely survives when removed from its natural habitat, the cactus is collected for residential gardens.

Whiskey Dick Hike

Whiskey Dick Mountain

We saw other flowers blooming as well:

Whiskey Dick Mountain

Whiskey Dick Mountain

Whiskey Dick Hike

Whiskey Dick Hike

Going up:

Whiskey Dick Mountain

We passed Lone Star Spring but the only water we saw was a trickle going down the road:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Whiskey Dick Hike

Just up the road from the spring was this strange A-frame shelter. We couldn’t figure out what it was for:

Whiskey Dick Hike

We were pleased to spot two elk in the distance. They quickly ran off, wanting nothing to do with us:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Whiskey Dick Hike

We left the road to visit the high point that we were near. It got windier and windier as we climbed:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Whiskey Dick Hike

It was CRAZY windy at the top. It had to have been 30 MPH. Here’s Deb leaning into the wind:

Whiskey Dick Hike

We had a view of the Columbia River and the Interstate 90 bridge from up there:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Just below the rocky summit we found a sheltered spot where we ate a snack and had a break before continuing on. Rather than retrace our steps we decided to head due west cross-country:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Whiskey Dick Hike

This proved to be a good choice because our route took us through a super beautiful patch of lupine and balsamroot. The wind made the flowers difficult to photograph, but they were nice to look at:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Whiskey Dick Hike

Looking back at our route. The windy high point is dead center:

Whiskey Dick Hike

See it now?

Whiskey Dick Hike

We started descending down into Rocky Coulee since our truck was on the other side. See that steep jeep track going straight up the hill over there? The truck is out of sight at the end of that track:

Whiskey Dick Hike

We startled two deer during our descent:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Almost down to the bottom of the coulee:

Whiskey Dick Hike

We reached the bottom of Rocky Coulee:

Whiskey Dick Hike

Ascending the steep jeep track on the other side of Rocky Coulee (hard to imagine any vehicle every driving this!):

Whiskey Dick Hike

After our hike we drove over to the Wild Horse Wind & Solar Facility and visited the Renewable Energy Center there. Located at 3,500 feet of elevation on Whiskey Dick Mountain (yes the same one we were just hiking on; it’s a long mountain), this place experiences some pretty extreme weather. Temperatures range from 0 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with maximum recorded wind gusts exceeding 90 miles per hour. But the wind turbines and solar array up here are capable of operating in a wide range of weather conditions, with the turbines producing energy in winds ranging from 9 to 56 mph.

Wild Horse Wind & Solar Facility

We were just in time for a tour, which enabled us to go inside one of those wind turbines. Neato! The tower was so big that a dozen of us could stand inside comfortably. Our guide told us that one windmill costs $3 million and that in the 35 MPH winds up here the tip of the blades were traveling at a speed of 120 miles per hour. WOW.

Wild Horse Wind & Solar Facility

When we got back to the campground, we found quite a mess. Knowing it was going to be a super windy day we had collapsed our tent, left it staked, and put heavy stuff on it, so it wouldn’t blow away. This was how we left it in the morning:

Protecting the tent

And this is what we came back to:

What a mess

The heavy blue bin full of gear had tipped over. The gear was spread around on the grass and the bin was nowhere in sight. The lid of the ice chest had flipped up. The heavy 5-gallon water jug had tipped over and was empty. The chairs were scattered. The tablecloth had caught some wind and sent our camp stove flying down the hill below our site. WHAT. A. MESS. And by the way, the wind was STILL blowing 20-30 MPH. Thank goodness we had collapsed the tent; if we hadn’t it probably would have blown away. We gathered up our crap and got it secured before we headed down to the campground showers. On our way down we spotted something blue across the road. It was our bin! We chased after it as it blew across a field and down into a deep ditch where Deb retrieved it. If we had gone to the showers just one minute later, the bin would have already been in the ditch out of sight and we wouldn’t have seen it. We never did find the tablecloth or the “bag of bags” (a plastic grocery bag filled with other plastic grocery bags and ziploc bags). Other than that, everything seemed to be accounted for. It could have been SO much worse!

We decided it was just too windy to put the tent back up, so we ended up renting this “camping cabin” which, conveniently enough, was right next to our site. It was a wind-free place to sleep that night, AND it made for a nice windbreak when we cooked dinner on the porch.

Our Vantage campground

Wind block

The wind blew for most of the night, so we were glad to be warm and cozy in the cabin!

<< Day 4: Whiskey Dick Mountain | Day 6: Ginko Petrified Forest State Park >>

Northrup Canyon

April 29, 2017

Today we hiked up Northrup Canyon, which is part of Steamboat Rock State Park. John and Caty Northrup moved into this canyon in the late 1800s and tried to make a living here. Washington State Parks acquired the land in 1976, but they left the old homestead buildings which still stand today. A trail beyond that goes up to Northrup Lake. This hike had a great mix of scenery and history and was really fabulous!

From the trailhead the road continues up the canyon to the old homestead, but hikers park here and walk the rest of the way:

Northrup Canyon

Heading out:

Northrup Canyon

We soon passed this rusty stove and pile of rusty cans. When the Grand Coulee Dam was being built there were worker camps located near Northrup Canyon. They dumped their kitchen refuse here and ironically enough this old trash pile is now protected.

Northrup Canyon

Hiking through a pleasant forest. Northrup Canyon is home to the only native forest in Grant County, Washington:

Northrup Canyon

A stand of aspen:

Northrup Canyon

It was really pretty back in here. The basalt canyon walls rose 700+ feet above us. It felt like an entirely different place from the surrounding landscape outside the canyon:

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

One stretch of muddy trail had attracted these cute little white crowned sparrows:

Northrup Canyon

The road skirted around a big flat area that was probably a farm field back in the day:

Northrup Canyon

The creekside trail was flooded for a bit…

Northrup Canyon

…so we had to detour over to the scree slope:

Northrup Canyon

Then we could see the old homestead ahead. According to Judy Bentley’s Hiking Washington’s History, “John W. Northrup settled in the canyon in 1874, then built a barn out o flogs, filed a notice of water rights, started an irrigation program, and finally, in 1904, installed a water system. He planted the area’s first orchard.” In the photo below the original house is the one on the right behind the tree. The house on the left was built later, although I’m not sure when:

Northrup Canyon

Various outbuildings on the left with the “newer” house on the right:

Northrup Canyon

We had a lot of fun exploring all around the old homestead:

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

The newer of the two houses is in surprisingly good shape considering the lack of maintenance and that’s open to the elements. I can’t find any information about what year it was built, but according to Bentley “After the Northrups left and the ranch was used to range cattle, the canyon once again flourished as a farm when new owners brought in electric power and ran thirteen sprinklers to irrigate alfalfa in the 1970s.” So maybe the house dates to that time:

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

The building on the left is the original house, looking worse for wear:

Northrup Canyon

Crumbling buildings behind the original house:

Northrup Canyon

Inside the original house:

Northrup Canyon

There’s a big old water tank up on the hill:

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

The old road ends here at the homestead, but a trail continues up the canyon behind that building. That’s where we’re headed next!

Northrup Canyon

Looking back towards the homestead:

Northrup Canyon

The whole stretch of trail between the homestead and the lake was really nice:

Northrup Canyon

Northrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

Saw a marmot!

Northrup Canyon

We passed a series of ponds which I think are snow melt ponds. Some of them were drowning trees!

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

The trail ends at Northrup Lake, where we hung out for awhile and enjoyed the peace and quiet before heading back:

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

Northtrup Canyon

By the time we were approaching the trailhead the sunny day had turned overcast:

Northtrup Canyon

We sat at the truck eating chips and salsa and chatting before we hit the road. On our way south we stopped at Dry Falls. Unfortunately the visitor’s center refused to let us in even though they weren’t supposed to close for another 10 minutes. Lame.

Dry Falls

We took a look out over the landscape. It’s pretty impressive. Here’s the description from Washington’s Channeled Scablands Guide: “Dry falls is the spectacular remnant of a waterfall found at the midpoint of Grand Coulee. The 3.5-mile-long scalloped precipice is some 400 feet high and ten times the width of Niagara Falls. The cataracts, when they were running, were through to comprise the greatest known waterfall that ever existed. Geologists believe that water flowed in this vicinity at some 65 miles per hour through Upper Grand Coulee and over the rock face. So deep were the floodwaters, however, that had one been able to view the sight from above, the falls themselves would likely have looked like a mere dip in the swiftly flowing, 700-feet-deep torrent.”

Dry Falls

Here’s a pano I took with my iPhone:

Dry Falls

We ended the day in Vantage where we got a campsite at the Vantage Riverstone Resort. I think this place is probably hopping in the summertime, especially when there’s a concert at the Gorge Amphitheater, but there was hardly anyone around when we were there:

Our Vantage campground

<< Day 3: Steamboat Rock | Day 5: Whiskey Dick Mountain >>

Steamboat Rock

April 28, 2017

Today we hiked up Steamboat Rock. Since we were camped in the campground there, we just sauntered through the park over to the trailhead. This little bird (a say’s phoebe) greeted us at the trailhead sign.

Steamboat Rock State Park

The rock formation known as Steamboat Rock was formed between 10 and 15 million years ago as basalt flows covered most of Eastern Washington. Glaciers arrived more than 100,000 years ago. The current shape of the rock was created during repeated flooding from glacial Lake Missoula between 12,500 and 18,000 years ago. The durable rock withstood the floods and now rises above the waters of Banks Lake, a huge 27-mile-long 26,886- acre reservoir.

Steamboat Rock State Park

As we hiked the stretch between the campground and the base of the rock, we were pleasantly surprised to find that balsamroot was blooming.

Steamboat Rock State Park

Steamboat Rock State Park

Steamboat Rock State Park

The first short stretch of trail is a bit of a scramble:

Steamboat Rock State Park

Then it becomes more trail-like, although a bit worn away from erosion:

Steamboat Rock State Park

We saw a raven flying in and out of the crack in this wall and through the binoculars we could see a nest back in there, which of course doesn’t show up in this photo:

Steamboat Rock State Park

Marmot!

Steamboat Rock State Park

As we approached the flat top of the rock, we started passing more wildflowers.

Steamboat Rock State Park

Steamboat Rock State Park

Looking west over Banks Lake to the snow Cascade Mountains:

Looking the other direction at a lonely homestead on the big desolate plateau. It would be hard to live here.

The water this section of Banks Lake was aquamarine. Beautiful!

Steamboat Rock State Park

The state park stretched out below us. You can see part of the campground at upper left:

Steamboat Rock State Park

We found a nice spot to sit and enjoy the view and the sunshine and just hang out for awhile. It’s been a miserable wet gray winter in Portland and we felt very sun-deprived. It felt fabulous to just lay here soaking up the sun, which felt SO good:

Steamboat Rock State Park

Steamboat Rock is kind of divided into two areas. After wandering around on one part we headed over to the other part. Found this cool boulder, which I assume is a glacial erratic, that had split into pieces. The snowy Cascades are in the distance:

Steamboat Rock State Park

Looking out over the grassy top of Steamboat Rock:

Steamboat Rock State Park

Exploring:

Steamboat Rock State Park

We followed the trail north along the rim of the rock, with a view out over the blue-green waters of Banks Lake:

Steamboat Rock State Park

Spotted these two deer:

Steamboat Rock State Park

We continued to see wildflowers, including these phlox:

Steamboat Rock State Park

From the north end of the rock we could look north out over Banks Lake and these crazy rock formations:

Steamboat Rock State Park

As the trail circled around and headed back down to the descent path, we could see east into the mouth of Northrup Canyon, where we would be hiking the next day:

Steamboat Rock State Park

Looking down on part of the campground:

Steamboat Rock State Park

Descending the “trail”:

Steamboat Rock State Park

After a snack back at our campsite we decided to drive north and check out the Grand Coulee Dam. They have an excellent visitor’s center there that we explored. Some fun facts:

  • The dam began operating in 1942 and is one of the largest concrete structures in the world.
  • The dam is a mile long and contains almost 12 million cubic yards of concrete. It weighs 24 million tons.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake – the reservoir behind the dam – stretches for 151 miles, all the way to the Canadian border.
  • A total of 152 million hours went into this public works project.
  • Surveyors had to identify the best location for the dam and the resulting reservoir, identifying land that would be flooded and mapping out lands that would be irrigated. Over one million acres were surveyed for this project.

Here is a view of the dam from the visitor’s center:

Grand Coulee Dam

We also drove to a nearby viewpoint called Crown Point State Park, which provided a nice view of the dam:

Grand Coulee Dam

Looking north from the viewpoint. This is the downstream side of the dam:

Grand Coulee Dam

A full and busy day! It was nice to relax at our campsite that evening:

Steamboat Rock State Park

A word about the campground at Steamboat Rock State Park. It’s actually pretty nice. They irrigate the heck out of the place, so it was really green (don’t know how it looks later in summer, though). There are trees for shade and you can see the rock from most spots. It’s quite pleasant.

Steamboat Rock State Park

However, this is the information signboard that campers are greeted with when they arrive. What a hot mess! f you need 10 signs to instruct campers on what to do and where to go, you’re doing it wrong:

Confusing signage

<< Day 2: Yakima Skyline Hike | Day 4: Northrup Canyon >>

Yakima Skyline

April 27, 2017

This morning we packed up camp at Yakima Sportsman State Park and headed north to do the Yakima Skyline Hike. We drove out Buffalo Road then through a gate.

Yakima Skyline Hike

The last stretch of road was very rough. We probably could have made it in the Outback, but it would have been very slow going. This photo shows the road, but does not show the roughest rockiest parts:

Yakima Skyline Hike

We parked the truck and headed cross-country up to the ridge. We were pleased to see wildflowers blooming!

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

 

There’s an actual trail down in that gulley, but our book said it was prettier to stay above.

Yakima Skyline Hike

We got up to the ridge and connected with the trail that runs along it. Now we could see down the other side to the Yakima River and the Roza Dam far below.

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

From that vantage point we also saw a group of deer bounding up the slope:

Yakima Skyline Hike

We followed the trail north, enjoying views and wildflowers as we went. It was windy up here.

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

The trail skirted below a high point, but didn’t go up it, so we left the trail and headed cross-country up to the summit. It was a broad rocky area with views all around. And boy was it windy up here! Unfortunately the Cascades were mostly shrouded in clouds.

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

An old homemade sign stabbed into a pile of rocks said “Gracie Point.” There was a bundle of old collar tags from dogs as well, so I wonder if this is kind of tribute spot for pets who have passed.

Yakima Skyline Hike

We found a sheltered spot away from the wind and had a snack, then we started heading back.

Yakima Skyline Hike

We saw several more groups of deer.

Yakima Skyline Hike

We descended back to the truck via a slightly different route and passed through a nice patch of balsamroot:

Yakima Skyline Hike

Yakima Skyline Hike

Before leaving the area we drove north through the Yakima River canyon that we had looked down on from above on the hike. It was quite pretty! Then we drove up to Banks Lake and headed into Steamboat Rock State Park, where we encountered the most confusing campground signage I’ve ever seen. If you need 10 signs to tell campers how to camp here, you’re doing it wrong.

Confusing signage

We eventually figured it out and picked out a spot. We were relieved that there was no wind! We weren’t too far from the shore and at sunset the canyon walls on the east side of the lake turned golden in the light of the setting sun.

Banks Lake Sunset

<< Day 1: Toppenish Wildlife Refuge and Yakima Sportsman State Park | Day 3: Steamboat Rock State Park >>

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

April 26,2017

Deb and I had our annual spring camping trip in late April. We left Portland under gray wet skies and headed towards Yakima, Washington. We hadn’t actually decided where we were going until a few days earlier. The wretched winter and ongoing bad weather meant that we made a last-minute decision based almost entirely on weather.

It was a really pretty drive between Maryhill and Toppenish on Highway 97. We passed by Toppenish Wildlife Refuge and decided to stop and take a look.

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

We walked out to the viewing pavilion pictured above where we could see out over the refuge.

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

Then we followed a path for a little ways. We saw lots of birds. It was a peaceful spot except for the traffic noise from Highway 97.

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

We’d had the idea of going to the bridge as our turnaround point. That’s not going to work! The road to the bridge was underwater.

Toppenish Wildlife Refuge

After our little ramble we drove to Yakima Sportsman State Park, a big park and campground right in the town of Yakima. We picked a spot, set up camp, and relaxed for awhile.

Yakima Sportsman State Park

Yakima Sportsman State Park

There is a network of trails in the park which we decided to explore. We started out the dike that ran near our campsite.

Yakima Sportsman State Park

Then we popped across a bridge and onto an island where we rambled around for awhile.

Yakima Sportsman State Park

Yakima Sportsman State Park

The bulk of the Yakima River is on the opposite shore of the island. It was running full and fast!

Yakima Sportsman State Park

On the banks of the river was this tree that a beaver had been diligently working on. Pretty cool!

Yakima Sportsman State Park

We headed over to the little Wetlands Trail and saw a whole lot of red-winged blackbirds:

Yakima Sportsman State Park

Back at our campsite we made dinner. Once the sun went down it got real cold real quick. The campground firewood was locked up and there was no camp host from which to purchase firewood, so we crawled into our sleeping bags to read before going to sleep.

Day 2: Yakima Skyline Hike >>