Hike in Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area

Quilomene Wildlife Area Access Road - Search Nearby - Added by Gemina Garland-Lewis

Incredible wildflowers in the spring. Great place to spot desert wildlife. Beautiful views of the Columbia River.

If you're looking to explore some of central Washington's beautiful desert region, look no further than Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area. Although you can do this hike at any time of year, it's most beautiful in the spring when wildflowers are carpeting the earth. Bring your wildflower guide along for this one if you're going in spring and expect to see bitterroots, hedgehog cactus, balsamroot, buckwheat, lupine, phlox, and daisies - just to name a few!

Park at the second access road into Quilomene Wildlife Area (described below). Between Feb. 1 - May 1 the dirt road into this area is closed off, but you can park at the bottom of the road and walk in. Otherwise you can drive in about 1.2 miles on the dirt road (veering right at both forks you'll come across) and park in a pullout area. The round trip hiking mileage will be ~8 miles when the road is open or ~11 when it's closed.

The journey is quite simple - just follow the old road through beautiful fields of sagebrush and flowers. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, coyotes, and raptors. You'll also have some big views of the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility windmills surrounding the area. After about two miles from the car pullout (or three from the lower parking lot), the road zig-zags down and drops 800ft at a fairly steep grade in some places. Keep an eye out for snakes and poison ivy.

Once you reach the bottom of the canyon you're in Rocky Coulee - this is a good place to rest and have a snack before heading back up out of the coulee and up the side of Whiskey Dick Mountain. As you climb higher you'll start to get beautiful views of the Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area and, further out, the Columbia River. The suggested turn-around point is a couple miles out from Rocky Coulee when you top out of the low summit of Whiskey Dick Mountain, though the road continues should you want to as well.

Stop off at the Wagon Wheel Cafe in Kittitas on your way back for a tasty local meal!

Getting There:
From I90, take exit 115 for Kittitas and head north over the freeway. At 1.2 miles, take a right at the stop sign, then veer to the left to continue on County Rd. 81. Take a right turn after another 1.2 miles onto the Vantage Highway - the first Quilomene Wildlife Area access road will be 12 miles on and the second at 13.7 miles down the highway on your left.

Distance

11 Miles RT

Elevation Gain

1750 ft Gain

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Photography, Hiking

Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Nearby Lodging

Ellensburg KOA

Ellensburg, Washington

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From $55/night

LOGE Leavenworth

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Pasco / Tri-Cities KOA

Pasco, Washington

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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Overall rating: 

Great spot for Wildlife

Nice write up! In January and February this area is frequently used by elk as wintering grounds. Definitely cool to see and an alternative worth checking out during a time when the west side weather can be really sloppy.

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