Nature | Sightseeing | Things To Do

A Guide to Spotting Wildlife in Central Washington

March 15, 2023

Outdoor enthusiasts can delight at the robust variety of wildlife in Central Washington. The Yakima Canyon southeast of Ellensburg, in different seasons, can provide dramatic views of eagles, hawks and other raptors, a variety of birds nesting in the canyon walls, big horn sheep, deer, elk, coyotes and smaller mammals.

Wildlife viewing is also possible on designated state-owned wildlife areas in the Colockum, L.T. Murray, Quilomene, Whisky Dick and Wenas areas.

Central Washington Wildlife

There are a variety of animals available for viewing on a visit to Central Washington. Here is a list of some of the species you might encounter on an outdoor expedition through our natural areas:

Mammals:

  • Bats
  • Beavers
  • Black Bears
  • Bobcats
  • Cougars
  • Coyotes
  • Deer
  • Elk

  • Moles
  • Moose
  • Mountain Beavers
  • Mountain Goat
  • Muskrats
  • Nutria (also known as Coypu)
  • Opossums

  • Pocket Gophers
  • Pronghorn Antelope
  • Rabbits
  • Raccoons
  • River Otters
  • Skunks
  • Tree Squirrels

Birds:

  • Canada Geese
  • Crows
  • Domestic Pigeons
  • Magpies
  • Owls

  • Robins
  • Starlings
  • Swallows
  • Wild Turkeys
  • Woodpeckers

Reptiles & Amphibians:

  • Frogs
  • Snakes

There are a variety of animals available for viewing on a visit to Central Washington. Here is a list of some of the species you might encounter on an outdoor expedition through our natural areas:

Central Washington's Top Destinations for Experiencing Wildlife

Central Washington offers nature-lovers and explorers of all kinds many captivating locations to view the beautiful wildlife in our region. Here are a few of the top places to check out during a weekend escape to Central Washington!

Paul Rogers Wildlife Park

Situated just east of Ellensburg is the Paul Rogers Wildlife Park. This is an incredible area to experience some wildlife, as there are many plant and animal species habitating in the lush environment. Paul Rogers Wildlife Park is well-known for its native and migratory birds, such as magpies, barn swallows, western bluebirds, and much more. Along with bird watching, you’ll come across some peeling birch bark, cascading willow branches, and colorful shrubs that will make the experience all the better.

Wild Horse Wind & Solar Facility

The Wild Horse Wind & Solar Facility is a massive 10,800 acres, meaning you can find a wide variety of animals and plants here. On the premises, you can hike, horseback ride, and bird-watch, giving you plenty of activities to do while trying to find some unique wildlife along the way. Elk and deer are very common here so keep an eye out for them! Plus, bald eagles and golden eagles may be seen on a rare occurrence!

Oak Creek Wildlife Area

Oak Creek Wildlife Area covers over 67,100 acres in both Yakima and Kittitas County, meaning that wildlife will be aplenty here! Plantlife will include sagebrush, blue bunch wheatgrass, douglas fir, western white pine, and much more! Elk, mule deer, and mountain goats are just a few of the animals you may see along your journey here. There are plenty of upland birds, reptiles, and amphibians that inhabit this area as well.

Pack your binoculars and set off to admire wildlife in Central Washington! Just remember to Recreate Responsibly by keeping your distance and leaving what you find.

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