The Klickitat River area of Washington, north of the Columbia River Gorge, is best described by the famous road builder Sam Hill, (so fond of the area he wanted to establish a Quaker community there) as the place “the sunshine meets the rain”. His community failed, and what was to be Hill’s own mansion became the Maryhill Museum, housing one of the most extensive collections of Native American baskets anywhere in the country, along side Rodin sculptures and other permanent exhibits as well as world-class traveling museum exhibits. The museum, the Goldendale observatory, and Hill’s Stonehenge Replica are all part of the eclectic history of the area.
It is one of my favorite places in Washington. I love it for many reasons: in the spring, a time when wild flowers bloom abundantly along its many scenic drives, it is drier and warmer earlier then the ‘west side”. It is greener and lusher, with more diversity in vegetation than the east side. With more sun than the maritime coast, and more rain than the eastern plateaus, it is the best of both, where fir trees and lodge pole pines grow side by side, and acres of Garry Oaks, the only place in Washington they are found in such abundance, cover hillsides yellow with balsam root. Relatively few people live there, yet it is abundant with wildlife, including one of the last populations of the almost extinct Western Pond Turtle, which is being restored by the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project. The Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge “provides homes for deer, elk, beaver, coyote, otter, small rodents, and 150 species of birds, as well as numerous amphibians, reptiles, and fish.” 290 species of birds have been sighted along the Klickitat River, and 176 species are known to breed in the area. The river itself is one of Washington’s last remaining free flowing rivers. It is truly a ‘wild’ area!
In May 2009 we spent several days at Liedl Campground along the Klickitat River in the Soda Springs Wildlife area, a dispersed camping area managed by Washington State Fish and Wildlife. Only once did we see another person, but we made friends with a beaver, enjoyed the songs of many birds, and soaked up the sun. If you are looking for a place where Nature is the 99% plan a trip to Klickitat!
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For visiting the Klickitat River area, a good source of information is the town of Goldendale’s web site.