Memorial Day Weekend 2015
May 22-25, 2015. (Friday - Monday)
The Umtanum recreation site is located in the scenic Yakima River Canyon, 12 miles south of Ellensburg, Washington, which cuts through massive basalt cliffs and rolling desert hills. This canyon has been designated as a state scenic route and offers excellent wildlife viewing, fishing in a Blue Ribbon trout stream, family river rafting and camping.
A wooden suspension footbridge crosses the Yakima River at this site, providing the only access to the west side of the river in the Yakima River Canyon. The west side of the river consists mainly of BLM and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managed lands.
Crossing over the suspension bridge requires pannier removal to get onto it (narrow access).
This is probably the closest you'll get to an old time South American
suspension bridge, which pack llamas traversed for centuries.
There is ample opportunity for llama pack training and exercise with thick brush with snags, water crossings, step over, coarse scree, elevation change, etc.
One can hike along Umtanum creek to the picturesque Umtanum Falls if you're persistent enough to navigate your way through the maze of brushy trails.
Wildlife frequently observed includes deer, swallows, bats, and raptors. Bighorn sheep, beaver, muskrat and marmots are also present. Precautions are advised regarding ticks. Mosquitoes and other insects are generally not a problem (unless perhaps you're allergic to bees, which are not at all aggressive).
Wildflowers are plentiful, such as yellow desert-parsley, bluebells, squaw currant and bitterbrush.
One can instead hike up to Umtanum Ridge for a fantastic view of Yakima Canyon and miles of open terrain.
Mr. T's very first (training) pack trip at age 3 was at this location.
In addition to llama activities, river rafting through the Yakima River canyon is available (about 10 miles, class I rapids). Rafts launch within a short walking distance and a bus returns people to the campground, under three hours duration.
For a two minute video of things you'll see along Umtanum Creek:
From Seattle, drive east on Interstate 90 to exit 110. After exiting, continue east on Interstate 82 about 3.5 miles to exit 3 (Thrall Road). At the stop sign, turn right on State Route 821. Turn left at the next stop sign to continue southeast along State Route 821 into Yakima Canyon (signed "Yakima Canyon") and continue about 8 miles to the Umtanum Recreation Area (between mileposts 16 and 17). A large gravel parking lot is on the right (west) side of the road.
Click the following link for a map
What to bring and prepare for:
Hay. Forage in the privately-owned camp area is sparse.
Topical pyrethroid insect spray to repel ticks on the llamas.
Be advised that it can get quite warm in this region and temperatures have been averaging above normal this year. Llamas and people should be dressed appropriately (or as close to it as possible).
Though not numerous, there are rattlesnakes in the area, which are active during periods of moderate temperatures.
There is a vault toilet and river water but no potable water. Bring water and/or filtration.
There are fire rings but with dry conditions they may not be available for use.
$20 per person, which includes river rafting, paid on arrival.