Winter can be the best time for exploring the forests of the east slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Keep an eye peeled for elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats!
Head west from Yakima up Highway 12 and you’ll find the Oak Creek Wildlife Area. The Conservancy has been working with partners here for more than 10 years to preserve public access and wildlife habitat in forest lands that were at risk of being lost to private residential development.
The Oak Creek Wildlife Area provides critical winter habitat for Rocky Mountain elk, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, bald eagles, and many other animals. Between December and February, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife runs a winter feeding program for the elk and bighorn sheep. Bald eagles can also be seen roosting in the trees along rivers and streams during this time.
Although snow is slow in showing up this year, you can find some at the higher elevations. The Naches Valley is a hub for winter recreation—snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snow-play areas are scattered along Highway 12 and Highway 410. Visit the Naches Valley Chamber of Commerce for a detailed guide to winter recreation.