Tieton River Canyon

Twenty miles west of the city of Yakima, the Tieton River Canyon extends from the forested flanks of the East Cascades to the arid, sage-dotted hills of the Columbia Basin. It's a unique place, where basalt cliffs meet oak trees, elk mingle with bighorn sheep, and rattlesnakes slither between flowers while golden eagles soar above the pines. The Conservancy led the conservation of thousands of acres here, and now works collaboratively to influence management and restoration on millions.

As with many other parts of the central Cascades, the land around the Tieton River Canyon was owned in a checkerboard pattern, a legacy from the 19th century when Congress gave alternating square miles to railroad companies. The resulting fragmented landscape has been a bane to both timber companies and conservationists. But it also gave the Conservancy and its partners the opportunity to weave the Tieton back together, connecting more than 20,000 acres into a contiguous landscape of protected habitat.

Conservation Actions
  • The Conservancy purchased about 10,000 acres from Plum Creek Timber Co. and transferred the land in phases to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Oak Creek Wildlife Area, retaining one square mile at the heart of the project to maintain a voice in the canyon’s future.
  • The acquisition project has also spurred formation of a larger coalition for healthy forests, the Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative. The Conservancy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Yakama Nation have agreed to collaborate on forest health, river recovery and recreation on nearly 2 million acres of forest.
  • The Tieton project is a “platform site” from which to launch new protection, restoration and policy strategies. The Conservancy envisions working throughout the east slope of the Cascades to connect public lands, safely return fire to the landscape, and advocate for public policies to prevent catastrophic wildfires. 

Tieton River Canyon location map

Click on the map to enlarge image.

The Tieton area is stunning in all seasons. Visitors delight in its diversity, marvel at its geology and are inspired by its vistas.

Click here for a detailed Tieton River Canyon visitors guide(pdf, 459 kb).

The state’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area is a neighbor and partner, and is a great resource for wildlife enthusiasts.

No pets allowed on the preserve.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

comments powered by Disqus

Read our guidelines on posting comments


Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.