North Fork Wenas Creek, Wenas Wildlife Area
It’s no wonder the Wenas Wildlife Area is taken by storm over the Memorial Day weekend by birders across the state. The birding is fantastic in the campground and local surrounding areas. Plus taking over the campground and traveling as a large pack of innocuous birders tends to flush away the ATVer, hunters and other people who in the area to screw around. We did not partake in the Wenas Campout with all the other birders, but visited at the end of June.
Located on Hog Ranch Road right off of the North Fork Wenas Road, the campground itself was somewhat ill-defined - a large open area under the open Ponderosa Forest and spilling to the riparian edge of Wenas Creek. There were other campers in the area, but there was plenty of space to spread out and maintain some privacy. Driving to the Wenas campground (not sure if that’s even an official name for the area) is a tad bit bumpy, but doable in a passenger car if you go slow enough. The roads beyond the campground - the ones that go up to the ridges are harrowing - and require high clearance and 4-wheel drive.
Even a month after the Wenas Campout, the birding was great - many singing Veerys, Red Crossbills, Gray Flycatchers, MacGillivray’s Warblers, Western Wood-Pewees and Cassin’s Finches throughout the campground. In the evening as the sun began to wane, we were treated the the aerial acrobatics of many Common Nighthawks over the forest.
We spent the day hiking a long route along the roads in the area. We followed the North Fork Wenas Road and climbed up Hudson Road to where it wrapped around along Manastash Ridge then dropped back down off the ridge to North Fork Wenas Road. It was long and some what strenuous hike, especially given how rocky, steep, and uncomfortable it is to hike along some of parts of the road. North Fork Wenas Road was the most productive in terms of birds. The road followed along Wenas Creek - the riparian area thick with aspen and bog meadows bordered with Ponderosa and Doug Firs. Townsend’s Solitaire and Cassin’s Vireos called from the trees while the creek happily burbled and rushed over rock and roots. Away from the Wenas campground, there were many more dispersed campsites long the North Fork Wenas Road accessible by passenger car. Onto Hudson Road, the road climbed up and away from the creek through open dry grass meadows filled with yellow desert daisies and rock gardens full of blooming tapertip onions. Along the ridge we were treated to views of the Wenas Valley below and Yakima far off in the distance. Toward the west was a view of the snow capped Cascades. The descent back down to North Fork Wenas Road was not very pleasant on the knees or feet. The road was worn away to large slopes of sharp rocks. Going up and down Hudson Road would have been a much better option both for the interesting environment and for saving knees.
So long as you’re prepared to share the area with ATVs and the occasional gun shots, the North Fork Wenas Creek area has great opportunities for camping, birding, nature viewing and hiking.
Pictures (click on thumbnail to enlarge)
Discover Pass required
Green Dot Map: pdf