Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Washington's hottest wilderness
Last month I had the opportunity (finally) to hike in the Juniper Dunes Wilderness. Other than the Washington Islands and San Juan Islands Wildernesses-all this leaves for me to visit for Washington wildernesses now-is the tiny trailless Wonder Mountain Wilderness. In essence, Juniper Dunes is trailless too-just hike willy-nilly over an amazing dune system-the last intact protected interior dunes in the state. The wilderness is small, 7,100 acres-surrounded by agriculture and ORV-thrill parks. The Dunes too were once molested by ORVs and 4x4 scars still exist in this harsh yet fragile environment. Rainfall is scarce here-only 7 to 8 inches a year. This is the closest thing to a desert ecosystem that we have here in Washington. And with that said-now is not the time to visit. Being just outside of Pasco, the Dunes lie within the hottest part of the state-not unusual to have over 100 degree F days here throughout July and August. Visit in the fall or spring-definitely, spring when you can access the wilderness through the north easier-too-get-to trailhead and enjoy the amazing flowers. This place is hot! But, go check it out when it isn't!

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