The Hanford Reach
One of the great protected landscapes of Washington State
When we think about Washington's great national parks and monuments we are often quick to note, Mount Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks as well as the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument. Very few of us however think of the Hanford Reach National Monument. Created by President Clinton in 2000 by using the Antiquities Act of 1906 (the same law that President Teddy Roosevelt used to establish Olympic National Monument -later changed to park by his cousin President Franklin Roosevelt), the Hanford Reach is one of the most stunning and ecologically important places within the state. Aside from harboring the last large free flowing non-tidal stretch of the Columbia River, the monument teems with wildlife and spectacular beauty.
Here elk, coyote and eagles flourish. White pelicans and avocets too. All told there are 43 species of fish, 42 species of mammals, 258 bird species, 4 amphibian species, 11 reptile species and over 1,500 invertebrate species including many found nowhere else in the world. And the reach contains scores of flowering plants, too. Quite remarkable when you consider that the Hanford Reach consists of some of the driest and hottest landscapes in the Columbia Basin. And it is some of the finest shrub-steppe habitat remaining in Washington state.
I finally had the opportunity to hike there. The place is stunning. I will be back--the place is large with over 57,000 acres open to the public. Information on hiking in the area is scarce. But, no worries as the Hanford Reach will be included in my upcoming Day Hiking Eastern Washington book. In the meanwhile, try not to wait for the book to start exploring there!