At the Oak Creek Wildlife Area, observe the supplemental winter feeding of the Yakima elk herd -- up to 1,200 animals, including 90 branched-antlered bulls. The winter feeding program was started at the 94,000 plus-acre Oak Creek Wildlife Area in 1945. Today over 100,000 visitors come to view these spectacular animals each year. January and February are the best months for viewing. The elk are fed daily at 1:30pm at the Oak Creek Headquarters. The elk begin arriving mid November each year and stay in the area until March. During severe winters, the elk herd reaches numbers near 8,000. As spring arrives, the elk head into the higher elevations. During this time the land is closed to public entry as the bulls lose their antlers during the winter recovery period. The road into the Oak Creek backcountry reopens in early May to allow access for gathering antlers and other wildlife watching activity.
A large parking and viewing area with an interpretive center allows the public to closely watch the elk. The visitor center is open from 9am till 4pm during the winter months and is staffed by AmeriCorps and Wildlife Education Corps volunteers. The center has a video program, exhibits and a kids' corner. There is no charge to view the exhibits, but donations are welcomed. All donations are used to pay for the feeding program.
Directions: From I-5 south of Olympia, head east on Hwy 12. The entrance is 10 miles east of Rimrock Retreat on the left (north) side. From I-82 at Yakima, head west on Hwy 12 through Naches. Four miles west of Naches, turn left at the junction to White Pass. Continue two miles to the entrance on the right (north) side.
What to Bring: a camera, binoculars, warm clothes
For more information: Call the Oak Creek Wildlife Area at 509-653-2390 or contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife Yakima Office at 509-575-2740.