Camping in Yakima Canyon
A bridge crosses the Yakima River at Umtanum Campground, providing the only access to the west side of the river in the canyon. It's also the start of the hike into Umtanum Canyon. Photo courtesy of Bureau of Land Management.
It’s spring, and you’re antsy to camp. Your favorite sites in the mountains are still under snow or too shaded to really be comfortable. What to do? Head to the canyons, of course.
Four developed recreation sites along the Yakima River Canyon have reopened after being temporarily closed, due to damage from the January 2009 Yakima River flooding. All fours sites - Umtanum, Lmuma Creek, Big Pines and Roza - are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
While these sites have been fixed up enough to reopen, minor flood cleanup and repairs are still in the works. BLM cautions visitors that portions of the Roza boat launch were damaged and may remain closed until more extensive repairs can be made. Additionally, visitors to the natural area that BLM manages at Ringer Road (3 miles south of Ellensburg on Hwy 821) need to continue to walk in to this location as Ringer Road was heavily damaged during the flooding and remains closed to vehicles.
Visitors to the Yakima Canyon area should always pay attention to changing river levels and conditions at these and other roads and recreation sites in the area. Contact the Wenatchee BLM office at (509) 665-2100 if you have questions on conditions.
All of the Bureau of Land Management sites have garbage dumpsters throughout the year and at least one pit toilet. Campers should carry their own drinking water.
The Umtanum, Lmuma Creek, Big Pines, and Roza campgrounds are open year-round. Seasonal fees of $5 per vehicle for daily use and $15 for camp sites are charged from May 15 through September 15, but until then you can camp for free.
While you're out there in the Yakima River Canyon, consider some of the great hiking around that area. WTA now has all 100 hikes from Dan Nelson's Best Desert Hikes Washington in our Hiking Guide. Hikes in this area include: Umtanum Canyon, Selah Butte, Yakima Skyline Ridge, Cowiche Canyon, among others. If you want to see more hikes in Central and Eastern Washington, check out our desert hikes feature here.
So are you excited about desert hiking this spring? Where is your favorite place?