One of our favorite day trips in the spring is to go to Eastern Washington to view the wildflowers. I was searching on this blog to see my previous posts and I found that I haven't blogged that often about our spring trips. We almost always make one trip to see the wildflowers. Timing is key. I will follow hiking trip reports from my local NW Hikers forum or the trip reports on Washington Trails Association. The bloom can be anytime from mid-April to mid-May. So much depends upon the temperatures. Some years the bloom can start and then be blasted by high temps. Other years, it is slow and spreads out into mid-May. This year it is a little early.
We like to just ramble over the sage country exploring and seeing what can we can discover. Our favorite area is along the Old Vantage Highway between Ellenburg and Vantage. The area around Whiskey Dick and Quilomene Wildlife area are our favorites for exploring. The reports that I have read said everything was already in bloom so we wanted to do a trip.
This area is extremely windy. Puget Power has build a wind farm- Wild Horse Wind Farm in the past years which has changed the area. But they have done a lot to repopulate the area with the native plants and open the area to visitors. I saw that it was the start of their Wildflower Hike season. Perfect timing. I called and signed up for the hike this weekend.
It takes about 2 and half hours to drive from North of Seattle to the Wild Horse Farm. We started to see Prairie Lupine along the drive. We gathered in the seminar room at the Wild Horse Facility before heading off to an hour and half walk/hike exploring the wildflowers. We decided to go with the advanced botanical group and spent time exploring. It was great to meet other plant enthusiasts.
We went back to the visitors center after our hike and got a permit which allowed us to stop and explore more of the property. We drove north and into the Quilomene Wildlife area. The dirt roads can get pretty rough. The wind started to really blow. We could hardly walk across the fields. I checked the wind speeds and they were around 45mph!
But the blooms were stunning. The perfume of the prairie lupine was intoxicating. The big head clover was at its prime and accented by the golden Hooker's Balsamroot.
Around 2pm, we headed back to Ellensburg. We stopped at U-Totem Burgers for an early dinner and then over to Iron Horse Brewery for a sampler. It was pretty tasty and we filled our growler with some of their IPA before heading back to the gray.
First a couple of previous posts on Eastern Washington and the Wind Farm:
Wildflowers and Wind Turbines