Washington State Discover Pass offers access to hundreds of thousands of acres on 33 Wildlife Areas across the state. Managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, these Wildlife Areas allow a great place for outdoor recreation.
Thousands of people visit these areas to camp, hike, fish and enjoy many other activities. As a result, these recreational activities support businesses and contribute to Washington’s wildlife-related recreation industry. In fact, the Wildlife Areas account for 1.4 percent of all the land in the state.
Just recently, I went camping with friends in the 54,070-acre LT Murray Unit, near Ellensburg where we enjoyed hiking and off-roading.
Wildlife Areas Include L.T. Murray:
- It was purchased by Washington in 1968 to protect critical winter range wildlife and to improve upland game bird habitat.
- Vegetation includes bunch grasses, ponderosa pine, fir trees, plus western larch at higher elevations.
- Wildlife consists of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, sage grouse, and small mammals, upland birds, and reptiles.
Camping opportunities are just as diverse with open, easily accessible, sunny campsites, which is found at the lower elevations just off the freeway. Additional sight are available in the dense forest way up in the hills. We set up our camp at the entrance of Joe Watt Canyon. For those looking to start boondocking (dispersed camping) in wildlife areas, this is a good place to start.
Here is the Easiest Way to Get There:
From I-90 take Thorp Exit 101. Travel approximately 0.75 miles south from Exit 101 on Thorp Highway to Thorp Cemetery Road, taking a right onto it. Follow Thorp Cemetery Road, which parallels I-90 northwest for approximately three miles to Watt Canyon Road taking a left. Travel west on Watt Canyon Road past the end of the pavement, across the canal and up to the fence. Use the gate to the right (North), as the one by the barn and facility is only for administrative use only. Please close the gate behind you.
Note: This section of the unit is closed each winter for the protection of wintering elk. Closure begins approximately December 15 and reopens May 1. No campfires are allowed from April 15 to October 15. Those navigating by GPS will find the gate at: N47° 04.216 W120° 44.230 the campsite pictured at: N47° 03.989 W120° 44.871
Wildlife area camping with friends is just another adventure in RVing!
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.