Colockum Wildlife Area covers an expanse of territory from sub-alpine and mixed forest at higher elevations to pine foothills, shrub-steppe ridge country and prairie bunchgrass closer to the Columbia River shore. The area is located north of Ellensburg and south of Wenatchee. The Colockum has a network of primative roads, in places suitable only for four-wheel drive vehicles or alternative transportation such as mountain bikes, horses, or foot travel. The area is connected with the Quilomene Wildife Area and Whiskey Dick Wildlife Area to the south.
The Colockum Wildlife Area provides year-round habitat for a variety of wildlife including bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyote, and a substantial herd of Rocky Mountain Elk, among a myriad of smaller creatures that rely on unbroken ecology for long-term survival. The area supports birds such as quail, chukar, grouse, partridge, hawks, eagles, and various songbirds, and Washington Audubon Society has designated Colockum-Quilomene area an Important Bird Area in Eastern Washington. Spring wildflower displays are amazing against the backdrop of Columbia River views, and the diversity of insects here has long been a source of wonder for naturalists and scholarly entomologists.
The area is managed to provide healthy habitat for wildlife as its primary goal. Activities including birdwatching, butterflying, photography, hiking and horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, and hunting in the fall. Care should be taken not to disturb the wildlife-- for example state law prohibits letting dogs run loose on wildlife lands when wild species are raising their young during spring and summer months.
Detailed maps are recommended for navigating as many roads are not easily passable. For example, the road to Tarpiscan has been closed where it crosses private property and a relatively new access road has been opened at the west end of the creek valley. The main road through the area, Colockum Pass road, is a particularly rocky ride and good shocks are a must.
The Colockum can become very windy at times so it's wise to pack windproof outer clothing and in spring and fall, balaclava to protect against wind chill.
For more information about this wildife area, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife site listed at the left of the page provides great information. Links to other, more in-depth information are provided as well as nearby open spaces and recreation areas. Be sure to bring your Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife vehicle use permit to avoid risking a $66 parking ticket - they can be purchased at fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.