Umtanum Creek Recreation Area is a great place to explore, with a fine canyon hike leading to rolling hills above. The canyon, just a quick drive down the Yakima canyon from Ellensburg, is known for wildflowers and sage, aspen, cottonwood, birds, beaver dams, and an old apple orchard largely chewed down by the beavers. Rattlesnakes are also common after the sun comes on like a bakelamp and spring snows melt.
Umtanum canyon is located within the surrounding Wenas Wildlife Area. The rolling Manashtash and Umtanum ridges above the canyon provide wide open views and good wildlife viewing including California bighorn sheep, mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk, coyote, and birds such as grouse, chukar and quail. Washington Audubon Society has designated Umtanum Creek Valley an Important Bird Area in Eastern Washington (p 50 of 58 Acrobat). The best seasons for wildlife viewing are spring and fall.
The canyon provides several good spots to pitch a tent near the trail.
For more information about this recreation area, read about the Wenas Wildlife Area, L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, or visit excellent related sites listed at the left of the page.
A note about the spelling: Umtanum and Umptanum refer essentially to the same area in eastern Washington. The spelling inconsistency is due to approximation in translating from the original Indian place name to English.