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June 2000

Washington’s Juniper Dunes: Not So High, But Dry

In a region known for soggy times, Juniper Dunes is a warm sandbox where you can dry out.


Juniper Dunes Wilderness, WA

DRIVE TIME: From Seattle, it’s 234 miles (41/2 hours). From Portland, it’s 225 miles

(41/2 hours).

THE WAY: From Seattle, drive

I-90 west to Ellensburg and turn south on I-82 toward Richland. Exit at I-182/US 12 and continue 16 miles, turning northwest on Pasco-Kahlotus Road. After 5.5 miles, turn north on Peterson Road. Drive 4 miles and turn east onto a dirt road. The parking lot is 100 feet ahead. (Drive past the lot and your car will likely bog down in sand.) Hike the road 3.5 miles northeast to the gated wilderness boundary.

TRAILS: There are no established trails. Once inside the wilderness, you can hike an abandoned road west 1.5 miles to an old fence, then northeast

3 miles to the largest juniper groves.

ELEVATION: Peak elevation is 920 feet.

CROWD CONTROL: The area is open to hunters for 3 weeks in October and November. Wear bright colors. The Bureau of Land Management does not require permits, but you must cross private property to access the area. Stay on the main road and limit your activities until you reach BLM land.

GUIDES: USGS 7.5-minute quads Rye Grass Coulee, Levey, Levey SW, and Levey NE cover the wilderness (888-ask-usgs;

PIT STOP: Try Plutonium Porter at the Atomic Ale Brewpub in Richland.

WALK SOFTLY: Avoid delicate grasses and wildflowers.

CAN’T MISS: Stands of western juniper, which can survive on only 8 inches of rain a year.

MORE INFORMATION: Wenatchee BLM Field Office; (509) 665-2100.

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