by Dick Ambrose
Ellensburg Daily Record
April 27, 2010
I’ll never forget the first time I set foot in Umtanum Canyon. I was visiting my wife to be, Katie. Her family took me to the canyon. It was early March, but the canyon was already starting to green up. I saw my first ever sagebrush buttercup, its waxy yellow blossoms gleaming in the bright sunlight. I stood in awe of the black basalt cliffs that rose into the sky; colored with a variety of orange, yellow, grey and black lichens. I was hooked on sagebrush country from that time on.
We spotted a variety of birds and watched several deer on the hillside looking at us intently. Many animals make their home in the canyon and surrounding country. Elk, deer, mountain sheep and coyotes are often spotted. Audubon Society has given Umtanum Creek a special designation because of the diversity of birds that can be found in this riparian zone. Nesting on the basalt cliffs are falcons and golden eagles. Also look for the uncommon and brightly colored lazuli buntings. Lewis woodpeckers, bullock’s orioles and mountain bluebirds also can be seen, so do not forget your binoculars. Beavers have also found a good home in the canyon. You most likely will not see them, but you will certainly see their activity.