L.T. Murray
Wildlife Area Location

CONTACT INFORMATION
Shana Winegeart
Manager
201 North Pearl St.
Ellensburg, WA 98926
(509) 925-6746
(509) 925-4702 fax

 
Wildlife Areas
L.T. Murray Wildlife Area
L.T. Murray Unit
The 54,070-acre L.T. Murray unit is about 15 miles west of Ellensburg. WDFW owns 39,305 acres, DNR owns 14,424 acres currently either leased to WDFW or under WDFW management and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) owns 341 acres in the Taneum drainage. Lying in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains, the eastern end receives less than 16 inches of precipitation, but the westside gets up to 100 inches of snow. Elevations range from 2,000 to near 4,500 feet. The L.T. Murray extends in a band about 11 miles wide from south of Cle Elum to the top of Manastash Ridge. The lower portions of two major drainages, Taneum Canyon on the north and Manastash Canyon on the south, are within the unit. The streams in these canyons flow west to east and empty into the Yakima River. Numerous smaller perennial and intermittent stream channels feed these two major drainages. The timbered portions of the L.T. Murray form the upper watersheds that culminate in Taneum and Manastash Canyons, and the agricultural lands of the eastern Kittitas Valley.

The L.T. Murray was purchased in 1968 to protect critical winter range for deer and elk, as well as perpetuate and improve upland game bird habitat. Funding for the purchase was an even split between federal dollars from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR), and state dollars from the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation (IAC).

About 33,000 acres of the L.T. Murray are conifer forest, and the balance is predominantly shrub steppe, both interspersed with riparian corridors. Vegetation ranges from the lower elevation shrubs and bunch grasses into ponderosa pine, then to higher elevations with denser stands of timber, mostly Douglas fir, grand fir, and some western larch. Grasslands interspersed with rock outcrops and shrub-steppe communities dominate hillsides in transitional zones.

Wildlife use is diverse, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, sage grouse, turkey, quail, and a myriad of small mammals, neo-tropical/upland birds, raptors, and reptiles. There are numerous streams with resident trout. Some streams historically had anadromous stocks that are currently federally listed. WDFW and other state and federal agencies are actively pursuing the removal of barriers from these streams to re-establish anadromous fish use. Hunting, fishing, camping and wildlife watching are all popular.

Viewing Opportunities

Birds

  • Birds of Prey
  • Eagles
  • Songbirds
  • Upland Birds
  • Waterfowl
  • Mammals

  • Bear
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Small Mammals
  • Other

  • Butterflies
  • Reptiles/Amphibians
  • Wildflowers
  • How to Get Here
    Access Site #1
    Driving Directions
    Watt Canyon: From I-90 Thorp Exit 101 to Joe Watt Canyon, Watt Canyon Road, and Hutchins Road: Travel approximately 0.75 mile South from Exit 101 on Thorp Highway to Thorp Cemetery Road and take a right onto it. Thorp Cemetery Road parallels I-90 like a siding road and heads NW. Follow it for approximately 3 miles, and go left onto Watt Canyon Road. Travel past the end of the pavement, across the canal, and up to the elk fence. Use the gate to the right (North), as the one by the barn and facility is locked for administrative use only. Please close the gate behind you. As you pass through the gate Hutchins Road is to the right, and Watt Canyon Road to the left. Please follow Green Dot Road Management regulations, and use a Green Dot map of the area for reference. This area is closed each winter for the protection of wintering elk. Closure begins approximately December 15, and reopens May 1. No campfires from April 15 to October 15.
    Parking/Restroom Information
    Large parking area at the gates. Plenty of room for horse trailers and buses to park and turn around. No restrooms.
    Other Information
    No campfires allowed from April 15 to October 15. Each winter the gates are locked and the area is closed to all public access for the protection of wintering elk. The closure begins upon initiation of supplemental feeding, typically in early to mid-December, and reopens May 1.
    Access Site #2
    Driving Directions
    From I-90 Ellensburg Exit 106 to Robinson Canyon: Travel Southwest on Thorp Highway across the Yakima River. This is on the South side of the freeway; watch for KOA campground on the Ellensburg side of the freeway, and WA State Patrol on the far side of the bridge. Follow Thorp Highway around the curve to the right as it heads out to the Northwest. Approximately 1.5 miles past the river watch for Robinson Canyon Road, and turn left onto it. Go approximately 3.75 miles to the end of pavement and County Road, and continue west to the gate in the elk fence. Please close the gate behind you. Please follow Green Dot Road Management regulations, and use a Green Dot map of the area for reference.
    Parking/Restroom Information
    Off-road parking and turn-around available inside the elk fence gate. No restrooms.
    Other Information
    No campfires allowed from April 15 to October 15. Each winter the gates are locked and the area is closed to all public access for the protection of wintering elk. The closure begins upon initiation of supplemental feeding, typically in early to mid-December, and reopens May 1.
    Unique Features
    Watt Canyon provides public viewing of elk feeding. Feeding occurs daily at ~8:00am from during the winter months (typically mid-December to mid-March).
    Other Information
    Wildlife Area is within a Green Dot Road Management area. Maps and regulations are available at the Regional Office, District Office and DNR's SE Regional Office. In addition, yellow readerboards with maps are placed at entry points. Motorized vehicles must stay on designated green dot roads.
     
    IMPORTANT NOTICE
    L.T. Murray is closed to all human entry (not just motorized vehicles) due to our winter elk feeding program. The closure starts mid-December and runs until May 1st.
       OTHER INFORMATION
    L.T. Murray Wildlife Area Management Plan
    Wildlife Area Habitat Conservation Plans
    Weekender Report
    Wildlife Viewing Guides
    Accessing Washington's Outdoors
    Find a Water Access Site
       MAPPING
    GoHunt - Interactive Mapping
       OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
    No activities currently listed for this Unit.
     

    If you are Hunting or Fishing, remember to check all current regulations.

    Activities may include restrictions or require permits. Please see Public Conduct Rules for more information.