Oak Creek
Wildlife Area Location

Ross Huffman
16601 Highway 12
Naches, WA 98937
(509) 653-2390

Wildlife Areas
Oak Creek Wildlife Area
Oak Creek Wildlife AreaThe Oak Creek Wildlife Area covers 64,200 acres in Yakima and Kittitas counties, about 15 miles northwest of Yakima. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) first acquired land in the area in 1940 to provide a home for the growing Yakima elk herd that was conflicting with private landowners, orchard growers and livestock producers. The area now has a winter feeding program that has helped to reduce damage to agricultural lands and also provides a great opportunity to see elk up close.

A wide variety of other wildlife species are also visible throughout the wildlife area, including mule deer, California big horn sheep, mountain goats, forest grouse, turkey, quail, chukar and a myriad of small mammals. The area also provides habitat for a variety of neo-tropical and upland birds, raptors, reptiles and amphibians.

The topography of the wildlife area is dominated by steep, rocky slopes and a series of rolling ridges and canyons. The Naches and Tieton rivers run through the middle of the Oak Creek Unit, supporting endangered salmonids, including bull trout. These rivers are fed by perennial streams, including Oak Creek, Cowiche Creek, Rock Creek, Gold Creek and Milk Creek.

Open ridges and southern slopes at the lower elevations support sagebrush, bitterbrush and rabbitbrush. Bluebunch wheatgrass is the most prevalent native grass.  In the early spring the area is full of color with wildflowers scattered across the rangeland.

At higher elevations, the vegetation transitions to conifer forests. Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, sub alpine fir, Engelmann spruce and western white pine can all be found as elevations increase in the Rock Creek Unit. Oregon white oak grows in the riparian zones and adjacent lower canyons of the Tieton River, Oak Creek and Cowiche Creek.

The wildlife area is managed in five units with some areas in a checker-board pattern of ownerships between WDFW, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the U.S. Forest Service, with scattered private in-holdings. The latest acquisition was in 2011 with the purchase of the Rock Creek Unit in Kittitas County. In 2012, WDFW and DNR completed a land exchange, allowing DNR to consolidate ownership on Bethel Ridge, Rattlesnake and Little Rattlesnake Creeks.

How to Get Here
For driving directions and more information on this Wildlife Area's units, please click on the links below:
  • Cowiche
  • Oak Creek
  • Rock Creek
  • Wildlife Area Map
     Wildlife Area Map - Click to enlarge
    Closures for wintering elk
    The areas surrounding the Oak Creek and Cowiche winter feed sites are closed to all public entry from mid-December until May 1 at 6 a.m. to protect wintering elk from disturbance. The closed areas are posted with signs and identified on the Oak Creek Green Dot Map. In addition, the Sanford Pasture Area of Oak Creek is closed to motorized vehicles from Dec. 30 until May 1 at 6 a.m.
    Garrett Canyon Road off of SR 410 has been closed due to a large mud slide that damaged the road beyond repair. Other green dot roads in the upper Garrett Canyon area that were damaged in the mudslide have been repaired and are open to vehicles. Mud Lake Road continues to be closed at the junction with SR 410 due to private landowner concerns. The only access to Clemans Mt. Sanford Pasture is via USFS 1701 and 1712 roads.
    Wildlife Area Habitat Conservation Plans
    Weekender Report
    Wildlife Viewing Guides
    Accessing Washington's Outdoors
    Find a Water Access Site
    GoHunt - Interactive Mapping