Sunnyside-Snake River
Wildlife Area Location

Phillip Buser
2620 North Commercial Ave
Pasco, WA 99301
(509) 545-2028

Wildlife Areas
Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area
I-82 Ponds Unit
The I-82 unit consists of 980 acres located along the Yakima River in Yakima County in 17 separate parcels that form a narrow, discontinuous strip of ownership stretching from Union Gap to the Zillah interchange along Interstate 82. These parcels include a narrow, but high quality woody riparian corridor that transitions into dryland habitat. They provide public access to the river and to several ponds that were created when borrow pits for the interstate flooded with groundwater. Open water and wetlands comprise about 25 percent of the area. The Yakima River accounts for some of the open water in the form of backwater sloughs as well as the main riparian habitat, which is dominated by hardwoods mostly in the form of cottonwood trees. This habitat offers excellent nesting, brooding and winter cover for both waterfowl and upland birds. It’s also an important corridor for neotropical migrants and resident non-game birds. In addition to natural ponds, several man-made ponds have developed public access facilities that are unfortunately often overused and abused.
Viewing Opportunities


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

  • Deer
  • Other

  • Reptiles/Amphibians
  • Spawning Salmon
  • How to Get Here
    Access Site #1
    Driving Directions
    In Yakima Co., from I-82, take exit 44 and head south on Donald Road. Go about 150 yards and take the gravel ramp to the right down hill and into a small parking lot.
    Parking/Restroom Information
    No facilities.
    Other Information
    Daylight hours only.
    Access Site #2
    Driving Directions
    From I-82, take exit 50 and head north. Take Buena Loop to the left and follow to the large parking lot on the left.
    Parking/Restroom Information
    Large parking lot with restroom. This is the access for Pond #6
    Other Information
    Daylight hours only.
    Unique Features
    This management unit is comprised of multiple, broken ownerships along the north shore of the Yakima River. Very diverse habitat, including healthy riparian zone. The unit includes 7 ponds, visible from I-82.
    Other Information
    The I-82 unit has multiple points of access but several are complicated to find. In some cases, visitors must drive through private property to access state land. Some areas are reached by driving through culverts under the interstate, or hiking from parking areas and walking through culverts under the interstate. Detailed maps of these access points have not been developed. In general, other points of access are: 1. East end of Mellis Road to parking lot on south side of I-82. Walk through culvert to ponds #1 & #2 on north side of I-82. 2. Exit 44, parking area is in southeast quadrant from freeway cloverleaf. Walk approx. 1/2 mile along freeway right of way. Walk through culvert to north side of freeway and Pond #3. 3. From the old Yakima Hwy., take Flint Road to a large culvert under the freeway. Drive through, turn left, and drive to parking area for Ponds #4 & #5. Public restroom at this site. 4. From I-82, take exit 52. Head south and take first right into parking lot. This site has a public toilet and crude boat launch. All sites are open daylight hours only.
    Wildlife Area Habitat Conservation Plans
    Weekender Report
    Wildlife Viewing Guides
    Accessing Washington's Outdoors
    Find a Water Access Site
    GoHunt - Interactive Mapping
    Green Dot Maps
    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.