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
Thornton Unit
The Thornton unit comprises 2,080 acres located about eight miles northeast of Prosser on the west side of Benton County, and about three miles southwest of the Rattlesnake Slope unit. It was acquired by WDFW in 1996 for mule deer, upland birds, transitory elk (the Rattlesnake Hills herd), sage grouse, and other shrub-steppe obligate species. By 1999 all 1,300 acres of croplands had been converted to native-like grasslands. Thornton supports long ridges of shrub steppe, intermixed with the former wheat fields. Future activities on this site may include the development of small check structures within the drainages to collect spring runoff. This will help maintain available water for wildlife and support more riparian vegetation. Currently, most intermittent water disappears by mid-summer. Snipes Creek bisects the unit and provides limited but important riparian habitat in places. A spring in the center of this unit provides free water nearly year round and other, smaller springs exist in other canyons. The unit is a popular hunting area for deer and elk. Historically, chukar hunting was common but populations have waned in recent years. The unit has two access sites, one along Rothrock Road on the west side and a new one along Case Road on the east side that compensates for the closure of Sharp Road.
Viewing Opportunities


  • Birds of Prey
  • Upland Birds
  • Mammals

  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Other

  • Reptiles/Amphibians
  • Wildflowers
  • How to Get Here
    Access Site #1
    Driving Directions
    In Benton Co., and from I-82, take exit 80 at Gap Road. Take Gap Road north 3.5 miles to Hanks Road. Take Hanks east for 4 miles to Rothrock Road. Take Rothrock north for 6.7 miles to a small parking lot on the right.
    Parking/Restroom Information
    Gravel parking lot. No facilities
    Other Information
    No overnight camping or open fires
    Access Site #2
    Driving Directions
    Continuing east from the intersection of Rothrock and Hanks Roads, drive 2 more miles to Case Road. Drive north on Case for 4 miles, then 1 mile to the east, then north for 1.5 miles to a small parking area on the left.
    Parking/Restroom Information
    Gravel drive-through parking lot for horse trailers. No facilities.
    Other Information
    No overnight camping or open fires.
    Unique Features
    Shrub steppe, intermixed with grass CRP fields. Several canyons cross the property, generally from north to south. Good quality shrub steppe with abundant wildflowers in the spring. This area is 3 miles across from Case Road to Rothrock Road.
    Other Information
    Sharp Road runs up a major canyon, providing historic access to the center of the property. This road was closed to minimize disturbance in the core habitat, and to reduce illegal dumping and vandalism. Limited disabled hunter drive-in access is available on this site by permit 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.