What is the Juniper Dunes Wilderness?
Located in Pasco, Washington, the Juniper Dunes Wilderness is something quite unique to the area. Not only is it Washington’s largest juniper grove but it is also completely fenced in, all 7,000+ acres. Back in 1984 the United States Congress designated this area of land with various expansions since then.
This isn’t just a beautiful area of land – it also is filled with wildlife. While visiting you might get the chance to see hawks, deer, coyotes and various types of birds depending on the season. And while the only trees to be found are the western juniper trees, there are also different assortments of shrubs and wildflowers.
Need to Know
If you decide to make this an overnight destination for camping and hiking, there is some information you will need to know. First and foremost, you need a permit that you can only obtain when contacting the Bureau of Land Management located in Spokane. Dogs are allowed, but as experienced visitors will tell you, it’s best to leave them home for this adventure. Campfires are a “no-go”, and the usage of a compass will be necessary. This is not an overnight trip to take with children.
Another tip for when visiting, as there is no source of water in the area, is to make sure to bring more than enough fluids with you to avoid dehydration, especially in the summer months.
When camping in the dunes, make sure you are informed on the ‘Leave No Trace Principles.’ Shortly summarized they are, “Plan ahead and Prepare,” “Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces,” “Dispose of Waste Properly,” “Leave What You Find,” “Minimize Campfire Impacts,” “Respect Wildlife,” and “Be Considerate of Other Visitors.” These ethics help keep the Juniper Dunes in the fantastic shape they are in today.
In total, this hike is fifteen miles but you don’t have to set out with a backpack to enjoy the nature. If visiting with children, it would be easy to walk around the fencing to get an idea of the different plants and animals without having to make a trek. But again, this is a stretch of land that is not best for children to play or run in, so make sure they are aware of the rules before setting out.
Getting to the entrance can be somewhat complicated if you haven’t visited before, so here is a great website for exact directions to the opening of the Wilderness Gate.