What’s cooler than being cold? The Yakima River every four to five years

Due to a long cold spell in central Washington, the Yakima River has frozen unusually far upstream. Now, icebergs are visiting BLM's Big Pines campground in the Yakima River Canyon.

Ice on the Yakima River
Ice on the Yakima River. Photo credit Rusty Gates, BLM.

According to Diane Priebe, Outdoor Recreation Planner at the Wenatchee Field Office, the Yakima River will partially freeze in the lower part of the Yakima River Canyon every few winters. But this year, freezing temperatures has caused the ice blockage to extend much further upstream.

River water is now overflowing into BLM’s Big Pines Campground and freezing there.

“We always move the river side picnic tables to higher ground in the fall,” said Diane, “but this year the river water is extending into other sections of the campground. Our camp hosts are down at the site and have been scrambling to move their trailer out of harm’s way.”

Ice and water near a picnic table
Ice and water near a picnic table. Photo Rusty Gates, BLM.

So far, the rest of the Big Pines Campground and three other nearby BLM recreation sites are unaffected. These areas are still continuing to receive snow.

The area may be also seeing a warming trend after receiving their next few feet of snow. According to Diane, this is where “things could get interesting.”

If you take a careful drive down Hwy 821 to see the wintery beauty of the frozen river, be prepared for winter weather! Always check road conditions before you go.

Jeanne Panfely, Public Affairs Officer

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