Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area
The United States Congress designated the Juniper Dunes Wilderness in 1984 and it now has over 7140 acres. The Juniper Dunes Wilderness preserves the northernmost growth of western juniper, some of which have been around for 150 years, along with windswept sand dunes measuring 130 feet in height and 1200 feet in width. Other than junipers, no trees grow in significant numbers here, but many bushes and flowers bloom wondrously come spring, although the mountains that separate western and eastern Washington generally wring the moisture from the air.
The landscape here takes quite a battering, in fact, with strong southwest winds to build the dunes, seven to eight inches of precipitation to moisten them, a foot or so of snow that drifts down in winter, and summer temperatures that occasionally rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Elevations range from 750 feet to 1,130 feet above sea level. But plenty of animals thrive despite the extremes: mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, badgers, skunks, weasels, porcupines, pocket gophers, kangaroo rats, several species of mice, hawks, owls, ravens, quail, partridge, pheasants, doves, numerous songbirds, and rattlesnakes.
The entire wilderness is surrounded by privately-owned lands. With permission, you can travel via old jeep trails that end near the boundary. Getting all the way to the Wilderness gate can be risky business, even with a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle (highly recommended), and there is a significant risk of getting stuck in the loose sand of the last jeep trail, Wilderness Road, especially in warm months when there is little moisture in the sand. One option is to park at the Off-Highway Vehicle staging area on Juniper Road (also a jeep trail) and walk an additional +1 mile to the Wilderness Gate.
This is absolutely necessary if you are pulling a trailer. You'll find no maintained trails and no water in the Wilderness, and backpackers and horseback riders should also be aware of the likelihood of large temperature variation for overnight stays.
Be sure to contact the BLM's Spokane District for the latest conditions and access to the spectacular Juniper Dunes Wilderness Area!
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