"Dry Forest among Hills and Canyons & Fire Recovery" Brooks Memorial State Park by glabah

Heading north from Goldendale on US Highway 97, the grasslands of the small plateau on which Goldendale sits are left behind. As the highway climbs into the foothills that create a ridge between the Yakima Valley and the east end of the Columbia River Gorge, the hills rapidly become forested.

While Brooks Memorial State Park is only about 10 miles north of Goldendale, it is a different environment completely than the open grasslands on the high plateau just below the hills.

The park has several hiking trails, a day use area which includes picnic shelters, open grass and a small playground, and an "Environmental Learning Center".

Signs warning of the entrance to the park are located approximately 1/4 of a mile from the park entrance. The primary day use area is located on the west side of the road, so all the signs will tell you to turn left as you approach the park from Goldendale.

However, the group camp facilities, the Environmental Learning Center, and many of the trails are located on the east side of the highway.

Unfortunately, there is very little parking on the west side of the highway. There are places to park, but nowhere near as much as on the west side, and much of the parking is devoted to the group camping and environmental learning center. Either of these may be reserved for group events and therefore consume all the available parking on the east side of US Highwya 97.

Unfortunately, there is no safe way to cross US Highway 97 on foot.

In the last several years, large fires have hit some forest areas of the park. In late summer, it is best to check to make sure that it is still possible to get to the area around the park, and make sure that no major roads are closed due to fire danger.

Many of the trees in the park show burn marks, but only a few areas of the forest are completely killed by the fires.

Late spring brings out the bird song and wild flowers, usually peaking in May but highly dependent on the season.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fairly remote from population centers and therefore lesser known, most areas nice and peaceful.
  • Cons:Highway 97 splits park into two segments, and you must be fast on your feet to cross without getting killed. It isn't impossible, but it is a busy road.
  • In a nutshell:A very different part of Washington than most people think of, due to the very dry climate.
  • Last visit to Brooks Memorial State Park: May 2012
  • Intro Written May 26, 2012
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