top of page
  • Writer's pictureEdward Leonard

Picnic at Umtanum Creek 26 May 2024

ChatGPT Title: A Perfect Day in Nature: Picnicking at Umtanum Creek in Ellensburg, WA

Nestled in the heart of Ellensburg, Washington, lies a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike—Umtanum Creek. With its tranquil waters, lush greenery, and stunning vistas, this idyllic spot offers the perfect setting for a memorable picnic in nature's embrace.

As the sun rose over the Cascade Mountains, casting a golden hue upon the landscape, my friends and I eagerly packed our picnic baskets and set out on our journey to Umtanum Creek. The anticipation of spending a day surrounded by the beauty of the great outdoors filled us with excitement and joy.

Upon arriving at the creek, we were greeted by the soothing sounds of flowing water and the gentle rustling of leaves in the breeze. We found the ideal spot to spread our picnic blanket—a grassy knoll overlooking the creek, framed by towering cottonwood trees and rugged cliffs.

With appetites sharpened by the crisp mountain air, we eagerly unpacked our feast—a bounty of delicious sandwiches, fresh fruit, savory snacks, and sweet treats. As we indulged in our culinary delights, laughter and conversation filled the air, mingling with the symphony of nature's melodies.

Between bites, we took the time to soak in the beauty that surrounded us. The crystal-clear waters of Umtanum Creek shimmered in the sunlight, reflecting the azure sky above. Wildflowers danced in the gentle breeze, painting the landscape with vibrant hues of purple, yellow, and pink.

After our meal, we set out to explore the wonders of Umtanum Creek. We followed the meandering paths that hugged the creek's edge, pausing to admire the intricate patterns carved into the rocky riverbed by centuries of flowing water. Along the way, we spotted a variety of wildlife, from colorful songbirds flitting among the branches to playful otters frolicking in the shallows.

As the day drew to a close, we reluctantly packed up our picnic gear, knowing that our time at Umtanum Creek had come to an end. But as we made our way back to civilization, our hearts were filled with a sense of peace and contentment that only comes from spending a day in nature's embrace.

In a world filled with hustle and bustle, Umtanum Creek offers a sanctuary—a place where time slows down, and the stresses of everyday life melt away. Whether you're enjoying a leisurely picnic with loved ones or simply seeking solace in the beauty of the natural world, a visit to Umtanum Creek is sure to leave you with cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


After a morning trying to get another look at the Lesser Nighthawk at Getty Cove In Vantage, WA; Andy, Fiona, and I were ready for a picnic. We decided on Umptanum Creek as a good option as it was close to some fast take out options in Ellensburg (Wendys and Jimmy Johns) and about half way back to Cle Elum, WA.

Umptanum Creek is situated along the Yakima River, this site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management ( and provides opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, fishing, and more. One of the main attractions of the Umtanum Recreation Site is the Umtanum Creek Canyon, which features towering basalt cliffs, lush riparian vegetation, and scenic views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can explore the canyon via hiking trails that wind along the creek and through the surrounding hillsides. The Umtanum Creek Trail is particularly popular, offering a moderate hike with opportunities to see diverse wildlife and unique geological formations.

After picking up the food, we found one of the three covered picnic tables and watched for the birds we could hear singing. The first bird visible was a Brown-headed Cowbird. Vultures circled in the distance above the canyon. Then an Eastern Kingbird appeared, one of the main birds I hoped to see. It was my first of the year and made my sandwich all the more savory.

We didn't linger at the picnic table long. We quickly finished then head out to explore for a little bit. Across the suspension bridge and under the railroad tracks is a trail which forks. Many times we've taken the right path, but today we took the left hoping for a Canyon Wren. The left path was steep and we didn't make it too far. The steep grade and loose rocks made it a little difficult to walk especially for Fiona since she was wearing crocs.

Along the hike we saw Lazuli Buntings, Bullock Orioles, a Western Kingbird,and a Western Wood Pewee. No Canyon Wren, but that is okay. Both Andy and Fiona had been troopers all morning following their Dad as he attempted to get another look at the Lesser Nighthawk.

The best part of the day was sharing it with them. I hope they remember days like this. Growing up, I didn't spend too much time outside with my parents. My brother and I spent a lot of time outside because in those days...well there wasn't much to do inside. So that is what you did. You looked for polywogs. You explored nature. My Dad wasn't into nature. We never camped or hiked. Once a year, we would rent a cottage on Cape Cod and that was our nature. We stuck our feet in the sand that was warm at the surface, but cool underneath. In the mornings,my brother and I would "race" my father to a little store, the "yellow store", where he could get a newspaper. My brother and I would cut through the side yards of cottages, "shortcuts", ensuring we could beat him as he walked along the road. When he thought we weren't looking he would run full speed. I don't nearly think about my Dad enough.

Because of where I work, I don't feel like I've been there enough for my family. Does anyone really though? As I've gotten more into nature, I feel like I am opening up more of the world to my kids. I want many more days like this exploring, feasting, and sharing it togther.

5 views0 comments


bottom of page