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Get Intimate with the Shrub-Steppe 
Ellensburg WA
Friday May 10- Sunday May 12, 2024

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Registration Opens in February 2024

If your activity has a waitlist, please join and in the notes column, add the activity you want to join.

Field Trip & Event Descriptions

A *by-donation community event highlighting the endangered shrub-steppe habitat in Central Washington. The event starts Friday with an evening social gathering, Saturday is filled with expert guided field trips with birding, geology, snakes and reptiles, fish and river bugs, history, and more. Educational booths are set up with free educational materials and other outreach materials and we highlight affinity environmental and natural resource groups from around the state. Saturday evening brings a keynote speaker with a shrub-steppe focused theme. Sunday includes self-guided field trips and additional guided field trips into the shrub-steppe.

*some special events have fees associated


The future home of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center rests on the ancestral lands of the Pshwánapam people (fourteen Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation). The people of the Yakama Nation inhabited more than 12 million acres across Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, and Yakima Counties. We honor those peoples who are tied to the land through history, legends, and culture. We acknowledge their descendants who live in the world today. We thank the caretakers of this land, who have lived here and continue to live here since time immemorial. An acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way to show respect, and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture. It also honors the truth.

25th  Anniversary!

Join KEEN (Kittitas Environmental Education Network) in May and discover the natural beauty of
Ellensburg, Kittitas County, and Central Washington State!


The Yakima River Canyon is an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA) with some of the highest densities of passerines and birds of prey in the State. The extensive cliffs, shrub-steppe, and riparian cottonwood forests provide a rich mixture of habitats for animals, plants, reptiles, and insects. Particularly important are the immense basalt cliffs and talus slopes interspersed with shrub-steppe vegetation, which support a diverse assemblage of birds associated with this habitat, including White-throated Swift, Cliff Swallow, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, and 21 species of raptors. Ten of these raptor species breed in and around the canyon, including two pairs of Golden Eagles and five pairs of Prairie Falcons.


The cliffs and shrub-steppe habitat also support dense populations of Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and Great-horned Owls. Up to 20 Bald Eagles winter along the river, subsisting primarily on whitefish. The riparian habitats along the river and its tributaries support a high diversity and abundance of bird species, including Lazuli Bunting, Pine Siskin, Evening Grosbeak, Bullock’s Oriole, Sage Thrasher, Mountain Bluebird, Say’s Phoebe, Williamson’s Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Cedar Waxing, Northern Spotted Owl, and American Pelican.

Plan ahead! Some of our field trips require parking passes from state or federal entities. Umtanum & Selah need BLM Pass, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center & Ginkgo need WA Discover Pass, so be sure you are ready. Also, grab a hotel or campground reservation early - Ellensburg is very popular in the spring!

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Event Overview


Friday May 10, 2024
6pm-9pm @ the [tap room]

Social Gathering, Falconry
& Food Trucks 

Join KEEN and our field trip leaders/speakers at the [tap room] by Ironhorse Brewing for a totally casual and fun welcome to the event kind of evening. Maybe meet field trip leaders & local experts and connect with new friends! Members of the Washington Association of Falconry will share a slide show and bring along some falcon friends! Cash bar & food trucks available.

Saturday May 11, 2024
Environmental & Conservation Booths
@ Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center

Kittitas Environmental Education Network, Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center, Kittitas Audubon, Conservation Northwest, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, CWU Reptiles of our Shrub-Steppe, CWU Zooarchaeology Lab, Teanaway Community Forest, WA Association of Falconry, Kittitas County Conservation District,  CWU Libraries, Yakama Nation Pacific Lamprey Outreach Team, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited,  WA Native Plants Society, Puget Sound Energy, Yakima Fly Fishers Trout Unlimited, Kids Activities, and more!  

Saturday May 11, 2024 
Keynote Dinner TBD

*this is a ticketed event with limited space 

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Expert-Led Field Trips
May 11 & May 12

Pre-Register for Activities Here

Self-guided field trips can use WA Audubon Sun & Sage Loop Map

[tap room] directions
Registration Opens in February
Field Trip Schedule

Event Sponsors

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