Brooks Memorial State Park

By Brenda Senturia

The Site

Brooks Memorial State Park (BMSP) is one of the best Washington State parks for the traveling birder, either for a short visit or to camp and explore the park extensively. BMSP is situated on the east slope of the Cascades, astride a tributary of the Little Klickitat River. There are many habitats: large conifers (Douglas fir, primarily) near the campground, creek-side willow groves, hillsides with Ponderosa pine and Garry oak, a small sewage pond, and manicured public areas. At an elevation of about 2500 feet, BMSP lies in the transition zone between a high-elevation coniferous forest zone and drier Ponderosa and Garry oak zones. There are winter snows and dry summers. Because of the many habitats, the bird life here is rich and varied.

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The Birds

A birdlist from BMSP will include many flycatchers - Gray, Willow, Olive-sided, Dusky, Hammond's, and Western Wood-Pewee are all possible. Cassin's and Warbling Vireos are frequently heard. Warblers are also well represented, with Yellow-rumped, Townsend's, Yellow, Nashville, Wilson's, MacGillivray's, and Common Yellowthroats. Black-headed Grosbeaks and Red-naped Sapsuckers can often be found near the campground. Evening Grosbeaks, Western Tanagers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and White-breasted Nuthatches are regularly seen. Vaux's Swifts and many swallow species fly through the valley. Calliope Hummingbirds may be found along the creek or on the hillsides.

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Directions and Suggestions

The best time to visit is late spring or early summer when migrants have returned to nest.
From I-90, take Exit #110 (I-82 and Route 97 south). At Exit 37, follow signs to Goldendale on Route 97. BMSP is located just after milepost 25. The visitor should explore the campground area northwest of Route 97 and, on the southeast side, bird the riparian areas from the group camp. Additionally, walk up into the pine/oak habitat via a dirt road to the left just before the girls' cabins at the Environmental Learning Center. From BMSP, one can also explore the higher elevations of Satus Pass to the north, the Columbia Hills to the south, or the Klickitat Valley to the southwest.

There are camping and day-use fees.

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References

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