by Jeff Goulden
There is a vast central region in Washington that receives less than 10 inches of annual precipitation and has sagebrush, cactus, lizards and even rattlesnakes. Average summer temperature is 84F but can easily top 100F. Why the big difference between this and Western Washington? The answer is in the the high Cascade range of mountains that divides the state and creates a rainshadow effect. West of the Cascades is generally cooler and sometimes cloudy. Summers east of the Cascades are generally dry and hot.
Spring is a season of incomparable beauty in Central Washington. The desert comes to life with all manner of plants and animals. The temperatures are cool and comfortable, the aspen trees are leafing out and the hillsides are colorfully carpeted with Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Yellow Bell, Lupine, Yarrow and many other wildflowers. In April and May the streams are running, marmots are waking up from hibernation and the melody of birds fills the air.
An excellent resource for hiking in Central Washington is the Mountaineers' book "Best Desert Hikes in Washington" by Alan L. Bauer and Dan A. Nelson.
More pictures of this amazing part of Washington can be seen in my Washington State Desert Gallery at Istockphoto.com. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.