Saddle Mountain, Washington

October 21, 2019

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Photographer: Stu Witmer
Summary Author: Stu Witmer

Saddle Mountain in Central Washington has always fascinated me. At first, this was because of the look of the mountain. It's not a rocky, conical pile covered with snow like the Washington volcanoes, but rather a 30-mile (48 km) long ridge of rocks, grass, sagebrush and other semiarid flora. The mountain is a significant anticline ridge in the Yakima Fold Belt. This is one of several asymmetric anticlinal folds that look somewhat like vast waves of earth rather than water.

This view is looking west toward a distant north-south ridge which is on the western side of the Columbia River where Saddle Mountain terminates. Just out of the frame to the right is the Lower Crab Creek section of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area. At first glance, this area of shrub-steppe and wetlands may seem like a dry place. However, sitting quietly and observing for a few moments will reveal a surprisingly wide variety of animal and plant life. Saddle Mountain is also a popular rock-hounding locale for petrified wood, the state's official gemstone.