West Grant County’s natural resources and scenic destinations provide a wide variety of activities to suit all ages and interest levels. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Photos (Click to Enlarge)
Wild Horse Monument, near Vantage, Washington. (~22 miles from Desert Aire, GPS coordinates 46.9646 N, 119.9643 W.) “Grandfather cuts loose the ponies” was designed and created by Chewelah sculptor David Govedare to commemorate Washington State’s 1989 centennial. It depicts a herd of 15 wild horses running free.
Best viewed at a distance, it can be seen up-close via a moderately steep, 0.2-mile hike from the parking lot located at the base of the hill. Proper footwear is recommended, and a hiking pole will help! For directions and more information, please visit http://tourgrantcounty.com/directory/wild-horse-monument/.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. (~24 miles from Desert Aire, GPS coordinates 46.9124° N, 119.9946° W.) Gingko Petrified Forest State Park is a 7,470-acre park with 27,000-feet of freshwater shoreline located at Wanapum Reservoir on the Columbia River. It is also a registered national natural landmark, with superb river and territorial views. Associated recreational facilities include the interpretive center, 3+ miles of self-guided interpretive trails, as well as picnic and day-use areas. The park is open year-round.
A Washington State Parks Discover Pass is required for day-use vehicle access to the park ($10/day, $30/year). For more information, please visit the Discover Pass web page.
Fun fact: The Washington State gem is petrified wood.
The Gorge Amphitheatre at George, Washington. (~32 miles from Desert Aire, GPS coordinates 47.1014° N, 119.9957° W.) This 27,500-person capacity, world-class outdoor concert venue attracts >100,000 people to its summer concerts and music festivals each year. Local accommodations are limited, so many come prepared to camp. Fortunately, Desert Aire residents have better options!
Summer concert schedules are usually announced by late March. Stay tuned to http://www.livenation.com/venues/14067/gorge-amphitheatre for updates.
Local Wine Tasting. (~7 miles from Desert Aire.) Wine enthusiasts know well the Columbia River Valley’s reputation for producing superior wine grapes. Local favorite Ginkgo Forest Winery offers wines worthy of a “Sideways” stopover in their tasting room at 22561 Rd T.7 SW, Mattawa (GPS coordinates 47.2749° N, 122.4665° W). Open Weds-Sat from 10 to 5, or by appointment: 509-932-0082. 2012 North Central Washington Wine Awards winner.
Priest Rapids Recreation Area
Grant County Public Utility District owns and operates the Priest Rapids Hydroelectric Project under a federal (FERC) license that requires that the diverse needs of hydropower, fish, wildlife, tribal groups, flood control, farm irrigation and recreation be balanced. The PUD has partnered with its client communities to establish and maintain public parks, beaches, campgrounds, boat launches and other public recreation facilities.
The Priest Rapids Recreation Area Campground at Desert Aire is one. Known as “The Park,” It includes the Priest Rapids Shoreline Trail, parking and day-use picnic areas with BBQ grilles, restrooms, a three-lane boat launch, a designated swimming area and a 14-site campground with vault toilets. It is open year-round.
The Priest Rapids Trail runs along the Washington shore of the Columbia River opposite Desert Aire for 3.2 miles and links the recreation area and marina to the community. The paved trail is 3.2 miles long. Non-motorized pedestrian uses are permitted. Parking, picnic tables, and restrooms are available at each of the two trail heads, as well as at The Park and marina area that are located opposite the Desert Aire Recreation Center.
The Desert Aire Homeowner’s Association has been actively engaged in establishing designated public access trails to improve community access to the Priest Rapids Trail. To date, twelve such feeder trails have been completed and marked.
Boat Launch. The boat launch was completed in 2013 and offers three lanes of access to the Columbia River. Open year-round, there are no fees for use.
Campground. The campground is located adjacent to the boat launch and consists of 14 camping spaces located along the Columbia River. Amenities include picnic tables, an irrigated grass lawn, a designated swim area and vault toilets. Camping spaces may be rented for $15/night, 5-nights maximum. Reserve online from May to September, with drop-in camping during other months.
Fun fact: The Priest Rapids Hydroelectric project generates enough electricity to power a city of the size of Seattle.
Farm to Table
Grant County is a diverse agricultural district and home to many farms and ranches. Farm-to-table produce and other farm products can be purchased much of the year here. Please visit Local Produce & Farmers Markets for more information.