Indian Heaven Wilderness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Indian Heaven Wilderness
Lemei Rock, the highest peak in the Indian Heaven Wilderness..jpg
Lemei Rock, highest peak in Indian Heaven Wilderness
Map showing the location of Indian Heaven Wilderness
Map showing the location of Indian Heaven Wilderness
LocationSkamania County, Washington, USA
Coordinates46°00′34″N 121°46′56″W / 46.00944°N 121.78222°W / 46.00944; -121.78222Coordinates: 46°00′34″N 121°46′56″W / 46.00944°N 121.78222°W / 46.00944; -121.78222
Area20,782 acres (8,410 ha)
Governing bodyUnited States Forest Service
Indian Heaven Wilderness
Ancient Indian racetrack at Indian Heaven
One of the Race Track Lakes near the Indian racetrack

Indian Heaven Wilderness is a protected area located inside the Gifford Pinchot National Forest of southwestern Washington state. The wilderness consists of 20,782 acres (8,410 ha) of broad, forested plateau, with meadows straddling numerous volcanic peaks and at least 150 small lakes, ponds, and marshes.[1] The wilderness also contains the Indian Heaven volcanic field. Originally known to the Indians as "Sahalee Tyee," the area has been and remains culturally important to Native Americans.[2] During the past 9,000 years, the Yakima, Klickitat, Cascades, Wasco, Wishram, and Umatilla tribes gathered in this area for berry picking, fishing, and hunting.[1]


Lava once flowed from the numerous volcanic cones that rise above the plateau, consisting mainly of overlapping shield volcanoes, spatter cones, and cinder cones, which averages 4,500 feet (1,400 m) in elevation.[1] The wilderness' highest point is Lemei Rock (5,927 ft), whose crater now contains Lake Wapiki.[3] Other prominent volcanic peaks include Bird Mountain, Sawtooth Mountain, Gifford Peak, East Crater, and Red Mountain. Big Lava Bed is the result of the most recent volcanic activity about 8,200 years ago.


Lemei Rock is one of the many shield volcanoes topped by cinder cones and spatter cones that make up the Indian Heaven volcanic field. About 60 eruptive centers lie on the 19-mile (30 km) long, N10°E-trending, Indian Heaven fissure zone. The 230 square miles (600 km2) field has a volume of about 20 cubic miles (100 km3) and forms the western part of a 770-square-mile (2,000 km2) Quaternary basalt field in the southern Washington Cascades, including the King Mountain fissure zone along which Mount Adams was built.

Name Elevation Location Last eruption
meters   feet   Coordinates
Big Lava Bed[4] 1,278.6 4,195 45°54′N 121°45′W / 45.9°N 121.75°W / 45.9; -121.75 ~8150 years ago
Bird Mountain[4] 1,632 5,354 46°02′N 121°47′W / 46.03°N 121.78°W / 46.03; -121.78 ~8,200 years ago
Crazy Hills[4]      
East Crater[4] 1,614 5,295 46°00′N 121°47′W / 46°N 121.78°W / 46; -121.78 ~8,200 years ago
Gifford Peak[4] 1,614 5,295   ~8,200 years ago
Lemei Rock[4] 1,806 5,925 46°1′6″N 121°45′36″W / 46.01833°N 121.76000°W / 46.01833; -121.76000 ~8,200 years ago
Lone Butte[4] 1,457 4,780 46°03′N 121°52′W / 46.05°N 121.87°W / 46.05; -121.87 ~8,200 years ago
Red Mountain[4] 1,513 4,964 45°56′N 121°49′W / 45.93°N 121.82°W / 45.93; -121.82 ~8,200 years ago
Sawtooth Mountain[4] 1,632 5,354 46°04′N 121°47′W / 46.07°N 121.78°W / 46.07; -121.78 ~8,200 years ago



Deer and elk reside in the wilderness area until winter snows drive them lower, along with black bears attracted to the abundant ripening of fall huckleberries.[3] Numerous bird species reside in the wilderness along with various small forest animals, such as chipmunks.


The forest conifers consist mainly of subalpine fir and Douglas fir. The area (including the Sawtooth Berry Fields) is known for its abundant huckleberries in mid-August to early September. They grow abundantly in the old, fire-scarred forest meadows burned in the past by Natives to stimulate more huckleberry production.[2]


The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail passes north/south through the wilderness, which is known for its many lakes and views of four nearby volcanoes: Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Rainier. It is also known to hikers for an intense population of mosquitoes throughout the summer. Other major trails in the area are Indian Heaven Trail and the Cultus Creek Trail, which climbs up the east side of Bird Mountain, and Lemei Trail which traverses up the east side of Lemei Rock and passes by Lake Wapiki.[3] In late fall, the huckleberry bushes provide berries as well as intense orange color in some years.[citation needed]

In 2015, nearly 8,000 people visited the wilderness area for recreational purposes, exceeding the Forest Service's standards for solitude.[5]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

  1. ^ a b c "Indian Heaven Wilderness". University of Montana. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Indian Heaven Wilderness". Gifford Pinchot National Forest. U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Wilderness: Indian Heaven". Gifford Pinchot National Forest. U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wood, Charles A.; Jűrgen Kienle (1993). Volcanoes of North America. Cambridge University Press. pp. 166–167. ISBN 0-521-43811-X.
  5. ^ Thomas, Al (September 1, 2016). "Solitude at risk in Indian Heaven Wilderness". The Columbian. Vancouver, Washington. Retrieved March 21, 2018.

External links[edit]