Monday, May 31, 2010

Table Mountain, Ellensburg, Washington

Backroad Destination: Table Mountain, Ellensburg, Washington

Just north of Ellensburg along I-90 is a long flat ridge known as Table Mountain.  Check out that landform in the background!  Landforms and Boondocking.  Table Mountain has lots of flat ground at an elevation of well over 6000 feet.  It does not look that high from Ellensburg.

Table Mountain has great displays of wildflowers during the month of July.  The local elk herd wanders through the area.  There are hiking, horseback, bicycle, motorcycle and jeep trails in the area.  Thousands of acres of YOUR public land to explore and enjoy.

Table Mountain is at a high elevation.  So the area is generally not accessible until late June or early July.  Check with the Cle Elum Ranger Station for current conditions  509 852 1100.  Here is a picture taken on July 22nd.  Looks rather cold for July.  But as with all mountains be prepared for anything including hot weather, rain, hail, snow, thunderstorms and two or three weather events at the same time.  July at Table Mountain is spring weather.

Here are the co-ordinates for your GPS or Google Earth.  47 15 07.51 N 120 34 39.04 W.  Do go to Google Earth for an overview of the area.  When you click on the photos you will notice that there are a lot of telescopes in the pictures!

Table Mountain is the site of the annual Table Mountain Star Party.  The star party happens during the new moon in July or August.  The association has a special use permit from the Forest Service for those dates.  You have to be registered at the Star Party to camp during those dates.  Here is the link to the  Table Mountain Star Party.

If you are interested in astronomy or have kids or grand kids that are the Table Mountain Star Party is a great place for people of all ages to discover astronomy. (photo by Peter Lind).

If you go to a Star Party, be sure to read the rules and bring a RED flashlight.  Here is a list of Star Parties throughout the United States  US Star Parties List  The dates they give for the Table Mountain Star Party are incorrect.  Be sure to click on the link and contact those all important organizers for pre-registration, rules, and directions.

The drive up Table Mountain is paved, single lane with inter-visible turnouts. Going up is easy.  Save your brakes for the trip down!  See this blog entry for more information on driving Forest Service roads.  Driving Backroads.

There is more to the town of Ellensburg than being the gateway to Table Mountain.  It is a great college town with lots of good used bookstores, great food, and some unique attractions.

That dinner out is still important for Susie.  So our recommendation is the Valley Cafe. Here is their web site: Valley Cafe, Ellensburg .  I had a great bouillabaisse that beat anything we have ever ordered over on the coast.  Great food, great wine. 

The next attraction should be on your MUST DO list if you are anywhere close to Ellensburg.  But you need to complete a homework assignment  before visiting.   At one time or another you have heard the story about a graduate student that taught chimps American sign language.  It was a simple research project.  The homework assignment is to read his book. 

The book is well worth reading.  No matter what your view of animals or your relationship to them.  To me the most moving part was when Roger Fouts tracks down some of "his" chimps.  One in particular is caged and being used for medical research.  As Roger signs his good-by the chimp signs "Roger, give me key".

In the interest of full disclosure.  I hunt. Eat meat on a regular basis.  Fish.  And my bird dog wears a shock collar.  This book is NOT about animal rights, but it will give you an interesting perspective on chimps and their world.

Roger Fouts did track down "his" chimps and moved them to Ellensburg at Central Washington University.  Here is the link: Chimp and Hunman Institute Website

The Institute is worth the visit.  Contact them for tours and visiting hours.  There is a fee for the tours to support the living facilities for the chimps.

Table Mountain a boondocking site to view the Universe.  Ellensburg a small town that embodies the best of small town America.

For those looking for a telescope to get started in astronomy I recommend the Orion ShortTube 80-T refractor as a starting scope.  You do need a camera tripod or a telescope mount to attached the telescope.

You can find my review of the ST-80 here:  Orion Short-Tube 80-t Review


Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog! Looking forward to reading all the past entries.

I may well check out the Ellensburg Star Party when I'm in Washington next summer.

Vladimir Steblina said...

Thanks. I appreciate receiving comments. Sometimes it is hard posting for a couple of weeks without comments. It makes you wonder if anybody is reading the blog!

Be sure to share the link with your friends. Feel free to link to it from your site.

If you have any questions or are just curious about something just post to the comments section or send me an e-mail. Be sure to put usbackroads in the subject line so I can easily catch it.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I plan to check Table Mt out this weekend for the meteor shower.