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Beebe Springs Natural Area

This 200-acre former orchard area is in the midst of being restored to improve salmon and steelhead spawning habitat. In the process, some excellent birding habitat is being restored. Several side channels and marsh areas off of the Columbia River have been created, with foot bridges that cross over to the Columbia. Numerous dead cottonwood snags attract a large number of cavity nesters, and willow thickets house many passerines. Native plantings have been part of the restoration of the fast-moving Beebe Springs Creek, providing clear pools and riffles with clean gravel and oxygen-rich cold water. Further away from the river are hillsides where the sagebrush and native grasses and wildflowers are beginning to flourish. Weaving through these habitats are gravel paths that lead you to overlooks, bridges, benches, educational and interpretive markers, and a wildlife blind. The combination of varied riparian habitats and sage and grasslands attract a diversity of birds that make for a lovely morning birding walk. You will also enjoy the large steel sculptures of Virgil Marchad, depicting the Native American daily life as it revolved around activities of the river and the salmon.

Access and Logistics

From the South: Coming up Highway 97 from Wenatchee, cross Beebe Bridge, and ½ mile later enter into the Beebe Springs parking lot on the right. Coming down from Chelan on Hwy 150, turn left as it dead-ends into Highway 97, and Beebe Springs will be on the right. From the North: Do not take the Chelan exit off of Hwy 97 onto Hwy 97A. Instead stay on 97 until ½ mile before the Beebe Bridge. Look for the signs to Beebe Springs Natural Area on your left. Logistics: There is free parking, but a Discover Pass is required. Well-maintained outhouses are available except in the winter. Cell phone service is available. Gas, food, and lodging can all be found in Chelan, 2-3 miles away up Hwy. 150. Camping is available across the Columbia at Beebe Bridge State Park, and also at Chelan/Manson Parks.

Major Habitats Within the Natural Area
  • Shrub Steppe – Big Sagebrush, Antelope Bitterbrush, Snow Buckwheat
  • Native Grasses and Wildflowers – Blue Wheat Grass, Camas and Mariposa Lilies, Balsamroot, Lupine, Field Mustard, Desert Parsley
  • Riparian- River, side channels, creeks, and marshes with Cottonwood, Coyote Willow, Red Osier Dogwood, Pearhip Rose, Cattails, aquatic succulents

Birds and Seasons to Visit

Seasons: Spring and summer are the best seasons for variety. Fall does get some good migrants. Winter birds are limited primarily to common loons, waterfowl, raptors, sparrows, juncos, both chickadees, great blue herons, and kingfishers, although waxwings might be seen. Birds: Waterfowl include common and Barrow’s goldeneyes, common and hooded mergansers, bufflehead, ring-necked ducks, American wigeons, lesser and greater Scaup. Horned and pied-billed grebes are common, along with spotted sandpipers in the summer. Great blue herons and belted kingfishers are resident year-round. Bald eagles are seen frequently in the snags, and golden eagles can be seen circling near the cliffs behind Beebe Springs. Nesting osprey are present every year, as there is a productive nesting platform across the street at the fish hatchery. Other raptors include red-tail and rough-legged (in winter) hawks, Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks, American kestrels and northern harriers.

Spring brings all five north-central Washington swallow species; eastern and western kingbirds; yellow-rumped, McGillivrays, and yellow warblers; Cassin’s and warbling vireos, yellow-breasted chat, Say’s phoebes, and Bullock’s orioles.

The snags along the river, especially those in the wooded area near Beebe Bridge, house several woodpeckers – hairy and downy woodpeckers, northern flickers, and red-naped sapsuckers. Less frequently seen are calliope and rufous hummingbirds, northern shrike, and dipper in the creek. There are, of course, the ever-present California quail and Canada goose.

It will be interesting to watch Beebe Springs as it continues to heal and mature, as the habitat becomes increasingly inviting and species diversify.

Side Trips

Toad Creek Trail - This trail is accessed from the Chelan Fish Hatchery across the highway (go right just after the railroad tracks as you head up Hwy 150 toward Chelan). After parking there, walk through the hatchery, checking for ducks in the small holding ponds. You’ll then pass the osprey nesting platform, cross two creeks, and pass through an open field. Within ¼ mile you’ll arrive at a lovely oasis formed by Franks Spring Creek and Falls. Here you’ll find riparian warblers, vireos, orioles, flycatchers, and perhaps a dipper. You can then circle back on the upper loop of Toad Creek Trail, or you can adventure further up either Chelan Bob or Cultus Jim Trails. These branch off of Toad Creek Trail, heading straight up some rather precipitous switchbacks that climb 600 ft. up to the top of the cliffs. It is on these rock faces that you are most likely to find canyon and rock wrens or a golden eagle. Watch for rattlesnakes in the summer.

Other Chelan Sites - Read the descriptions of Chelan Gorge Road, Chelan Butte Road State Wildlife Area, Riverwalk Park, Lake Chelan State Park, and the Manson Lakes.


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