Indian Heaven Wilderness, Washington

>
>

Indian Heaven Wilderness

Called “Sahalee Tyee” by the Native Americans, Indian Heaven Wilderness within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in SW Washington has remained culturally significant to the local tribes for 9,000 years.

  • Indian Heaven Wilderness, called Sahalee Tyee by the local Native tribes, remains an important site for native culture. 
  • Located within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in SW Washington.
  • Lakes, volcanic formations, and huckleberry fields highlight the region.

Overview

Indian Heaven Wilderness is a region of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, one with a rich, ancient natural and cultural history. These rolling hills possess a scenic beauty enhanced by more than 150 lakes, fascinating volcanic rock formations, open meadows dotted with wildflowers and berry patches, and 5,927-foot Lemei Rock with its views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and Wapiki Lake.

Six local Native American tribes have made Indian Heaven Wilderness a gathering place for thousands of years. An annual huckleberry festival still flourishes in late summer, and a portion of the wild huckleberry fields are set aside exclusively for the local tribes.

Location & Information

Indian Heaven Wilderness is located within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The area is protected and sections are reserved for the local Native American tribes. The wilderness can be accessed via the Wind River Road north from Highway 14 (the Lewis & Clark Highway) on the Washington bank of the Columbia River.

Activities

  • Hiking: Many trails traverse the wilderness and provide gorgeous views.
  • Fishing: More than 150 lakes, many of which are regularly stocked for the enjoyment of anglers.
  • Climbing: Lemei Rock is the highest point in the area at 5,927 feet, offering panoramic views of the Cascades and nearby Wapiki Lake.
  • Berrying: The area’s wild huckleberries can be harvested in season except in those areas set aside for tribal use.
  • Visit the former site of the huckleberry festival, with an Indian Race Track where the tribes used to race horses.

Huckleberry Legend

Local legend describes the time when the Creator was making all the animals to populate the world, using parts of his body to create them. When all the animals had been created, the Creator saw that he had no berries in the mountains. The Creator’s only remaining body part was his eyes, so he buried his eyes in the mountain soil, where they bled into the earth and formed the roots for the first huckleberries.