Mazama pocket gophers are an important component in South Sound prairies. While still found in Thurston and Pierce Counties, they are globally rare and considered threatened with extinction by the State of Washington.
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Several prairies are very easy to visit and can accommodate all ages and abilities. Two of the largest prairies in the South Puget Sound are managed by Washington state and are open to the public. Directions to these prairies are given below. You might also want to visit Thurston County's Glacial Heritage Preserve, which is open annually on Prairie Appreciation Day and at other limited times. A good way to visit Glacial Heritage, or any of the other prairies is to join a volunteer group.
Many prairie enthusiasts believe that the wildflower displays of May and early June are the best times on the prairies. The acres and acres of purple camas flowers are always a sight. Yet each season has its draw. Spring has wildflowers and the possibility of a rare butterfly. Summer can also have fantastic butterfly displays and the hot dry days are a pleasure. Fall brings rains, a turn in the color of oak leaves and is a great time to help with a restoration project. The open skies of a sunny, winter morning or afternoon can make a visit worthwhile.
Scatter Creek Wildlife Area
Scatter Creek Wildlife Area offers a great prairie, oak woodland and stream to visit. The land is used for a variety of activities including hunting, fishing and dog trialing. A Washington Discover Pass is required to park and visit.
Directions: Exit I-5 at Littlerock. Drive west one block, then turn south on Case Road. Continue on Case Road, crossing Scatter Creek, to 180th west through Littlerock and continue on Street. Turn right on 180th , which leads to the Wildlife Area parking lot.
Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve
Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve is 637 acres in size and contains the best remaining examples of the unique Mima Mounds. An interpretive trail, suitable for the disabled, meanders through the eerie mounds and great prairie. Longer walks are also available. The Preserve is open to the public everyday, though a Washington Discover Pass is required.
Directions: Exit I-5 at Littlerock. Drive 128th Avenue SW until it ends at an intersection with Waddell Creek Road. Turn right on Waddell Creek Road. The Mima Mounds entrance will be on the left.