Road Trips

Blow On Over to the Wind Farm

Central Washington’s windmill headquarters is open for the season.

By Allison Williams April 3, 2012

They might be giants: Windmills at Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility.

Photo by Puget Sound Energy

Ever stare at the at the wind-turbine fields east of Ellensburg and get the urge to make like Don Quixote? Well, try not to actually attack the windmills at Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Vantage, since they weigh 223 tons apiece and will win every time.

Open April 1 to November every year, Puget Sound Energy’s visitor’s center is located a few miles from I-90, halfway between Ellensburg and the Columbia River. The octagonal building offers sublime views from its perch on the slopes of Whiskey Dick Mountain (really). There are 149 wind turbines spread among the hedgehog cacti and elk herds; the giants, along with 2,723 solar panels, generate power for some 70,000 Northwest homes.

PSE offers free tours of the facility at 10am and 2pm, with special wildflower-themed hikes on April 28 and May 12. The building itself has interpretive displays created by Central Washington University. Fun facts include that each rotor is wider than the wingspan of a 747 and that gusts here can exceed 90 miles per hour.

The wind farm makes for a good stop on a road trip through Central Washington—say to the Channeled Scablands. Looking to dawdle even longer? Try the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park or the Wild Horse Monument nearby.

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