The Columbia Basin of eastern Washington has plenty of prime wind generation sites, particularly on the surrounding hills. The area also has the advantage of an existing, well-developed transmission line infrastructure, due to the many large hydropower plants on the Columbia River system. For these reasons, the construction of wind-generating plants has boomed in the area over the last couple of decades.
The Wild Horse Wind Farm is an excellent example of one of these facilities, as it also includes a visitor center on renewable energy, many publicly available displays, and even guided tours. It is run by Puget Sound Energy, the utility for most of Washington.
The Wild Horse Wind Farm is located on Whiskey Dick Mountain northeast of Ellensburg. The first phase was completed in 2006, with an expansion following in 2009. It currently consists of 149 turbines, with a nameplate capacity of 273 megawatts. There is also a 500-kilowatt solar array, one of the largest in the state
Whiskey Dick Mountain also hosts a large resident elk herd, and sightings of elk while visiting the turbines are practically guaranteed.
Know Before You Go
The Wild Horse Wind Farm is north of the Vantage Highway, which parallels Interstate 90 a half mile or so on the north and connects Vantage and Ellensburg. The turnoff to the Wind Farm is about 16.8 miles east of Main Street in Ellensburg and about 11.5 miles west of the intersection with I-90 at Vantage. Go north at the turnoff about three miles; the road ends at the Wind Farm, where there is ample parking.
The Wind Farm is closed seasonally from December through March. Otherwise, check the website for tour hours.