By Barbara Jaksa
The Times 

Othello Sandhill Crane Festival coming March 22


Paula Zanter-Stout

Cranes are the stars from March 22 to 24 in Othello.

OTHELLO-A weekend getaway to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and the nearby town of Othello offered solitude under big skies, vibrant sunsets, and subtle sunrises. Fields of honking geese are a reminder that the 26th Annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival on March 22 – 24, 2024, is just around the corner.

The three-day event offers lectures, photography workshops, guided tours by bus, boats, and bikes (bring your own bike), and walking and hiking through the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR) and Potholes State Park. The lectures cover the Sandhill Cranes migration route from the California Central Valley to Alaska via the Pacific Flyway with a stopover in Othello. Other topics on local geological history include the Ice Age Megafloods and the Shrubsteppe ecosystem.

Though close enough to Waitsburg for an event-filled day trip, I recommend staying overnight. Catching a sunrise or sunset in the CNWR makes for a spectacular, light-filled landscape. Camping is available at Potholes State Park and private RV Parks. There is limited primitive (outhouses, no water) camping in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Seep Lakes Area, where signage indicates. Remember, a Washington State Discover Pass is needed if you are venturing onto state lands.

Online registration for camping is recommended (they provide waitlisting) for specific events; a $12 fee per person is required at the entrance. Bring comfortable hiking shoes, warm layered clothing (check the weather), water, binoculars, a keen eye, and a sense of adventure!

Othello Sandhill Crane Festival information at

Sandhill Crane Information at

Columbia National Wildlife Refuge/US Fish and Wildlife Service at

Discover Pass at

Potholes State Park at

Seep Lakes Wildlife Area at


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