The United States Congress designated the Indian Heaven Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 20,784 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Washington
and is managed by the Forest Service.
A forested plateau dominated by fir (Pacific silver, noble, subalpine) opens often into meadows with at least 150 small lakes, ponds, and marshes. Most of the larger lakes contain rainbow and brook trout. Lava once flowed from almost every knobby rise above the plateau, which averages 4,500 feet in elevation. The numerous volcanic cones reach their highest point on Lemei Rock (5,927 feet), where a broad crater now contains Lake Wapiki. A wealth of summer wildflower color corresponds with swarms of biting insects born in the ubiquitous water. Deer and elk reside here until winter snows drive them lower, along with black bears attracted to the abundant ripening of fall huckleberries. Periodically over the past 9,000 years Indians (including the Yakima, Klickitat, Cascades, Wasco, Wishram, and Umatilla tribes) gathered here for berry picking, fishing, and hunting. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) crosses the entire Wilderness north-south for a distance of 16.4 miles, with several side trails to some of the larger lakes and to the Indian Racetrack, a 2,000-foot-long field where horse racing once provided a break from the tribal food-gathering routine. Seven other trails enter from the east and west to join the PCT.