The Oak Creek Wildlife Area in Yakima valley is fun to visit in winter months. This place is managed by the State of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. A long fence was constructed in the valley to prevent Elk and Bighorn sheep entering the city in winter. When there is snow in the mountains, the wild animals come down to the valley looking for food. The fence prevent them from finding food in winter, so the wildlife preserve had to feeding them in winter, it is a strange practice but I have observed over six hundred Elks gathered in one single place to eat the food provided by the wild life preserve. There is also several hundred Bighorn sheep in a nearby place, next to the Elk feeding station . When the snowfall starts, the animals come down to the feeding station and they hang around in that place until it warm up in February or March. Then they go back to the mountains. The wildlife preserve also provides a ride in the feeding truck so people can see the animals up close from the truck. You need to call them in advance to reserve a seat for the ride. They do that during the feeding time every day. The ride timings and contact phone numbers are published on their website. The Visitor Center at the Oak Creek Headquarters is located 2 miles west of the junction of Highways 12 and 410 on Highway 12, approximately 20 miles west of Yakima.
I visited this place couple of times in the past, and it was snowing heavily when I could photograph the animals during the truck ride. It was a unique experience to see the animals while the snow was falling. I had trouble taking pictures because I wasn't able to focus correctly due to the heavy snow flakes coming down. I managed to take a few shots by locking the focus using the back button in my camera. I mostly used a 70-200 lens to photograph the animals, and couple of wide shots with a 24-70 lens. If you plan to go and need some information like directions or additional information regarding photographing this place, you can post a message at the bottom of this page, or use the Contact link to send me an e-mail.
Exposure : 200mm, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, F4
Link to the photo gallery : http://www.muraleephotos.com/p628051539
Back button focus, focus locking.