Parks in Walla Walla
and surrounding areas

by Dana Wong

The City of Walla Walla has a wide variety of public parks scattered across town, ranging in size and purpose from the large, historical Pioneer Park to the unique Xeriscape Park, landscaped with drought-resistant trees and shrubbery that thrive in Walla Walla’s arid climate.  The city’s larger parks typically host large, grassy playing fields, baseball diamonds, volleyball and tennis courts, and multiple-use recreational trails, while many of the smaller parks contain picnic benches, shade under large trees, and playground equipment.  Walla Walla’s parks are funded and maintained by the city, but volunteers and monetary donations also help to maintain the parks.  The Walla Walla Union Bulletin annually organizes a Fourth of July festival in Pioneer Park, while the City Parks and Recreation Department sponsors many recreation programs throughout the year, such as the Saturday Gym Program for children, the Walla Walla Teen Center, and various adult recreational sports leagues.  These programs are hosted in parks, schools, and other public facilities throughout Walla Walla. 

For further information about Walla Walla’s parks, call the Parks and Recreation Department (509-527-4527) or visit its website (http://www.ci.walla-walla.wa.us/Parks_&_Recreation/).

 

Walla Walla’s Parks

Veterans Memorial Golf Course, Borleske Stadium, Memorial Pool & Park, Parks & Recreation Office Menlo Park, Vista Terrace Park Eastgate Lions Park
, Mill Creek Sports Complex
Heritage Square, Crawford Park, Washington Park Pioneer Park, Wildwood Park
Fort Walla Walla Park, Jefferson Park Mountain View Cemetery, Howard-Tietan Park

 

1.      Veterans Memorial Golf Course                    10.  Jefferson Park

2.      Borleske Stadium                                           11.  Mountain View Cemetery

3.      Memorial Pool & Park                                   12.  Howard-Tietan Park

4.      Parks & Recreation Office                             13.  Pioneer Park

5.      Xeriscape Park                                               14.  Wildwood Park

6.      Heritage Square                                             15.  Menlo Park

7.      Crawford Park                                               16.  Vista Terrace Park

8.      Washington Park                                           17.  Eastgate Lions Park

9.      Fort Walla Walla Park                                   18.  Mill Creek Sports Complex

     


Walla Walla’s 14 parks

Borleske Stadium – Rees Ave. – Borleske Stadium is home field to both Walla Walla High School’s football team and Whitman College’s baseball team.  The stadium is equipped with night lights, grandstands, and concessions, and also includes a soccer field and a track.

Memorial Pool & Park – Rees Ave. – Situated adjacent to the Borleske Stadium, the Memorial Pool is a seasonal-use outdoor 50-meter pool.  The park spans 7 acres and features play equipment, picnic tables, basketball hoops, and a stream.

Xeriscape Park – N. Rose & Isaacs – Xeriscape Park is a unique garden featuring drought-tolerant grasses, shrubs, and trees.

Heritage Square – Main St., between Spokane & Colville Streets – Surrounded by old-fashioned murals, Heritage Square contains a covered picnic area and playground equipment.

Crawford Park – Between 3rd & 4th Avenues on Main – The site of the ever-so-popular seasonal Farmer’s Market, Crawford Park contains a performing arts stage and a statuary, surrounded by park benches and a landscaped area.

Washington Park – 9th Avenue & Cherry – Set among 12 acres of large trees that includes a stream are picnic tables, a playground, basketball courts, soccer fields, and a baseball field.

Fort Walla Walla Park – Dalles Military & Myra Road – On 208 acres, Fort Walla Walla Park features play equipment, picnic facilities, horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court, an amphitheater, a model car track and a model airplane field, a bicycle motocross track, a skateboard park, and a paved bicycle trail.  Also featured are a 70-acre wildlife preserve with streams and a hiking trail, a cavalry cemetery, a museum with pioneer and agricultural artifacts, and a ropes course, which is managed by the Walla Walla Juvenile Justice Center.

Jefferson Park – 9th Avenue & Malcolm – Geared towards children, Jefferson Park is a 9-acre area of play equipment, including a seasonal swimming pool for youth ages 10 and under.  A locomotive, two streams, and a youth fishing pond make this park unique, while it also hosts a picnic area, basketball area and the Senior Citizens’ Center.

Howard-Tietan Park – Howard & Tietan Streets – A large recreational area of 19 acres, this park is home to baseball fields, soccer fields, a basketball court, a sand volleyball court, a playground, and a sledding area.  Located on the outskirts of town, Howard-Tietan provides a scenic view of the nearby Blue Mountains.

Pioneer Park – Alder & Division – Walla Walla’s most historic park, Pioneer Park sits on 58 acres and features play equipment and sheltered picnic tables, a gazebo, a rose garden, and sports areas (including baseball and soccer fields, volleyball areas, tennis courts, and biking and walking trails).  Two large duck ponds and an aviary make this park a popular spot for animal-lovers, who come to feed the park’s many ducks and birds.

Wildwood Park – Division & Boyer – Wildwood Park is a 6-acre expanse of grass dotted with trees, including a picnic shelter and playground.

Menlo Park – Division & Portland – Menlo Park is a small area with large trees, a playground, picnic tables, and a hard-court.

Vista Terrace ParkMountain Park Drive – A 7-acre sports facility, Vista Terrace Park features picnic tables, a playground, a bicycle trail, tennis and volleyball courts, and a baseball diamond.

Eastgate Lions Park – Wilbur & Tacoma – Home to Little Leaguers and youth soccer players, this 12-acre park situated along Mill Creek also has a basketball court, play equipment, picnic tables, and a shelter.

Walla Walla's New Park!

Mill Creek Sports Park - Tausick Way and Garrison Street - This new park replaces the old Athletic Complex near Borleske Stadium, which was sold.  While it is being built in phases, the Mill Creek Sports Park will ultimately include six full-size lighted soccer fields and six lighted softball fields.

 

History of Pioneer Park

Walla Walla’s parks forge a deep history dating back to the beginning of the 20th Century.   Pioneer Park saw its beginning on March 5, 1901, when the City Council declared that a particular lot of land, which had been purchased two years earlier, would be developed into a public recreation space.  John C. Olmstead, the architect who was also responsible for the design of New York City’s Central Park, arrived in Walla Walla in 1906 and surveyed the city, giving a report that would later influence both the establishment and design of Walla Walla’s first city parks.  While Olmstead was a key player in the early design of Pioneer Park, it was John Langdon who has been credited with the final park design.  Before the city assumed responsibility of the parks in 1941, the Parks and Civic Arts Club, a women’s organization, not only secured the materials, labor, and funds for the development of the early parks, but also contributed to the parks’ maintenance and recreation programs. 

Pioneer Park Gazebo and Aviary  

The gazebo in Pioneer Park is a city landmark that was built in 1910 at a cost of $1,250.  

Initially begun by a women’s service organization, the Pioneer Park Aviary has grown from a small collection of birds to a home for over 60 different avian species that originate from areas all over the world.  A popular spot for children of all ages to observe the exotic ducks, geese, and pheasants, the Aviary is open year-round during all hours of the day.  While city caretakers maintain the cages and feed the birds, the Aviary is sustained financially by donations and by the sale of birds raised in the Aviary.

 

Walla Walla: Home to Record Trees!

Walla Walla’s parks are home to many of Washington State’s record trees, four of which are national records, the largest known of their species in the United States.  Planted around the turn of the 20th Century, 59 trees in Walla Walla are now the largest known of their species in Washington State.  Many of these champion trees are located in Pioneer Park and on the Whitman College campus; a small pamphlet called “A Walking Guide to the Big Trees of Walla Walla,” published by the Blue Mountain Audubon Society, outlines a tour of the record trees at these locations.

The Walla Walla Heritage Tree Program has been established to honor special and unique trees.  It enables citizens to nominate a particular tree, which, if chosen, is awarded Heritage Tree status and put on a permanent registry.

 

Park Maintenance

While city funding provides some monetary backing for Walla Walla’s parks, donations of money, material, and services are ultimately responsible for the upkeep of the parks.  Park volunteers maintain the parks and organize activities such as the following through the Parks and Recreation Department:

1.      Pick-a-Piece-of-Park – Individuals, families, organizations, and businesses may adopt a park or park area to help maintain and keep litter-free.

2.      Spring and Fall Cleanup – Seasonal cleanup of the parks and cemetery.

3.      Aviary – Helping to clean the cages, caring for the birds, and leading tours.

4.      Improvements – Various activities from large and small-scale construction projects to flower and tree planting.

5.      Recreation Programs – Assisting with children's or athletic programs.

 

Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Programs

The Walla Walla Parks and Recreation Department sponsors public recreation programs and special interest classes throughout the year—for tots, children, teens, and adults alike!  The following list is not comprehensive and is subject to change.  Current information can be obtained by calling the Parks and Recreation Department (509-527-4527) or by visiting its website: (http://www.ci.walla-walla.wa.us/Parks_&_Recreation/Recreation_Programs.cfm).

For Children:

Start Smart – A sports development program for tots ages 3 to 5, Start Smart is a parent-child program that teaches children basic motor skills, which will help them succeed in future sports endeavors.  Smart Start is a fall recreational program held at Green Park Elementary School.

Saturday Gym Program – The Saturday Gym Program is a free drop-in program that gives children ages 7 to 13 an opportunity to participate in activities such as basketball, indoor soccer, arts & crafts, and board games.  The program is held at various public schools and runs from November through March.

For Youth:

Walla Walla Teen Center –  Walla Walla Armory, 113 S. Colville - A joint venture with the Community Center for Youth Council, the Walla Walla Teen Center is led by volunteers and Parks & Recreation employees and offers a positive, safe environment for teens to play basketball, volleyball, ping-pong, foosball and video games, and to listen to music and use a pool table.  The Teen Center also promotes seasonal events such as sports tournaments and theme dances.  Except for during special events, use of the Teen Center facilities is free.  Hours are from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.

For Adults:

Recreational sports leagues are available year-round for adults.  Basketball and volleyball leagues are in season during the fall months, while co-ed soccer, volleyball, and softball teams play in the spring. 

 

Parks Outside of Walla Walla

 

Within 5 miles of Walla Walla  

Mill Creek, a channelized stream through Walla Walla, was originally modified to control flooding in the Walla Walla Valley.  Today, it provides a backdrop for one of the Walla Walla area’s most enjoyable parks . . ..

Rooks Park5 miles east of Walla Walla (Hwy. 12), off Mill Creek Rd. – Maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rooks Park is a day-use park located along Mill Creek.  The park offers access to fishing at Bennington Lake and to the Mill Creek Trail.  Approximately 18 acres in size, it features multiple facilities, such as picnic tables, barbeque facilities, a sand volleyball court, and a playground.  Plush, grassy areas are amenable to other leisure activities.  Pets are welcome, but must be kept on leashes.  

 

In College Place, WA

College Place features a small, neighborhood park along with two large parks, which are suitable for community recreation leagues such as the Youth Soccer Association and the College Place Little League.  The parks display a variety of trees such as maples, sycamores, and firs; small plantings of petunias are on display at both the Kiwanis Park and Lions Park.  

Lions Park – Larch & 8th – Lions Park is a 7-acre park that hosts picnic shelters, playground equipment, a softball field, and areas for youth fishing.  In the summertime, the City of College Place sponsors the “College Place Fun Days” celebration during the first full weekend in July.  The facilities at Lions Park can be rented through the College Place Lions Club.

Kiwanis Park – Date & 3rd – Kiwanis Park is also a 7-acre recreation park, with a softball field and tennis courts.

Harvest Meadows – Harvest Drive – At approximately one-third of an acre, Harvest Meadows is a cozy neighborhood park that features play toys suitable for children.

 

In Milton-Freewater, OR

Milton-Freewater’s parks are funded and tended to by the city’s Public Works department; however, volunteer workers, such as local elementary school children, occasionally help with litter control.  There is a proposal to build a new bike and skate park facility, which would help to diversify public park activity, but inadequate funding may hinder progress on this project.

Yantis Park – Dehaven & SW 2nd Ave – At 24 acres, Yantis Park is Milton-Freewater’s largest recreational park, featuring 2 large fields, tennis courts, and a bandstand.  The aquatic center in the park boasts one large waterslide, one small one, and a kiddie slide.  The sycamore, maple, and birch trees make the park a delightful place to take advantage of the picnic shelters and barbeque facilities; in the summer, Yantis holds the “Fourth of July Picnic in the Park” celebration.

Freewater Park – North Main & 8th – Freewater Park is a small, 2½-acre recreation space devoted to a playground and tennis courts.

Marie Dorian Park – Couse Creek Road, 2 miles southeast of Milton-Freewater  - Marie Dorian Park is a picturesque area where one can picnic, fish on the Walla Walla River, or relax on the grass.  While squirrels commonly frequent the park, there have also been sightings of deer in the area.  Previously the location of a water filter plant and power plant, the locale has been renovated and restored to provide a 2- to 3-acre recreation area that is a popular site for social gatherings and weddings.

Rotary Park – County Road & Winesap – Exclusively a sports facility, Rotary Park is approximately 8 acres of grassy soccer fields with a baseball complex where both the local minor and little league baseball teams play.

 

Bibliography  

City of Walla Walla.  Home page.  13 Oct.  2001.  <http://www.ci.walla-walla.wa.us/Parks_&_Recreation/>

City of Walla Walla.  Home page.  1 Nov.  2001.  <http://www.ci.walla-walla.wa.us/Parks_&_Recreation/00forms/youth%20act.pdf>

Coleman, Andy.  Personal interview.  8 Nov.  2001.

Hartwig, Paul.  Personal interview.  15 Oct.  2001.

Hartwig, Paul.  Personal interview.  19 Oct.  2001.

Moss, Howard.  Personal interview.  16 Oct. 2001.

Muse, Shirley.  A Walking Guide to the Big Trees of Walla Walla.  1998.  Walla Walla, WA: Blue Mountain Audubon Society.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Home page.  20 Oct.  2001.  <http://www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors/mcl/mcplist.htm>

Walla Walla City Service Center secretary.  Personal interview.  19 Oct. 2001.

Weis, Ken.  Personal interview.  19 Oct.  2001.