Forty lucky people will get a chance to see the view from the top of Rattlesnake Mountain on Oct. 9.
The mountain top has been closed to the public except for occasional tours or special events since it was made part of the security zone around the Hanford nuclear reservation in World War II.
But to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Hanford Reach National Monument, two tours of the mountain are planned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with the Department of Energy.
Registration will be done on the internet -- first come, first serve -- starting at 9 a.m. Monday.
Seats on the tours are expected to go quickly, but Fish and Wildlife is also offering a self-guided tour of the northern part of the monument the same day.
To sign up for the Rattlesnake Mountain tour, go to www.hanford.gov and click on "Hanford Tours." Only two seats may be reserved at a time, and participants must be at least 12 years old.
"The goal is to provide educational opportunities to the public to inform them of the National Wildlife Refuge System's mission to conserve wildlife and habitat," said Jeff Howland, deputy project leader of the Fish and Wildlife Mid-Columbia River Refuge Complex.
If the weather cooperates, the tour will take people to the 3,600-foot summit, where they can see the sweeping view from the highest point in the Mid-Columbia. Tours leave at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Participants will spend 30 to 40 minutes at the mountain's top.
Larry Klimek, manager of the monument, will be among the speakers who will discuss the monument, shrub steppe ecology, bird and elk migration, geology, fire management and habitat restoration.
If the weather is too windy, the tours may have to be rerouted to a lower elevation on the mountain. Either way, participants should remember to dress warmly and may want to bring binoculars, cameras and bird and plant field guides.
In addition, Fish and Wildlife has mapped out a self-guided driving tour north of the Columbia River on Oct. 9 that includes views of the White Bluffs, shrub-steppe plateaus and the last free-flowing non-tidal stretch of the river.
Speakers will be stationed along the route to give talks and answer questions about topics, including history, wildlife and geology. No registration is required.
"It's such a beautiful location," said Sue McDonald, visitor services manager for the Mid-Columbia refuge. "For me, there is no better way to appreciate things than to learn about them."
Staff will be stationed at the Vernita Bridge Rest Area on Highway 24 near the Columbia River from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to provide information and help visitors get started on the driving tour. The tour should take a couple of hours, depending on how much time is spent at each stop.
Participants can look for direction signs with the blue goose logo and watch for blue tents at each stop on the tour.
Wildlife biologist Heidi Newsome will be talking about plants and animals at the turn-off to Saddle Mountain Road.
At the White Bluffs boat launch, the Franklin County Historical Society will be providing information about the historic cabin there and military and other pioneers. The Wanapum Band also will have its Native American Discovery Unit traveling exhibit there, which includes a large diorama depicting traditional Native American life.
Scientist Bruce Bjornstad will be at the White Bluffs Overlook to discuss geology, and historian Michele Gerber will be there to discuss Hanford history.
The overlook has a sweeping view of the Hanford nuclear reservation, plus Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Saddle Mountain, Rattlesnake Mountain and Gable Mountain.
For more information on the driving tour, including a map, go to www.fws.gov/hanfordreach or call 546-8300 for more information.
* More Hanford news at hanfordnews.com.