Yakima River Canyon

The gentle Yakima River winds through rolling desert hills and basalt cliffs, some rising more than 2,000 feet, for 27 miles between Ellensburg and Yakima, Washington. The canyon offers excellent wildlife watching, fishing for Blue Ribbon trout, family-friendly rafting, and camping. The canyon’s crevices and cliffs make a perfect home for the densest concentration of nesting hawks, eagles, and falcons in the state.

1. Ellensburg

Located just east of the Cascade Range on Interstate 90, Ellensburg is known as the most centrally located city in the state of Washington. It is home to Central Washington University. Downtown Ellensburg has many historic buildings to see, most of which were constructed in the late 19th century. The Ellensburg Rodeo has been a tradition in the town since 1923, and is the largest rodeo in Washington state. Downtown Ellensburg hosts several annual events including the Winterhop Brewfest in January where beers are served from over 21 microbreweries from around the Pacific Northwest in various historic downtown buildings.

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2. Umtanum Creek Recreation Area

Umtanum Creek Recreation Area is a great place to explore, with a fine canyon hike leading to rolling hills above. The canyon, just a quick drive down the Yakima canyon from Ellensburg, is known for wildflowers and sage, aspen, cottonwood, birds, and beaver dams.

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3. Roza Dam Recreation Site

Situated on the banks of Yakima River and overlooking basalt cliffs, Roza Recreation Site is a great camping location. This site is part of Yakima River Canyon Campgrounds. Maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, it is a part of Yakima Canyon Loop, which includes other campgrounds, such as Big Pines, Umtanum, and Lmuma Creek. It is a good place for boating and fishing, and it is ideal for family trips. You can also drive along the canyon to beautiful hikes, such as the Umtanum Ridge Crest Trail.

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4. Selah Cliffs Natural Area Preserve

Selah Cliffs Natural Area Preserve (NAP) was established in 1993 to protect the largest known population of basalt daisy (Erigeron basalticus), a state-listed threatened species known from only a 10-mile stretch of the Yakima River Canyon.

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5. Selah

Selah is a small city in Yakima County, Washington. It is home to the Tree Top apple processor co-operative’s two processing plants and headquarters. Visitors can get helpful information and a bite to eat at the Tree Top Store & Visitor Center. Selah and the Wenas Valley continuously serve as a “bedroom community” of the larger city of Yakima, just to the south. Due to the nearby orchards and juice processing plants, Selah is commonly referred to as “The Apple Juice Capital of the World”.

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6. Yakima

Yakima is nestled in the Yakima Valley, approximately 60 miles southeast of Mount Rainier. The city is known for its beautiful weather and rich agriculture including apple, wine, and hops production. Visitors have plenty of places to choose from when it comes to serving local craft beer and wine. The city is host to popular events like Yakima Live music festival, Yakima Summer Kickoff Party, and the Fresh Hop Ale Fest. The county is geographically divided into two regions: the Upper (northern) and Lower (southern) valleys, separated by Ahtanum Ridge, and Rattlesnake Ridge, providing extensive views. Downtown Yakima’s historic Capitol Theatre and Seasons Performance Hall, as well as the Allied Arts of Yakima Valley, present numerous musical and stage productions.

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