Hiking | Nature | Sightseeing | Things To Do

5 Ways to Take a Break This Spring in Central Washington

April 25, 2023

As the sun starts peaking through the clouds, waking us up from our winter blues and igniting our need for the outdoors, Central Washington is gearing up. With incredible landscapes offering everything from rolling farm hills to snow-capped, floral-wrapped cascades, there are no limits to the views you’ll take in. Central Washington offers so many ways to enjoy the outdoors, from sipping some of the best wine in the world from our local Columbia Valley, to riding bikes on one of our numerous trails, to enjoying local restaurants and art galleries, there is no doubt something for everyone. Spring is one of the most beautiful times to experience our outdoors. Here are 5 things to do in Central Washington on your next spring vacation:

1. TRAILS

Fresh air, breathtaking views, and adventure abound! You don’t have to be an expert outdoors person to enjoy hiking in Central Washington. Kittitas County is home to great outdoor escapes including trails that range from beginner to advanced and vary in terrain, elevation, incline, and length.

A few of our favorites include Umtanum Creek Canyon Trail, an 8.2-mile out-and-back trail that is generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 2 h 56 min to complete. This is a popular trail for backpacking, birding, and camping, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The best times to visit this trail are April through October. Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas.

Manastash Ridge Trail is another popular 3.6-mile out-and-back trail. It’s generally considered a moderately challenging route and takes an average of 2 h 41 min to complete. This is a very popular area for birding, hiking, and horseback riding, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

Rotary Park and Irene Rinehart Riverfront Trail is a 3.7-mile, easy loop trail that takes about 1 hour to complete. This is a popular trail for hiking and running, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash.

For more Trails in Central Washington, visit our website.

2. SCENIC ROAD TRIPS

It’s no secret that Central Washington has diverse landscapes. It’s beautiful at any time of year, but even more so in the spring. Given the opportunities for a beautiful road trip or just the long way for that matter, here are a couple of our favorite scenic routes. 

The Yakima River Canyon, where Highway 821 parallels the gentle Yakima River for 27 miles, guides you through massive basalt cliffs and rolling desert hills. Follow this scenic pathway for glimpses of rich wildlife and plant communities, echoes of a historical past and many opportunities for recreational enjoyment. This canyon has been designated as a state scenic route and offers excellent wildlife viewing, fishing in a Blue Ribbon trout stream, family river rafting and camping.

When staying in Ellensburg, you shouldn’t miss a chance to drive Highway 10, where the Upper Yakima River Canyon winds its way through pasture, steep cliffs and wooded areas. From downtown, head west on University Way. Take a right onto Reecer Creek Road. Take an immediate left on Highway 10. It twists all the way up to Cle Elum, giving the motorist views of some of the most scenic areas around.

Kittitas County is the first in Washington State to have Barn Quilts and a tour. The Barn Quilts are a beautiful way to honor Kittitas County’s agriculture industry and the farm/ranch families that settled in the area. Barn Quilts are usually 4×4 or 8×8 (depending on the size of the barn and proximity to the road) and will display traditional quilt blocks or modern designs and will have special significance to the farm or ranch. The Barn Quilts will stay on the barns all year long. The Barn Quilt Trail will be a self-guided tour with a map of the trail and information about each barn’s history, quilt block, and the sponsor of the Barn Quilt. Click here for more information.

For more Scenic Drives in Central Washington, visit our website.

3. WILD HORSE WIND FARM

The wind and sun of Kittitas County are a tremendous natural resource for producing clean, renewable energy. Set high on a ridge, the Renewable Energy Center provides visitors with an up-close look at the facility’s 149 wind turbines, as well as 360-degree views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Hood and the Columbia River Basin.

Take a tour or explore the educational displays to learn more about wind and solar technology, as well as the area’s unique natural history. Outdoor trails lead to a solar array, blade, turbine generator, gearbox and additional displays.

Weather permitting, free guided tours depart daily, from April through October 31, from the Renewable Energy Center at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. No reservation is needed for these tours.

4. WINERIES AND VINEYARDS

Who says spring break only applies to those under age? Not us! For those celebrating spring vacations, you can not pass up the Columbia Valley! Central Washington is the gateway to Washington’s vineyards – so be sure to start with us! Varietals grown or produced in the Kittitas Valley include: Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Muscat Ottonel, and Sauvignon Blanc. Here are a few of our favorites!

Gard Vintners is a family-owned and operated estate winery founded in 2006 and located in the heart of Washington’s Columbia Valley AVA, with vineyards on the Royal Slope, wine production in Walla Walla, and tasting rooms in Woodinville, Walla Walla, and Ellensburg. The word Gård, which means “farm,” honors the Scandinavian heritage of the Lawrence family. They have been farming the fertile Royal Slope of Washington’s Columbia Valley for more than 45 years.

Fortuity Cellars is one of our new additions. Located in the Yakima Valley and established in 2017, Lee and Emily Fergestrom work closely with wine grape growers to select fruit that showcases the best of the Yakima Valley. Quality is top priority and the results are bright, fruit-driven wines – perfect for pairing with food! Their tasting room is located in Ellensburg. Have a glass and take a walk through Nuwave Art Gallery’s showcased art.

Thrall & Dodge is the oldest commercial operating winery in the Kittitas Valley located north of the Yakima Valley near Ellensburg. They produce premium wines grown, produced, cellared, and served all from the Columbia Valley. Located South of Ellensburg and just east of the Yakima River, the Thrall & Dodge Winery is perched on Manastash Ridge 1500 ft level near the intersection of Boylston and Saddle Mountains. This scenic area is known as the fruit basket of Kittitas Valley.

Taste the flavors of Central Washington all year long at one of our many local wineries and tasting rooms. Most tasting rooms are open with either standard hours or by appointment even in the off-season. For more wine tasting experiences, view our website.

5. SUNCADIA

Suncadia Resort is a premier Washington resort destination located in Cle Elum, Washington. The all-season escape includes three distinctive choices for your stay: The Inn at Suncadia, The Lodge at Suncadia, and a collection of vacation homes. Just 80 scenic miles from Seattle, Suncadia is located on the sunny eastern slopes of Washington’s Cascade mountain range, providing plenty of opportunity for adventure, whether at the resort or nearby in Cle Elum or Roslyn. Plus, close proximity to these downtown communities also allows for wonderful dining and shopping opportunities.

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