4 Scenic Drives in Central Washington

4 Scenic Drives in Central Washington

Road trips are a great deal of fun and an easy way to spend time with family or friends during the weekend. You can even venture off on your own, to recompose and meditate on life as you take in the gorgeous scenery flying past. Listed below are some of the most scenic routes you can take while you're road tripping through Central Washington.

Kittitas County Barn Quilt Trail

Kittitas County is known for its beautiful rolling fields and agricultural history, and you can enjoy each by touring our area in search of the county's famous barn quilts. This drive celebrates the heritage of Kittitas County and is Washington's first barn quilt trail. The drive is self-guided, but there is a map available that outlines the trail as well as gives information in regards to the history of each barn and the meaning of its quilt blocks. This tradition has been going on since 2012, now featuring more than one hundred quilt blocks, and is definitely a drive worth taking.

Photo by Lia Simcox

Reecer Creek Road to Lion Rock

If you are looking for a gorgeous area to go on a drive while you are in Central Washington this fall, this is definitely the route to take. Located on the outskirts of Ellensburg, this drive gives you the colorful foliage that is signature to our area when heading out during the fall season. You are treated to picturesque meadows as you make your way up the mountain, then, at the top, you can take in the breathtaking Central Cascades and the Kittitas Valley from high above. Park your car to watch the sunset, or enjoy a picnic as you soak in the magnificent views.

Vantage Highway

Running parallel to I-90 and offering a great alternative for those who want some fun and adrenaline on their drive, Vantage Highway is the route to take. With lots of twists and turns, no one could claim boredom. It winds through the valleys, and leads out to the Columbia River. As you drive, take note of the rock quarries, the quaint rural land, and the large windmill installations. It has a particular charm, not to mention that golden hour yields to an amazing illumination of the surrounding hills and sagebrush.

Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway

During this drive, you will get to experience the unique geography that Central Washington has to offer, an abundance of recreational opportunities along the way, and you will be able to grow an understanding of the rich heritage that is present locally. Another wonderful feature is that this byway is a great alternative route to I-82, and carries the benefit of offering simply stunning scenic routes year-round. If you take this drive, you can expect to follow along the mighty Yakima River, which divides sagebrush covered hills, and see the majestic basalt cliffs that are home to hawks, eagles, and falcons. This route is designated as a state scenic route and rightfully so.

Photo by Lia Simcox

All in all, whether you want to take it easy and enjoy a calm drive, or you want to experience tons of adventure, there is a route that is just right for anyone. Be sure to take into consideration what time of year you head out for your cruise, as seasons affect the highlights of each route.

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A Land of Contrasts
From the mighty Columbia River to the snow-capped Cascade Mountains, Kittitas County is a premier destination for outdoor adventure, sunshine, and unique cultural offerings.
Find out more at one of our Visitor Centers:

Ellensburg, WA
609 N. Main St, Ellensburg
(888) 925-2204

Cle Elum, WA
312 W. 1st Street, Cle Elum
(509) 674-6880

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