Archive for the ‘Scenic Drives’ Category

Over the river and through the woods…

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Over the river and through the woods,

To the winemakers house we go;

Making wine in the Yakima Valley is about  roots, terroir and family.  Walter Clore is the Father of Washington Wine, honored with his  name sake, the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center.  William B. Bridgman is considered the Grandfather of Washington Wine, planting the first European (vinifera) wine grapes on Snipes Mountain in 1917.

Severino Cellars

Severino Cellars

Visit with a few of  the family wine makers during Thanksgiving in Wine Countrythe weekend after Thanksgiving Day. Choose your holiday wine and hostess gifts to give,  and return home with your unique story of meeting the winemakers and winery owners. Here are several of the wine families of the Yakima Valley and their stories.

Severino Cellars:  A  charming turn-of-the-century farm house where you would expect grandma to meet you on the front porch…. only instead of pies in the oven….. you are treated to wine tasting and Sausage Pumpkin Chili.   This winery is owned and operated by Jay and Linda Spurlock and their daughter and son-in-law Nikki and Severino Samaniego. Family, friends, good wine and good times are their focus. Severino Wines: Riesling, Viognier, Rose’, Red Blend, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. Severino Red is on sale 6 for $60. in celebration of Thanksgiving in Wine Country.


Cultura Winery

Cultura Winery

Cultura Winery: Meet Winemakers Tad and Sarah Fewel, Sarah’s family has been in the Yakima Valley for over 100 years. Tad works in the family orchards in Zillah and runs the farm’s bio diesel plant. The plant makes their personal mix Bio-Fewel, a vegetable oil fuel used to run Cultura’s vineyard equipment. Tad and Sarah are hands on from vine to bottle handcrafting their limited edition, Bordeaux style reds, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Alongside the barn style tasting room is the perfect place hitching up your sleigh…or car. Thanksgiving in Wine Country Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00-5:00pm. On Saturday from 11:00-5:00., Mt. Adams Honey Co. will be tasting and selling delicious local hand crafted honey’s and sampling hor dourves made with honey at the tasting room.

Two Mountain Winery owners Matt and Patrick Rawn

Two Mountain Winery owners Matt and Patrick Rawn

Two Mountain Winery: Brothers Patrick and Matthew Rawn grew up on the farm as tractor drivers, forklift operators, running errands to building and owning the winery. An orchard, planted by their grandfather 1951, became  Copeland Vineyard  planted in 2000 with their uncle. Enjoy the welcoming, approachable and educational experience for all wine-lovers at this working winery. Two Mountain Wines.

Hinzerling Winery:  The oldest family owned and operated winery in Yakima Valley. The 23 acre vineyard was planted in 1972  and the winery was established in 1976 by the Wallace family.  Specializing  in small lots of high quality, hand-crafted, table and dessert wines. the winery sites next to their 1905 remodeled farm house. which is also an inn.

Pontin del Roza:  This family winery began over 65 year ago when their patriarch Angelo, immigrated to the Yakima Valley from Italy,  planting terraced vineyards.  Today Pontin del Roza is a thriving estate winery with over 100 acres of 10 varietals including: Riesling, Malbec, Syrah, Dolcetto, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère and Petit Verdot.

This is a just a few of family owned and operated boutique wineries in the Yakima Valley but there are many more wine families to get to know. Come  visit  our families this Thanksgiving in wine country.

Stay for a while; It may not be grandma’s house but here are a few holiday hotel deals to make you feel right at home.

Vintage Valley Inn: Located in the heart of the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail, Zillah, WA.  Thanksgiving in Wine Country deal offered November 1 – November 30. Overnight accommodations, one bottle wine, 2 wine glasses, Rattlesnake Hills Passport, one box of Chukar Cherries. To Book Your package call: 1-800-501-5433.

Oxford Inn & Oxford Suites:  Cash In On Holiday Savings! This holiday season, you can stay in a premium room AND stay on budget! With 30% off our premium room rates when you pre-pay your stay, you can plan a great trip with all the comforts of home awaiting your arrival. But hurry! You must make your reservation by November 21st for stays now through January 31, 2015. Take 30% off the Oxford Guarantee Rate when you pre-pay & book by November 21st. Call 509.457.4444 today – Ask for our 30% off Holiday Pre-Pay special!


Over the river and through the woods,

To enjoy the first-rate wine;

Oh, hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ling!”

Hurray  for Thanksgiving Day!


The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Stephanie Gangle at (509) 575-3010


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Whitewater Rafting Class III – Last Summer Run in Washington State!

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Osprey Rafting Company Whitewater rafting on the Tieton River has begun!  Lasting for only a month. Now is your chance to try the Class III river rafting, The water is released from Rimrock Lake to irrigate the orchards and vineyards in the Yakima Valley. This annual release is called the “flip-flop!”  The Tieton River becomes a swift 12 mile Class III thrilling ride for rafters for the month.  If you have never taken the ride, this is the time to experience  an amazing adventure and adrenalin rush. Arriving for an early morning rafting run, you might see a mist rising from the swift, rolling river, which  may seem a bit intimidating. Don’t worry though, after getting suited up in your wetsuit, helmet, life jacket,  your friendly & experienced guide will instruct on  procedures. The guide will be along for the ride to keep your adventure safe and fun. After a few minutes on the water you will feel confident and relaxed and enjoy the wild ride, water spray, beautiful scenery and may even sit on the front of the raft for a, “buckin’ bronco” ride down the river.


ospreyAdThe Tieton River and Osprey Rafting  is located about 35 minutes from Yakima and 2.5 hours east of Seattle along the White Pass Scenic Byway, Hwy 12.  This is considered the last summer run for rafters and kayakers. If you are an experienced whitewater rafter or plan on bringing your own kayak, here is  a description of the run; click here.




The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive additional information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Stephanie Gangle at (509) 575-3010.

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Driving the Chinook Scenic Byway

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

The Yakima Valley can be reached by either of three scenic byway mountain passes.Mt Rainier best Snoqualmie Pass or I-90, is the most direct route from Seattle. This is a 2 ½ hour drive. The White Pass Scenic Byway, Hwy 12 is south of Olympia, off the I-5 corridor, going through Morton, Randle, Packwood and the White Pass Ski Area before coming into the Yakima Valley. The third and most scenic is Chinook Pass, Hwy 410.

The Chinook  Scenic Byway at 5,430 feet,  the highest elevation pass of the three, is closed during the winter. This pass  opens by Memorial Day each year, with a drive between 10 foot snow banks. There is a rest stop at the top of the pass with views of Mt Rainier, picnic tables, and, in the summer a short stroll around a high mountain lake. In August expect to see Tipso Lake surrounded by wildflowers. There is a log bridge over the byway at the top of the pass, which is the beginning of a hike over Naches Peak. This hike is relatively easy with wildflowers and spectacular views of Mt. Rainier on the western slope.

Video: 8.08.12  Posted on Washington Trail Association (WTA) Website Click Here. for more information. video includes into of short hike around Lake Tipso at the Chinook Pass rest stop nearby.

The Chinook Scenic Byway has many campgrounds along it’s length as well as hikes and other activities.. These include Sawmill Flat Campground, Halfway Flat Campground and Little Naches Campground are developed sites that are located within five miles of the Boulder Cave.

Boulder Cave at milepost: 94.7 is a day use area and less than 2 mile round trip mile hike to the cave. Boulder Cave is home to the only known population of Pacific Western Big-Eared Bats in this part of Washington State. Update: Closed for 2014 season.

Bethel Ridge Retreat: Carmack Creek Lodge and Aspen View Lodge are located close to nature, surrounded by forest,  an excellent spot for hikers, skiers, hunters,  rock climbers or those who want to enjoy the peace of the mountains with day trips to wine country or Mt.  Rainier.  The lodges are decorated with leather furniture, luxurious bedrooms, separate dining area, fully equipped kitchen,  outdoor private deck, gas barbecue, and hot tubs. Located in the woods thirty minutes west of downtown Yakima

Boulder cave

Boulder Cave.



Bethel Ridge Retreat. 

The Woodshed Restaurant at Eagle Rock Resort is further east on Hwy 410, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, a lounge, and camping.

In the town of Naches, you will find a unique gift shop, The La Kat Gallery, filled with handcrafted items.  Thompsons Farm Market sells local produce; their own family farm tree ripened fruit and gifts as well as daily wine tasting.

Stop at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center for visitor guides, event and activities in the Yakima Valley. Take Exit I-82E Exit 33A . Open 9-5 Monday -Saturday, 10-4 Sundays.


The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Stephanie Gangle at (509) 575-3010.

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Cactus Garden Tours

Sunday, May 18th, 2014


1defb14a504e40c6935e4cbba0a0034eTraveling to the Yakima Valley for wine tasting or a conference? If you have some  free time, visit the Hillside Desert Cactus Garden.  This unique cactus garden  starts  blooming in mid May, beginning the colorful display of  Pacific Northwest winter hardy cacti.

The Yakima Valley is nestled in the surrounding hills of the high desert area of Central Washington State. The rain shadow of the Cascade Mountain Range protects the Yakima Valley, which receives 300 days of sunshine and 6-9 inches of rain. The perfect climate for species of native cacti.

An extensive collection of cacti can be seen at the Hillside Desert Botanical Cactus Garden. Gardener Ron Mckitrick started this cacti garden as a backyard hobby 28 years ago and now this garden is nationally recognized as one of the finest examples of a desert garden. The Cactus bloom tour begins mid-April and lasts until July, with the most profuse blooms from mid-May to mid-June. Each year Ron hosts bus tours of Master Gardeners, school children, senior citizen groups, photographers and cactus lovers. These one hour tours are available from 8 a.m. to dusk during peak blooming time and are free, but donations are appreciated. Many species of potted and winter hardy cacti are available for purchase. Appointments are required for both individuals and groups. Bus tour parking available. Call 509-248-1742 or email

Note: The century plant, agave americana, mentioned in the NWCN video bloomed in 2012.
More Photos click here.

The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michelle Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.

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Scenic Road Trip -Tour 3 Washington State Mountain Passes

Saturday, May 10th, 2014
This road trip is a 3 1/2 hour circle drive from the Yakima Valley over three scenic mountain passes, White Pass Scenic Byway Hwy 12, Cayuse Pass Hwy 123, Chinook Pass Hwy 410.  Expect the most spectacular scenery in Washington State. The Cascade Mountain Range is a relatively young mountain range of basalt rock, steep and forested.  High meadows and passes in the mountain range are at 5,000 and 6,000 feet.

Description of the driving tour: You will be driving White Pass Scenic Byway first, Cayuse Pass, and then the Chinook Pass Scenic Byway. There are endless alternative side trips and activities, including hiking, climbing, photography, and camping, as well as short walks to scenic attractions.
Start:  Yakima, on I-82 West, to Hwy 12 west, 20 miles to the junction of Hwy.12 and Hwy. 410. 

McIlrath Fruit Stand at the intersection of Hwy 12 and Old Naches Hwy and offers a variety of valley farm fresh fruit and produce.  In approximately 10 miles reach the town of Naches. Thompsons Farm Market offers local farm fresh produce, their own family farm grown tree ripened fruit and gifts, wine and wine tasting. 

At the junction of Hwy 12 and Hwy 410, turn left onto White Pass Hwy 12.  Immediately on your left, view the spectacular Tieton extruded rock formations known as Royal Columns, popular with rock climbers. There is hiking and mountain biking trail called the Tieton Nature Trail.  On your right (north) is the Oak Creek Game Range, a very large wildlife management area operated by the State Department of Wildlife.  This is an attraction during winter months when large numbers of elk are feed and an interpretative center with information on the local wildlife.

Proceeding up Hwy. 12,  view volcanic rock formations, a rapid change in vegetation from sagebrush to the alpine firs at the summit.

Bordering the road on the south is the Tieton River, is a major rafting attraction during the month of September, when large amount of water is released from the dam at Rimrock Lake to irrigate the vineyards and orchards in the Yakima Valley.  This release of water is called “Flip Flop by the locals. (Book your white water adventure here.)
Rimrock Lake, behind the Rimrock Dam is a summer recreation area with boat launches, beaches, camping and cabins.The Rimrock Dam, built in 1925 to serve the Yakima-Tieton Irrigation Project, was the largest earth-filled dam in the world at that time. 

You will cross The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, just before the summit at White Pass Ski Area.
Once over the summit at White Pass, look south for a spectacular view of the Goat Rocks, and a scenic viewpoint for Mt. Rainier. The highway descends along the bank of the deep cleft Clear Fork of the Cowlitz River, originating at the Cowlitz Glacier on Mt Rainier.
At about 61 miles from the junction of Hwy 12 and 410 there is a viewpoint for The Palisades, a spectacular showing of tall rock columns. Look for the signs announcing this viewpoint on the downhill (left) side of the road. There is a nice pull off from the highway here with picnic tables. In 2.5 miles, turn right from White Pass Hwy 12 onto Hwy.123, Cayuse Pass and the Ohanapecosh Campground. Vegetation is thick, near rain forest ecosystem with very large trees. Going straight, instead of turning onto Hwy 123 Cayuse Pass,  takes you to the city of  Packwood with groceries, restaurants, gas and lodging at the Crest Trail Lodge.
Ohanepecosh Campground and Visitor Center, a Mt. Rainier National Park campground is a favorite because of its large trees and location along the Ohanepecosh River. Pronounced like, “Oh Hannah by gosh”. There is a visitor’s center with detailed information on Mt.Rainer and the park.

Continue on Highway 123 for 11 miles to the junction with Hwy. 410. Turn right to Chinook Pass.

Chinook Pass:

The Chinook Pass Scenic Byway is generally open by Memorial Day, and usually remains open through October. . The steep highway jumps rapidly up the switchbacks as you quickly enter a zone of sub-alpine vegetation. Peak flower blooms are in late July and August. It is  3 miles to Tipso Lake parking area and another 1/2 mile to the parking area on the east side just past the footbridge, which is part of  the Pacific Crest Trail. There are many hiking options in this area.  One short trip offering beautiful photo opportunities is the Naches Peak Loop Trail at the top of Chinook Pass. Further down the Chinook Scenic Byway closer to the hamlet of Cliffdell is the Boulder Cave Hike.Note: Boulder Cave is closed until 2015

At milepost 108.6 there is a new section of road due to a massive landslide which covered the highway and altered the course of the Naches River.  Looking north one can see the scar the landslide on the hill. Further down the road is the Woodshed Restaurant at Eagle Rock Resort , offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, a lounge, and camping.
At the junction of Hwy 410 and Hwy 12, continue straight toward the cities of Naches and Yakima.   

For more information on Hikes along this route:

Naches Ranger District Hiking Trails
White Pass Scenic Byway Hiking Map
Mt Rainier Hiking Trails

The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Stephanie Gangle at (509) 575-3010.

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Driving Tour to Historic Fort Simcoe State Park Heritage Site

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

August 16, 2014 Fort Simcoe closed indefinitely due to aggressive bears. Yakima Herald Article 

This driving tour takes you to the historic Fort Simcoe State Park Heritage Site on the Yakama Nation Reservation, past abundant agriculture area with  fruit and produce stands, the museum at the Yakama Cultural Center, and through the City of Toppenish, known for over 70 western themed murals. This is a good trip to take a picnic lunch, there are picnic tables and grills, as well as a covered picnic shelter, and don’t forget your camera. Fort Simcoe was built in 1856 as housing for US Army troops sent to the area to watch over the local Yakama Nation. This weekend, May 3 & 4 2014, Fort Simcoe State Park will be the site of a Civil War Reenactment. For a schedule of events click here. This drive tour is approximately 1 hour to Fort Simcoe, and about 84.5 miles round trip. Enjoy hundreds of acres of orchards, vineyards, and produce farms. During the harvest season, farms and orchards feature fresh produce stands offering wide variety of fresh fruits and produce in season. Map.

Starting point is the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center, Exit 33A I-82E. Turn Left out of parking lot, proceed under the freeway bridge, take first left onto I-82 East to Exit 37  to Highway 97.  Once past Union Gap, WA, you are on the Yakama Nation Reservation.  There is a pull off to the right with a historic marker (mile 6.2) denoting the spot of a battle between Army troops and the Yakama’s during the “war” of 1855. Leaving this historical marker,  take “Lateral A” next road off to the right, towards White Swan, WA. (Alternative driving route –continue on Hwy 97 to Fort Road. This route takes you past the Yakama Cultural Heritage Center,  turn left onto Fort Road, going past the Legends Casino to Fort Simcoe, follow signs. Or turn right to enter the city of Toppenish to view the western themed murals and museums.)

The Yakima Valley is known as an abundant agricultural area, you will see this on Lateral A.  There are farm fresh fruit and produce stands and row crops of vegetables, such as asparagus   hot peppers, tomatoes, squash, corn, watermelon, and other produce. Look for Imperial Garden’s and close by on Wapato Road are Blue BerryHill Berries Continue on Lateral A to the junction with Branch Road (mile 14.3) and turn right, past orchards, row crops, vineyards, cattle ranches, hop and mint fields. The Yakima Valley produces most of the mint, sweet cherries, concord grapes and hops sold in the USA.(Alternate route continue on Lateral A to Fort Road, turn right, follow signs at White Swan take Signal Peak Road to Fort Simcoe Road, turn right to Fort Simcoe.)

As you turn onto Branch Road, note Mt. Adams in the distance directly ahead. This mountain dominates the lower valley, “Phato” to people of the Yakama Nation, the mountain figures prominently in the history and legends of the Yakama people. Continue west on Branch Road, you will come to Harrah (mile 17.4). a reservation town established in 1913 under the name Saluskin in honor of Chief Saluskin of the Yakama Nation.  Julius T. Harrah of Philadelphia had much to do with the development of the area in the field of agriculture and business. He built a home here and platted the town and used his influence to change the name of the town to Harrah.  Staying on Branch Road, the next town you encounter is Brownstown (mile 20.3). Brownstown, a shallow lake area at one time, was originally called Bench because of the location on a two-mile wide plateau. Named for Reese Brown, who had big hopes for its future, planning to build a thriving empire around Brownstown. Traveling  west, stay to the left onto the White Swan Road. (Alternative  route at the Y stay right on Branch Road, turn left on Westley, right on Medicine Valley Road, left on Hawk road and right on Fort Road to Fort Simcoe. The advantage is smoother roads.)   White Swan was a busy place at one time, with a bank, hotel, and many other businesses. The town was named for the Native American Tribal Chief who served for over 60 years, on whose lands it stands.  The town was platted but never incorporated.   In 1922, Toppenish wooed the Native American Agency headquarters away from nearby Fort Simcoe, taking most of the attendant population and business with it. You are now about 7.5 miles from the Fort. At the stop sign (mile 27.5) in White Swan, take a right to State Highway 220 and go west.

Fort Simcoe – (mile 35.1). This site was long used as a camping area for the tribes of the Yakama Nation. The cold springs called “Mool Mool” (bubbling water) by the Indians, offered an abundance of water in the otherwise dry region. Timber was nearby, and grassland was readily available. The weather in the valley here was normally better than further north. Simcoe is derived from the Yakama, “Sim-Ku-ee”, or SimKwee, the name for a dip in the ridge about three miles northeast of the fort. Sim refers to the female wrist, Ku-ee, or Kwee, means spine or back.

Pioneers first began to settle on the east side of the mountains from 1856 to 1859. Fort Simcoe served as a base for military expeditions in the Washington Territory. A change in military command in 1858 resulted in a proposal to abandon Fort Simcoe. In 1859, the site became the  Bureau of Indian Affairs Agency Headquarters, providing services to Native Americans living on the Reservation. Reading and writing were taught at the post as well as trade skills like carpentry, blacksmithing, and farming. The school lasted until the early 1900’s.

Fort Simcoe State Park: Recognizing  the historic significance of the site, Fort Simcoe was established as a State Park in 1953 with the assistance of the Fort Simcoe and Mool Mool Restoration Society. Under a 99-year lease from the Yakama Nation, the 200-acre park is administered by the State Parks and Recreation Commission.  The park offers picnic facilities, restrooms, tables, picnic shelter, and running water in a grassy portion of the large oak grove adjoining the parking area. The Interpretative Center in the park depicts the history of the site through displays, artifacts, and photographs. Open from April 1 to September 30 daily from 6:30 dusk and from October 1 to March 31 on weekends and holidays only.  Search for the old blockhouse, in the spring enjoy  the wildflowers and  hunt for Lewis’s woodpecker among the oaks.

Return toward White Swan via Highway 220. Once in White Swan, take a right on Curtis Street (mile 42.8) heading toward Toppenish on Fort Road. Continue on Fort Road you will pass Legends Casino, Operated by the Yakama Nation offering wonderful buffet dining daily. Nearby on Fort Road is the entrance to the Yakama Nation Cultural Center (mile 61.3).

Yakama Nation Cultural Heritage Center – (mile 61.7).  This fairly new facility is located on the ancestral ground of the Yakama Nation. The Yakamas have lived in harmony with these lands for thousands of years. They share their heritage with all visitors at the Cultural Center. The Center offers a gift shop featuring authentic Yakama beadwork, a restaurant with Native American atmosphere and menu; museum with great dioramas and exhibits; theatre providing first run movies for the area; Winterlodge for banquets, dances, and conventions; and library, full-service with an emphasis on Native American culture.

Return to Fort Road, turn left to downtown Toppenish.

Toppenish – (mile 63.6) – The town derives its name from the native word “gapuishlema” meaning “people from the foot of the hills”. The name has also been generally interpreted to mean “sloping downward and spreading”. In that sense, it describes the easterly slope of the lands from the mountain until spreading flatly to form the basin of the Valley. When the Northern Pacific railroad spanned the Valley, it erected a section house, telegraph office, and water tank here in 1883 to serve as a maintenance center, and they named it Toppenish.

The city’s motto is “City Where the West Still Lives”, and is known as the City of Murals. Murals are bigger than life, depicting the lives and times of Toppenish’s early days. This results from the successful efforts of the Toppenish Mural Society (TMS), a group of local citizens interested in preserving the culture and history of the town. The Society’s insistence on high standards for quality of art and historical accuracy has made the murals a must-see for Valley visitors and has garnered national publicity for the town. You’ll find a map of the city and key to mural locations at the Toppenish Mural Office along with the original artist work submitted for approval for each mural.

Northern Pacific Railway Museum: The Toppenish Railroad Depot was built by the Northern Pacific Railway in 1911.  The museum features RR artifacts.  Open May through October: Tuesday to Saturday, 10AM to 4 PM, Sunday  Noon to 4 PM, closed Monday.  Winter hours November through April by special arrangement and see schedule for special events.    All operations are now at the depot with caboose rides offered with special events.

American Hop Museum: The American Hop Museum, located in the heart of the nation’s largest hop producing area, features exhibits and artifacts depicting Hop growing, harvesting, and history.  Open: May 1st. through September 30th.Wednesday thru Saturday 10am.-4pm.Sunday 11am.-4pm. Offering pre-scheduled tours year round. American Hop Museum History of Hops video.

After viewing the Toppenish Murals and museums,  return to Highway 97 to Yakima. On your way back, you will pass the town of Wapato.  When the Northern Pacific railroad first came through here, it was called Simcoe Siding. Later, when Alex McCready became active in the community, residents decided they wanted a post office.  But, the petition was refused because there was already a post office at Fort Simcoe and the two names would be too confusing. Mrs. McCready and her friends got together and decided on the name Wapato, from a variation of the word meaning potato in the Chinook language.  The post office was granted under the new name around the year 1902 and Mrs. McCready became the postmistress.

About halfway between Wapato and Union Gap, you will pass through the town of Parker, established around 1915. Another community of the same name was built earlier across the Yakima River (reached by driving east from Parker, and over the Parker Bridge; an alternate route to the Treveri Cellars Winery and the Yakima Valley Highway). The earlier community was the first semblance of a town in the valley area outside of the Fort Simcoe development and was called Konnewock by the Indians. It is today known as Parker Bottom.

Take the I-82 exit from 97 to bring you back to Exit 33 to Yakima Avenue and Downtown Yakima.  (Alternative route, take the Union Gap exit off of Highway 97 and sample the produce stands, eateries, and shopping opportunities at the Valley Mall in Union Gap. Driving north, Union Gaps main Street changes name to South 1st Street – the main North/South Street for the area. To reach Downtown Yakima, stay on 1st Street to Yakima Avenue, running east and west.)

The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michelle Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.

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A Country Drive to Naches, WA

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

View from Naches Heights

Orchards blooming in spring and apples ripening in the fall, plus sweet cherries, apricots, pears and peaches in season. Vineyards grown in the bio-dynamic manner and organic wine. This 29-mile circle driving tour (great bicycle or motorcycle ride) takes a little over an hour, starting at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center, then circling through Naches Heights to the City of Naches, returning via the Old Naches Highway to Downtown Yakima. This tour is popular in apple blossom and harvest time, enjoy the excellent vistas any time of the year.
Starting at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center at 101 North Fair Avenue:

  • Turn right out of the parking lot onto Fair Avenue, which becomes Lincoln Avenue, a one way street, continue on this route all the way to 40th Avenue.
  • Turn right at 40th Avenue, proceeding about 1.2 miles.
  • Turn left onto West Powerhouse Road and proceed on this road west for about 2.4 miles.
  • Turn left up the Naches Heights Road.
This route is along the top of the ‘heights” passing through one of the largest fruit growing area and the Naches Heights American Viticulture Area, designated in January 2012.
 Naches Heights road climbs steeply us the side of the hill where you can see out and across the Cowiche Canyon to the south, and the Naches Valley to the north.  After a short drive, on left side of Naches Heights Road is Ehler Road, leading to Tasting Room Yakima at Wilridge Vineyard,  in a 100 year old country house. Taste wine from biodynamic vineyards on the porch and enjoy the view. Naches Heights Winery opened their tasting room in the gallery space next door.
  • At 5 miles, continue straight after stop sign on the Naches Heights Road.
  • Traveling 6.2 miles further, at the stop sign, turn right onto the Naches-Tieton road to begin the steep drop down into the valley below. Looking north across the valley to the lower hills, you will discover the many layers of sedimentary rock from the time this area was under water.  Mt. Cleman rises to almost 5,000 feet elevation to the northwest of the town of Naches.
  • Naches Grade  joins the Naches-Tieton Road. Bear to the left and continue across the Naches River to the City of Naches and the junction with Highway 12.
Naches was first settled in 1853 by members of the Longmire Wagon Train. This family opted to stay in the milder climate on this side of the Cascades to farm, starting orchards and raising dairy cows and cattle.
  1.  Turn left at this intersection and you can visit the unique La Kat Gallery.
In May of 2006, after 50 year of operation, Layman Lumber Company ceased production. The management team and several key employees remained to retool the old mill into a woodshop, retraining the mill workers. The result was LaKat, a photo and crafts gallery featuring the skills of our talented craftsmen. All photographs are printed at Layman Lumber Studios and all frames are made from wood produced at the mill before it was closed. With few exceptions, the handicrafts use Layman Lumber wood. A testament to the commitment of the Naches business owner to their employees. The Naches Ranger Station, on the right side of Highway 12, is a short drive further on. There you will find information on the Okanogan and Wenatchee forests trails, camping, rock climbing, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, off road ORV trails and wilderness area information.
          2.  Turning right at the intersection, Thompson Farm Market will be on the right side of the road, offering local farm fresh produce, wine tasting, cider, jams and gifts. Visit their old fashioned soda fountain in the country store.
          3. Proceeding straight through the intersection, visit thenaches 014 train deport renovated Naches Train Depot operating as the visitor information center staffed by volunteers. The Naches Chamber of Commerce is also located in the depot. The complex includes public restrooms and outdoor eating areas.

There is a unique Art Deco historic gas station in the park near the restored depot.

Turn left onto Shafer Avenue, about.3 miles. Follow this for .3 mile, and then turn right onto the Old Naches Highway. Prior to 1935, this was part of the old route from Yakima over Chinook Pass to the west side of the state. Note the close-up view of the sedimentary layers you saw from the top of Naches Grade, on your right you will overlook many miles of fruit orchards, as well as views up to Naches Heights. The Thompson Family Farm is on this road offering U-pick opportunities in season featuring a pumpkin canon in the fall.

Continue on the Old Naches Highway from about 9.5 miles to a stop sign with its intersection with Highway 12. Turn left onto Hwy. 12.(bicyclists may prefer to go straight at this intersection, to connect with Powerhouse Road again.) As you proceed south and east, you may take the 40th Avenue exit, turning right and continuing to Summitview Avenue, returning the way you came. Or, you may continue on the freeway, bypassing the 40th Avenue exit, merge into the I-82 freeway, and take the Yakima Avenue exit 33B to return to downtown Yakima.


Bicycling to Naches, WA:

Bike Ride in Yakima Valley: Yakima to Naches. More Info.
Bicycle the 10 mile Yakima Greenway from Yakima Hotels.  More Info.

Preparations for bike ride Yakima Valley: Goat heads a low-growing weed with 2 sharp thorns that puncture bike tires. Use thorn proof tires, plastic thorn shields or bring extra tube and bicycle tire slime.

The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michelle Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.

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The Answer: “A Marathon, Family Biking Day & Cattle Drive.”

Monday, March 24th, 2014

The Question:”When Does the Yakima River Canyon close to thru traffic?”

The Yakima River Canyon closes to thru traffic for 3 events. A USATF Certified 26.2 Mile Marathon, A Family Biking the Canyon Day and cattle drive.


The Yakima River Canyon Marathon for 2014 is Saturday April 5. This is an exceptionally scenic and extremely popular run along the river for both novice and seasoned marathoners.   The course headquarters is in Selah, WA. The run starts at the north end of the canyon and ends in Selah. (See Map) Runners pick up their packets Friday evening  at the pasta feed, which features a  guest  speaker. A shuttle bus brings runners from Selah to the start of the course.

Your Canyon for a Day Bike Tour takes place on May 18th, 2014.  The canyon closes from 9am – 3pm. Make plans to visit with the whole family and enjoy the great outdoors. The total length is 35 miles with gentle grade following the Yakima River.  This is a sponsored event and there is a nominal fee. (Register Here)Bike-Canyon-s-300x199

The Annual Yakima River Canyon Cattle Drive takes place during the winter, near the end  January. Hundreds of cattle are herded  by cowboys on horseback  along a 5 Mile stretch of the Yakima River Canyon Road. The drive usually starts in the morning at Burbank Creek Road and ends around 3pm at Mount Baldy Ranch to the north.  This Eaton Family Tradition moves from winter pasture to where the cows will calve. The trail drive stops at Big Pines Campground to rest.


The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michelle Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.

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Off to See the Wizard @ White Pass Ski Area Winter Carnival!

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Are you ready for  28th Annual White Pass Winter Carnival, March 1 & 2, 2014?   This year’s theme is the Wizard of Oz in recognition of the film’s 75th Anniversary.  The Castle Construction Crew will be replicating the Emerald Castle and the Yellow Brick Road!  Costumes are encouraged! Be  Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, or Scarecrow on skis or a snowboard! Flying monkeys??

Bring the whole family, the kids will have fun climbing  through the snow castle and tubing down the snow slide. (I know I did!).  Enjoy this huge snow castle, carnival games, races, snow sculptures, fireworks, and live music during this annual winter celebration. A tradition for Northwest families since 1987. (Full Schedule of Events)

If you haven’t been to the White Pass Ski Area in the past few years, you will be surprised at the expansion and the new ski in lodge. Check out White Pass Ski Resort’s Paradise Basin, which doubled the size of the ski area by 767 acres.   Whether you ski or snowboard, the views of Mt Rainier are spectacular.   Start at the White Pass Resort Day Lodge (Trail map) on Highway 12,  ride the Great White Quad to the top, off the quad, ski down straight to base of Chair 5, take the Basin Quad/Chair 5, follow signs to the new High Camp Lodge (pictured).  At High Camp enjoy a morning waffle bar on select days, lunch daily. 

White Pass offers 18k of double-tracked groomed Nordic trails, as well as single tracked snowshoeing trails and  a terrain park, with 14 challenging features, including rails and c-boxes.

White Pass Ski Resort, is located only 40 minutes from the city of Yakima on the White Pass Scenic Byway.  Visitors and locals enjoy the opportunity to ski during the day and return to Yakima for wine tasting and a fine meal in one of the many restaurants





Winter Recreation Information:

White Pass Ski Resort History

Vacation Rentals, Retreats and Guesthouses

Winter Fun: Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing

Snowmobile Recreation: Where are the trails?

The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism. If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michelle Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.

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Port Wine for a Perfect Winter Weekend

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Winter has settled in, the mountains are frosted in white.  Spend the day cross country skiing, snowmobiling, or viewing wild elk, then snuggle by the fireplace or relax in a hot tub with a fine Yakima Valley Port Wine.   Whistlin’ Jack Lodge offers Bungalows which are 125 feet from the Naches River, complete with rock fireplace and  private outdoor hot tub with relaxing view.  Enjoy dining at the lodge restaurant and live music in the lounge before retiring to your private retreat.


Bethel Ridge Retreat

Looking for a larger space, the Bethel Ridge Retreat features 2 mountain lodges, each with a gas fireplace, beautiful leather furniture, luxurious bedrooms (one king master suite and two queen bedrooms), dining area and outdoor hot tub.

Soak in the tub or sit by the fireplace and  savor one of these Port Wines.  Purchase at the winery or the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center.

  • gilbertThurston Wolfe Winery- JTW’s Port 2009: “Taste Black cherry, boysenberry, chocolate, spice and black pepper. Curl up nest to a winter fire to enjoy with anything chocolate, Stilton cheese and Bartlett pears.”
  •  Gilbert Cellars – Tempranillo Port: “This Port offers bright red fruit, luscious tannin’s and pleasant sweetness. It pairs well with dark chocolate, cheesecake, and many other rich desserts”.
  •  Paradisos del Sol – 2010 Zort: 375ml Zort?!? ” Yes! A Ruby Angelica wine based on Zinfandel grapes. This very limited production is meant to be consumed with friends — and a raspberry-infused chocolate truffle — or a pear with Stilton cheese — as an aperitif with salted nuts — or in front of a fire on a howling winter night while releasing its captive sunshine.”
  • Claar Cellars Fouled Anchor Port:  “Dried cherries, raisins, honey and maple syrup are the heart of this powerful Port style fortified wine. The mouth is sweet, velvety and finishes on dark, juicy plums. Racy and elegant like a pure breed stallion. The term “Fouled Anchor” is when a ship’s anchor snags or becomes “entangled” preventing one from leaving, or opening a port. This Non-Vintage Port is thus an entanglement of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, a different grape each year. A ship doesn’t want a fouled anchor, but you will enjoy untangling this delicious blend.”


Bring along special cheeses, farm fresh fruit, cured meats and chocolate, plus a  fine cigar for him from Lil’ Brown Smoke Shack. Check one of the Friday special cigar events for great deals.   Add a great cigar to one of the Yakima Valley Ports, romantic fire in the fireplace or a relaxing soak in the outdoor hot tub.

“Voila!” a perfect winter weekend!


The Yakima Valley blog articles feature members of the Yakima Valley Tourism.  If you would like to receive information regarding membership, Click here, or to request a membership application, please contact Michelle Hopkins at (509) 575-3010.

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