A Road Trip Paradise!

Scenic Day Trips -Yakima Valley

A Road Trip Paradise!

June 25, 2019

Motorcycle enthusiasts know Yakima is the perfect home base for stunning, scenic daytrips across a broad array of dramatic Washington State terrain. Whether you like to hit the road on motorcycle or by car, Yakima’s central location right in the middle of it all makes it easy to explore stunning portions of six state and national scenic byways. Choose from Mt. Rainier, Yakima Valley Wine Country, the Columbia River Gorge and numerous side roads, river canyons and mountain passes – all from the city of Yakima. After your ride or drive, relax and enjoy live entertainment, festivals, farm-fresh dining, craft beer and wine tasting.

Add a few of these seven scenic day trips to your calendar, along with suggested stops. Approximate miles and times are provided with Yakima as the starting and ending point.

Scenic Pass Loop

This ride spans two Washington State scenic byways. Chinook Pass is the higher elevation pass with an iconic view of Mt Rainier with Lake Tipsoo in the forefront. You’ll find a rest area, picnic tables and short hikes at the top of pass. The stunning drive continues with switchbacks to Cayuse Pass, a tunnel and forested ride to White Pass. Enjoy the beauty of the White Pass Scenic Byway through lush forests and along Rimrock Lake.                                                                                                                                                 

The Route: Yakima → Highway 12 W → Naches → Chinook Pass All American Road Highway 410 → Cayuse Pass Highway 123 S → The White Pass National Scenic Byway Highway 12 E → Yakima.

Distance: 151 miles

Drive Time: 3 hours, 18 minutes

Recommended Stops: Visit Bron Yr Aur Brewing for pizza and beer after your ride or grab burgers at Silver Beach Resort on Highway 12.

Paradise, Mt Rainier Loop

Everyone wants to visit Paradise, the staging area for those who want to summit Mt. Rainier or simply hike the scenic trails and visit the Historic Paradise Inn. This ride goes though Mt. Rainier National Park, from east to west with multiple opportunities for scenic stops along the winding Stevens Canyon Road. Enjoy old growth forest, waterfalls and short hikes at Paradise.

The Route: Yakima → Highway 12 W → Naches → White Pass National Scenic Byway Highway 12 W → Cayuse Pass Highway 123 N → Paradise on Mt. Rainier  →  Ashford → Elbe → Morton → White Pass National Scenic Byway Highway 12 E → Yakima

Distance: 247 miles

Drive Time: 5 hours, 21minutes

Recommended Stops: Grab a snack or lunch at the Paradise Inn dining room or café and be sure to visit the Paradise Visitor Center and Longmire Museum. In Elbe stop at Scale Burgers and then visit the Mt. Rainier Scenic RR.

Alternate Route:  Yakima Highway 12 W Naches Chinook Pass Highway 410 Cayuse Pass Highway 123 S Paradise on Mt. Rainier Ashford Elbe Morton White Pass National Scenic Byway Highway 12 E Yakima. Distance: 257 miles. Drive Time: 5 hours, 46 minutes.

Wine Country Loop

This route takes you through the heart of Yakima Valley Wine Country and there are many opportunities to take small side trips to wineries. Take in the views of orchards, vineyards and hops grown in this region.                                      

The Route: Yakima I-82 E → Exit 40 Yakima Valley Highway → Sunnyside → Prosser → back on Highway 22 which changes into Highway 97 → Toppenish → Yakima.

Distance: 105 miles

Drive Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Recommended Stops: Some favorite stops include Treveri Cellars for small plates, sparkling wine, and great views, Hop Town Wood Fired  Pizza and Rattlesnake Hill AVA wineries. Visit Bon Vino Bistro, Snipes Mountain Brewery and Varietal Beer Co. in Sunnyside, In Prosser visit Milbrandt for charcuterie plates, Walter Clore Center for mall plates, and Desert Wind Winery  for lunches and chocolates. In Toppenish, tour western themed murals and visit Legends Casino.

Yakama Nation Scenic Byway

On this ride you’ll pass through hop fields in one of the most important hop growing regions in the world on Highway 22 before you continue on to Horse Heaven Hills where you’ll be on the edge between grasslands and forest lands. Bickleton is known for its bluebird population and historic Carousel Museum. Satus Pass is on the Yakama Reservation and you may glimpse some of the wild horses who call it home as you go from forest to high desert terrain.                                                                                                                                      

The Route: Yakima I-82 E → Exit 37 to Hwy 97S → Changes into Highway 22 → Mabton → Bickleton  → Goldendale → Satus Pass Highway 97 →Toppenish → Yakima.

Recommended Stops: Blue Bird Inn in Bickleton, WA, is the state’s oldest continually operating tavern. Pick up yummy pastries at St. John Monastery espresso and Greek cuisine on Satus Pass. In Toppenish, tour the western themed murals and visit Legends Casino.

Distance: 172 miles

Drive Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Yakima River Canyon Loop

The Yakima River Canyon follows the Yakima River between Yakima and Ellensburg where canyon walls rise to 2,000 feet above the river. Eagles, deer elk and other animals are seen along this river known for its blue ribbon fly fishing. On the return ride, you’ll see acres of undeveloped high desert scenery and part of the Yakima Training Center.

The Route: Yakima → I-82 W → Exit 26 to Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway Highway 821→ Ellensburg → I-82 E →Yakima.

Distance: 72 miles

Drive Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes  

Recommended Stops: Canyon River Grill in Yakima River Canyon is a perfect lunch stop. In Ellensburg, check out Gard Vintners, view Wildhorse Wind Farm on Vantage Way in Vantage and visit the Gingko Forest.

Alternate Route: Yakima I-82 W Exit 26 to Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway Highway 821 Ellensburg E University Way Ellensburg E. Vantage Highway Vantage over Columbia River Bridge on I-90 E Highway 243 S Highway 24 W over Columbia River Yakima. Distance: 142 miles. Drive Time: 2 hours, 53 minutes.

Columbia River Gorge Loop

This loop takes you through Yakima Valley Wine Country to Horse Heaven Hills where 25% of Washington wine grapes are grown on the large plateau. Drive down along the Columbia River, up to Goldendale where the hills are dotted with wind machines and the golden wheat fields of Goldendale, then through the Yakama Nation Scenic Byway on reservation land, aka Satus Pass.                                                                                             

The Route: Yakima I-82 E → Exit 40 Yakima Valley Highway → Prosser → Highway 821 Patterson → Highway 14  → Highway 97 N → Goldendale → Satus Pass Highway 97→ Toppenish → Yakima.

Distance: 225 miles

Drive Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Recommended Stops:

Visit Rattlesnake Hills AVA Wineries in Zillah and then stop at Bon Vino Bistro, Snipes Mtn Brewery and Varietal Beer Co. in Sunnyside.  In Prosser, visit Vintners Village and Walter Clore Center. In Patterson stop by Columbia Crest Winery. On Highway 14, Maryhill Museum is a wonderful stop, as is Maryhill Winery. Then, tour western themed murals and visit Legends Casino in Toppenish.

Mt. St. Helens Loop

This loop traverses the White Pass Scenic Byway, and then south past Mt. St. Helens, with many opportunities to stop to view the mountain. You can add a side trip to Windy Ridge Viewpoint on Highway 99 off Highway 25, adding an additional 40 minutes each way. Enjoy views of Columbia River, wind surfers, and Mt. Hood in the distance. On the alternate route, take in views of White Salmon River, Mt. Adams, farms and wheat fields.                                                                                                                  

The Route: Yakima → Highway 12 W → Naches → White Pass National Scenic Byway Highway 12 W → Packwood → Randle → Highway 25 → Highway 30 → Carson → Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway Highway 14 E  → Highway 97 N → Goldendale → Toppenish → Yakima.

Distance: 305 miles

Drive Time: 6 hours, 40 minutes

Recommended Stops: Visit Randle Ranger Station for road conditions and stop by Carson Hot Springs, Maryhill Winery and Maryhill Museum

Alternate Route: Yakima Highway 12 W Naches White Pass National Scenic Byway Highway 12 W Packwood Randle Hwy25 Hwy30 Carson Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway Highway 14 E Highway 141 N Trout Lake Glenwood Goldendale Toppenish Yakima. Distance: 325 miles. Drive Time: 7 hours, 20 minutes.)

For more information about places to stay in Yakima, events, stops along the way, WA State Maps and travel guides, check the website links or visit the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center.

Categorized in: Outdoor Recreation