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What To Do in the Yakima Valley - Washington Mountain and River Recreation
Biking, Hiking, or Just Fantastic Views: Our Mountain Ranges Have It All
The Yakima Valley is blessed with excellent weather and a wonderful location for mountain activities. A 40-minute drive from Yakima will bring you to the foot of two spectacular mountain passes, White Pass and Chinook Pass. This is also a beautiful drive from western Washington, or a wonderful day trip from anywhere in the Yakima Valley. These routes offer spectacular mountain vistas, and they are best traveled between April and October. From Yakima, travel west on Highway 12 to Naches. Continue on and take the Chinook Pass Highway (Washington 410). If it is hiking you are interested in, this is the place to do it. There are numerous trailheads in this area for hikers of all abilities.
Washington Mountain Recreation
Trek Yakima is mobile-ready website created by the City of Yakima to assist you in finding all of the wonderful trails around the Yakima area. It shows you nearby trails and allows you to search for and save your favorite Yakima trails. www.trekyakima.com
Hiking and Fishing
Other activities include fishing, hiking, hunting, or simply exploring the high lakes, mountain meadows or any of the countless streams throughout this wilderness area. Boating is available at nearby Bumping Lake, and of course, the wildlife viewing is spectacular.
White Pass Ski company has excellent alpine and Nordic facilities in the winter and a number of summer activities. Those interested in alpine skiing and snowboarding will enjoy the five ski lifts, including the Great White High Speed Quad and rope tow, 350 inches of annual snowfall, and a 1,500-foot vertical drop.
State Park Winter Recreation (snowmobiles and non-motorized)
Enjoy the snow during the winter with easy access from Yakima to Washington State trails and parks.
The Pacific Crest Trail
During the summer months, enjoy hiking, fishing, and mountain bike riding. The Pacific Crest Trail is accessible at the summit. Rimrock Lake is also a great place to fish and swim. Both Chinook and White Pass meet at the "Y" bringing you into the Upper Yakima Valley at Naches on U.S. 12. Traveling east, you enter the Yakima Valley, Gateway to Washington's Wine Country.
White Pass Scenic Byway
This byway offers offers access from Washington State's west-side to the Yakima Valley with striking views along its entire length. Passing through the Gifford Pinchot and Wenatchee National Forests, White Pass Scenic Byway winds through the deep greens of mixed coniferous forests and the eye-catching colors of meadows ablaze with wildflowers. Shining lakes, rumbling rivers, and cascading waterfalls accompany travelers for almost the entire trip. The surrounding landscape can be seen on the trip or at various turnouts and overlooks. These allow visitors to catch their breath and take a good look at the striking wilderness through which they pass...more info.
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48935 U.S. Hwy. 12
River Recreation - Have fun in the sun and cool off at the same time
Washington White-Water Rafting
The Yakima Valley's Flip Flop, an annual event designed to fully utilize one of the valley's most precious resources, turns the Tieton River into a rafter's dream each year during the month of September. White water enthusiasts come from all around the Northwest each fall to experience this rafter's paradise. The river is a fast-paced intermediate run that is consistently good due to the dam release. A torrent of water is released from Rimrock Lake down to the Tieton River and into the Naches River to serve irrigation needs each fall. The release more than doubles the river's normal flow to 2,500 cubic feet per second, which draws more rafters each year to tackle this white water adventure. Although the primary purpose of the release is to distribute water for agriculture, it creates one of the state's only white water rafting locations during the month of September. Booking with an outfitter is recommended due to the pace of the river. Call early for reservations, as it's the last run of the season, and space fills quickly. White water rafting isn't the only extreme adventure waiting for thrill seekers. The mountains west of Yakima offer excellent and ever-popular rock climbing.
PO Box 668
11440 North Thorp Hwy.
Yakima River Canyon
The pleasures and beauty of the Yakima Canyon Road, Washington 821, connecting Interstate 90 and Interstate 82 are breathtaking. This canyon has been designated as a state scenic route and offers excellent wildlife viewing, fishing, family river rafting and camping. Follow the meandering river, as it sometimes slices between basalt cliffs formed by centuries-old upheavals. It's thought that the Yakima River predates those stony ramparts, once flowing across a relatively flat landscape. As rock ridges raised, river erosion equaled the uplift, cutting a steep, narrow gorge. As you drift, drive or bicycle past you can see the basalt layers in valley walls which once formed part of one of the largest lava fields in the world, said to have covered over 200,000 square miles in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
The canyon provided food for Native tribes who camped and fished along the river. Settlers followed, building cabins wherever flat land and soil would allow. Early on, the canyon's wilderness value was recognized and state and federal agencies began to gather land. Though privately-held land does remain, 4,000 acres of federal land are preserved offering an almost untouched feeling throughout the entire corridor. Gateway access to this beautiful river canyon as well as to the official Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway is through the City of Selah, located in the northern part of the Yakima Valley region.
West of the river, the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area comprises 103,000 acres administered by the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. Access from the Yakima Canyon Road by a footbridge at Umtanum Creek, creates a wonderful playground for hikers, photographers, anglers and hunters.
Washington Wildlife Viewing
The canyon attracts bald eagles, especially in winter. Their populations seem to be increasing. Twenty-one raptor species have been recorded. Bird watchers appreciate the many mini-climates and vegetation types that foster a variety of species found here. A long list of wildlife are seen in the area including river otters, coyotes, cougars, elk, bear, deer, and approximately two hundred bighorn sheep.
Washington Water Recreation
The beauty and serenity of the magnificent canyon are enjoyed by recreationists as well. During the summer months the Yakima River becomes a gentle 11-mile float downstream. Motorized watercraft are prohibited on most of the river, offering a relaxing float. Motorized vehicles are allowed between the Roza Recreational Site and Roza Dam, which controls irrigation for 72,000 irrigated acres downstream.
Fly-fishing is one of the fastest growing activities on the Yakima River, otherwise known as the place to “chase rainbows.” The Yakima River is a classic western trout stream in every sense. The riffles and pools provide great places for prize rainbows to hide and feed. Anglers must release all trout on this river, and are restricted to artificial flies or lures with a barbless hook. The Yakima River is what anglers in Washington State call a "blue-ribbon" trout stream — the best in the state. The prime periods for fishing the Yakima River are spring, when flows are highly variable but a wide variety of insect hatches provide excellent angling, and fall, September to November. There are many outfitters who provide guided outings on the River. If you are a first-time angler to this fantastic river, you may want to contact a professional guide service to take you out. Regardless of when you plan to come, bear in mind that you may spend more time chasing rainbows than catching them. If the tranquil and leisurely water trips are not for you, don't despair. The Yakima Valley is home to one of the state's top white water rafting trips during the fall.