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With such a diverse landscape, it's no wonder Kittitas County is a great
place to just go for a drive. You may have to make more than one trip
to see it all. Some of the best things to check out along the way
include fall foliage, basalt canyons, rolling pasturelands, the Yakima
River, peaceful forests, mountains and the mighty Columbia River.
State Highway 10
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 on to 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.
State Route 821
Main Street in downtown Ellensburg eventually turns in to Canyon Road,
which becomes State Route 821 -- one of the most scenic drives around.
The road, a twisty and narrow drive, has jaw-dropping views of the
Yakima River. The winding water is walled in by cliffs so high, you'll
have to stick your head out of the car window just to see the top. But
be careful! These roads have some sharp curves. This is also a great
route to take if you're headed to Yakima.
Interstate 90 at Vantage
The powers of the ancient floods that once swept across the Pacific
Northwest are evident here, where the Columbia River pounds its way
through canyons of basalt cliffs and hills of sagebrush. You won't see
much in the way of houses here. It's all Mother Nature. To get there,
head out of town and take Interstate 90 east for about 30 miles. The
Columbia River is straight ahead.
Reecer Creek Road to Lion Rock
If you're looking for fall foliage, this is the drive to take. Most of
the Ellensburg area is considered arid, so there isn't a great deal of
fall color here. But this trip isn't lacking. For the best fall color
viewing, take this drive in mid- to late-October. To get there, head
west on University Way from downtown Ellensburg. Take a right on Reecer
Creek Road and stay on it for several miles. Go past all the farmland
and head up the hill.
U.S. Highway 97
U.S. Highway 97 is the route to take if you're headed to Wenatchee,
Leavenworth or beyond. The route begins off U.S. Highway 10 and winds
through some breathtaking pasturelands before getting to equally
Suncadia resort near Cle Elum is a great place to go for an easy,
well-paved and scenic forest drive. Plus there are great houses to check
out along the way. The roads meander through preserved forestlands and
past pristine golf courses. You can take two routes to get there. For
the longer way, take scenic Highway 10, mentioned above. When it ends,
take a left on to Highway 970, which quickly becomes state Route 903 and
then First Street. That takes you straight in to Cle Elum. Take a right
on to Oakes Street, a left on to Second Street and stay on it until you
get to Bullfrog Road. Take a left on Bullfrog Road and stay on it until
you reach a roundabout for Suncadia's main entrance. Turn right and get
ready to explore. From Ellensburg, the long route will take about a
half-hour. For a more direct route, head west on Interstate 90 for about
35 miles. Take exit 80 and turn right off the ramp. Exit 80 is Bullfrog
Road. You will stay on it for about five minutes before you hit the
roundabout at Suncadia. Turn left.
To get to this area, take Highway 10 west and when it ends, turn
right on to U.S. Highway 970. You'll soon find long stretches of road
meandering through beautiful pasturelands. Hills in the distance conjure
up images of rolling European farmlands. Big farmhouses and barns in
the area make for beautiful photographs. There's no particular road to
choose from. All of them lead to scenic spots.