Thursday, May 10, 2018

Yakima Canyon

After my trip to Steamboat Rock in 2011, I vowed to try to make a day trip east of the Cascades every spring. The weather isn't as hot and the hills are still a little green. But there's always something else to do or somewhere else to go. Last year I finally got back for a wonderful day in May to Frenchman and Potholes Coulees.

The Yakima River cuts through Umtanum Ridge between Ellensburg and Yakima. Canyon Road and a rail line follow the river, while I-84 takes a somewhat more direct, but awfully ambitious, route up and over the high ridge a little farther east. On a weekday morning, the traffic wasn't too bad and the weather was neither too hot nor too windy.

I parked the car at a BLM site on the river just upstream of the Roza Dam and rode upstream 18-19 miles until I cleared the north end of the canyon before turning around and heading back down. There's one tough hill in the middle where the road cuts off a bend in the river, requiring it to climb up and over a basalt spur, but overall it wasn't bad.

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