The Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center

The Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center (the Center) is a project of the Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN). The Center is planned for the mouth of the Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway at Helen McCabe State Park and anticipates 100,000 visitors annually.

KEEN is now seeking partnerships with legacy donors to establish construction funding and a permanent endowment. More details about the project and naming opportunities can be found below. Please be in touch with Jill Scheffer, our Board President, at or

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With over 1.5 million people passing by, the YCIC will be a destination for meetings, special events, and educational programming. 

This project represents an unparalleled opportunity to engage visitors and community members of all ages in outdoor education, draw tourists to Central Washington, undertake environmental stewardship and habitat restoration, and accomplish protection of the endangered shrub-steppe biome.


The Yakima River Canyon is its own unique landscape. Linear oases supporting vital riparian corridors in this time of climate change. With the highest density of passerines in the state and wandering big horn sheep, it is a wildlife-watchers dream. Nesting birds of prey, endangered plants and animals, economically-important Yakima River trout fishery and salmonid nursery, visible basalt lava flows, and rich Native American history all make the Canyon a distinct place. These stories and themes engage us and keep us working to protect the future of the Yakima River Canyon. The Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center (The Center) will celebrate and share this special place with the world.


For 21 years KEEN has inspired a nature-based ethic in our community with unique outdoor educational programs, hands-on habitat restoration, and creating a sense of place for learners of all ages. KEEN’s habitat restoration and stewardship of Helen McCabe State Park, and our plans to establish the Center there, are great examples of why the Kittitas Valley is a thriving and vibrant place to live, work, and raise a family.

Recreation @ YCIC

Adults may find they enjoy the tranquility of
cross-country skiing through towering Ponderosa Pines or simply reading a book in the fresh air with a light breeze. Seniors can easily access the trails, join in on science activities, and volunteer at the Center as docents and leaders for school groups. The Center will take care to ensure everyone of all ages, all stages, and all abilities can enjoy the park. Our community calendar will be filled with opportunities for everyone to join us in education, recreation, and conservation.

Helen McCabe Park Trail System Plan 2021

“As I read your note, the memory of my mother's interest and passion in developing and encouraging the recreational potential of central Washington jumps up. Seeing others active, involved, and most of all having fun outdoors, was so much of what made her life meaningful. The joy she felt in watching others have fun, myself my brother and the many family, friends and students, we all found a confirmation in her enthusiasm for the outdoors and the joy it so richly returns to those of us who venture out. This little park and the anticipated interpretive center is a wonderful expression of what meant so much to her”. Ross McCabe, Dr. Helen McCabe's son.

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Lower Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway -


Leave your legacy permanently, honor a family member’s memory, or become a corporate partner by naming elements of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center.