The Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway is a world-class drive for visitors and residents of Washington State. It embodies the Central Washington experience from its scenic shrub-steppe vistas to its diverse recreational opportunities, and rich geological, natural, and cultural heritage.

 

The Byway enhances communities and places of interest along and nearby the corridor, increases tourism, and adds to the local culture and economic base. The Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway Partnership seeks to tell the Byway's story and broaden the traveler's experience through improvements that protect and restore the surrounding habitat, secure recreation access, and make the route safer for all who wish to experience its natural beauty.  

In 1967 the state legislature authorized a bill (Senate Bill 424) providing for the development of scenic and recreational highways throughout the state. Following the passage of the bill, the State Parks and Recreation Commission and the State Highway Department studied sites around the state for designation. The Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway (YRCSB) “was proposed as the state’s first scenic corridor due to its great potential for allowing the traveler to pass through beautiful country at a pace enabling him to enjoy and appreciate its beauty” (Daniel J. Evans, Governor).

In 1967 the state legislature authorized a bill (Senate Bill 424) providing for the development of scenic and recreational highways throughout the state. Following the passage of the bill, the State Parks and Recreation Commission and the State Highway Department studied sites around the state for designation. The Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway (YRCSB) “was proposed as the state’s first scenic corridor due to its great potential for allowing the traveler to pass through beautiful country at a pace enabling him to enjoy and appreciate its beauty” (Daniel J. Evans, Governor).

The YRCSB is widely accessed by both community members and visitors. Locals use the drive between Ellensburg and Selah as a relaxing and beautiful way to commute north and south, to experience the stark beauty of the shrub-steppe habitat, and share wildlife viewing and other recreational pursuits with friends and family who are visiting the area.

 

The Canyon is also popular with the cycling community even despite the narrow shoulders. With several fly-fishing companies taking advantage of the blue-ribbon trout fishery, multiple camping grounds, and several float-boat operators/rental companies, thousands of tourists and recreationalists use the YRCSB throughout the year.

The implementation of the Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway is overseen by a private and public partnership organized and led by Forterra NW and the Kittitas Enviromental Education Network. The partnership members are dedicated to implementing the Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan in Kittitas and Yakima Counties. The Partnership meets quarterly in Ellensburg and is open to new members who have an interest in conservation, habitat restoration, tourism, marketing, education and public safety in the Canyon.

Current members of the 2016-2025 YRCSB Memorandum of Understanding include:

 

Forterra NW, Kittitas Environmental Education Network, Washington State Department of Transportation, Kittitas County, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Kittitas County Field and Stream, Canyon River Ranch Lodge , Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce, Yakima Valley Tourism, Kittitas County Conservation District, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, Central Washington University,
City of Ellensburg, Yakima Greenway Foundation, Eaton Ranch, City of Selah, Red’s Fly Shop, Washington Water Trust, Washington State Parks and Recreation, Cowiche Canyon Conservancy, Kittitas County Audubon, Emerging Rivers, Guide Services, Ellensburg Canyon Winery, Washington Bikes, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Yakima River RV Park, Washington Trails Association, American Rivers, Washington State Department of Ecology, Rainshadow Running Club.

 

Please contact Jill Scheffer at Forterra NW for more information - jscheffer@forterra.org  

Mailing Address

414 South Willow Street

Ellensburg, WA 98926

kittitasee@ycic.org 

509-551-8807

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