Take a drive through the Yakima Valley and enjoy the scenic views of the blossoming fruit orchards. There's no shortage of apple, cherry, peach and pear orchards blooming every spring, and it's a beautiful time of year to take a road trip!
Begin your drive with a tour of the beautiful grounds at the Yakima Area Arboretum.
Directions: Take I-82 East to Exit 34 (Nob Hill Blvd). Turn left off the freeway, and left again at the second light. Then just follow the road that parallels the freeway to the parking lot.
The Yakima Arboretum features a Rose Garden, Japanese Garden and 46 acres of landscaped and natural displays. Visit the gift shop filled with unique items for gardeners. The arboretum grounds are adjacent to the 18-mile paved Yakima Greenway Path.
(Bicyclists will enjoy the scenic ride with alternative directions on side roads with less traffic. If you are riding a bicycle over the Konnowac Pass, you may leave your vehicle at the Greenway parking lot. This ride is about 27 miles. The pass is a moderate climb of more than two miles and a couple of short (1/4 mile) steep climbs to the top, down the other side, with the rest of the route being nearly level. Pavement quality is good and traffic generally light.)
Leaving the Arboretum, turn left on Highway 24, heading east toward Moxee City. At Birchfield Road, to the left, you will see Bale Breaker Brewery, one of Yakima's newest breweries. Started by a longtime hop growing family, they placed their tasting room right in the middle of one of their working hop fields.
(Bicyclists-There is a well-marked wide shoulder; traffic speed is 55mph.)
The Moxee Valley was settled in the early 1880’s. Alexander Graham Bell and his wife’s family invested in a large farming operation around the time The Moxee Land Company sold 20-acre lots in the 1890’s to recruit settlers. Hops, first grown here in 1877, grew so well in this climate and soil that Moxee City, platted in 1910, became the Hop Capitol of the world. At hop picking time, hundreds of people used to camp and harvest the hops by hand culminating in a “hop festival”. The Yakima Valley celebrates its hop heritage with the annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival in Downtown Yakima, the first Saturday in October. Currently the Yakima Valley supplies over 78% of the hops used in United States breweries .
Driving toward Moxee: Continue toward Moxee, then turn right on Fauscher Road. On this stretch of road you will see a working hop kiln and historic barn, as well as plenty of hop fields, recognizable by the tall poles used to support the vines that reach the tops of the poles in summer. Keep left to go over Konnowac Pass southwest toward Zillah, where you can stop to sample Yakima Valley wines.
(Bicyclists: to use side roads turn right on Birchfield Road, then left on Bell Road, right on La Framboise Road, Right on Roballard Road which meets Konnowac Pass where you can turn right to continue up the pass.)
Konnowac Pass: At the Konnowac Pass Y, keep left. Konnowac Pass runs through the Rattlesnake Ridge, an old Native American trail connecting both ends of the Yakima Valley. Reaching the top of the small pass you will see the orchards of the Yakima Valley stretched out below in a patchwork of white and pink, as the cherry and apple trees blossom in spring.
Parker Heights Road, further down the pass, is on the right, just after a bend in the road. As you tour along this road surrounded by orchards, you will see Mt. Adams and the distinctive wooden hop kiln designated a Heritage Barn of Washington State in the distance.
Visit a winery: When you reach the bridge over the irrigation canal, continue on the road which parallels the Yakima Valley Highway on the east side of the irrigation canal. To visit Windy Point Winery, turn right up the hill, past the orchards. This boutique winery’s tasting room reflects the Frank Lloyd Wright style, designed and built to showcase Windy Point’s breathtaking views of the Yakima Valley.
When leaving, turn right at the end of the driveway and continue along the road under the freeway where there is a small park with picnic tables at the Sunnyside Diversion Dam. A roadside marker tells the history of the site at the park overlooking the site of an ancient Native American fishery called Ahwahtun, meaning "deep water."
Continue under the freeway and proceed up the hill to Treveri Cellars, to enjoy the award winning sparkling wines and the views of Mt. Adams from the patio. Further up the hill is Owen Roe Winery offering both white wine and special reds with grapes from the celebrated Red Willow Vineyards.
Return down the hill to Thorp Road, then to Birchfield Road. Turn left onto Highway 24, to return to Downtown Yakima.
(Bicyclists-if you have left your car at the Yakima Greenway, the entrance is on the right side of the road at the light after the bridge over the Yakima River.)
Take I-82 West to Exit 33 to Yakima Avenue, bringing you directly to Downtown Yakima to experience wine tasting, art galleries, dining choices and plenty of entertainment.
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