One of Washington’s best-known Western-style towns, Ellensburg is famous for its Labor Day weekend rodeo that attracts thousands of spectators and top rodeo talent from across the country. Surprisingly enough, the town itself has more the look of a quiet college town than an old-school Western movie set. At its heart is Central Washington University, one of the state’s first, established in 1891. The western roots of Ellensburg are better illustrated in the ranches and mining outposts that radiate around the town.
Situated as it is just over Snoqualmie Pass along I-90, Ellensburg has long been a popular overnight spot for Puget Sound concert-goers attending events at the Gorge Amphitheater in George. Increasingly, though, as the number of wineries grows within central Washington, the town is fast becoming known as the gateway to wine country.
Getting to Ellensburg
Kittitas County Connector (509/933-2287) has bus service in Ellensburg, and to Thorp, Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Vantage. Call Rodeo Town Taxi (407 N Walnut St., 509/929-4222) for local cab rides. Greyhound (1512 Hwy. 97, 509/925-1177 or 800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com) can get you out of town from its depot in Ellensburg.
The nearest commercial airport is in Yakima.
Those looking for a cheap and convenient place to gas up and catch up on email via Wi-Fi should take I-90 exit to stop at Flying J Travel Plaza (2300 Canyon Rd.).
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition