Driving on I-82 between Ellensburg and Yakima, you’ll realize that Central Washington isn’t the flat, boring terrain you might have heard about. As the road snakes up treeless ridges over 2,000 feet high, the far-off brown hills look as if they’re covered with soft velvet; up close, it resolves into sagebrush, scrub, and grass. Along the way, you’ll cross the Fred Redmon Memorial Bridge, the largest single concrete span bridge in North America. Pull into the rest stop at the south end of the bridge for a stunner of a view of the icy summits of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier in the distance.
The Jacob Durr Wagon Road (a.k.a. Wenas Road) is not recommended for vehicles without four-wheel drive. It was once the only route linking Yakima and Ellensburg; today, it’s surely the most scenic, climbing over Umtanum Ridge for a 360-degree view of the Cascades and Yakima Valley. Drive north from Selah on N. Wenas Avenue, which becomes Wenas Road, the old Durr Wagon Road. The more standard route northward (I-90) also offers excellent vistas from the Manatash Ridge Viewpoint into the lush Kittitas Valley, with the Wenatchee Mountains rising behind the town of Ellensburg.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition