AT ONLY 120 MILES, this memorable drive stretches north from one of Washington’s wine cities (Yakima) through two of its down-to-earth towns (Ellensburg and Roslyn) to one of its most picturesque spots (Snoqualmie). Interlaced with stunning scenery and pop-cultural points of interest, this route warrants a slow pace as it ambles alongside the Yakima River.
While the express route from Yakima to Ellensburg is Interstate 82, you’ll want to ride right inside the Yakima River Canyon on Highway 821 instead. With only a few ranches dotting the landscape, this drive twists and turns alongside a railway through nearly untouched scenery—much of it owned by Washington’s Nature Conservancy. Hikers make the most of these surroundings by getting out of the car and hoofing it up the hills for spectacular panoramas of the river and the various bridges that span it.
From Ellensburg, both Interstate 90 and Highway 10 cut scenic routes to Roslyn, the stand-in for the town of Cicely, Alaska, in the television series Northern Exposure. Despite the claim to fame, the town retains the quirky charm that drew the show’s producers in the first place. Iconic sites such as the radio station remain, as do many of the locals who appeared in the award-winning program.
An hour northwest of Roslyn on I-90 lies Snoqualmie, which served as the setting for the David Lynch television series Twin Peaks. Devoted fans of the show continue to make pilgrimages to the area to see the eerie, misty hometown of the show’s mysteriously murdered protagonist, Laura Palmer. Known for scene-stealing appearances in both shows, nearby Snoqualmie Falls tumbles 270 feet, creating a majestic curtain of spray that could prove the perfect setting for your own docudrama, featuring the evocative Washington landscape.
> EAT YELLOW CHURCH CAFÉ
This church-turned chow hall has a zealous following of folks who swear by the fare, from a steak-and-mashed potato “last supper” to the “heavenly loaf” (garlic and cheese bread). Portions run big, so bring your hungry— for they shall be fed. www.yellowchurchcafe.com
> SEE ELLENSBURG RODEO
Every Labor Day weekend, four days of hoofed frenzy overtakes Ellensburg as more than 500 participants take part in one of the country’s premier rodeo events. But it’s not just about the bulls
and broncos: a parade and the Kittitas County Fair are also part of the show. www.ellensburgrodeo.com
> PLAY RED’S FLY SHOP, ELLENSBURG
One of the best ways to get big enjoyment out of this short drive is to pull over and hook up with a guide at this roadside outfitter. From equipment to advice, these guys know all the angles, and can help you locate success out on the water. www.redsflyshop.com