Scenic Drives

The most scenic drive near Yakima is to the south on State Route 821, also known as Canyon Road.

State Route 821, also known as Canyon Road, is a state highway in Washington. It runs from an intersection with Interstate 82 north of Selah to another junction with I-82 south of Ellensburg. The total length of SR 821 is 25.2 miles (40.6 km).

State Route 821 begins at exit 26 on I-82 near Selah. Exit 26 is the Harrison Road/Firing Center Road exit. It then heads north along Canyon Road, passing the unincorporated community of Pomona and the substance abuse treatment center at the Sundown M Ranch. Also it bypasses abandoned short twin tunnel segments that the road once passed through, and continues by following the curves of the Yakima River through the Ellensburg Canyon. Behind Roza Dam at the southern end is a reservoir that is used for boating through use of the boat ramp at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Roza Access Area recreation site. The route through the canyon is scenic and mostly uninhabited. To the east in the area between 821 and I-82 are some ranches who have access roads off 821. Near the mid-point of the canyon is Riverview Campground, home of Red's Fly Shop which caters to the thriving tourist trade of recreationist that enjoy the canyon for floating, boating, fishing, etc. A footbridge further North provides access to the BLM managed Umtanum Recreation Area. At the north end of the canyon at Thrall Road, Canyon Road continues north, but SR 821 turns right on Thrall Road and runs 0.4-mile (0.64 km) to another junction with I-82 at Exit 3, which is the northern terminus of SR 821. Route 821 can also be reached easily from I-90 via exit 109, the Canyon Road exit. From exit 109 to the Thrall Road intersection with SR 821 is a distance of 3.7 miles (6.0 km) along Canyon Road.

821 shares the canyon with the Yakima Sub Division of BNSF Railroad. 105 acres (0.42 km2) of the Canyon is a preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy of Washington state.

State Route 821 was formerly a section of U.S. Route 97, the major north–south highway in Washington east of the Cascades, and was the only highway between Ellensburg and Yakima. In the 1970's I-82 was constructed east of the canyon over Manastash Ridge, bypassing the old highway through Ellensburg Canyon. When I-82 was opened, US 97 was rerouted to be concurrent with I-82 between Ellensburg and Yakima. The old section of US 97 through the canyon was renumbered as State Route 821.

View a video of the Yakima River Canyon