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Cheap Sleeps and Day Hikes

Posted by Lauren Braden at Apr 25, 2010 03:15 PM |

To many of us hiker types, a "cheap sleep" is our tent. But I've a confession to make. Sometimes after an exhilarating, sweaty hike I want nothing more than a hot shower and a soft bed. You with me?


Last month's Washington Trails magazine included my article on some of my favorite Cheap Sleeps and Day Hikes. You can read it here. For three of the state's great hiking regions (Mount Adams, the Methow Valley and the Olympic rainforest) the article divulges spectacular spring day hike suggestions paired alongside great soft beds nearby. Check it out. In honor of desert hiking season I'm adding a fourth region below: Central Washington.


Where to Hike

Black Canyon L.T. Murray Wildlife Area southwest of Ellensburg. 7 miles RT, 1250 feet gain. Avid birdwatchers probably wish they could keep this special trail all  to themselves for the nesting Western Bluebirds, Yellow-breasted Chats and occasional Lewis' Woodpecker. But the word has gotten out about this stunning canyon, with its hillsides of colorful flowers and black basalt cliffs. For more information on Back Canyon, visit our online hiking guide.

Umtanum Canyon L.T. Murray Wildlife Area south of Ellensburg. 6 miles RT, 700 feet gain. A perennial favorite of mine, the trail into Umtanum canyon starts across a huge suspension bridge over the gently rushing Yakima River and slowly winds its way up along Umtanum Creek. Look up the steep hillsides for possible sightings of Prairie Falcons (they nest here) and bighorn sheep. See our online hiking guide for more.


Whiskey Dick Washington Dept Fish & Wildlife land northeast of Ellensburg. 8 miles RT, 1750 feet gain. If you've never seen the brilliant and fluorescent fuchsia-hued flowers of the hedgehog cactus, this is your next hike. Hit the blooms at the right time and wildflowers carpet the desert floor before you, from the top of the ridge down to the coulee bottom. Blooms to spot include balsamroot, phlox, lupine, daisies and rock penstamon. See our online hiking guide for details.


Where to Sleep

Ellensburg makes a great base for exploring these three desert trails. You'll get the most warm hospitality for your money at the quaint Wren's Nest Bed and Breakfast, a 1912 beautiful craftsman home right in the heart of town. Marcia's gourmet breakfasts are legendary and bring visitors back again and again. Rates are $95 - $110 nightly, no kids under 14 and no pets. Contact: or 509.925.9061.

For the more adventurous, choose yourself a uniquely-themed room at the Inn at Goose Creek in Ellensburg. Rates are $89 - $129 nightly and your stay includes a continental breakfast. No pets, but children are welcome. Contact: or 509.962.8030.

Near Yakima, check out the Apple Country Bed and Breakfast on the Old Naches Hwy. During harvest season, your delicious breakfast is likely to include a special treat made with one of the several varieties of apples grown on the property. Rates are $79 - $95. Contact: or 509.972.3409.

Orchard Inn B&B

Looking for a kid-friendly B&B? Head to Orchard Inn B&B set in a charming cherry orchard in Yakima, in full bloom right now. Your fabulous breakfast is served in a sunny room overlooking the orchard--enjoy dishes like baked French toast stuffed with apricots from a tree right outside your window. Rates are $109 - $129. Contact: or 509.966.1283.

Lauren is WTA’s communications director. She can also be found sharing her lodging and local travel recommendations at Northwest TripFinder, a blog about great places to stay throughout the Northwest.