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Davenport to Ellensburg

  • Distance: 158 miles
  • Routes: SR 28
  • Estimated Driving Time: 3 hours

Tour Overview

The tour runs in an east/west direction at an altitude of about 2,400 feet through the fertile wheatlands and the sagebrush barrens of Big Bend Country, so called because of the sweeping curve made by the Columbia River in the central part of the state. Gradually, the highway loses elevation until it crosses the Columbia; then it climbs by a long but fairly easy grade. Throughout the region large, well-cultivated farms alternate with stretches of uninhabited range; at widely spaced intervals small towns, ganglia of settlement, are strung along the highway.

Big Bend Country, a rugged plateau cut by deep coulees and scarred with patches of scab rock, is treeless except for a few willows, quaking aspens, and cottonwoods, which grow beside the shallow lakes and streams. It can be desolate-looking country, particularly in winter, when storms sweep down from the Canadian plains and drive the snow into smudgy hard-packed drifts across the roads. But it has moments of distinctive beauty. Spring transforms the barrenness for a brief season: wild flowers and grass almost overnight cover the hillsides; serviceberry bushes, rooted precariously in rocky promontories, become swaying towers of white blossoms; lupine and sunflowers make a tapestry of blue and gold. Even the dun-colored sage takes on a livelier hue. In summer, purple shadows of late afternoon lie on the bare brown hills; seas of ripening grain are rippled by vagrant breezes; and the multi-colored walls of rocky canyons glow in sharp contrast to the green water of the river below. Autumn brings goldenrod by the wayside, flocks of whistling blackbirds in stubble fields dotted with pyramids of yellow straw, and wild geese, flying wedges in the cloudless evening sky, honking their way southward. Even in winter there is magnificence in the seemingly limitless expanse of snow-covered hills, and in the flaming sunrises that transform the sky with rippling colors.

Davenport to Ellensburg

Large, well-cultivated farms alternate with stretches of uninhabited range; at widely spaced intervals small towns, ganglia of settlement, are strung along the highway. Travel through large, well-cultivated farms alternating with stretches of uninhabited range and dots of small towns.

This leg of the tour has 15 waypoints and 4 side trip tours

Key Waypoints along Davenport to Ellensburg


This Lincoln County seat, west of Spokane, is wheat country. Precipitation is light, but bountiful crops are the rule, for... Visit


Settled in 1886 by German immigrants who came from Russia, this is a wheat town; as of 1941, it shipped... Visit


This is another town to which the Columbia Basin irrigation development contributed new life, where previously farmers and ranchers struggled... Visit

Side trips along Davenport to Ellensburg


Take an 8-mile loop through this 1871-founded wheat town that burned down twice in the early 1900s.

Wilson Creek

Take this short 2.3-mile, 5-minute loop to see state- and national-register-listed Wilson Creek Citizens Bank, built in 1906 and now a museum and town hall.


This junction point of the Great Northern Railroad and the Central Washington branch of the Northern Pacific marks the northern reaches of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. This loop covers eight miles, and takes about 10 minutes, bringing you back...

This tour has 1 leg, 15 waypoints, 4 side trips, and covers 158 miles.