Search

Search for a tour by category:

Search site:

Sunnyside Canal

The tour follows the curve of the river, lined with balsam and cottonwood trees. Sagebrush struggles for existence above the irrigation ditches. Beyond are farms, orchards, and prairies hedged about by blue-brown hills.

Irrigation in the Yakima Valley is entirely independent of the rainfall. Water is controlled by a simple gate and delivered by canal to the highest points on farms, whence it flows to the furrowed fields. Alfalfa and pear were abundant crops here, along with strawberries, asparagus, potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables that thrived under irrigation. A profitable adjunct to the larger alfalfa fields was the dairying industry, and the blooms of the orchards and alfalfa fields supplied hundreds of apiaries. Today, vineyards dominate the landscape, with small windmills powering water pumps.

An irrigation canal intake, a dam across the Yakima River, is part of the Sunnyside Canal, which runs nearly 80 miles south to Prosser. It is filled with water from March to September. A small, well-landscaped park overlooks this diversion point.