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Yakima, Washington
City of Yakima
Yakima as viewed from Lookout Point
Yakima as viewed from Lookout Point
Official seal of Yakima, Washington
The Palm Springs of Washington; The Heart of Central Washington
Location of Yakima in Yakima County
Location of Yakima in Yakima County
Yakima, Washington is located in the United States
Yakima, Washington
Yakima, Washington
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Washington
County Yakima
Incorporated December 10, 1883
 • Type Council–manager
 • Body City council
 • City 28.27 sq mi (73.21 km2)
 • Land 27.81 sq mi (72.02 km2)
 • Water 0.46 sq mi (1.19 km2)  1.84%
1,066 ft (325 m)
 • City 96,968
 • Rank US: 347th
WA: 11th
 • Density 3,487/sq mi (1,346.4/km2)
 • Urban
129,534 (US: 248th)
 • Metro
256,728 (US: 191th)
Demonym(s) Yakimanian
Time zone UTC−8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP Code
98901–98904, 98907–98909
Area code(s) 509
FIPS code 53-80010
GNIS feature ID 1509643

Yakima is a city in and the county seat of Yakima County, Washington, and the state's 11th-largest city by population. As of the 2020 census, the city had a total population of 96,968 and a metropolitan population of 256,728. The unincorporated suburban areas of West Valley and Terrace Heights are considered a part of greater Yakima.

Yakima is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of Mount Rainier in Washington. It is situated in the Yakima Valley, a productive agricultural region noted for apple, wine, and hop production. As of 2011, the Yakima Valley produces 77% of all hops grown in the United States. The name Yakima originates from the Yakama Nation Native American tribe, whose reservation is located south of the city.


The Yakama people were the first known inhabitants of the Yakima Valley. In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition came to the area and discovered abundant wildlife and rich soil, prompting the settlement of homesteaders. A Catholic Mission was established in Ahtanum, southwest of present-day Yakima, in 1847. The arrival of settlers and their conflicts with the natives resulted in the Yakima War. The U.S. Army established Fort Simcoe in 1856 near present-day White Swan as a response to the uprising. The Yakamas were defeated and forced to relocate to the Yakama Indian Reservation.

Yakima County was created in 1865. When bypassed by the Northern Pacific Railroad in December 1884, over 100 buildings were moved with rollers and horse teams to the nearby site of the depot. The new city was dubbed North Yakima and was officially incorporated and named the county seat on January 27, 1886. The name was changed to Yakima in 1918. Union Gap was the new name given to the original site of Yakima.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 27.69 square miles (71.72 km2), of which, 27.18 square miles (70.40 km2) is land and 0.51 square miles (1.32 km2) is water. Yakima is 1095 feet above mean sea level.

Yakima region

Yakima, Washington as seen from the west.

The city of Yakima is located in the Upper Valley of Yakima County. The county is geographically divided by Ahtanum Ridge and Rattlesnake Ridge into two regions: the Upper (northern) and Lower (southern) valleys. Yakima is located in the more urbanized Upper Valley, and is the central city of the Yakima Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The cities of Selah and Union Gap lie immediately to the north and south of Yakima. In addition, the unincorporated suburban areas of West Valley and Terrace Heights are considered a part of greater Yakima. With these cities included in the immediate area, population within 20 miles of the city is over 123,000. Other nearby cities include Moxee, Tieton, Cowiche, Wiley City, Tampico, Gleed, and Naches in the Upper Valley, as well as Wapato, Toppenish, Zillah, Harrah, White Swan, Parker, Buena, Outlook, Granger, Mabton, Sunnyside, and Grandview in the Lower Valley. As of the 2013, the estimated population of the metropolitan area is 247,044.

Bodies of water

The primary irrigation source for the Yakima Valley, the Yakima River, runs through Yakima from its source at Lake Keechelus in the Cascade Range to the Columbia River at Richland. In Yakima, the river is used for both fishing and recreation. A 10-mile (16 km) walking and cycling trail, a park, and a wildlife sanctuary are located at the river's edge.

The Naches River forms the northern border of the city. Several small lakes flank the northern edge of the city, including Myron Lake, Lake Aspen, Bergland Lake (private) and Rotary Lake (also known as Freeway Lake). These lakes are popular with fishermen and swimmers during the summer.


Yakima has a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk) with a Mediterranean precipitation pattern. Winters are cold, with December the coolest month, with a mean temperature of 28.5 °F (−1.9 °C). Annual average snowfall is 21.7 inches or 0.55 metres, with most occurring in December and January, when the snow depth averages 2 to 3 inches or 0.051 to 0.076 metres. There are 22 afternoons per year in which the high does not surpass freezing, and 2.3 mornings where the low is 0 °F (−17.8 °C) or lower. Springtime warming is very gradual, with the average last freeze of the season May 13. Summer days are hot, but the diurnal temperature variation is large, exceeding 35 °F (19.4 °C), sometimes reaching as high as 50 °F (27.8 °C) during that season; there are 34 afternoons of 90 °F (32.2 °C)+ highs annually and 3.2 afternoons of 100 °F (37.8 °C)+ highs. Autumn cooling is very rapid, with the average first freeze of the season occurring on September 30. Due to the city's location in a rain shadow, precipitation, at an average of 8.22 inches or 209 millimetres annually, is low year-round, but especially during summer. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −25 °F (−31.7 °C) on February 1, 1950, to 110 °F (43.3 °C) on August 10, 1971.

Climate data for Yakima, Washington (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 68
Average high °F (°C) 38.6
Average low °F (°C) 23.3
Record low °F (°C) −21
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.13
Snowfall inches (cm) 5.5
Avg. precipitation days 9.5 7.5 6.4 5.8 6.2 5.2 2.4 2.3 3.2 4.7 8.6 10.1 71.9
Avg. snowy days 4.3 2.2 .7 .1 0 0 0 0 0 .1 1.7 6.2 15.3
Source: NOAA (extremes 1946–present)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,535
1900 3,154 105.5%
1910 14,082 346.5%
1920 18,539 31.7%
1930 22,101 19.2%
1940 27,221 23.2%
1950 38,486 41.4%
1960 43,284 12.5%
1970 45,588 5.3%
1980 49,826 9.3%
1990 54,827 10.0%
2000 71,845 31.0%
2010 91,067 26.8%
2020 96,968 6.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 91,067 people with 33,074 households, and 21,411 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,350.5 people per square mile. There were 34,829 housing units at an average density of 1,281.4 per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 67.1% Caucasian, 1.7% African American, 2.0% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 23.3% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. 41.3% were Hispanic or Latino, of any race. 19.1% of the population had a bachelor's degree or higher.

There were 33,074 households, of which 33.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.3% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.3.

28.3% of the population was under the age of 18 and 13.1% were 65 years or older. The median age was 33.9 years. 50.7% of the population was female.

The median household income was $39,706. The per capita income was $20,771. 21.3% of the population were below the poverty line.


Cultural activities and events take place throughout the year. The Yakima Valley Museum houses exhibits related to the region’s natural and cultural history, a restored soda fountain, and periodic special exhibitions. Downtown Yakima’s historic Capitol Theatre and Seasons Performance Hall, as well as the West-side’s Allied Arts Center, present numerous musical and stage productions. Larson Gallery housed at Yakima Valley Community College present six diverse art exhibitions each year. The city is home to the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. The Yakima Area Arboretum is a botanical garden featuring species of both native and adapted non-native plants. Popular music tours, trade shows, and other large events are hosted at the Yakima SunDome in State Fair Park.

All-America City Award

In 1994 and 2015, the City of Yakima received the All-America City Award, given by the National Civic League. Ten U.S. cities receive this award per year.

Festivals and fairs

  • Central Washington State Fair, held each year in late September at State Fair Park.
  • Yakima Folklife Festival, held the second week of July at Franklin Park.
  • Fresh Hop Ale Festival, held each October in Downtown Yakima.
  • A Case of the Blues and All That Jazz, held in August in Sarg Hubbard Park.


The Sun Dome was home to the Warriors and Sun Kings.
  • The Yakima Mavericks are a Minor League football team in the Pacific Football League and plays at Marquette Stadium.
  • The Yakima Beetles American Legion baseball team, 3-time World Champions.
  • The Yakima Valley Pippins are a collegiate wood bat baseball team that play in the West Coast League.
Former professional teams
  • The Yakima Valley Warriors were an indoor football team. Play ended 2010
  • The Yakima Sun Kings was a Continental Basketball Association franchise that won 5 CBA championships and disbanded in 2008.
  • The Yakima Bears minor league baseball team, moved to Oregon after the 2011 season.
  • The Yakima Reds American soccer team played in the USL Premier Development League disbanded in 2010.


Roads and highways

Yakima Welcome Sign
Welcome sign on I-82

Interstate 82 is the main freeway through the Yakima Valley, connecting the region to Ellensburg and the Tri-Cities, with onward connections to Seattle and Oregon. U.S. Route 12 crosses northern Yakima, joining I-82 and U.S. Route 97 along the east side of the city. State Route 24 terminates in Yakima and is the primary means of reaching Moxee City and agricultural areas to the east. State Route 821 terminates in northern Yakima and traverses the Yakima River canyon, providing an alternate route to Ellensburg that bypasses the I-82 summit at Manastash Ridge.

Public transport

City-owned Yakima Transit serves Yakima, Selah, West Valley and Terrace Heights, as well as several daily trips to Ellensburg. There are also free intercity bus systems between adjacent Union Gap and nearby Toppenish, Wapato, White Swan, and Ellensburg.


Yakima is served by the Yakima Air Terminal, a municipal airport located on the southern edge of the city and is used for general aviation and commercial air service. The FAA identifier is YKM. It has two asphalt runways: 9/27 is 7,604 by 150 feet (2,318 x 46 m) and 4/22 is 3,835 by 150 feet (1,169 x 46 m). Yakima Air Terminal is owned and operated by the city.

Yakima is served by one scheduled air carrier (Alaska Airlines) and two non-scheduled carriers (Sun Country Airlines and Xtra Airways). Alaska Airlines provides multiple daily flights to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Sun Country Airlines provide charter flights to Laughlin, NV and Xtra Airways provide charter flights to Wendover, NV. During World War II the airfield was used by the United States Army Air Forces.

The airport at is home to numerous private aircraft, and is a test site for military jets and Boeing test flights.


In the early 2000s, the city of Yakima, in conjunction with multiple city organizations, began revitalization and preservation efforts in its historic downtown area. The Downtown Yakima Futures Initiative was created to make strategic public investments in sidewalks, lighting and landscaping to encourage further development. As a result, local businesses featuring regional produce, wines, and beers, among other products, have returned to the downtown area. Many of these business are located on Front Street, Yakima Avenue and 1st Street.

During the summer, a pair of historic trolleys operate along five miles (8 km) of track of the former Yakima Valley Transportation Company through the Yakima Gap connecting Yakima and Selah. The Yakima Valley Trolleys organization, incorporated in 2001, operates the trolleys and a museum for the City of Yakima.

Sister cities

Yakima's sister cities are:


Yakima's growth in the 20th century was fueled primarily by agriculture. The Yakima Valley produces many fruit crops, including apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and melons. Many vegetables are also produced, including peppers, corn and beans. Most of the nation's hops, a key ingredient in the production of beer, are also grown in the Yakima Valley. Many of the city's residents have come to the valley out of economic necessity and to participate in the picking, processing, marketing and support services for the agricultural economy.

Largest employers in the Yakima area
Employer Industry Employee count
1. Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital Hospital 2,200
2. Yakima School District School district
3. Walmart Department store 1,587
4. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services State government
(Social services)
5. Yakima County County government 1,213
6. Del Monte Foods Fruit processing 1,200
7. Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic Hospital 1,181
8. Yakima Training Center United States Army
9. AB Foods Beef processing 850
10. Yakima Valley College Education 761
11. City of Yakima City government 711
12. Yakama Legends Casino Casino 634
13. Washington State Department of Transportation State government 555
14. Tree Top, Inc. Fruit processing 540

Downtown Yakima, long the retail hub of the region, has undergone many changes since the late 1990s. Three major department stores, and an entire shopping mall that is now closed, have been replaced by a Whirlpool Corporation facility (shut down in 2011), an Adaptis call center, and several hotels. The region's retail core has shifted to the town of Union Gap to a renovated shopping mall and other new retail businesses. The Downtown Futures Initiative promotes the downtown area as a center for events, services, entertainment, and small, personal shopping experiences. The DFI has provided for street-to-storefront remodeling along Yakima Avenue throughout the entire downtown core, and includes new pedestrian-friendly lighting, water fountains, planters, banner poles, new trees and hanging baskets, and paver-inlaid sidewalks.

Events held downtown include Yakima Downtown New Year's Eve, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, Yakima Live music festival, Yakima Summer Kickoff Party, Fresh Hop Ale Fest, a weekly Farmers' Market, and the Hot Shots 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.

Over fifty wineries are in the Yakima Valley.

The Yakima Training Center, between Yakima and Ellensburg, is a United States Army training center. It is used primarily for maneuver training and land warrior system testing, and has a live-fire area. Artillery units from the Canadian Armed Forces based in British Columbia, as well as the Japan Ground Self Defense Force, conduct annual training in Yakima. Japanese soldiers train there because it allows for large-scale live-fire maneuvers not available in Japan. Similarly, it is the closest impact area for the Canadian Gunners, the next closest being in Wainwright, Alberta.


The city of Yakima has three K–12 public school districts, several private schools, and three post-secondary schools.

High schools

Public schools

There are four high schools in the Yakima School District:

  • Davis High School, a 4A high school with about 2,100 students
  • Eisenhower High School, a 4A high school with about 2,300 students
  • Stanton Academy
  • Yakima Online High School

Outside the city:

  • West Valley High School, in the West Valley School District, is a division 4A school with a student population of around 1,500.
  • East Valley High School, just east of Terrace Heights on the city's eastern side, is in the East Valley School District. It is a 2A school with about 1,000 students.

Private schools

  • La Salle High School in Union Gap is a Catholic high school in the 1A division and enrolls about 200 students.
  • Riverside Christian School, near East Valley High School, is a private K–12 Christian school. Riverside Christian is a 1B school with around 400 students in grades K–12.

Post-secondary schools

Yakima Valley College (YVC) is one of the oldest community colleges in the state of Washington. Founded in 1928, YVC is a public, four-year institution of higher education, and part of one of the most comprehensive community college systems in the nation. It offers programs in adult basic education, English as a Second Language, lower-division arts and sciences, professional and technical education, transfer degrees to in-state universities, and community services.

Perry Technical Institute is a private, nonprofit school of higher learning located in the city since 1939. Perry students learn trades such as automotive technology, instrumentation, information technology, HVAC, electrical, machining, office administration, medical coding, and legal assistant/paralegal.

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences opened in the fall of 2008, and graduated its first class of osteopathic physicians (D.O.) in 2012. The first college on the 42.5-acre (172,000 m2) campus is home to the first medical school approved in the Pacific Northwest in over 60 years, and trains physicians with an osteopathic emphasis. The school's mission is to train primary-care physicians committed to serving rural and underserved communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. It is housed in a state-of-the-art 45,000 sq ft (4,200 m2) facility.

Notable people

  • Oleta Adams, singer
  • Jamie Allen, Major League Baseball player
  • Colleen Atwood, Academy Award-winning costume designer
  • Mario Batali, celebrity chef
  • Wanda E. Brunstetter, author
  • Bryan Caraway, mixed martial artist
  • Raymond Carver, author, poet and screenwriter
  • William Charbonneau, founder of Tree Top Apple Juice
  • Beverly Cleary, author
  • Harlond Clift, Major League Baseball player
  • Cary Conklin, NFL football player
  • Alex Deccio, Politician. Former member of Washington House of Representatives and Washington State Senate.
  • Garret Dillahunt, actor
  • Dan Doornink, NFL football player
  • William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice
  • Dave Edler, Major League Baseball player, Yakima Mayor
  • Mary Jo Estep, teacher, last survivor of the Battle of Kelley Creek
  • Gabriel E. Gomez, politician and former Navy SEAL
  • Kathryn Gustafson, artist
  • Gordon Haines, NASCAR driver
  • Scott Hatteberg, Major League Baseball player
  • Joe Hipp, professional boxer
  • Al Hoptowit, NFL football player
  • Damon Huard, NFL football player
  • Robert Ivers, actor
  • Harry Jefferson, NASCAR driver
  • Marshall Kent, professional ten-pin bowler
  • Sam Kinison, actor and comedian
  • Larry Knechtel, Grammy Award-winning musician
  • Cooper Kupp, NFL football player
  • Craig Kupp, NFL football player
  • Jake Kupp, NFL football player
  • Mark Labberton, seminary president
  • Donald A. Larson, World War II flying ace
  • Robert Lucas, Jr., Nobel prize-winning economist
  • Paige Mackenzie, professional golfer
  • Josh Pearce, Major League Baseball Player
  • Kyle MacLachlan, film and television actor
  • Debbie Macomber, author
  • Phil Mahre, Olympic gold medalist and world champion skier
  • Steve Mahre, Olympic silver medalist and world champion skier
  • Barbara La Marr, actress and writer
  • Mitch Meluskey, Major League Baseball player
  • Colleen Miller, actress
  • Don Mosebar, NFL football player
  • James "Jimmy" Nolan, Jr., former host of Uncle Jimmy's Clubhouse
  • Arvo Ojala, actor and artist
  • Joe Parsons, snowmobiler
  • Floyd Paxton, inventor of the Kwik Lok bread clip
  • Steve Pelluer, NFL football player
  • Jim Pomeroy, professional motocross racer and member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame
  • Gary Puckett, singer, 1960s pop artist of Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
  • Pete Rademacher, Olympic and professional boxer
  • Monte Rawlins, actor
  • Jim Rohn, entrepreneur
  • Will Sampson, actor and artist
  • Kurt Schulz, NFL football player
  • Mel Stottlemyre, Major League Baseball player and coach
  • Mel Stottlemyre, Jr., Major League Baseball player
  • Todd Stottlemyre, Major League Baseball player
  • Thelma Johnson Streat, artist
  • Taylor Stubblefield, football player
  • Miesha Tate, mixed martial artist
  • Willie Turner, sprinter
  • Janet Waldo, actress
  • Bob Wells, baseball player
  • Christopher Wiehl, actor
  • Lis Wiehl, author and legal analyst
  • Jon Westling, 8th president of Boston University
  • Chief Yowlachie, Native American actor
  • Gary Peacock, Jazz double bassist
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