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The region has a single interstate, though it has two different numbers. I-90 links Seattle to Cle Elum and Ellensburg before heading east toward Spokane. I-82 branches south off I-90 just east of Ellensburg, and runs through the Yakima Valley to the so-called Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick). U.S. 97 is the primary link from Ellensburg north (Wenatchee, Canada's Okanagan Valley) and from Yakima south toward central Oregon.
From just north of Yakima, Highway 410 passes Mt. Rainer on the north, connecting with Highway 164 and I-5 south of Seattle; U.S. 12 passes Mt. Rainer on the south. Both routes offer spectacular alpine scenery but occasionally hazardous driving conditions. A major section of Highway 410 is closed by winter snow.
If you're touring wineries, be sure to stop at the Yakima Valley Visitor Information Center (Exit 34 off I-82) to pick up a wine-tour brochure and map of more than 30 wineries. Most are within a few miles of the freeway and there are directional signs.
The Yakima Valley Highway is a reliable, off-the-beaten-track alternative to I-82 for wine-country visits; but it can be slow, especially through towns, or if farm machinery is on the road. Because of unmarked turns and other potential hazards, it's wise to stick to the freeway after dark. Gas stations in towns, and at major freeway intersections, are typically open well after dark.
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