Living in the Yakima Valley

Yakima, Wash. is situated in Yakima Valley and is located in South Central Washington, 145 miles southeast of Seattle and 190 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon. Yakima has all that you would expect from a larger metropolitan area with its own orchestra, theaters, museum, art scene, and many large-scale annual festivals.

The Yakima Valley is known for its production of forest products, manufacturing aircraft parts and supplies, and machinery used in food product packaging. The area’s main industry is agriculture which flourishes through producing and processing tree fruit, hops, mint, vegetables, livestock, dairy, and wine. The area is often noted for being one of the best apple-producing areas in the world and for producing three-quarters of the nation’s hops. It also is known as one of Washington’s viticultural areas and features some of the region’s most delightful wines, as it sits at the same latitude as the great wine-producing regions of France.


Yakima has been the cultural, business, educational, health services, and governmental focal point of the Central Washington region since it was founded more than 125 years ago. Originally built along the new Northern Pacific Railway company line, Yakima has grown from its agricultural roots to become a vibrant, diverse metropolitan city.

Yakima City was incorporated in 1883, but about a year later, a dispute between landowners and the Northern Pacific Railway Company led the railroad to establish a new town about 4 miles north of the original site. More than 100 buildings were moved by having horses pull them along atop rolling logs. The new town was called North Yakima and was officially incorporated in 1886. The Washington State Legislature officially renamed the city “Yakima” in 1918.

Central Washington and Yakima Valley communities are situated on sacred tribal lands of the Yakama Nation. Tribal people from the Yakama Nation, which is about 6,300 strong, have lived in this area since the beginning of time. Historically, they used the entire land base, from the lowlands around the Columbia River to the snow-peaked Cascade Mountains.

Lands ceded to the federal government during the 1855 Treaty signing included over 12 million acres of land. The reserved portion of the tribal people’s original homeland is where the tribes and bands settled in the Lower Yakima Valley near Toppenish, Wash.


The Yakima Valley is often described as a semi-arid desert. Yakima has four distinct seasons and averages 300 days of sunshine per year. Daytime temperatures in the spring are usually in the 60s and 70s. Summers are dry with temperatures ranging from the mid-80s to mid-90s during the day, although the thermometer can reach above 100 degrees a few times each year. The fall comes with highs between 50 and 60 degrees. Winter temperatures are usually in the 20s and 30s and snow is common. Overall, Yakima’s climate is mild and mostly dry, with the area averaging only about 8 inches of precipitation each year.


The Yakima Valley offers extensive housing options. Residents can find horse ranches, historic homes, downtown condos, resort communities, apartments, and wide-ranging neighborhoods to fulfill their unique needs and aspirations. Yakima County is fortunate to have a relatively stable residential real estate market largely due to the region’s agricultural economy.

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Resources to learn more about Yakima Valley

For information about the economy, population and history, visit some of our resource links below.