On Friday and Saturday, July 3-4, 2009, we drove the length of Washington State Route 22, down the Lower Yakima Valley. Lots of straight stretches through the farmlands, with a few minor left turns, following the railroad almost the whole way.
State route No. 22:
A state highway to be known as state route number 22 is established as follows:
Beginning at a junction with state route number 82, thence southerly to a junction of state route number 97 in the vicinity of Toppenish; also
From a junction with state route number 97 at Toppenish, thence southeasterly by way of Mabton to a junction with state route number 82 at Prosser.
Heading due south on an overpass over I-82, we begin our journey east on Highway 22. We're going to Toppenish, but that's only a couple miles from here.
Once you cross the Yakima River, you're on the Yakama Indian Reservation. SR 22 then winds through Toppenish. On the south side of town, we come across this odd junction with US 97. The two highways don't actually cross, but instead sort of bounce off each other. East is east and south is south, but north is west and west is north. We stopped for the night at an RV park nearby that is quite wonderful, so long as the wind isn't blowing from the direction of the beef-fat rendering vats a half mile away.
The next morning, off we drove eastward. This road, which follows the railroad that (from what I can tell) goes past both my granddad's farm in Kittitas County and my parents' house in southeast King County, has been a state highway since 1937, when it was Secondary State Highway 3A from Union Gap to Prosser. For some reason, in the 1960s, they changed the north-south stretch through Toppenish from US 97 to SR 22 and the (mostly) east-west stretch from Union Gap to Toppenish to US 97. I think it was because they didn't want big trucks trundling through the turns of downtown Toppenish, but who can tell? . . . In any case, you can get back to the interstate quick if you take SR 223.
On the outskirts of Mabton, we come across the south end of SR 241, which will take you due north to Sunnyside -- not that they bother to mention it on the signs. This junction also marks the eastern end of the Yakama Indian Reservation -- not that they bother to mention it on the signs.
A few more straight stretches and gentle left turns later, Highway 22 turns away from the railroad on the western edge of the city of Prosser, whereupon the highway hugs the hills south of town. Just as the road is curving back north to the river, we find the junction with SR 221, which will take you to Paterson, way down south on the Columbia.
After a right turn to get back on to the old highway (US 12 before the freeway was built, and US 410 before that), SR 22 comes to its end at an overpass above I-82, same as it began.
Highway 22 is a very quiet road, but I guess that's to be expected when it parallels an interstate. The straight stretches aren't very challenging to drive, but at least you can see for miles without any trees!