Kittitas County is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities like fishing, hiking and a lesser known gem — Washington state’s first barn quilt trail.
The Kittitas County Barn Quilt Trail features more than 100 painted quilt squares up on barns from Roslyn to Ellensburg. While social distancing is in place, this is a great way to enjoy a day drive and a scavenger hunt activity. How many barn quilts can you find? The trail is self-guided, so you can map out your own journey. Soak in the beauty of Kittitas County!
All About Barn Quilts
Kittitas County is the first county in the state to have a barn quilt tour. The barn quilts honor Kittitas County’s agricultural industry. The designs vary, and sometimes the property owner chooses a specific pattern to acknowledge a loved one or the property’s history. The quilts are either 4-by-4 or 8-by-8 feet depending on the barn size and proximity to the road.
For locations to be considered for barn quilts, they have to be on a well-traveled (usually paved) road, so they can be easily viewed from the roadway. This means you should be able to drive by the barns slowly, or view them from the side of the road without having to get up close to the property or other people.
Some of these barn quilts are also located at or near local businesses that you can support.
Print a map from your home, or pull up the current map on your phone and get to exploring! The Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce plans to release a new online map in May. Physical maps are available at the visitor centers when they reopen.
The First Barn Quilt
Ellensburg business, Dusty’s Nursery, is the site of the first barn quilt on the trail.
The business is located on historic Dominion Farm, and the barn was built in 1901. It has been a nursery and garden center since 1993. The barn features a star block quilt pattern in patriotic colors.
Owner Sharon Brunson said she designed the quilt with a patriotic theme because her husband’s family came to the United States a couple of years after the Mayflower, and his family fought in all of the wars the U.S. was in, except for in recent years. The BB on the barn is the Brunson family’s brand, though they no longer run sheep or cattle in the valley.
The nursery is located just a few minutes from downtown Ellensburg, and has remained open during COVID-19 with delivery and curbside pickup. They specialize in irrigation systems, landscaping and plants. From vines and grasses to annuals and vegetable starts, Dusty’s Nursery has options that will make anyone with a green thumb smile.
They also sell unique gifts like food, scarves, candles, jewelry and garden art, which are all great ideas for Mother’s Day gifts. Dusty’s Nursery asks that people who visit in person wear a face mask, respect social distancing and leave the kids or pets at home. They offer complimentary gift wrapping and will act as a personal shopper over video chat. They are willing to ship items too.
Ellensburg Barn Quilts
There are several barn quilts located right in downtown Ellensburg. One is located on the back of the Clymer Museum building. The museum is currently closed to the public but you can window shop for gifts and get curbside pickup on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Kittitas County Historical Museum also has a barn quilt, featuring a grandmother’s nine-patch pattern.
Located eight miles south of Ellensburg, a drive to Ellensburg Canyon Winery provides a picturesque view as it’s located just off Canyon Road at the entrance to the Yakima River Canyon. Owners Gary and Susan Cox chose a grape vine quilt block to commemorate the five acres of grape vineyards planted in 1998.
The winery’s tasting room has been closed due to the state order, but the winery can sell bottles or cases of wine to those over 21. They require you to call ahead before coming if you’re planning to order wine, so they can be available to assist you. They are also shipping cases, so you can send wine to your friends.
Thorp Barn Quilts
The Thorp Grist Mill was built between 1880 and 1883, and the mill produced flour and livestock feed for the families of the Kittitas valley until 1946. Water powered turbines ran the mill. It has been restored and maintained so visitors can get a sight of the history dating back to early days of settlement. Like most places, the mill is temporarily closed to the public, but you can still view the mill stone patterned barn quilt on its exterior or check out photos and a detailed history online.
While stopping in Thorp, visit the Thorp Fruit Stand to purchase local produce, packaged soups from local soup company Rill Foods, beer and wine, candy, snacks and antiques. Rill Foods sells their soups online if you want to order some for yourself or a friend! There isn’t a barn quilt there yet, but you may find quilts inside the various antique booths. Thorp Fruit Stand is considered essential, and has remained open. Call ahead to check hours, as they vary throughout the year.
Cle Elum Barn Quilts
One of the easiest barn quilts to find in Cle Elum is at the Dalle Farm, which can be viewed from I-90 westbound near Exit 84. The farm is no longer an active business, but back in the day the Dalle family operated an Italian grocery, winery and dairy farm on the property.
Cle Elum’s downtown has several quilts. The Carpenter House, a museum located on Third Street, has a quilt with a carpenter’s wheel pattern, while the Kittitas County Visitor’s Center on First Street features a quilt with a grapes and vine pattern.
The drive to Cle Elum is worth it solely for a visit to the Cle Elum Bakery alone. The bakery has been in operation since 1906 and their original brick oven has never cooled. Their bear claws, craisin walnut cinnamon rolls and made-from-scratch French bread are all worthy choices for a to-go snack, along with a fresh brewed espresso. Another notable destination right across the street is Owens Meats, which offers different types of pepperoni and jerky.
Other easy-to-find barn quilts in the Upper County include the starburst patterned quilt on the Nelson Dairy Farm barn in Suncadia, Roslyn, and the barn quilt at the South Cle Elum Historic Rail Yard.
There are dozens more barn quilts not mentioned here, so I encourage you to check out the full list. You could easily spend a whole day driving around the county, taking pictures of the different barn quilts and learning about the history of the area. It’s a great way to get out of the house, while still maintaining social distancing. Happy exploring!