As the cool Ellensburg breeze sweeps across your face, you watch the trees sway back and forth and listen to the frenzy of birds chirping above you. Breathing in the fresh air, you exhale a large sigh and look at the beauty before your eyes — Olmstead Place Historical State Park.
Although not the typical image of a Washington state park, Olmstead Place is a great getaway from the realities of day-to-day life and the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon picnic in nature.
At First Glance
Built in the late 1800s, this park was once a three-generation owned dairy farm, positioned about 10 minutes away from Ellensburg. Olmstead is broken up into two main areas, the welcome center and the historical farm about half a mile down the road.
When you first arrive, you will see a large sign welcoming you to a large grassy abyss, filled with a multitude of trees and flowers basking in the sun. You will also see your first signs of history with the bright, cleverly positioned farming equipment lining the entrance.
Though, this is only a small portion of the historical farming instruments you will see on your visit. As you make your way down to the farm, make sure to roll down your windows and listen to the breeze push its way through the surrounding fields.
Arriving at the Farm
As you get closer you will see a large red barn with its unique quilt pattern on display, as well as a walking path toward a tiny red house in the distance. Once you step outside, you will begin to hear the sound of bushes rustling with scurrying feet and feel the warmth of the sun basking through the covering of trees.
To your right is the original Olmstead family home, centered between a bushel of different types of purple, white and pink flowers. Because it is spring, everything from the grass to the assortment of plant life growing along the paths is bright green and in full growth.
While walking on the short trail, prior to arriving at the house you will pass the Olmstead Cabin which was once used as a fort during the Nez Perce Indian War of 1878.
As you continue along the path you will begin to notice the vast number of picnic tables available for visitors. Whether you are a student needing a study break, or a family wanting a quiet afternoon to spend outside, this area is the perfect location to rest.
The Olmstead Legacy
Looking out upon the house, past the picnic tables is a well-loved trellis that leads to the main area of the historical landmark — the Olmstead family home. Like the other structures, the home is a bright brick red, surrounded by lush trees and bushes.
Birds continually land and jump from the roof, chirping at others to signal the visitors. Surrounding the house are smaller paths that all lead to the large billowing barn. Although slightly ominous with the surrounding clouds, this barn stands tall and represents the immense history of the farm.
This particular barn was built for and used to store hay after the Olmsteads made the transition from beef to dairy farming. The surrounding hardware were all used during the time of technological advancements in transitioning to a new type of farming.
As you head back through the trees to the house, you will pass a large archway with benches lining the sides for visitors who want to see both the house and the barn in the same view. From this spot you can also see the large clouds painted across the blue sky, just through a little opening in the trees.
The Olmstead Place State Park is a hidden treasure nestled in the heart of the Central Washington farm country. If you are looking for a quiet reading spot or a place to have a yummy picnic dinner at sunset, this should be your next destination.