Each year the Eaton cattle drive shuts down highway 821 between Ellensburg and Yakima. Cowboys and cowgirls come from all over the state to help the Eaton’s move their herd back to the family’s Mount Baldy Ranch in central Washington. It’s a tradition that has been going on for more than 60 years.
This year, in an effort to keep grazing on land near the Yakima River Canyon, the Eaton’s teamed up with other ranching families. The Akehurst and Stingley family contributed cattle to the Eaton’s herd and together they moved over 100 head.
The drive starts in the foothills above the highway. Cows are moved from the rangeland down to the road, which parallels the river. Black cliffs jot upward from the riverbanks and tall skinny pine trees provide homes for nesting bald eagles.
The drive takes about three hours and after everyone has arrived at the ranch the Eaton’s host a dinner for those who helped out.
“It’s really a way of life for us. It’s something that is just in your soul. You feel more at home horseback than doing anything else,” said Ken Eaton.
Don Akehurst gets ready to put a bridle on his horse before the cattle drive. Shop similar Western Hat styles here.
Cattle move up Burbank Creek road toward highway 821.
Curtis Mecham’s shadow is cast on a trailer early in the morning before the cattle drive.
Cattlemen go after a wandering cow during the cattle drive.
Carly Stingley and her horse during the cattle drive.
Cattlemen stop for some coffee and lunch on their way to Mt. Baldy ranch.
A truck full of hay lures cattle down highway 821 in the Yakima River Canyon.
Sofia Jaramillo is an editorial and commercial photographer, a lover of Latin culture and outdoor adventurer. Her work focuses on agriculture and ranching. When she’s not working on photos, you’ll find her exploring in the Tetons. She recently relocated from central Washington to Jackson, Wyoming. After growing up in the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho, she couldn’t be happier about moving back to the mountain west.