Olmstead Place Historical State Park
Pull off fast-paced Interstate 90, and step back to a slower time at Olmstead Place Historical State Park near Ellensburg.
In 1875, the pioneering Olmstead family homesteaded the land claim at the site of the current state park. They originally raised beef cattle. The family switched from beef to dairy cows in 1892, producing butter for the Seattle market. Three generations of the family farmed this land over many decades. Donated to State Parks in 1968, Olmstead Place reflects homesteader family life, farming history, with historic equipment, a 1908 hay barn and smaller barns, sheds and coops that date from the late-19th century on into recent times. A tour of the original cottonwood log cabin reveals fascinating historic furniture and artifacts.
Take a stroll through the beautiful heritage gardens, blooming with a profusion of flowers throughout the warm seasons. Meander down the Altapes Interpretive Trail, which lies along Coleman Creek. Check the online calendar for interpretive activities.
Bring the kids and history lovers in your family for a prescheduled tour or just come on your own. Don't forget your picnic basket and camera, or even your easel. With its rustic buildings, country landscapes and colorful blooms, Olmstead Place is an artist's dream.
When you're ready to get back in the car, don't worry; the 21st century will still be out there.
Olmstead Place Historical State Park is a 221-acre day-use park on an original 1875 pioneer homestead only a few miles from Ellensburg.
- Hiking trail
Use our interactive ADA recreation map to search for other state parks with ADA amenities and facilities.
Picnic & day-use facilities
There are 17 unsheltered picnic tables in the park, along with a restroom.
- 1 mile of hiking trails
Water activities & features
- Fishing (freshwater)
Winter activities & features
- Cross-country skiing
Other activities & features
- Heirloom gardens
- Wildlife viewing
This homestead offers free school or group field trips and public tours by advance appointment. Learn the story of the Olmstead-Smith family through an indoor tour that may include the 1875 log cabin, the Smith House museum and/or the hay barn. Outdoor tour/field trip themes can include historic, natural or cultural topics. Highlights include homesteading, gardening and agriculture in the Kittitas Valley; Coleman Creek, ecology and local wildlife/plants; and changes in culture, family and lifestyle between 1875 and the 1960s. Other relevant topics also may be explored.
To schedule a tour or field trip, call the park at (509) 925-1943.
- Fishing season for Coleman Creek is June 1 to October 31.
- A recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at Washington state parks. For regulations, fishing season information, or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Garden weddings or events also can be booked by completing a Special Activities Permit. If you have questions, please call (509) 968-5298.
- Printable park brochure (PDF).
Early in the fall of 1875, the Olmstead family crossed over Snoqualmie Pass on horseback into a wide, sparsely settled valley. Bunch grass reached to the stirrups in places. Passing through the rough beginnings of a town called Ellensburgh (the name was changed to Ellensburg in 1894 ), they settled a few miles to its east. A creek cut through the fields, flowing from nearby hills.
They set to work, carefully constructing a cabin of cottonwood logs hauled from many miles away. After only seven years in this new land, Samuel Olmstead died in January of 1882, but his wife, Sarah, and their three children decided to stay.
The Olmstead family transitioned through the decades from pioneer to contemporary life. With the arrival of the railroad in 1886, farm settlement grew rapidly in the valley. Goods and services became readily available and easily traded. Farm mechanization enhanced output capabilities. The Olmstead family made a successful switch from beef to dairy farming in 1892.
They built a large house and red barn in between 1906 and 1908. Electricity arrived, along with diesel and gas tractors, national markets and world wars.
Sarah Olmstead passed away in 1918 at 76 years old, after raising her children and grandchildren, managing a farm and living a hard life.
Leta May and Clareta Smith, granddaughters of Samuel and Sarah, lived on the homestead most of their lives. They deeded the ranch to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission in 1968. Their gift for generations to come is an authentic historical farm which relates the story of the struggles and dreams of homesteading families hand-in-hand with the growth of agriculture.