The time-honored tradition of the Eaton-Stingley cattle drive returned to the Yakima River Canyon this past weekend. For the past 74 years, members of the Eaton family and others have herded their cattle down the 6-mile trek from near Roza Recreation Site to Eaton Ranch in Kittitas County. This year, the Stingley family out of Ellensburg took the reins of the annual event.

The cattle drive attracted a crowd of eager spectators, and paused traffic between Yakima and Ellensburg midday Saturday. Spectators and photographers spilled from the side of the road up into the hills, while the Stingley family worked quickly to correct any animals that started to stray as they herded the cattle.

Marty Stingley said her family has been helping with the drive for several years, and their Black Angus cattle weren’t sure what to make of the trip when they first joined. Now, they know the routine. Navigating the herd through the canyon requires teamwork, with Marty and her sons Rustin and Ryan and others helping to herd about 250 head of cattle.

The Black Angus made up the bulk of the herd, while Brown and white Hereford cattle belonging to the Eatons were also peppered throughout. Aaron Stingley drove the herd forward, while Carly and Michele Stingley brought up the rear. Several others on horseback were ranch employees and family friends. Even the youngest Stingleys, Raya and Riley, wore leather riding gear and brightly colored cowgirl hats and waved to the families from their perch on horseback or the top of the truck.

The cattle drive even caught some unsuspecting motorists and pedestrians by surprise, including bicyclists Phyll Eier and Kyle Anderson, who paused their ride through the canyon to let the herd pass. Shelly Edwards and her neighbors also made it a “neighborhood thing” to come see the cattle drive, holding cameras or warm beverages to heat their hands.

The Eaton-Stingley cattle drive is a unique and exciting event that brings together an unlikely combination of animals and humans. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Eaton and Stingley families, and one that will be remembered for years to come.