According to Countryaah, Benton County, Washington is located in the south central region of the state, just west of Yakima County and east of Klickitat County. It is bordered by Franklin County to the north, Walla Walla County to the northeast, Columbia County to the east, Garfield and Asotin Counties to the southeast, Whitman and Spokane Counties to the south, and Grant County to the west.
Benton County covers an area of 1,760 square miles and has a population of over 210,000 people. The county seat is Prosser while other cities include Kennewick, Richland, West Richland and Benton City. Major highways in Benton County include Interstate 82 which runs through Kennewick from Oregon to Ellensburg; US Highway 12 which runs from Clarkston to Walla Walla; US Highway 395 which runs from Ritzville in Adams County up through Colville in Stevens County; and Washington State Route 240 which runs through Richland.
The main rivers that flow through Benton County are the Columbia River along its western border with Grant Country; the Snake River along its southern border with Whitman and Spokane Counties; and both Yakima River and Pasco River which meet near Prosser before joining with Columbia River.
Benton county is home to several notable attractions such as Hanford Reach National Monument located on the banks of Columbia River; Sacajawea State Park located along Snake River near Pasco; Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve near Richland offering stunning views of southeastern Washington; Bennington Lake located just north of Benton City offering a great spot for fishing or camping; plus several wineries throughout the county offering tours and tastings.
Overall, Benton County offers great outdoor recreation opportunities as well as a variety of cultural attractions – making it an ideal destination for visitors looking for an unforgettable experience.
Demographics of Benton County, Washington
Benton County, Washington is a diverse and vibrant community. According to the 2019 US Census, the population of Benton County is estimated to be around 210,000 people with a median age of 36.5 years old. The racial makeup of the county is 70.3% White, 11.4% Hispanic or Latino, 7.8% Asian, 4.9% African American or Black, 0.7% Native American and Alaskan Native, 0.2% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 5.6% other races or two or more races combined.
In terms of educational attainment, Benton County has a higher than average rate with 87 percent of residents having some form of education beyond high school compared to 81 percent for the state as a whole and 73 percent nationally. In terms of income levels in Benton County, the median household income was $59,941 in 2018 which was slightly higher than both Washington State ($60,294) and the national median household income ($61,937).
The main industries in Benton County are agriculture (including livestock production), manufacturing (including food processing), retail trade (including automotive dealerships), healthcare (hospitals and medical centers) and education (private schools). The unemployment rate in Benton County was 4 percent in 2019 which was lower than both Washington State at 4.3 percent and the national average at 3.7 percent that same year according to US Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2019.
Overall, Benton County offers its residents a diverse population with high levels of educational attainment coupled with low unemployment rates making it an ideal place for people looking to settle down or start a business.
Places of Interest in Benton County, Washington
Benton County, Washington is home to a wide array of places of interest that are sure to delight visitors and locals alike. From the breathtaking natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, to the fascinating cultural attractions around Richland and Prosser, there is something for everyone in Benton County.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area offers a variety of activities including hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking and more. There are also several exciting waterfalls to explore in the area such as Multnomah Falls, Wahclella Falls and Horsetail Falls. Additionally, visitors can take in some of the stunning views from nearby viewpoints like Beacon Rock State Park or Cape Horn Overlook.
In addition to its outdoor activities, Benton County is also home to a variety of cultural attractions. The Hanford Reach Interpretive Center provides an educational look at the history of Hanford Nuclear Reservation and its impact on the region’s ecology and economy. The Richland Community Center is host to local festivals and events throughout the year that celebrate local culture with music, dance and art. Additionally, Prosser has an impressive wine scene with several wineries located in Benton County offering tastings for visitors looking for a unique experience.
Notable People of Benton County, Washington
Benton County, Washington has a long and storied history of notable people who have left their mark on the area. From prominent politicians to celebrated authors and athletes, Benton County has been home to some of the most influential people in Washington State.
One of the most prominent figures from Benton County is former U.S. Senator Henry M. Jackson, who served as a senator for nearly four decades and was the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 1976. Additionally, Governor Booth Gardner served two terms as governor of Washington from 1985 to 1993, and Congressman Doc Hastings represented the Fourth District from 1995 until his retirement in 2015.
The county has also been home to several notable authors, including Ursula K. Le Guin, author of A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness; Sherman Alexie, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; and Betty MacDonald, author of The Egg and I.
Benton County is also well known for its sporting legends such as basketball player John Stockton, who was born in Spokane but grew up in Prosser; baseball player Don Mattingly; football player Steve Emtman; and golfer Ryan Moore. Additionally, Olympic gold medalist John Naber spent much of his childhood growing up in Richland before going on to win four gold medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
These are just a few examples of the many remarkable individuals that have called Benton County home over the years. From political powerhouses to celebrated authors and athletes, there is no doubt that Benton County has had an impressive list of notable people throughout its history.