It has a really neat small-town feel. Think if your grandma put on a marathon, Yakima is what it might be like. Lots of Marathon Maniacs were there, and the organizers (Bob and Lenore Dolphin, in their 80's) make a huge deal of anyone running their first, or 100th, marathon. And Kathrine Switzer was at the race festivities the whole weekend, with her husband, Roger Robinson! It was awesome. (this section is why I give this a "probably" recommendation)
I would absolutely NOT recommend this as a PR or BQ course to anyone. The hill at mile 13 was OK, but the 200+' continuous hill over maybe 1.5 miles starting at mile 22, was a soul-crusher. If this helps at all, my average pace ended up at 7.23 for the entire marathon, but mile 22 was 7.38 and then 23 was 8.45. Also, the camber (tilt) of the road was painful to me from about mile 8 and onward. Finally, there can be wind in the canyon, definitely was some yesterday. (if you are concerned with a PR or BQ, I would say "definitely not!" recommendation)
There are a cluster of hotels in Ellensburg, near the Days Inn. (race HQ) Any of those would probably work, and give you a 10 min walk to the start. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Ellensburg, and it was pretty good. If you stay in Yakima, it requires a 6:00 a.m. race morning bus, which I did not want to do.
By BJ about 2012
The course is beautiful. The scenery is second to none. However, this race, although technically downhill, is terribly hilly. The course follows the water so the roads are windy, crested and have many hills. Just be careful and plan for lots of hills.
I am not sure you know what to expect in late March/ early April. The day I ran it snowed, rained, was sunny. Pacing.. I would recommend a conservative, safe pace until mi 13 and see how you feel.