National Scenic Byways and Other Recreational Drives


Washington offers beautiful drives, filled with majestic views of nature. Spectacular scenery ranges from dense rain forests to rugged mountain summits, with rolling farmlands and regal forests along the way. The many scenic routes around Washington allow drivers to enjoy great views, fascinating wildlife, and a wide range of outdoor activities.

Bethel Ridge Loop

The Bethel Ridge Loop scenic drive is a popular road trip for visitors who want to get off the beaten path and explore more of the backwoods. The lower portions of the route meander through rolling grass lands and low-elevation oak forests. The Highways are connected by"Bethel Ridge" Road, which climbs and winds over the 5,000 foot ridge through cool pine and fir forests, beautiful meadows and fields of alpine flowers. The loop is approximately 70 miles and takes about 4 to 5 hours, with plenty of stops to sight-see and explore.

Methow Valley

This trip takes you up onto the ridge between the Methow River and Lake Chelan. There are many points which give you a scenic view of the lower Methow Valley and the area to the northeast. The highest point on the road is approximately 5800 feet.

Mt. Baker Scenic Highway

Near the border of British Columbia, Canada, the Mt. Baker Scenic Highway covers over 24 miles of State Road 542 on the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest and offers travelers an opportunity to view scenery ranging from dense rain forests to the rugged timberline of the North Cascades.

Mt. Baker-Snoqalmie National Forest

Overview of three exciting drives in this North Cascades forest.

North Cascades Scenic Highway

Cut through western Washington's alpine high country, this has been called the state's most scenic mountain highway— and that's saying a lot.

Olympic Peninsula

Picturesque Port Townsend overlooks the Strait of Juan De Fuca. Opportunities for enjoying nature run from calm Pacific beaches to the Queets River for those seeking a wilderness experience. We're offering three choices for information on auto touring this area: a quick summary, specifics on touring the Olympic National Forest, or a thorough FalconGuides excerpt.

Mount St. Helens - Spirit Lake Memorial Highway

Mount St. Helens National Monument protects one of the world's youngest and most unique landscapes. View first hand the amazing changes the blast has made to the area by driving this route.

Roadside Lookout Points

Do you like to visit high overlooks and scenic mountain tops? Have you wondered how to find those unique views which are accessed by road? Well, the Wenatchee National Forest Service is also interested in these unique viewing areas and they are called "Fire Lookout Points." Most of these views were identified in the 1920s and 30s when early forest fire fighters set about identifying the best views to watch for fires. Trails were blazed to the overlooks, and fire lookout stations and roads were constructed.

Washington Pass and Okanogan National Forest

This is the highest point on the North Cascades Highway, lying just over a mile above sea level. East and west of the pass are the glacier-carved valleys of Early Winters Creek and State Creek, both of which eventually drain into the Columbia River. Towering above is 7,720 foot Liberty Bell Mountain and the granite fingers of Early Winters Spires. From the overlook you can see some of the other jagged, young peeks for which the North Cascades are famous.

Wenatchee National Forest

Two great tours: the bucolic Chiwawa and a rugged spin through the Leavenworth Ranger District.

More Scenic Washington Drives

Also try the spectacular drives through the Columbia River Gorge and the North Cascades Scenic Highway, or the lush forest drive past the Big Four Ice Caves. Driving through Spirit Lake Memorial Highway lets you view the north side of Mt. St. Helens.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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