Enjoying A Road Trip In Washington State – The North Cascades Loop

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A truly unique vacation is something that most prospective travelers are seeking. This can come from booking travel to a seldom traveled to area of the country, visiting a place that the vacationer has never visited before, or planning a trip around activities or attractions that offer a one of a kind experience. All of these options should be balanced for the whole family though so that no one feels like they are left out of the fun. One of the best ways to have a one of a kind vacation experience is for the vacationer to plan a road trip either to or through a popular area.

With many travelers, road trips are a way of life. They allow for a truly unique vacation experience for a number of reasons. Travelers can move about at their own pace, stop where they want to stop, stop for how long they want to stop, and see whatever it is that they want to see. A road trip brings many vacation opportunities that cannot be enjoyed in any other form of travel.

Washington State is one of the more enjoyable road trip locations in the United States. The state is extremely beautiful and offers the chance to visit fascinating and beautiful natural scenic sights, quaint and interesting small towns, vibrant and lively cities, and access to the waters of both the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound. Washington’s biggest strength by far is the amazing diversity in the terrain and landscape that the traveler comes across there. This allows the visitor traveling the state by road to come away with several different unique vacation experiences. There are a number of popular road trips in Washington, with the most popular being Highway 101 around the Olympic Peninsula and down the coast, the Columbia River Gorge, Interstate 90 and the trip across the state, and the drive through the Yakima Valley. Another of the more famous and most popular road trips in Washington is the North Cascades Loop. Travel through this route with a car rental from Travelocity and Webcouponcodes.com. Use a promotional code for travelocity from webcouponcodes to get discounted car rental rates on travelocity. Other options for car rentals include orbitz, which also offers orbitz promotion codes.

The North Cascades Loop crosses the Cascade Mountains in the upper portion of the state of Washington. It crosses the mountains using two different routes, the northern route over Highway 20 and the North Cascades Pass, as well as the Highway 2 southern route over Stevens Pass. Along the way, vacationers will be teated to beautiful little cities, interesting developed attractions, and of course incredible scenery. The best part of traveling the North Cascades Loop is being able to experience such a wide variety of different places as well as the beautiful communities and other attractions in the area.


The Skagit River Valley

Most people start the North Cascades Loop on the western side of the Cascade Mountains, and do so in a clockwise manner. This takes the traveler north of the Seattle area into the Skagit River Valley. This is one of the richest farmland areas in Western Washington, and the landscape is dotted with farmhouses and old barns. There are a number of great little communities to visit in the area including Burlington, La Conner, Mount Vernon, and Sedro-Woolley. The Skagit River Valley is known for a number of local festivals and celebrations, the most famous of which is the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The communities in the Skagit River Valley are small and welcoming, offering some great shopping opportunities and wonderful eating experiences. Mount Baker, one of Washington State’s many towering peaks, towers over the valley and gives travelers a taste of the scenery that is yet to come as they continue driving the North Cascades Loop.

The North Cascades Highway

Vacationers then leave the lower valley and begin climbing up into the mountains. They will still travel through or near some unique small towns like Concrete, Diablo, Marblemount, Newhalem, and Rockport. Great scenery and sights can be seen both during the climb up into the mountains as well as on the mountain passes themselves. If time allows, a side trip to the historic Diablo Dam is something that is enjoyed by many, as are visits to Ross Lake and Diablo Lake. The route crosses the Cascade Mountains over Washington Pass and Rainy Pass, both in the range of 5,000 feet of elevation. The scenic turnout at the top of the pass provides for one of the most amazing views that can be had anywhere in the entire state. During the summer, rafters can be seen braving the whitewater of the Skagit River. During the winter, bald eagles are a common sight flying high above and the river is very popular with fishermen, both local and from outside the area. There are a number of historic sights to see in this area of the loop, and they accent the many natural sights very well.

The Methow Valley

Coming down from the mountains, visitors will be entering the very beautiful Methow Valley. The Methow Valley is beautiful, but in a completely different way than the west side of the mountains. The two state parks in this region include the higher mountain Pearrygin Lake State Park and the lower altitude Alta Lake State Park, and both are great places to go and experience the great outdoors. The most popular activities in the region include hiking, river rafting, fishing, and cross country skiing. The communities that will be passed through on this leg of the journey include Carlton, Mazama, Pateros, Twisp, and Winthrop. Winthrop is a very popular place to stay overnight at. The city is completely decorated and built with an old west theme. From the wood plank sidewalks to the hitching posts that line the streets, a walk through the town of Winthrop is like a step back in time. The Methow Valley is a very laid back area of the state and there are a number of relaxing places that a vacationer can stop in both briefly or for a longer length of time.

The Columbia River Region

After leaving the Methow Valley, the North Cascades Loop follows the Columbia River south to the city of Wenatchee. Travelers will pass by Wells Dam, one of the many hydroelectric dams on the upper Columbia River, and there is a small park and scenic overlook there. The first thing a visitor will notice about this area is the phenomenal amount of orchards in the area, and apples and pears are grown abundantly there. Chelan is the next community to the south and it sits at the base of beautiful 51 mile long Lake Chelan.

For those visitors who have the time, Chelan is a great little town to take some time to explore. It has a number of small art galleries, antique stores, and locally owned businesses. Chelan is also home to some fun beach areas and plenty of rental companies that offer both regular boats and personal watercraft to the public. A passenger ferry transports visitors up the lake to the small community of Stehekin which is not connected to the outside world by roads. On the south shore of Lake Chelan, Lake Chelan State Park and 25 Mile Creek State Park, sit right on the water. South from Chelan is the small town of Entiat, where a great deal of fruit can be found. Visitors will then pass by Rocky Reach Dam, which offers a great visitors center and museum, and then find the city of Wenatchee. The Wenatchee area is known as the Apple Capital of the World, and the agricultural presence there is unmistakable. Wenatchee is the largest city in the North Central Washington State region and offers great accommodations, shopping, and entertainment. This is another fun place to stop before turning west and getting ready to head back over the mountains.

The Cascade Foothills

Heading west from Wenatchee on U.S. Highway 2 takes visitors through the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains. Here the traveler will find high altitude orchards, great scenic areas, and some interesting small communities. The city of Cashmere is a small town that is home to both a fun downtown area as well as the yearly Chelan County Fair. Other communities in the area include Peshastin, Dryden, and Monitor. The most popular tourist destination on this part of the North Cascades Loop is the city of Leavenworth. Leavenworth is a Bavarian themed village that features great shopping, tasty restaurants, gorgeous scenery, and is located very close to some popular outdoor recreation destinations. Leavenworth is known for its many local celebrations including Ice Fest, Maifest, Octoberfest, Autumn Leaf Festival, and the famous Christ Lighting festivities.

As Highway 2 continues west, travelers are taken through the scenic Tumwater Canyon and up to the small roadside community of Coles Corner. There are picnic areas and campgrounds in this region that are well used by locals as well as those from outside the area. Lake Wenatchee State Park is located just a few short miles north of Coles Corner and offers a number of activities including camping, swimming, boating, hiking, and golf. It sits on the banks of Lake Wenatchee and right at the headwaters of the Wenatchee River. The Cascade Foothills region of the North Cascades Loop offers some wonderful chances for those looking to make use of their camera.

Stevens Pass

Highway 2 rises slowly up towards Stevens Pass to the summit where the Stevens Pass Ski Resort sits. The drive down the west side of the Cascade Mountains is a fast drop and extremely beautiful. Once at the base of the mountain pass, the highway follows the Skykomish River back towards the more heavily populated west side of the mountains. There is more outdoor activity to enjoy in the Stevens Pass region including river rafting, rock climbing, backpacking, hiking, and fishing. The small towns in the area include Gold Bar, Skykomish, and Sultan. The small community of Index sits at the base of impressive Mount Index, an area very popular with backpackers and rock climbers. There are a number of waterfalls and trails that can be accessed along this portion of the highway. The dense forests of the Stevens Pass area attract all sorts of travelers, from those passing through to those heading there to participate in one of the many outdoor recreational opportunities provided there.

The Snohomish River Valley

The Snohomish River Valley is a meadow filled region that is filled with farmland and small towns. Monroe is a growing community that is attracting more and more new residents looking to escape the heavier populated areas of the state. Monroe has long ties to the dairy industry, and is known for the many fine berry growing operations in the area. The community of Snohomish is a fun destination or diversion from the highway that has become known as the Antique Capital of Washington State. The major city in the Snohomish River Valley area is Everett. Everett offers many of the great things that are offered by most large populated areas including museums, microbreweries, restaurants, art galleries, shopping malls, and more. The Everett waterfront is filled with docks, restaurants, interesting industrial operations, and various areas operated by the United States Navy. From the lowland areas below the mountain pass, all the way to the coast of Puget Sound, the Snohomish River Valley is quite possibly the most diverse region included in the North Cascades Loop.

Whidbey Island

Continuing through Everett brings the traveler to the port city of Mukilteo, one of the many homes to a terminal of the Washington State Ferry system. A short 20 minute ride on the ferry brings the visitor out to Whidbey Island, the fifth largest island in the lower 48 states. Despite the fact that nearly 60,000 people live on Whidbey Island, it retains its largely rural appearance. The main cities on the island include Clinton, Coupeville, Langley, and Oak Harbor. Clinton is the small town where the ferry from Mukilteo docks and offers some interesting sights. One of the prettiest communities on Whidbey Island is Langley, which has a reputation as something of an artist’s colony. The community features floral gardens, natural outdoor areas, and homes and business buildings that date back to the early 1900s. Another popular stop in the region is Fort Casey State Park. This popular stopover features wide open spaces, as well as the remains of a fort that was once charged with protecting the entrance to the entrance of Puget Sound.

One of the oldest cities in the entire state of Washington is found on Whidbey Island. Coupeville is filled with a great many 19th century buildings and is home to a number of rental homes and bed & breakfasts. Oak Harbor is home to a United States naval air station and is the largest city on the island. One of the most stunningly beautiful sights that can be seen in the region is the view from Deception Pass Bridge. This bridge crosses from Whidbey Island to the Fidalgo Island over a narrow waterway. Deception Pass State Park surrounds the bridge and the immediate area and is home to such popular activities as beach combing, boating, hiking, camping, and more. Anacortes is the main city on Fidalgo Island and is a port city featuring ferry access to both Sidney, British Columbia and numerous ports in the San Juan Islands. There are a number of vacation homes and antique stores in Anacortes, and it is a fun area to visit. Continuing on from Fidalgo Island brings the traveler back to the area where they started their trek on the North Cascades Loop, the Skagit River Valley.

The North Cascades Loop offers the kind of vacation experience that cannot be duplicated elsewhere. Vacationers driving this wonderful scenic route will be treated to gorgeous meadows, impressive high mountain peaks, stunning dense forests, peaceful agricultural areas, near desert-like terrain, and of course the very popular coastal and island areas. Driving this scenic loop is best done by those willing to devote two to three days to their trip. There are a number of stops along the way that can be fun and interesting including the communities of Burlington, Mount Vernon, Sedro-Wooley, Winthrop, Pateros, Chelan, Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Gold Bar, Monroe, Clinton, and Coupeville. Some of the many attractions that can be enjoyed along the way include the Diablo Dam, Washington Pass, Pearrygin Lake State Park, the Methow Valley, Rocky Reach Dam, the Wenatchee Valley, Tumwater Canyon, Lake Wenatchee, Stevens Pass, and Whidbey Island. A relaxing road trip around the North Cascades Loop is an awesome thing to do for nearly everyone lucky enough to go there.

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