Fasten your seat belt and get ready to explore the many scenic byways in Washington State. Begin your journey by selecting a byway below. Discover points of interest and activities along each route. Maps, directions, photographs and links are all just a click away. Check Washington State Department of Transportation (WS DOT) website for current road conditions. Also, get your free online copy of the official Washington State Travel Planner. We provide the tools. You just drive safely.
Route: SR 20,153,97,2,526,525
Length: 400 miles
Drive Time: 8h 30min plus 20 min ferry ride
Road Considerations: Check WS DOT for mountain pass info
National Geographic Traveler describes the Cascade Loop as "one of America's grandest, most spectacular drives." Circling the heart of Washington through thick forests and open desert, this 400-mile byway includes a little bit of everything. From downhill skiing in the Cascade Mountains to county fairs in the Columbia River Valley, it's one of the best ways to get a Cliff Note version of Washington.
Opportunities for outdoor recreation along the way are nearly endless. From biking and hot air balloon rides, to whale watching and shopping, you can create your own itinerary from the long list of possibilities. If wine, cuisine and shopping are more your pleasure, you will find many tantalizing choices.
Nine separate regions of the state make up this massive byway, each with its unique flavor and personality. Sample each area one at a time, or combine them all for an unforgettable Washington experience.
Route: Cape Loop Rd, Cape Flattery Rd, Sooes Beach Rd
Drive Time:55 min
Cape Flattery occupies America's northernmost point, and is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful spots on the Makah Indian Reservation. From the newly renovated cedar-planked trail and five observation perches, sightseers may catch a glimpse of otters, sea lions, seals and whales, or just get a flattering view of the historic cape. There are also fantastic views of the forbidden Tatoosh Island, the former Makah fishing and whaling camp.
This drive along the Cape Flattery Tribal scenic byway is an up-close display of natural beauty that is unmatched and is wonderfully unchanged. Opportunities to hike glorious beachside terrain, observe wildlife and discover ancient cultures are at every stop along this drive. For Twilight fans, Forks is only 40 miles from Cape Flattery and home to Forks High School's brick building, one of many vital Forks locations in the Twilight book series written by Stephanie Meyer.
Route: SR 202
Length: 28 miles
Drive Time: 40 min
Road considerations: Check WS DOT
This route along SR-202 follows the Snoqualmie River and was once a primary Native American footpath between Puget Sound and Snoqualmie Pass.
Route: SR 410
Length: 87 miles
Drive Time: 1h 45min
Road Considerations: Road usually open from May to Nov. Check WS DOT for Chinook Pass info.
Dominated by majestic Mt. Rainier at every turn, this All American Road traces the historic Naches Trail trading route between Enumclaw and Naches. At 5,430 feet, Chinook Pass marks a dramatic change in the landscape, separating the dense cedar and fir forests on the west side of the Cascade Mountains from the massive basalt cliffs of the Columbia Plateau on the eastside. This byway is known for its history, the beauty of Mt. Rainier, and the many outdoor recreational opportunities it offers. The Federal Highway Administration honored Chinook Pass as an All American Road in 1998.
The beauty along this splendid route is unparalleled — a famed florist couldn’t make the colors and arrangements more exquisite. Opening into vast arrays of summer color are the wildflower meadows around Chinook Pass. By autumn, meadows are awash in the brilliant shades of the scarlet and amber wild huckleberry bushes. Due to heavy snowfall Chinook Pass closes each winter.
Route: SR 11
Length: 21 miles
Drive Time: 35 min
Road considerations: Many sharp curves. Watch for pedestrians.
This unforgettable name marks an even more unforgettable 21 miles of winding seaside road presenting spectacular views, state parks, great hiking trails and some of the best oysters in the state.
While the possibilities for your senses are endless, be sure to make time to take in the art, antique and fresh produce stores, to bring a part of your journey home with you.
For the adventurer, some of the best mountain biking trails are in this region. Chuckanut Mountain is a wonderful place to hike, hang glide or just watch wildlife.
Lewis and Clark Trail
Route: SR 109,401,4,I-5,SR 14,I-82,SR 12
Length: 572 miles
Drive Time: 12h
Travelers can retrace the steps of two famous explorers, Lewis & Clark, on their quest for the Pacific along the magnificent Columbia River, along the Lewis and Clark Trail scenic byway.
From the dry canyons of the Snake River, to the flowing waters of the Columbia, to the crashing waves of the Pacific, at every turn is a new discovery, another fact learned or one more stunning view to behold. With the abundance of wildlife and scenery, it could never be the same trip twice.
Route: SR 542
Length: 58 miles
Drive Time: 1h 20min
Road Considerations: Open year round to Mt. Baker Ski Area.
Unlike most highways, the Mt. Baker Highway doesn't lead to anywhere but beautiful. Once you enter the gateway of the Mt. Baker Highway in Bellingham, you don't just "pass through" rather the end of the road is one of the most scenic spots in the country.
While you're ascending an active volcano you'll enjoy spectacular scenery ranging from dense rainforests and spectacular waterfalls to the rugged peaks of the North Cascades. Living native cultures, remnants of the Gold Rush era and pastoral farmlands make this byway rich in both natural and human history.
Spend a day hiking the national forest or skiing at Mt. Baker. Stay for a weekend at a charming campground and absorb the soothing atmosphere.
Mountain Loop Highway
Route: SR 92 Granite Falls to Barlow Pass (39 miles paved), Forest Route 20 to Darrington (13 miles unpaved)
Length: 52 miles
Drive Time: Varies due to road conditions
Road Considerations: The highway closes mostly in the winter due to floods and reopens in the spring of the following year, but a windstorm in 2003 closed the highway. With other windstorms following in 2006 and 2007, the highway had to be closed until 2008. Check the Forest Service website for road closure information.
The Mountain Loop Highway was established on March 23, 1936. Before the highway was built, primitive and very rough wagon roads connected the Monte Cristo Mine with the small towns of Darrington and Granite Falls. A narrow wagon road, known as Wilmans Trail or Pioneer Trail, or simply the Sauk wagon road, was built from Sauk City on the Skagit River to Monte Cristo in 1891. That same year the surveyor M.Q. Barlow discovered the feasibility of access to Monte Cristo via the South Fork Stillaguamish River. Mining interests funded a wagon road from Silverton to the Sauk wagon road via Barlow Pass. These roads roughly followed the current route of the Mountain Loop Highway along with some railroads. Construction of the road started in 1936 and finished in 1941. The road was closed in 1942 due to the war in Europe.
The highway connects the towns of Granite Falls and Darrington. It is paved for 34 miles from Granite Falls to Barlow Pass where the highway becomes unpaved for 13 miles, and then paved again for the remaining 9 miles to Darrington. The unpaved section is U.S. Forest Service Road #20 and passes several USFS campgrounds. Portions of the unpaved section are often closed due to flood damage.
The highway closes mostly in the winter due to floods and reopens in the spring of the following year, but a windstorm in 2003 closed the highway. With other windstorms following in 2006 and 2007, the highway had to be closed until 2008.
The Mountain Loop Highway officially reopened on June 25, 2008 and the cities along the full loop (Arlington, Granite Falls, and Darrington) had a large celebration.
Mountains to Sound Greenway
Length: 115 miles
Drive Time: 2h 15min
Road Considerations: Open year round. Check WS DOT for Snoqualmie Pass info.
It's a route that may have travelers starting with a cup of coffee in the shadow of the Space Needle and ending in the spray of a 27-story waterfall. The Mountains to Sound Greenway combines the best of city life with remarkably accessible marvels of nature.
Stretching along Interstate-90 from Seattle and the Puget Sound to the high desert of central Washington is one of the most spectacular journeys in the Pacific Northwest. The Greenway is one of 3 nationally designated scenic byways in Washington, and is the only interstate highway in the country to have designation as a National Scenic Byway.
Route: SR 20
Length: 140 miles
Drive Time: 3h
Road Considerations: Road usually open from Apr to Nov. Check WS DOT for info
Arguably one of the most scenic routes in the United States, Highway 20's ascent from the remote high desert of the Methow Valley brings the craggy peaks of the North Cascades into sharper view. This portion of the North Cascades Highway on Washington Pass traverses the heart of the North Cascade Mountains. Look for the distinctive pinnacled granite ridges owing their formation to eons of fracturing, creating massive cracks in the rock.
Heading east as you descend Washington Pass, the road winds through the heart of North Cascades National Park, skirting the emerald waters of Ross and Diablo Lakes before mimicking the path of the Skagit River on its journey to the pastoral valley below. For over 8,000 years, Native Americans used this corridor as a trading route from the Eastern Plateau country to the Pacific Coast. Beginning in the mid 1800s white settlers arrived in search of gold, fur-bearing animals, and a place to call home.
Route: US 101
Length: 350 miles
Drive Time: 7h
This 360-mile route along the dramatic Washington State coastline features the longest natural beach in the United States, the best place to storm watch and rain forests with record-sized trees. It’s one of the most stunningly beautiful drives in the nation, and unlike anything else in the world.
Stretching nearly the North-South length of Washington along US 101, this byway includes plenty of opportunities for solitude or adventure any time of the year. Time to sail along on one of the most beautiful drives in the continental United States.
San Juan Ferry
Route: Take ferry from Anacortes
Length: 45 min ferry ride
Drive Time: 1h 30min drive to the Anacortes ferry from Seattle
Road Considerations: Check ferry schedules from Anacortes to San Juan Islands
The spectacular San Juan Islands Scenic Byway is Washington's newest byway, and is unique as the only state byway including a marine highway. Start your journey at the Anacortes Washington State Ferry Terminal boarding a ferry for San Juan Island. After getting to know San Juan, ferry a short distance to Orcas Island and explore this island gem before make the scenic return cruise home.
The incredible San Juan Islands overflow with natural beauty, history and a wide array of attractions to soothe and excite. And with 247 days of sunshine and just half the rain of Seattle, this trip is a year-round getaway. Visit the historic seaports of Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor and Orcas Village. Experience the wildlife, hiking, gourmet restaurants, historic resorts, museums, whale-watching opportunities…and that's just for starters. A little time spent on this byway and you'll find yourself on "island time."
Route: SR 20
Length: 35 miles
Drive Time: 40 min
Road Considerations: Usually open year-round. Check WS DOT for Sherman Pass info
Travelers will most likely feel as if they were the last person on earth as they hike, bike or drive through Colville National Forest. Sherman Pass is one of the lesser-known byways, but also one of the most rewarding. At 5,575 feet, it’s the highest maintained pass in the state, boasting stunning panoramic views of pristine wilderness.
Rushing creeks, waterfalls and forests of Ponderosa Pine, Western Larch, and Douglas Fir dominate the eastern side of the pass, starkly contrasted on the west side by the gray snag remnants of the massive White Mountain fire of 1988.
This byway follows a historic route used by Native Americans as they made their way to fishing grounds of the Columbia River. The trail later became a pioneer wagon route and was named after Civil War General William T. Sherman, who passed through the area in the 1883.
Skagit River Valley Tulip Festival
Route Information: SR20, west towards Anacortes
Length: 15 miles
Drive Time: Traffic varies by time of day.
Each spring from April 1st to the 30th, vast multi-acre fields of tulips and daffodils are grown in the fertile Skagit River Valley, generally in a 15-mile triangle bordered by Highway 20, the Skagit River, and the Swinomish River Channel. You can tour the tulip field area by car, by bike or by foot. The “field flowers” are grown and harvested by Washington Bulb Company/RoozenGaarde, one of the world’s largest growers of tulips. RoozenGaarde: a beautiful 3-acre pristine Display Garden (and gift shop) planted with over a ¼ million blooming bulbs and bordered by a 30-acre tulip field where you can stroll. For up to date bloom information on our Garden and 11 tulip fields visit the bloom map at www.tulips.com.
The festival is designed as a driving tour where you embark on your own set of adventures – with 40+ events and activities there is something for everyone. Sample itineraries are available on-line, at the festival office and at information booths.
Parking: Pay one $4 fee and get into all the tulip field parking areas for the day. The parking ticket is also good for one individual admission into RoozenGaarde on the day of purchase.
Spirit Lake Memorial Highway
Route: SR 504
Length: 52 miles
Drive Time: 1hr 10min
Road Considerations: Open year round.
This byway is otherworldly. Nowhere else on Earth can you have an experience like the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway. The words “spectacular” and “awesome” do not suffice. There is simply no way to describe or adequately photograph the beautiful, but apocalyptic scene, with flowers, trees and animals returning to the landscape. A hollowed-out Mount St. Helens is ever-present in the background. She grows more colossal and more intricate with every mile as you approach in your little car. The scale and fury of the debris-avalanche that roared down the Toutle River Valley is impossible to imagine. The mounds and “hummocks” give testimony. Four visitor centers with panoramic views along the route help paint a detailed picture of the events of May 18, 1980 and the subsequent return of life to the blast zone.
Stevens Pass Greenway
Route: SR 2
Length: 120 miles
Drive Time: 2h 15min
Road Considerations: Open year round. Check WS DOT for Stevens Pass info
Regarding diversity of landscape, culture and history, Stevens Pass Greenway is one of the richest byways in Washington. Originally developed for the Old Great Northern Railroad, this route winds, climbs and cuts its way through dense forest, mountain ranges and green valleys; through orchards and wineries of Wenatchee, past family farms and even the Bavarian village of Leavenworth.
Hike the historic recreational Iron Goat Trail, enjoy views of glaciated mountain peaks, or sample the hospitality (and shopping) of the byway communities. This byway is also the southern leg of the Cascade Loop.
Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway
Route: SR 112
Length: 61 miles
Drive Time: 1h 10min
Connecting Puget Sound to the Pacific Ocean, the Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway traverses the northwestern corner of the United States. Travelers can fish a lake once thought bottomless, climb to panoramic viewpoints and hike the trails of the Makah Indian Reservation.
Lined by jagged cliffs and the magnificent cedar forests of Olympic National Park, the highway offers the traveler peek-a-boo views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Canada's Vancouver Island.
Whidbey Island Scenic Isle Way
Route: SR 525,20
Length: 48 miles
Drive Time: 1h 15min,plus 20 min ferry ride. It's a 40 min drive to the Mukilteo ferry from Seattle
Road Considerations: Check ferry schedules from Mukilteo to Clinton
A world away, but only an hour out of downtown Seattle, city-escapees will reunite with relaxation, whether for a weekend or a lifetime.
The Whidbey Island Scenic Isleway is painted with lovely seaside towns, famous Penn-cove mussels, art galleries and deluxe accommodations. Here, it's easy to forget the sound of traffic and cell phones.
Isleway communities have worked hard to maintain their rural historic charm with turn-of-the-century military outposts, lighthouses, historic working farms, Victorian homes, bald eagles, and the sights, sounds and aroma of the sea.
Route: SR 12
Length: 119 miles
Drive Time: 2h 15min
Road Considerations: Open year round.Check WS DOT for White Pass info
Boasting premier wildlife viewing, striking scenery, and seemingly endless recreational opportunities, the White Pass Scenic Byway is an extraordinary destination. Passing through small communities, river valleys, the lakes region, foothills, agricultural land and alpine country, it is a sample of Washington's best. A diverse geographic range of habitats occur along the way setting it apart from other recreational driving in the state.
Known as the gateway to recreation in the South Cascades, the route winds through the forests of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Goat Rocks Wilderness, Mt. Rainier National Park, and the White Pass Ski Area, before ascending to the basalt rock landscape east of the Mountains. There forests, as well as Oak Creek Wildlife Refuge, the Cowlitz River, Skate Creek, Rimrock Lake, and the Tieton River, offer visitors as unlimited playground for camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, boating, and observing wildlife.