Taryn's Wreckreation Guide: The 5 Most Beautiful Drives In Washington
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Growing up in the greater Seattle area and going to college at WSU in Pullman, I feel lucky to have lived on both the east and west side of the Evergreen State. I'm also lucky that as a child, my dad INSISTED on taking the scenic route everywhere we traveled. And we drove a LOT. What should have been a 3-hour drive was usually a 5-hour educational experience, and at the time it was frustrating, but looking back, I am so grateful. Whether it was a family ski vacation or a camping trip, the six of us spent a lot of time in the car, in very close quarters. But what I endured on the road, I will never forget. In the state of Washington, we're fortunate to be home to some of the most scenic byways in all of North America, and these are a few of them.
- Chuckanut Drive: One of the most stunning drives you'll ever take is between Bow and Bellingham along Chuckanut Drive. It's extremely windy, and as the driver it's important to keep your eyes on the road, but definitely take the time to stop at one of the many incredible lookouts or restaurants along the way. The highway hugs both the mountains and the shoreline, with photo opportunities all along the way! Kicking things off in Burlington and wrapping up in Bellingham's Fairhaven neighborhood, you can find Oyster Dome's trailhead and Larrabee State Park off of this incredible highway.
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- North Cascades Highway: This time of year it's typically closed due to weather conditions, but once this scenic byway is open for 2017, it's worth the extra hours on the road. Stretching from Burlington to Winthrop, the drive is extremely popular for motorcyclists, outdoorsy types and photographers. This stretch of the North Cascades is extremely craggy, and you'll find some of the best camping in all of Washington along this route. Check out Marble Creek, Mineral Park and Colonial Creek campgrounds for some of the most stunning river and lake action you've ever had!
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- Okanogan Scenic Trails Byway: I made the drive from Pullman to British Columbia's Apex Mountain Resort in Penticton several times while I was in college, and driving through the Colville Confederated Tribal Reservation is one of my favorite parts of the stretch. On top of that, rugged peaks draw your attention at every turn, plus it leads to home of the World Famous Stampede in Omak. Beautiful views of Lake Osoyoos add to the stunning journey and personally make me want to be a cattle rancher!
- Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway: If you ever have the chance to visit any stretch of Olympic National Park, do it. This particular highway introduces a completely different Washington landscape, with incredible peaks, lush forestry, and views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. With about a dozen hikes to choose from along the way, you'll encounter everything from meadows to lakeshores, wetlands to streams. Plus a collection of photo ops you'll never forget.
- Historic Colubmia River Gorge Highway: Providing a stunning boundary between Washington and Oregon, you can pause all along the way to admire gorgeous waterfalls, intimidating volcanoes and the winding bends of the Columbia. This region has also become well known for wine and some of the area's rolling hills have become home to impressive vineyards. My favorite attraction is Multnomah Falls, which looks INCREDIBLE in the wintertime!
I've BARELY scraped the tip of the iceberg when it comes to scenic drives in our backyard, but with so much to explore, you should be able to stay busy until 2018! Take it from me - the long way home is TOTALLY worth the drive.
Taryn's Wreckreation Guide is powered by Visit Bend. Upgrade your downtime in Bend, Oregon. Do some skiing at Mt Bachelor with short lift lines and long runs; or take a deep breath and give the breathtaking views a double take. Bend, Oregon – it’s where you go to play!