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Five Magnificent Scenic Drives/Areas to Experience in Washington

1. Chinook Pass Scenic Byway. Located in central-west Washington, about 40 miles southeast of Seattle, this 92-mile All-American Road crosses travels along Washington State Route 410 through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Mount Rainier National Park, as well as over Chinook Pass (elevation 5,430-feet) -- and is dominated by views of the majestic Mt. Rainer, an active volcano and the state's tallest mountains at 14,411 feet. The route follows the historic Naches Trail trading route between Enumclaw and Naches, going from dense cedar and fir forests in the west to the massive basalt cliffs (from past eruptions of Mt. Rainer) of the Columbia Plateau on the east. Consider a hike to Tipsoo Lake on the 3.2-mile Tipsoo Lake - Naches Peak Loop Trail. Another good hike is the 2-mile (RT) to Boulder Cave, a 200-foot long cave formed by lava deposits. Also check out the Federation Forest State Park (619-acre day-use park with old-growth Douglas First, Western Hemlocks, Sitka Spruces, and Western Red Cedars on the White River) and Mud Mountain Dam Park (on the White River, where you can view flood-control dam, picnic, hike, bike). If returning to the Seattle area, consider making a big loop and traveling on the White Pass Scenic Byway. Learn more: Chinook Pass Scenic Byway.

2. Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway. Located in eastern Washington, about 85 miles west of Spokane, this 150-mile roadway (also a Washington State Scenic Byway), starts at Omak in the north and travels along Washington State Route 155 through parts of the Colville Indian Nation, past the Grand Coulee Dam, changing to Washington State Route 17 near Coulee City, through Moses Lake, and concluding near Othello. The Coulee Corridor, formed by Ice Age floods and the battle of water versus basalt rock, is a National Natural Landmark and the second-most-important birding corridor in the U.S, as well as a National Historic District. Coulee comes from the French word meaning dry riverbed or canyon. French trappers came across an ancient river bed canyon that is nearly a thousand feet deep and two-to-five miles wide, which stretches about 60 miles southwest from the area near Grand Coulee Dam to Soap Lake -- and named it Grand Coulee. Make sure you stop at Steamboat Rock State Park (a 5,043-acre camping park on the north end of Banks Lake near Electric City that includes the 650-foot columnar basalt butte named Steamboat Rock), Sun Lake-Dry Falls State Park (a 4,027-acre camping park near Coulee City that contains the absolutely amazing Dry Falls an ancient waterfalls that was once four times the size of Niagara Falls and a portion of the National Ice Age Flood Geologic Trail), Soap Lake (a 2-square-mile meromictic soda lake with mineral-rich waters formed by the Missoula Floods), and Lake Lenore Caves (shallow caves along the north end of Lake Lenore, near Coulee City, created by the Missoula Floods, and which early native people used for shelters). While nearby consider the Hanford Reach National Monument, part of the buffer that once surrounded the Hanford Nuclear site. Learn more: Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway.

3. International Selkirk Loop. Located in eastern Washington (as well as part of northern Idaho and parts of Canada), about 47 miles northeast of Spokane, this 280-mile All-American Road loops around the Selkirk Mountains. Taking this route will expose you to peaceful forested hillsides, sparkling waterfalls, snowcapped mountain peaks, and numerous rural small towns. Much of the loop travels through National Forest, National Wildlife Refuge, Wildlife Management Area, or Provincial Park... in other words, lots of nature and not a lot of people. In Washington, the loop starts in Newport, and continues along State Route 20 north until the town of Ione, where the Loop continues on State Route 31 up to Metaline Falls, following the Pend Oreille River (one of only two in the U.S. that flows north) before crossing into British Columbia, then looping back south into Idaho (including Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint). But before you hit the Canadian border, be sure to stop at Crawford State Park Heritage Site, a 49-acre, forested day-use park and home to Gardner Cave, a 500-million-year-old cavern that measures 2,050 feet in length and 295 feet in depth. One Washington side trip is taking a loop onto Flowery Trail road through the Little Pend Oreille Wildlife refuge, into the towns of Chewelah and Colville, before rejoining the Selkirk Loop at Tiger (home to a little museum showcasing the state's first post office). If considering the entire loop, remember to bring your passport. Learn more: International Selkirk Loop.

4. Stevens Pass Greenway Scenic Byway. Located in central-northwest Washington, this east-west 119-mile National Scenic Byway along U.S Highway 2 begins in Wenatchee and ends in Everett. Washington is the apple state, and Wenatchee is Apple Country, and so the journey begins among large orchards. Before leaving town, stop at Ohme Gardens County Park (for some great hiking through 40 acres of flowers, trees, and waterfalls -- with some amazing views). Some smaller towns worth stopping for a visit include Cashmere, Peshastin, and Leavenworth (modeled like a very quaint Bavarian village and surrounded by the Wenatchee National Forest). Be sure to stop at Lake Wenatchee State Park (a wildlife area that features a glacier-fed lake). Next up is Stevens Pass, and for history and/or rail-trail buffs, a must-stop for a hike along the Iron Goat Trail. Not too much farther along afterwards is the Deception Falls National Recreation Trail, which features a tumbling, 94-foot, multi-tiered waterfall that makes a unique 90-degree turn. For even great waterfall adventures, take a side trip south on Foss River Road (before you hit the town of Skykomish), which becomes National Forest Road 68, turning left for the West Fork Foss Trail, where you can encounter multiple options for waterfalls, including the Foss River Falls. Continue on to Gold Bar and Wallace Falls State Park (which includes a fantastic 7-mile loop trail with panoramic views). Learn more: Stevens Pass Greenway.

5. White Pass Scenic Byway. Located in south-central Washington, this 124-mile east-west Washington State Scenic Byway runs on U.S. Highway 12, beginning in Marys Corner (about 100 miles south of Seattle) in the west, and is known as the gateway to recreation in the Central Cascades, winding through the mixed coniferous forests of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Wenatchee National Forest, and Mount Rainer National Park, traveling over 4,500-foot White Pass before arriving to the arid landscape of Eastern Washington in Naches (about 15 miles northwest of Yakima). You'll pass lakes, rivers, and waterfalls -- and have ample opportunities to stop and hike, or simply admire the beauty from one of the many turnouts and overlooks (including Hopkins Hill Viewpoint for a peak into the Mount Saint Helens crater, as well as the Palisades Viewpoint and Mount Rainier Viewpoint). Start your journey with a stop at Lewis and Clark State Park, a 616-acre park on the north spur of the Oregon Trail that includes a stand of rare, old-growth trees (mostly Douglas Fir and Red Cedar), historic structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, as well as miles of hiking. Later in the journey, perhaps a swim or picnic at Ike Kinswa State Park, a 421-acre park on the north side of Mayfield Lake. While in the area, do the 7-mile (RT) hike to Burley Mountain Lookout (built in 1934), one of only three remaining in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest; the trail starts at the Cispus Learning Center, near the town or Randle, just south of Highway 12. End the journey with a picnic at the Naches Visitor Center, housed in a renovated former train depot. Learn more: White Pass Scenic Byway.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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