Not surprisingly, the number one reason that folks road trip on the Cascade Loop is because of the crazy, jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery. The entire pathway is packed full of views like none other in the world. Whether you’re looking for sweeping vistas of mountain valleys, or wide-open stretches of high-dessert range land, the views on this trip will blow your mind and deliver hours of photo opportunities.
Mukilteo Light Station/Clinton Ferry Terminal–Kick off your road trip by taking a little sidetrip down to the Mukilteo waterfront. The Mukilteo Light Station is an impeccably preserved lighthouse that still plays an important navigational role with its Fourth Order Fresnel lens that has a range of 12 nautical miles. Just next door, watch Washington State ferries depart and arrive for Whidbey Island (Note: your trip will wrap up with you riding back on one of those ferries!)
Wallace Falls–This view requires a little walking, but if you’re game, it?s a worth the walk. Just east of Gold Bar in the lush Sky Valley, turn at MP 28 and follow the signs to reach this stunning waterfall. Follow the trail from the trailhead until you reach a fork in the trail. For the shorter walk to view the falls, take the trail on the right and follow for 2 miles. This is the lower falls viewing area, but the scene is still breathtaking and worth the while!
Index and Bridal Veil Falls–Pull over in the little town of Index that sits at the base of the ominous 5,979 ft. Mount Index. Bridal Veil Falls careens down a massive rock face and forms tow wispy veils the view is visible from the roadway.
Tumwater Canyon Pullouts–Tumwater Canyon, located right before you reach Leavenworth, is home to numerous pullouts because there are so many insanely beautiful views. Crane your neck upward to take in jagged peaks, or look downward at the raging river blasting over boulders below. Fall, in particular, is a truly amazing time in the Tumwater Canyon as fall colors blaze and come to life in brilliant gold, burnt orange and vibrant reds. Salmon spawns at this time of year too so watch and listen.
Orchards in Spring–From Leavenworth, past Cashmere, Wenatchee, Chelan and on to Pateros, one will see acres upon acres of blossoming fruit trees lining the roadways in Spring. Depending on the weather (every year is different) expect the lion’s share of bloom-time to take place in the month of April and perhaps, early May.
Ohme Garden–Located just off Hwy 97A after you?ve passed Wenatchee, head up to one of the best vantage points for scanning the Wenatchee Valley. This world-renowned alpine garden is perched high on a bluff and boasts not only a killer view, but sprawling lawns, and a massive selection of flowering plants and trees. This is a truly cool spot if you?re visiting during one of Wenatchee?s hot, summer days.
Rocky Reach Dam–Located just off of Hwy 97A after you?ve passed Wenatchee, park and enter this amazing destination. Start by touring the gardens if traveling in warm months, or head straight toward the dam. Walk across the public walkway and take in views of the Columbia River you’d otherwise never see. Check out the outdoor fish ladder, and head inside to see live salmon passing through.
Lake Chelan via Lady of the Lake–One of the best ways by far, to view Lake Chelan is by boat! Take the Lady of the Lake round-trip boat tour and get one-of-a-kind views of clear water, jagged bordering peaks, and off-the-grid Stehekin. Rent a bicycle for a quick jaunt to Rainbow Falls.
Washington Pass Overlook–Located at MP 162, with absolutely gorgeous, massive, sweeping views of the Methow Valley, Liberty Bell Peak and Early Winters Spires, Washington Pass is one of the most breathtaking scenic overlooks you will ever encounter.
Diablo Lake Overlook–This stop is a MUST. It offers jaw-dropping views of the most unusual, glacier-fed, jade waters, Davis, Jack, Pyramid and Colonial Peaks. It is truly a spectacle to behold, and one of the most iconic views on the Cascade Loop.
Tulip Fields in April–Visit the acres upon acres of blooming tulip fields carpeting the valley from Mount Vernon to La Conner. Fields of daffodils and iris can also be seen during this time, in the largest display of its kind in the US.
Mt Erie–Drive up, up, up, and up a little further via a well-maintained but winding road until you reach the top of this 1,300 ft peak. Scan across a sweeping view of the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound, as well as Fidalgo Island below.
Deception Pass Bridge–Connecting Fidalgo and Whidbey Island, there will be no doubt in your mind if you?ve reached this bridge. You’re going to want to look over the railings but wait and park first! Parking lots located on both sides of the bridge, and walkways span the entire length of the bridge so you can take those photos showing you towering hundreds of feet above the rushing salt waters.
Fort Casey State Park and Admiralty Head Lighthouse–Explore Fort Casey a well-preserved military installation that once protected the entrance to Puget Sound. The Admiralty Head Lighthouse is located on the adjacent properties, and both offer their own unique vista over the beautiful Puget Sount.
Clinton Ferry–At Clinton drive onto the Washington State Ferry for a quick ride back to Mukilteo. Step out onto the deck to take in maritime views, breath fresh salt air, listen the sounds of the water, the ship and of course seagulls. If you?re going to vacation in Washington State, a ferry ride has to be on the itinerary!