WHITE PASS WONDERS – WASHINGTON STATE
There are several ways to cross the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State. Stevens Pass (SR 2) and Snoqualmie Passes (I-90) are the most commonly used and account for the highest volume of traffic. The other options are North Cascades Highway, White Pass, Chinook Pass and the Columbia Gorge.
Yesterday found us in Centralia visiting some family members. From that starting point our time and mileage options to our Eastern Washington destination were about equal between White Pass and Snoqualmie Pass. Neither The Husband or I had been on White Pass in numerous years and knowing it to be a beautiful, scenic drive we opted to take that route. We had been told that improvements had been made to the pass with the addition of more turn-outs.
Be Forewarned Turnouts Were Small And Wouldn’t Fit Big Rigs
Be forewarned there weren’t many turnouts and those that did exist were small and would have only accommodated compact vehicles. Passing lanes which would allow RV’s and semi tractor trailer rigs to pull aside were sorely lacking. Lucky for us, we weren’t towing our RV this trip so were not bothered by the lack of larger pull-outs and passing lanes.
Lack of passing lanes aside, if you are not in a hurry and are looking for a very scenic way to cross the Cascades, this should be on your radar screen. One of the highlights you will pass (or choose to stop at) is Mossyrock Dam and the reservoir behind it, Riffe Lake.
Don’t Miss Scenic Riffe Lake
This lake has created popular recreational and camping opportunities. Small towns along the route include Morton, Randle and Packwood. Twice each year (Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend) Packwood is host to flea markets that line Hwy 12 on both sides. Almost anything you may be looking for is likely to be found at these sales. You may want to plan your trip across White Pass to coincide with one of those dates and check it out.
We were blessed with a sunny day for this drive and much like the Seattle area in general, there is nothing prettier on a sunny day. Abundant yearly rainfall keeps the area a lush green and with the sun peeking through the thick forest the beauty is highlighted and proudly shines.
Road crews had traffic down to one lane in 3 different areas the day we traveled while they repaired damage apparently caused by rock slides over the past winter. Luckily, the volume of traffic on White Pass during the week is low and these delays didn’t cause a problem. If you plan to make this trip and want to avoid delays check out the WADOT website before taking off. You can find it below.
Washington Department of Transportation: http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes/