Exploring The Cascade Loop
Updated: Jan 23
Washington is a state of many scenic byways which deserve more than passing glance. Capturing some of the state's many hidden gems you simply cannot do so by passing through on a major highway.
It is through the scenic roads that you can find small towns with hidden charm and mystery, campgrounds with forest views, orchards rolling on the hillsides, and some of the most scenic viewpoints in the state.
A right of passage for a trip to Washington comes with the Cascade Loop, considered to be Washington's Ultimate Road Trip. The 440 mile loop through northern Washington is considered to be a state treasure as it encompasses 3 of the most noted scenic byways in the state, Stevens Pass Greenway, North Cascades Scenic Highway and Whidbey Scenic Isle Way.
Suggested to be broken up over 3 to 4 days the trip can quickly become a little overwhelming if you do not allow time to take in all the loop has to offer. Planning activities and stops in advance isn't required but if you do have a limited time frame you might want to consider that as an option before hitting the road.
Year round this loop is one that is lively and filled with opportunity and activity. Each month there are numerous festivals, shows and opportunities to see art, community and indulge in tasty treats. I suggest highly you look into these in advance by checking out http://cascadeloop.com
But if you are looking for fun without the hassle of planning, you can drive the loop popping in at charming historic towns along the way.
Everett is the suggested starting point by many accounts and references and offers ample history in its downtown alongside being the largest West Coast marina north of San Diego.
Snomish continues to live up to its former title of the Antique Capital of the Northwest as it has a strong core in what once was and continues to move forward into the what could be as it welcomes artists and musicians.
Monroe is known for its large Reptile Only Zoo. If you are one who likes to see what might be going bump in the night this one is for you. But they are also known for the Swift population which calls their area home and nightly in both mid-April and mid-September you can see thousands of the birds using this community as their migratory home.
Leavenworth is a village all its own. In the midst of the mountains of Washington your mind begins to play tricks on you as old world Bavarian facades on buildings shelter common things like Starbucks. The entire community is a blend of the old and new and how it can work in the quaint setting despite having so many industrial needs around them.
Cashmere is the home to Peshastin Pinnacles State Park, one of the treasures of the loop with its unique peaks and overlooks. Taking a detour here is taking a leap into adventure with hiking at your fingertips.
Speaking of adventure, if that is your goal for the loop you can find plenty to suit your needs in the Lake Chelan's recreation area where zip lines abound, golf courses, boat access and rentals and lush accommodations reign supreme.
Winthrop again steps into another world, but this one the one which might closely resemble its own past as the entire town has turned back the clock to a time when mining was king in the area. Facades on local buildings again a common practice these take on a Western theme without being full on Tombstone with false story lines and big costumes. Instead this gives a modern spin on a classic close knit community.
Cascade National Park truly embodies what it is to be on the Cascade Loop as you drive through it seeing cascading waterfalls fall from the roadway around you, turquoise blue water at Diablo lake and a dense mossy forest which welcomes you to come and explore.
Skagit Valley is the home of the world renowned Tulip Festival which brings a burst of color to the Northwest annually. However it is known for another impression annual event which is a little less spoken about by most, the migration of snow geese and trumpeter swans.
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