The Methow Valley just happens to lie on the eastern side of the Cascade Loop— a short trip by road trip standards—and one of the most beautiful drives in the country.
On our side of the Loop you’ll drive along the North Cascades Highway—the first National Scenic Highway in the United States. Completed in 1972 and open seasonally from mid-May to mid-November, the North Cascades Highway begins in Sedro Woolley just north of Seattle and follows the blue-green Skagit River.
Also known as Scenic Highway 20, The North Cascades highway travels through farmlands and small towns, with country stores, fruit and vegetable stands and historic landmarks along the way. As you continue east along Highway 20, be on the lookout for eagles near the town of Concrete, one of the most popular eagle habitats outside Alaska. Other stops along the way offer rare encounters with old growth forest, spectacular vistas of Ross Lake, Gorge Lake and Diablo Lake, and turn-outs along the way.
The North Cascades Visitor Center in Newhalem has a great country store and information about the construction of the North Cascades Highway, along with maps, wildlife guides and interpretive trails. Just beyond Newhalem lies the Gorge Dam, with a bridge spanning over the Gorge Creek Falls. The impressive falls thunder into Gorge Lake, a stunning emerald green that must be seen to be believed.
Numerous hiking opportunities are presented along the North Cascades Highway. A family favorite is Happy Creek, which can be found just beyond the Lake Diablo Overlook—a must-stop viewpoint along the route.
Washington Pass, the final pass before descending into the Methow Valley, is magnificent! As the highway swings south, great walls of granite sweep upward. The massive 7,600’ Liberty Bell Spire stands watch over the entrance to the valley, culminating with an off-road viewpoint at the top of the pass.
The Cascade Loop continues on through the Methow Valley and travels along the mighty Columbia River, through the scenic towns of Chelan and Leavenworth, ultimately arriving back in Seattle. For more information about the Cascade Loop, visit their website at www.cascadeloop.com.