The Cascade Loop is an incredible 644 km (400 mi) scenic drive much loved by road trippers seeking adventure. This is a unique road trip that takes you through a Bavarian style village, thriving metropolitan centres, and valleys surrounded by majestic mountains. You’ll travel from high mountain roads to the ocean and back again.
National Geographic Traveller called this “One of America’s grandest, most spectacular drives.” You can join this picturesque loop off Route 97 from Wenatchee – take US 2 West and drive clockwise on the loop. Or drive counter clockwise from Pateros – Hwy 153 to Route 20, or from Okanogan – Route 20.
It is important to note Route 20, also known as the North Cascades Highway, has portions closed off in the winter. It is usually open April to mid-November. For current road conditions visit the Washington State Department of Transportation website.
Sleeping Under the Stars
For those who wish to fall asleep to the sounds of nature and stars twinkling above them, there are numerous camping opportunities along the Cascade Loop. Whether it’s in a tent or in the comfort of an RV in an RV park, there’s probably something here just right for you. There are several other accommodation options available along the route. Go glamping at a winery or relax in a mountain lodge. Wake up refreshed and continue your road trip.
Experiences Not to be Missed on the Cascade Loop!
Fresh mountain air, stunning vistas, and chance sightings of local wildlife await you. Imagine cruising along and seeing bighorn sheep along the road. Look up and you might see majestic bald and golden eagles soaring above you!
No excursion along the Cascade Loop is complete without a stop to witness the awesome power of the Columbia River. While traveling along this scenic highway, you’ll visit several quaint towns including Wenatchee. When you’re there, check out the Museum and Cultural Centre. Take some time for yourself and find your zen at the Ohme Gardens.
As you continue your drive, don’t be alarmed if you feel you’re in Bavaria. The Bavarian themed town of Leavenworth is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains along your route. Take the time to explore this unique area. Wander through the little shops and taking a stroll in Waterfront Park. Include sampling amazing food and you’ve got yourself a great vacation!
North Cascades National Park sits at the base of the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Cascade mountains. Take the time to don your life jacket and hop on a boat trip to Stehekin Valley, the hidden gateway to Lake Chelan!
If your road trip happens to be planned for April, be sure to visit the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. This event offers more than the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers! With helicopter rides, winery and brewery treats, live theatre, and wildlife tours, there’s an entire day of fun here!
Visit the Islands
As you drop in elevation you can almost smell the ocean air. Be sure to visit beautiful Whidbey and Camano Islands. The drive from I-5 to North Whidbey Island, just a 40 km (25 mi) drive north of Seattle, has the bonus of Deception Pass Bridge. In 1982, this historic bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Be sure to download the map and events guide so you don’t miss a thing while you are there.
Then it’s time to decide – go back the way you came or continue the loop and discover more on your Cascade Loop adventure.