When you pick up any Rand McNally street map, go search for roads that have green dots alongside them. This is the indication that this route is scenic. The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia is all green dots, for example.
Today we took such a tour from Burlingto north of Seattle, across the Cascade Mountains to Chelan at Lake Chelan. And boy did this tour deserve its green dots. The sky was overcast and it was rainig part of the time, so we missed the snowcapped peaks right and left, but there was plenty “scenic” on eye level already. Colin did some major driving today, so I got to look.
The first part of the drive you drive along Skagit river up to Ross Lake. Enroute there’s a wildlife observation rest area and true enough, the rare elk you can see there had a 5-elk group on tourist duty in the meadow. As you drive along, you have plenty of vistas of smaller waterfalls until you get to Rainy Pass at elev. 1486 meters. Yes, it was raining on Rainy Pass… actually more snowing… and looking at the snow still there, we could understand why this road is closed October – May. Really… there was one snow field across the road where they probably took a backhoe to dig thorugh it where they suspected the road to be. The edges facing the road were still easy 2 meters high. Continuing then down from the mountain range, it looked like Arizona without the pricklies and lacking a good 20 degrees C in outside temperatures.
And it the middle of it is tiny Winthrop. Winthorp is the solution when you have an old mining/logging town in the middle of nowhere that is slowly falling appart and a rich guy who made his money in that town. Then add a widow/family in money-giving mood and with some romantic ideas about the Old West and voila – you have a cute tourist attraction on the Cascade Loop, conveniently located so that aforementioned tourists stop for lunch there.