White Pass Scenic Byway

Diversity sums up the experience best. The nationally designated White Pass Scenic Byway boasts magnificent driving tours from the lush evergreen forests of western Washington, up and over the Cascades, and into the sage-covered rolling hills that rise up from the Tieton River drainage on the state’s east side.

Recreational possibilities—camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing and boating—are easy to find here. There are charming communities to enjoy, as well as side trips revealing both the majesty of Mount Rainier and the devastation from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Low-elevation lakes, river valleys, foothills, subalpine ridges, forests, lush meadows and open steppes are all accessible through this gateway. Bald eagles, elk, mountain goats, black bears, marmots and salmon occupy an array of wild habitats and public lands. July and August are generally sunny and mild, with heavy snowfall November through April.

Bring along a swimsuit in the summertime; there are plenty of lakes to take a dip in. A tent will serve you well as camping is plentiful along the route.

Don’t forget your camera: the meadows, lakes and hills of this landscape host animals from elk to bighorn sheep to black bear. Eagles, ospreys and red-tailed hawks are your constant companions as you head east.

Be sure to pick up a box of peaches or cherries in Naches. There’s no souvenir like an edible one.

Key points of interest:

  • Paradise, Mt. Rainier National Park – There are few locations within the entire National Park System as stunning as Paradise. It is nestled on the south slopes of Mt. Rainier at an elevation of 5,400-feet among wildflower meadows punctuated with glistening snowfields and groves of gnarled firs and hemlocks.
  • Riffe Lake – This man-made reservoir behind Mossyrock Dam offers beautiful coves to relax and swim in, waterfalls, and several miles of hiking trails. Riffe provides good fishing for landlocked coho and Chinook salmon, plus an occasional large brown trout. Rainbow and cutthroat trout are also available.