The central part of Washington State is dominated by the mighty Cascade ranges, best experienced from the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway (509 662 3888,, an entrancing four-hundred-mile route through the mountains – though the full trip is only feasible during the summer, since at other times snow closes the mountain passes.

The loop begins on Hwy-20 (aka the North Cascades Highway), which runs east from I-5 at Burlington for sixty miles up the Skagit River Valley into the majestic peaks of North Cascades National Park (360 854 7200, Ask about current road and hiking trail conditions at the visitor centre in tiny Newhalem, Hwy-20, milepost 120. Beyond the high passes of the national park, Hwy-20 runs thirty miles down the Methow Valley into the dry, rolling hills of central Washington and one-street WINTHROP, an old mining town officially founded in 1891 and now forever decked out solely in Wild West buildings thanks to a local ordinance.

The fetching resort of CHELAN, sixty miles south of Winthrop, nestles at the foot of Lake Chelan, whose spectacularly deep waters fill a glacially carved trough nestled in the mountains. At the Chelan end the vegetation and low-lying hills are arid and desert-like, and the hotels and small beaches along the lake are hot in summer, making this prime holiday territory.

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