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Scenic Driving Tours
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Winter Travel
The Itinerary
   Day 1
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   Day 3

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Scenic Driving Tours in Washington
Coulee Dam to Seattle

The Itinerary

Day 3 - Coulee Dam to Seattle

For a substantial breakfast try Melody's Restaurant, located in a concrete (the local building material of choice?!) block which also houses the local movie theatre. Melody's overlooks Grand Coulee Dam, the town's main attraction and one of the largest concrete structures in the world. Spend a leisurely morning getting to know the township as it was established for the building of the dam, and viewing the dam from various vantage points including its Visitors Arrival Center and the "Crown Point" lookout.

Head out on WA-155 past Electric City southwards to Coulee City. This route follows the shoreline of Banks Lake along the spectacular Grand Coulee Canyon to the amazing Dry Falls. It is not vegetation, but the weathered volcanic rock which dominates the landscape. You will pass Steamboat Rock, a huge flat top mountain in the middle of the canyon, and apparently home to some bald eagles. If you are keen on a view, there is a trail to the top, but be warned, it rises 800 feet in 1 mile. Once flowing with water during the last ice age, Dry Falls was the largest waterfall known to have existed on the earth. Not to be missed.

The grand scenery continues along WA-17 from Coulee City to Soap Lake. Just north of Coulee City the road crosses the top of Dry Falls Dam, which holds back Banks Lake. At Ephrata, you have the choice to take WA-283 and join up with I-90 for a spectacular Columbia River Crossing at Vantage. Or continue on WA-28 to follow the Columbia River back up north in order to detour through the Blewett Pass on I-97.

On the latter route witness the changes as you cross flat wheat lands, then are once again in the rolling hills of apple-growing country, before passing through the steep, rocky mountains of the Wenatchee Mountains in the Cascades. Blewett Pass is a reasonably fast detour, on a relatively new, four-lane divided highway. It runs over the old town site of Blewett, which sprang up with the discovery of gold in Peshastin Creek. Buildings included a school, a two-story hotel, saloon and log homes, but the population eventually dwindled to zero as the gold ran out. Around mid-October, sub-alpine larch trees put on a show of yellow against the darker evergreens. Larch is a deciduous conifer. At the summit in winter you will catch glimpses of ski and snowmobile trails.On the descent, watch out for elk feeding in the meadows. Turn-off to the east for the still-inhabited town of Liberty, the oldest mining town in Washington. Its buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Head towards I-90 and east to Cle Elum. Keep an eye out for the Cle Elum Bakery on the north side of the highway, and be sure to treat yourself if you are lucky enough to be passing during opening hours.

I-90 now takes you across Snoqualmie Pass. Keechelus Lake is visible from the highway. Depending on the number of daylight hours left, you might now be making the choice between getting into some of that wilderness you have now seen from three passes, or getting in some bargain shopping at the North Bend factory outlets before closing time at 6.00 pm.

If you are new to this countryside, turn off I-90 at the pass and head to the car park on the north side. A trail head can be found opposite the outdoor lavatories. Walking in even a few hundred yards and stopping to soak up the silence of the forest, provides an experience to complement the drive, and will wet your appetite for a "proper" hike.

I-90 falls rapidly into North Bend, then crosses Lakes Sammamish and Washington before reaching Seattle. If you are after an evening meal before reaching Seattle, both North Bend and Issaquah have a selection. One of our favorites is the North Bend Bar & Grill.

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