This byway offers striking views along its entire length. Passing through the Gifford Pinchot and Wenatchee National Forests, White Pass Scenic Byway winds through the deep greens of mixed coniferous forests and the eye-catching colors of meadows ablaze with wildflowers. Shining lakes, rumbling rivers, and cascading waterfalls accompany travelers for almost the entire trip. The surrounding landscape can be seen on the trip or at various turnouts and overlooks. These allow visitors to catch their breath and take a good look at the striking wilderness through which they pass.
The byway begins in Marys Corner and continues for about 110 miles to Naches. Along the way, the byway passes its namesake, the 4,500-foot White Pass. The byway also offers excellent fishing and boating in the numerous lakes along its path. The byway passes closely to the southernmost tip of Mt. Rainier National Park, home of Mt. Ranier, and gives travelers a glimpse of the beautiful dormant volcano and its fantastic surroundings.
The White Pass Scenic Byway is a recreational paradise in the shadow of Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. Whether you enjoy camping, wilderness hiking, fishing, snowmobiling, or even hang-gliding, there are more outdoor recreational opportunities along the byway than anywhere else in the south Cascades region.
For nature lovers, The White Pass Scenic Byway is Washington State’s best roadway for wildlife-watching opportunities. From low-elevation lakes to sub-alpine ridges, wet west-side forests to the open steppes of eastern Washington, US 12 and its adjacent public lands provide a range of wild habitats. Oak Creek Wildlife Area, Cowlitz River fish hatcheries, and nearby areas in Mount Rainier National Park offer great opportunities to see Rocky Mountain elk, Bald Eagles, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots, spawning salmon, black bear, and many other species as well.
No matter the time of year, the White Pass Scenic Byway will have plenty to offer for any recreational enthusiast. Early fall can be the best season for hiking as trails are snow-free, sub-alpine vegetation is changing color, and mosquitoes have called it quits for the year. Later in the fall, hunters come to the forest for some of the state’s best deer and elk range. Fish follow their own seasons, and there’s almost always something to be caught. Come enjoy winter on the byway with the White Pass ski area, snowmobiling, back-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Whatever your outdoor activity, whatever the season, there’s something to do along the White Pass Scenic Byway.