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Canadian Border to Swauk Creek

  • Distance: 188 miles
  • Routes: SR 97
  • Estimated Driving Time: 3.5 hours

The tour follows state route 97 along the deep Okanogan River Valley to the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers. The highway then continues along the Columbia until it is joined by the Methow River where the tour turns. Following the Method River up into the Cascade Mountains before climbing over Blewett Pass.

Reminders of past eras are still visible at sacred sites of Native American Tribes and gold camps, sawmills, railroads and cattle ranches of white settlers who followed. Today the towering pine covered cliffs above the riverbanks are home to hardy farming communities tending large fruit orchards.

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Port of entry and customs and immigration station, north of the confluence of the Similkameen and Okanogan Rivers, is noted for mining, lumbering, and fruit canning. The development that came with the railroad is visible in the substantial modern structures of the compact little business section beyond the depot. Originally named Oro (Sp. “gold”), the “ville” was added to avoid confusion with Oso, another town in the State. A rush...

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Oroville Depot

The valley once contained what is known as the Okanogan Lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. Rocks, sandy patches, and gravelly areas indicate thousands of years of glacial action. Broad-leafed cottonwood, thicketed birches, willows, alders, and aspen (quaking asp), with their smooth, greenish-white bark and easily agitated leaves, line the banks of the Okanogan River. Many of these are of commercial value. The willow, flexible and easily cut, is used...

Learn more about Okanogan Valley

Tour climbs along the slopes of the west bank of the Okanogan River. Along the river cottonwoods rustle in the wind and willow and aspen quiver in rhythm with the stream’s current. Narrow side roads struggle through canyons to valleys supporting small farms, surrounded by split-rail fences, their houses mottled by the weather and warped from their cornerstones. The frontier spirit, quaint humor, and dialect of the inhabitants of these...

Learn more about Wagon Road Coulee

  The sleepy little village is confined to a hollow on the west bank of the lazy Okanogan River, it has an air of rustic serenity, emphasized by yellow roses and hollyhocks and vine-covered houses. Nevertheless, Riverside was once a bustling little metropolis and a point of great strategic value in the flow of Okanogan Valley commerce. A short distance north of town McLoughlin Rapids transform a section of the...

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Mile: 299

Cut by the curve of the Okanogan River, is the largest town in the north-central part of the State. The compact and solidly built business district fronts on the main highway. Across the river were warehouse-lined railroad tracks and old straggling streets. When the town of Omak was platted in 1907 the name of the post office which had previously been Epley was changed to Omak. The name is from...

Learn more about Omak
Points of Interest
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US Post Office

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Shellrock Point

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Pogue Flat

The center of government in Okanogan County since 1915, it is also headquarters for the Chelan National Forest. Though less populous than Omak, it has a larger and more impressive business district. The six blocks of brick and frame buildings occupy a narrow valley on a delta bar, at the mouth of Salmon Creek. The Okanogan River winds slowly and quietly a few hundred feet left of Second Avenue, the...

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Okanogan County Courthouse

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US Post Office

Virtually wiped out on April 19, 1938, by a flood resulting from the bursting of a dam on Loop Loop Creek, has been rebuilt into an attractive modern town. Its former dingy structures were carried away when the water swept through the main street. No lives were lost, and normal shipments of fruit and livestock were not interrupted. Sand drifts and other scattered evidences of the flood are still visible...

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An early route to the Methow Valley. Stop for the historical marker. Since the carving of a road in the steep rocky sides of the Methow River, farther south, this trail has been little traveled. It winds up through the Chiliwist Canyon, thence over trails that climb the 30-to-50-degree mountain slopes to the summit, then leads down into the beautiful and bounteous Methow Valley. The trail was named after Native...

Learn more about Chillowist Trail

At the confluence of the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers, a village of a few new brick and many old frame buildings, surrounded by lawn-bordered houses scattered among the sagebrush, is an oasis in this desert country. Originally, it was a junction point for navigation on the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers. The first attempt to build here was in 1892, but the depression of 1893 delayed development. In 1896 a steamboat...

Learn more about Brewster

With shady streets, Pateros is an inviting spot in this customarily hot and dry area. Formerly called Ives Landing, the town was named Pateros by Lieutenant Nosler, an Army officer who had campaigned near a town of the same name in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Situated at the mouth of the Methow River, Pateros is the gateway to the mining and farming region of the Methow Valley. The...

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Mile: 254

A railway station on the Columbia River. The railroad station was named by the Great Northern Railway for R. W. Starr, a prominent fruit grower, from whom the railroad acquired a right-of-way. Some maps use the name Star. Between Star and Azwell, the tour follows the west bank of the Columbia River through a region of rocks, sand, and sagebrush. Square boulders of all sizes seem like dice which were...

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The name is a modification of Tsill-anne, the Native American name for the lake, meaning deep water. The town is a trading center and outlet for the Lake Chelan mining and fruit-growing region. Modern brick structures contrast with buildings on the wide main street. Water power, water transportation, fruit raising, lumbering, and mining are Chelan's main industries, and the town also carries on a brisk tourist trade. Launches operate to...

Learn more about Chelan
Points of Interest
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Lord House

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Lake Chelan Hydroelectric Power Plant

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St. Andrews Episcopal Church

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Ruby Theater

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Chelan Butte Lookout

Tour follows the southwestern shore of Lake Chelan and passes many orchards. Between Lake Chelan and the Columbia River the highway winds its way through coulees. Large boulders and odd stratifications are numerous in the coulees. At Knapp’s Hill the tour passes through a 600 feet long, 26 feet wide, and 21 feet high tunnel, which eliminated the dangerous cutbacks and steep grades of the old road that wound above.

Learn more about Knapp Coulee

Mile: 229

A community on the west bank of the Columbia River. In 1909, a post office was established, and the name suggested was Coles View, to honor Postmaster Elizabeth Cole. Postal authorities objected to two words, and from a submitted list picked the present name. It is for the variety of apple which was once popular in this area of orchards.

Learn more about Winesap

Mile: 222

A prominent geological feature first named in 1889 when it was noted by Wenatchee pioneers that the rock outcropping’s profile resembled that of Abraham Lincoln. It is now part of Lincoln Rock State Park, an 80-acre camping park on the east side of Lake Entiat, created by Rocky Reach Dam blocking the flow of the Columbia River north of Wenatchee.     This rock formation is on the north bank...

Learn more about Lincoln Rock

Mile: 205

Many roads, some of them paved, wound among modern bungalows and farm homes. Fruit ranches in this district through the 1940s averaged only seven acres, the size preferred for intensive orchard cultivation. The network of roads permits rapid transit to and from near-by Wenatchee. Shallow at this point, the river is pitted with many rocks; small islands snuggle against the shores. White, yellow, and brown cliffs become lower; sunburned hills...

Learn more about Birch Flat

Mile: 200

Outside of Wenatchee, the highway becomes a narrow lane between apple orchards, a foam of bloom in the spring. At the opening of the harvest season, which begins early with peaches, pears, and soft fruits, the valley is the mecca for thousands who seek work in the orchards. Men, women, and children in all sorts of vehicles invade the city, crowd the auto camps, and fill the camps established on...

Learn more about Sunnyslope

A typical apple-country town, with conspicuous warehouses and attractive school. Monitor is a community six-and-a-half miles northwest of Wenatchee on the Wenatchee River. The name was chosen by townsite platters for reasons which are not of record, and which appear to have no local significance. Prior to platting, the place was known as Brown’s Flats.

Learn more about Monitor
Points of Interest
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Burbank Homestead Waterwheel

In 1907, the Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Company constructed a two-span steel pin connected Pratt truss over the Wenatchee River. This 320-foot structure consists of two 140 foot steel trusses, and two 20-foot timber trestle approach spans. Each truss is composed of seven 20 foot panels, and rests on two pairs of riveted steel cylinder piers which are filled with concrete, and are braced by two eyebars with turnbuckles....

Learn more about West Monitor Bridge

Shaded by locust and maple trees, this is an orchard community but perhaps best known as the home of “Aplets, the confection of the fairies,” a sweetmeat flavored with apple juice and enriched by walnuts and spices. Tours are available of the Liberty Orchards Factory, which makes Aplets and Cotlets along with other fruit candies and chocolates, at the corner of Aplets Way and Mission Ave. Cashmere’s main commercial street...

Learn more about Cashmere
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Cottage Avenue Historic District

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The Pioneer Village

The tour follows the banks of the winding Wenatchee River, above which rise foothills dotted with clumps of pines. Orchards claim every available foot of valley land. Dryden, a fruit-packing and shipping center, was named by the Great Northern Railroad in honor of a noted Canadian horticulturist. In 1907, it was named by Great Northern Railway officials, for an eminent Canadian horticulturist who accompanied James Hill on a tour through...

Learn more about Dryden
Points of Interest
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Johnson Barn

The lodge, heavily altered from the original structure, is now a restaurant and trading post. Across US 97 (Old Blewett Rd.) are campgrounds and Ingalls Creek Road. Ingalls Creek is a small community on the Peshastin River opposite its mouth. Captain Benjamin Ingalls led a party of surveyors and guards, over two hundred men in all, over the Wenatchee Mountains around 1855. He is reportedly the first person to discover...

Learn more about Ingalls Creek Lodge

Mile: 178

Prospectors returning from British Columbia’s Cariboo and Fraser districts in 1860 wandered into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and began placer mining on the creeks. The town was named Edward Blewitt of Seattle, who operated a gold mining company that owned many of the claims in the area. At one time, more than 300 miners worked in the area. Prior to 1879, Blewett was reached only by trail; in...

Learn more about Blewett
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The Blewett Arrastra

Mile: 174

This is another important placer-mining community, at a point where the highway gradually emerges from the shade of the ravine to the brightness of the open prairie. South of Swauk Prairie, meadows and occasional swampy lands stretch on both sides. The carpet of green is welcome after so many miles of sand, rocks, and sagebrush eastward along the route.     Swauk Creek rises at Blewett Pass on boundary of...

Learn more about Swauk Creek

Mile: 150

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