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Canadian Border to Vancouver

  • Distance: 320 miles
  • Routes: Old Highway 99, Interstate 5
  • Estimated Driving time: 6 hours

Tour Overview

State Route 99 was constructed along the Territorial military roads that linked the settlements of the Puget Sound and the Columbia River regions. In the southern section, it approximates also the route of a branch of the Oregon Trail, blazed northward around the middle of the nineteenth century.

The northern section of the tour passes through the most popular part of the state. From many points, it affords sweeping views of the island-dotted Puget Sound and the jagged Olympic Mountains to the west, and of the Cascade Mountains, a blue-green ridge tipped here and there with white, in the east. At intervals the route crosses sluggish rivers flowing through fertile bottom lands, or skirts the edges of high, wooded bluffs. Large well-cultivated farms, truck gardens, orchards and berry fields, dairy farms, and poultry ranches alternate with areas of mature forest. Between the small towns strung out along the highway are the usual roadside inns and gasoline stations, joined since by RV parks and fast-food joints.

South of the Puget Sound Basin, the tour crosses gently rolling prairies, broken by small areas of evergreen, maple, and alder. Dominating the eastern horizon is Mount Rainier, while southward Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens seem less majestic, though only by comparison. In the lowlands, the large farms, gardens, and poultry ranches of yesteryear have given way to pulp processing plants, auto dealerships and the occasional farmhouse. Logging operations have been largely reduced. For miles, the tour follows the Cowlitz and Columbia Rivers and, finally, crosses the Columbia into Oregon.

Key Waypoints along Canadian Border to Mount Vernon

Blaine

The town derives its income chiefly from tourists’ trade and from the surrounding farming area. A small co-operative shingle mill... Visit

Bellingham

Port of call 18 miles south of the Canadian Border, industrial and educational center, and distribution point for northwestern Washington.... Visit

Burlington

A shipping center and local supply point for the fertile Skagit Valley. First settled in 1882 by John P. Millett... Visit

Mount Vernon

The seat of Skagit County, it was named for Washington’s Potomac home. The Skagit River has played an important part... Visit

Side trips along Canadian Border to Mount Vernon

Sumas

This 54 mile side trip explores farming communties in the Nooksack River valley and Sumas Prairie.

Birch Bay

This 10 mile side trip cuts through an area once populated with small farms, and orderly houses set in neat patches of lawn, and woods of vigorous, second-growth fir and alder to reach Birch Bay.

Lummi Island

This 31 side trip includes a ferry crossing as it winds out along the shoreline to reach Lummi Island.

Chuckanut Drive

This 24 mile side trip covers marine aquaculture along Samish Bay, agriculture in the north portion of the Skagit Valley, runs along the west edge of the Chuckanut Mountains that supplied sandstone for buildings in Bellingham and Fairhaven.

Little Mountain Park

This 8 mile side trip takes visitors to one of the best viewpoints of the Skagit Valley.

Key Waypoints along Mount Vernon to Seattle

Mount Vernon

The seat of Skagit County, it was named for Washington’s Potomac home. The Skagit River has played an important part... Visit

Everett

County seat of Snohomish County, lumbering center, seaport, and distributing point for a fertile agricultural and dairying area, the city... Visit

Seattle

The largest city of the Pacific Northwest, it lies along Elliott Bay, on the east shore of Puget Sound, 128... Visit

Side trips along Mount Vernon to Seattle

Camano Island

This 43 mile side trip loops out around the picturesque shoreline of Camano Island.

Darrington

This 82 mile side trip follows the north fork of the Stillaguamish River up into the North Cascade Mountains from farmland to mining towns.

Silverton

This 74 mile side trip runs up the river valley of the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River, follows abandoned Monte Cristo branch of Northern Pacific railroad; railroad used to run all the way up to Monte Cristo, mining towns.

Mukilteo

This 10 mile side trip leads out to a former trading center for Native Americans.

Edmonds

This 5 mile side trip leads out to the scenic beach front town of Edmonds.

Bothell

This 16 mile side trip drives through residential communities developed along Lake Washington to downtown Bothell.

Firland Sanatorium

This 1 mile side trip leads out to the former sanatorium site.

Dunn Gardens

This 2.5 mile side trip leads out to a beautifully landscaped Historic site.

Ballard

This 5 mile side trip leads out to the historic downtown of Ballard.

Seattle to Olympia

This section of the Pacific Highway lies through Washington’s State Capital and some of its largest cities. Skirting the bays of lower Puget Sound, the tour passes through the State’s most densely populated and most highly industrialized area, yet woodland stretches and thinly settled fanning districts are met with just outside these centers.

This leg of the tour has 20 waypoints and 7 side trip tours

Key Waypoints along Seattle to Olympia

Seattle

The largest city of the Pacific Northwest, it lies along Elliott Bay, on the east shore of Puget Sound, 128... Visit

Fife

Located at a valley crossroads by the 1940s it was in the midst of a thickly settled berry growing and... Visit

Tacoma

Lying along the protected waters of Puget Sound and Commencement Bay, into which the Puyallup River drains, is about midway... Visit

Side trips along Seattle to Olympia

Georgetown

This 2 mile side trip leads out the brick commercial and industrial core of this community that developed around the Rainier Brewery.

Museum of Flight

This 3 mile side trip leads to the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world.

White Center

This 3 mile side trip leads to the bustling commercial core of White Center.

Point Defiance Park

This 17 mile side trip leads out through downtown Tacoma to the picturesque Point Defiance Park, passing through several of Tacoma’s major historic districts

Steilacoom

This 12 mile side trip leads out through Fort Steilacoom to Steilacoom overlooking the Puget Sound and ferry access across Cormorant Passage to Ketron Island and to Anderson Island

Thornewood

This 1 mile side trip leads to the historic home and grounds of Thornewood.

Dupont

This 2 mile side trip leads out to the Dupont Village Historic District.

Key Waypoints along Olympia to Mary’s Corner

Tumwater

Tumwater (Chinook, “waterfalls”) was the Puget Sound terminus of the northern extension of the Oregon Trail. Here, in 1845, the... Visit

Tenino

The city came into existence in the early 1870s, when a railroad under construction from Kalama to Tacoma located a... Visit

Centralia

Near the junction of the Chehalis and Skookumchuck Rivers, the city is often referred to as the “Hub City” of... Visit

Chehalis

Near the confluence of the Newaukum and Chehalis Rivers is Chehalis (“shifting sands”), the seat of Lewis County. The business... Visit

Mary’s Corner

A corner at the junction of the National Park Highway and old Pacific Highway. The corner is named for Mary... Visit

Side trips along Olympia to Mary’s Corner

Millersylvania State Park

This 7 mile side trip leads to the recreation amenities at Millersylvania State Park.

Bucoda

This 8 mile side trip leads out to the former lumber community of Bucoda.

Mima Mounds State Park

This 20 mile side trip leads out to the remarkable Mima Mounds.

Malone

This 50 mile side trip leads out through the Chehalis River valley and Ford Prairie to Elma.

Raymond

This 104 mile side trip cuts west across coastal range between Grays River Divide (to south) and P and E Ridge to north, going up Chehalis River valley, across Pe Ell Prairie, and coming out on west side along Willapa...

Napavine

This 8 mile side trip leads out to a small trading community.

Morton

This 60 mile side trip follows a scenic byway out along highway 508 along north fork of Tilton River through several small communities.

Key Waypoints along Mary’s Corner to Vancouver

Mary’s Corner

A corner at the junction of the National Park Highway and old Pacific Highway. The corner is named for Mary... Visit

Toledo

It had at least three previous names; Plomondoe's Landing, Cowlitz Landing, and Warbassport. The present community occupies the site of... Visit

Kelso

The city has the brisk air of a small metropolis, compact with stores and business blocks. The industries of the... Visit

Kalama

Kalama (“pretty maiden”), is on a narrow flat at the confluence of the Columbia and Kalama Rivers. It began in... Visit

Woodland

The town, situated on a low, wide plain, was a bustling center of the surrounding farming, dairying, and poultry community... Visit

Vancouver

The seat of Clark County and oldest settlement in the State, is strategically located on the navigable lower Columbia River,... Visit

Side trips along Mary’s Corner to Vancouver

Winlock

This 11 mile side trip leads out to historically one of the most productive egg and poultry producing districts in the state.

Ryderwood

The 28 mile side trip follows the Cowlitz River west to the Still Water creek and then up the Still Water Creek valley, across Cougar Flat to Ryderwood, end of the road, up in the Cascades.

Eden Valley

The 24 mile side trip runs across Layton Prairie, east of Toledo, up into mountains crossing Eden Valley near the headwaters of Salmon Creek, much of the road was still under construction in 1930, connects with Scenic byway to south...

Mount Saint Helens

The 102 mile side trip follows the course of the Toutle River, the route ascends more steeply, winding about mountain faces high above the river, revealing panoramas of mountain and valley wilderness.

Columbia Heights Road

This 10 mile side trip loops out through a countryside of well-kept gardens and homes.

Three Rivers Golf Course

This 3 mile side trip leads out to the former Monticello Convention Site location, now near the site of the Three Rivers Golf Course.

Kalama Falls

The 17 mile side trip follows the shelf of the Kalama River through a gorge of sheer rock walls rising precipitously above the roadbed to the Kalama Falls fish hatchery.

Battle Ground

This 80 mile side trip leads out through Brush Prairie, the Chelatchie Prairie, to the east end of Lake Merwin.

Knapp Point

This 30 mile side trip leads out to Caterpillar Island and Knapp Point along the Columbia River.

This tour has 5 legs, 86 waypoints, 38 side trips, and covers 320 miles.