The flats and the lower Cowlitz Valley, settlement of which dates back to 1850, is a checkerboard of small orchards, grain fields, and pastures dotted with Jersey and Holstein cattle. Farther eastward, the road runs through logged-off lands, partially overgrown by alder and willow and interspersed with stump farms. In the foothills the valley narrows between slopes covered with virgin forests of Douglas fir and hemlock, broken with patches of cutover and occasional black forest burns. Few settlers penetrated the foothills until the nineties, and even today most of the isolated villages have retained an almost rustic simplicity.
The tour continues over White Pass. In the 1930s the road ended on the west side of the cascades, but was extended over the pass. This 4,500 foot pass is between the headwaters of the Clear Fork of the Cowlitz River on the west and the Tieton Basin on the east in Lewis and Yakima counties. It was named for Charles W. White, a civil engineer, who discovered the saddle while working for the Northern Pacific Railway Company. He later laid out the streets of New Tacoma, Washington which is now downtown Tacoma.
The White Pass Scenic Byway is an exceptional driving destination, offering travelers experiences of wildlife, outstanding scenic and natural landscapes, and outdoor recreation.
The White Pass Scenic Byway is Washington State’s best roadway for wildlife watching opportunities