Ascending the watershed of the Wenatchee River toward the summits of the Cascade Range, the highway passes through portions of the Wenatchee and Snoqualmie national forests, where recreational areas may be reached by numerous side roads and trails. Downward from the summit, the route lies between mile-high peaks along the valley of the Tye, Skykomish, and Snohomish Rivers, streams that are never placid and, during floodtime, are torrential. West of the mountains are dairy lands, with large herds of grazing milch cows and groups of trim farmhouses, large red barns, and silos. Near the highway, the Snohomish flows sluggishly towards Puget Sound. The soil and the humid atmosphere of the valley favor intensive farming and dairying; often three crops of garden produce are raised in one year on this alluvial bottom land.
The tour follows the Great Northern Railway’s Iron Goat Trail, and the thundering Skykomish and Wenatchee Rivers. Visitors can hike, ski, white water kayak, enjoy views of glaciated mountain spires, or sample the hospitality of rustic byway communities along this scenic byway.