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Natural Setting

Washington, the Evergreen State, has a rich and diverse natural setting. The state’s borders are defined by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Canada to the north, Idaho to the East, and Oregon to the south. The sea carves up the northwest corner of the state and the meandering Columbia River separates Washington from Oregon. Washington is well known for its beautiful mountains, vast forests, stunning waterfalls, and fertile agricultural land. Driving through the state affords sweeping views of these invaluable natural resources, which include the numerous peaks of the Cascade Mountains; the Olympic Mountains’ serrated ridges; the lush vegetation and streams of the Willapa Hills; the forested bluffs and network of islands within the Puget Sound Basin; the rounded, broad, low hills of the Okanagan Highlands; the Columbia Basin’s sage and scablands; and the domes and valleys of the Blue Mountains.

Swauk Creek to Maryhill

This tour follows the Yakima River through both narrow, rugged and expansive agricultural valleys as the river shaped the area’s development patterns. The tour climbs the Horse Heaven hills between the Yakima River Valley and the Columbia River Gorge.

Spokane to Collins House

This section of US 195, known as the Inland Empire, or Palouse Highway, traverses one of the most fertile farming areas in the United States. Practically the entire route runs through rolling hills, treeless except for clumps of willow and brush along the creeks and in the swampy lowlands.

Idaho Line to Spokane

The northern section of the route winds through sparsely settled foothill country cut by small streams, dotted with lakes, and interspersed with prairies and shallow valleys. A hundred years ago these hills were covered with open forests of lodgepole and ponderosa pine, tamarack, and fir; the prairies were unbroken expanses of bunch grass; and the watercourses ran full and clear.

San Juan Islands

This tour follows the San Juan Islands Scenic Byway. Follow the historic canoe route of the Coast Salish people aboard Washington State Ferries from Anacortes to the beautiful San Juan Islands. Once there, the Islands are easily accessible by multiple modes—walking, bicycling, transit, automobile, and even by kayak.

Maryhill Junction to Vancouver

Beginning among brown, treeless hillsides, the Lewis and Clark Highway threads downstream along the Columbia River through a deep and spectacular gorge which, laying open a cross section of the otherwise unbroken 2,000-mile Cascade-Sierra mountain chain, separates the states of Washington and Oregon.

Almira to Coulee Dam

Travel through dry wheatlands and occasional patches of scab rock and sagebrush. The route rises slowly with curves and dips, reaching the Columbia River, then descending dizzily by a winding three-mile grade into the canyon carved by the river to one of the wonders of the world, Coulee Dam, a project begun in 1933 and completed in 1941.

Davenport to Ellensburg

Large, well-cultivated farms alternate with stretches of uninhabited range; at widely spaced intervals small towns, ganglia of settlement, are strung along the highway. Travel through large, well-cultivated farms alternating with stretches of uninhabited range and dots of small towns.

Almira to Coulee Dam

Travel through dry wheatlands and occasional patches of scab rock and sagebrush. The route rises slowly with curves and dips, reaching the Columbia River, then descending dizzily by a winding three-mile grade into the canyon carved by the river to one of the wonders of the world, Coulee Dam, a project begun in 1933 and completed in 1941.

Davenport to Ellensburg

Large, well-cultivated farms alternate with stretches of uninhabited range; at widely spaced intervals small towns, ganglia of settlement, are strung along the highway. Travel through large, well-cultivated farms alternating with stretches of uninhabited range and dots of small towns.