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The tour skirts a deep narrow gorge faced with walls of tawny red rock, then abruptly emerges in a level-floored canyon through which the river winds. A grove of delicate birch trees beside the river relieves the monotonous green of larger timber. In the winter, huge mounds of snow rise above the roadway.

The road runs high above the river canyon through ridges and slopes that in the 1940s were shaded by towering western red cedars—once one of the few fine stands remaining in the State—and Douglas firs and hemlocks. Some of these trees were more than 250 feet high. The green is animated by an occasional yew, banks of bright red elderberries, elk-horn mosses, and creeping berry vines.