Chinook Scenic Byway

State: Washington
Length: 85 miles / 136.8 km
Time to Allow: Adjust your schedule to fit this 1.5 to 2 hour excursion.

Enjoy the Chinook Scenic Byway for 96 miles for glacier-fed forests, peaks, and rocky ridges. Along the way, pass by gorgeous mountains like Mount Rainer, the second tallest peak in the continental United States. Some areas are extra worthy of attention which is why you should dedicate a few days to the byway despite the fact that you can drive it in just four hours or less.

Starting in the east at the Naches River sits the town of Naches, a tiny town a few miles from Yakima that’s the gateway to the Wilde forest of the Cascades and fruit orchards in the valley. Find the Boulder Cave Trail for a unique hike through rugged rocky terrain. Try out one of several wineries nearby or golfing. Spend the night camping at the Hause Creek Campground as long as you don’t mind a rustic campground without flushing toilets or water available.

Move up into the wooded area north toward the forest, passing through the small towns of the Nile and Pinecliff. In Cliffdell, a quiet town in the Wenatchee National Forest. Stop here to fill up on supplies, grab a quick meal, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery at the Whistling Jack’s Lodge. Follow 410 to the west past Goose Prairie home of the William O. Douglas cabin. Bumping Lake sits nearby with a campground with two sections and flushing toilets.

Make sure to visit the Boulder Cave Recreational Area for a mile-long hike to a 400-foot deep cave home to big-eared bats. It’s closed in the winter to allow the bats to hibernate in peace. However, the cave stays cold year-round and meanders over a 330-foot basalt rock cave with the Devil’s creek flowing alongside the trail. Next, the trail leads to Tipsoo Lake, eight miles past the town of Sunrise and by the White River. In the distance, you can see Crystal Mountain, then spend a day or two in the Mount Rainer National Park with multiple snow-capped peaks.

Crystal Mountain offers a skiing area with a gondola and a resort. Try out hiking, disc golf, skiing, mining, sky camping, and horseback riding. Dine at the Fireside Cantina or grab a cup of java at the Quicksilver Coffee Shop. The resort also offers chalets, RVing, and tent camping. No trip to Mount Rainer is complete without visiting the Skookum Falls and the Palisades Trailhead near the town of Greenwater with two state parks and the Thunder Dome Car Museum.

Find a variety of affordable lodging options, too, and check out the Wapiti Outdoors store around the towns of Greenwater and Enumclaw. The Mud Mountain Dam Park ends the byway with multiple trails and vistas. It’s a family-friendly park that’s free to visit and offers a chance of solitude. If you have ever wished to visit Seattle, it’s just forty miles away with tons of water and islands to start an epic new adventure.

More Washington Byways

You can check out additional Byways in Washington by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the Washington Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.