Rainy and Washington Passes

I spent this past weekend camping in the best of all places: the North Cascades. While I camped on the shores of lovely Diablo Lake (a medium-sized glacial lake surrounded by high, snow-capped peaks just east of the Cascade Crest), my bike stayed locked in my car until Sunday when I had a chance to bring it to the high country for a ride.

This was the warmest and clearest weather we’ve enjoyed all year, with the temperature reaching into the 90s Fahrenheit, although during the course of this ride I got hit with several blasts of 45 degree air. It would happen whenever I’d go through the shade of a grove of trees, or by a waterfall, and it was a relief every time.

My pocket-sized camera died about a month ago on a rock climbing trip, and I haven’t replaced it yet (hence the lack of trip reports). For this ride, I took my SLR camera, which was a bit unnerving (it will hurt a lot if I crash). But it turned out well, and this was a fantastic ride.

The North Cascades Highway

The approach to Rainy Pass, with an almost empty road.

Early Winters Spires

Early Winters Spires, at the edge of the Methow Valley.

The viewpoint at Washington Pass

Washington Pass. Actually this is a few hundred yards beyond WA Pass, but it’s the famous view that everybody should ride by at least once.

Washington Pass, elevation 5,477 feet

The actual Washington Pass. A month from now, all the snow will be gone except in the shade at high elevations.

Rainy Pass, elevation 4,855 feet

My bike enjoying a well-earned rest at the end of the ride, at Rainy Pass.

The reason to do a ride like this, of course, is for the scenery. And it’s best in the late spring, when snow abounds, ideally right after the North Cascades Highway opens.

Sadly I haven’t had time to look at the GPS data, so I have no map to share for this ride. If you go, there are abundant pull-outs and trailheads offering plenty of choice for where to begin and end your ride. You really can’t go wrong here.


8 thoughts on “Rainy and Washington Passes

  1. We did some backpacking up in that area when we lived out there – gorgeous. I liked the area further south outside of Yakima too and of course Eagle Cap Wilderness far to the south and east but my very favorite was the Strawberry Wilderness in Oregon. We love Ohio but I sure wouldn’t mind a trip back out your way sometime! Nice pictures – thanks.

    • There are some great places outside Yakima, and a lot of people would be shocked to consider that they’re part of the “Pacific Northwest” or not terribly far from rainy, soggy Seattle. I haven’t been to the Strawberry Wilderness, though, I might have to check that out next time I find myself south of the border.

      Where did you backpack in the North Cascades?

  2. Thanks for stopping and checking out my blog! Nice pics you have on here.

    I hope to get up to the North Cascades before too long. It has been 20 years since I was there on vacation and it was a beautiful place. It would be a shame to wait another 20!


  3. Wow love the blog! And the pictures! I had the privilege of traveling to Alberta this summer for only a week. And I’m planing a trip back next summer cause it wasn’t enough. You are very lucky to live in such a beautiful place 🙂 Thanks for the tips on my blog!

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