Scenic USA - Washington

Stevens Pass

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Stevens Pass - Skykomish, Washington

Photos by Jim Stiles
Jim Stiles Photography

   During the years before 1972, getting across the Cascade Range above Interstate 90 could only be achieved by way of U.S. Route 2. When Route 20 was completed, a remarkable byway loop was formed which encircles two enormous national forestlands. The 400 mile North Cascades Loop passes over the majestic Cascade Range twice, leads through a land of glacial lakes, picturesque farmlands, swift flowing streams and plenty of cascades and waterfalls. The Route 2 highway, a mecca for sightseers, photographers and mountain backpackers, follows the historic Great Northern Railway's Iron Goat Trail. Here in the heart of the Northern Cascades, the mountain throughway saddles up to the thundering Skykomish River on the west and the Wenatchee River to the east, both meeting at Stevens Pass. Stevens Pass Pullout - Washington State
   Stevens Pass is named after John Frank Stevens, who searched for a suitable route over the Cascades for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Learning of the pass from Native Americans, he followed the promising route in 1890. Surprisingly, Stevensí survey found no hints that this trail was ever used. Slowed by a dense forest and impenetrable underbrush, Stevens eventually concluded that this was the route for the Great Northern Railway.
   As one would guess from this mid-autumn photograph, crossing the 4060 foot pass during winter can be challenging at times. Traffic advisories are posted periodically and a web cam at milepost 65.7 offers a great idea of the present weather.

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