Dozens of areas along the Byway offer birders, naturalists, or the casual observer, grand opportunities to explore and seek out countless varieties of birds. Numerous locations along the Byway such as Swofford Pond, the Kosmos Unit of the Cowlitz Wildlife Area, Woods Creek , and Packwood Lake have earned the prestigious designation of being represented on Audubon’s Great Washington State Birding Trail. Grab your binoculars, a camera, and a bit of patience — it’s all you need to enjoy a day with your feathered friends.
It’s about the exhilaration of the descent, racing down mountainsides, around alpine lakes, across lazy streams and through the deep forest. For the daring and determined, mountain biking affords active alternatives for discovering the Byway’s pristine natural beauty. Explore Bethel Ridge for a less challenging, yet scenic ride, or for a truly strenuous trek, opt for High Rock Lookout near Packwood. With trails available for the cautious beginner to the accomplished thrill-seeker, countless options for outdoor adventure are waiting to be explored.
The Byway’s plentiful lakes, rivers and ponds provide boat enthusiasts picturesque places to explore some of the state’s greatest waterways. Lakes Mayfield, Riffe, and Scanewa, and the Cowlitz River are just a few popular spots for boating. On the water is arguably the most relaxing way to spend a beautiful day outdoors. Whether you spend it in a power boat or a row boat, be sure to take time to explore the Byway’s beauty from the water. After a day of boating fun, it’s easy to remember why it’s called the “Great Outdoors”. Call 1-888-502-8690 to check availability of boat launches on Mayfield and Riffe Lakes.
The crackling of the campfire, starry night skies, the peace and quiet of the great outdoors… Camping may be the most relaxing way to experience the Byway’s wonder, beauty and adventure. Whether you seek the solitude and simplicity of tent camping or are looking for the perfect place to park the family RV, the White Pass Scenic Byway offers a true wilderness experience. Over thirty-five high-quality campgrounds are located along the byway. With so many choices, you may find yourself next to a picturesque lake, along a bubbling river, or nestled amongst the tall trees. Get back to nature, lose yourself in the mountains’ majesty and enjoy nature at its best.
Calling all anglers — take your pick — this Byway is loaded with boundless opportunities for some of the Northwest’s best fishing. From fly fishing for rainbows to reeling in that 40-pound salmon, anglers seeking to lure their limit are sure to hook their catch in these prized fishing waters. Visit Mayfield or Riffe Lake for a day on the water, or troll the Cowlitz River, a year-round fisher’s paradise and home to the best steelhead fishing in the state. Both the Barrier Dam and Blue Creek boat fishing access areas have river fishing sites developed for wheelchair-bound users. Beautiful lakes and rivers dot the Byway — with so many options, a great day on the water is nothing less than a guarantee.
Call Tacoma Power at (888) 502-8690 for recorded information about river flows, lake levels and boat launch usability.
Ready for a new adventure? Hunt for geocaches around Mount Rainier and in our gateway communities. If you haven’t tried geocaching yet, it’s an outdoor “treasure hunt” using a GPS-enabled device such as a smartphone (with a geocaching app) or GPS receiver. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then look for the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Geocaches in the area highlight the rich history, scenic wonders, quaint communities, and hidden gems of the Mount Rainier region. Can you say “road trip”?!
For the devoted golfer, there are opportunities to swing the clubs along the Byway in the most natural of settings. Choose from the 9-hole course available at the Ironwood Green Golf Course in Glenoma or spend the afternoon at the Maple Grove Golf facility in Randle. Enjoy teeing off in the shadow of the majestic mountains among the rolling green hills for an unbeatable day on the course.
Floating through the air with the greatest of ease… Watch the skies come alive with the colors of soaring hang gliders launching off Dog Mountain near Morton. The gliders use a private launching area, but it’s a free show to witness their flight. Watch these flying enthusiasts getaway from it all as they attempt to defy gravity gracefully dipping and soaring across the Washington sky and over the forest far below.
Tacoma Power operates two large fish hatcheries on the Cowlitz River, the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery and the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery. Tacoma Power’s newly remodeled Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery includes a new, award-winning education center. Inside the Visitor Center, interactive displays show a salmon’s journey through life, exploring the 5 “Hs” of a salmon’s life cycle – hatchery, hydropower, harvest, habitat and high seas. The salmon hatchery produces nearly 13 million fish each year, including about 1.3 million spring Chinook, 5.0 million fall Chinook and 2.4 million coho salmon.
Discover the true beauty of this natural playground with a trek along one of the area’s beautiful pathways. Hike along trails that pass by crystal lakes and streams, through acres of wildflowers and witness countless viewpoints. Traverse trails through dense forests, towering peaks and rugged mountains. Surrounding the Byway are the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, as well as the William O. Douglas, Tatoosh, and Goat Rocks Wilderness Areas. With year-round opportunities for wilderness adventure, pick a hiking trail and spend the day exploring the hidden gems of this unspoiled wilderness.
For those who prefer to enjoy the great outdoors on horseback, several horse camps and countless getaway trails are located along the Byway. Spend the day trotting the trails taking in breathtaking views of rich mountain forests of Washington, alpine meadows and bubbling streams. Treat yourself to a leisurely tour on Divide Trail for fabulous views of Adams Glacier or enjoy fantastic vistas on the High Lakes Trail, a historic trail once used by Yakama Indians for berry picking. See the sights the cowboy way, on the back of a horse — and ride away from it all.
Let’s ride! Rambling roads, breathtaking vistas and many pit stops along the way, the White Pass Scenic Byway has all the makings for a great motorcycling adventure. Steep grades and sweeping curves bring the road to life and the natural beauty and varied landscapes along the way make for the perfect setting. Travel the road while taking in the majestic mountain views, stop at intriguing historic sites and have a bite to eat in one of the motorcycle friendly communities… This road is a proven favorite among motorcycling travelers. Print out our tearsheet map and away you go. Hit the road and enjoy the sights along the way.
Ulis Fleming Get off-road and start exploring! The byway provides excellent opportunities for off-road riding. From high-mountain trails to dry open spaces there are many places to drive in the dirt. Divide Ridge near Naches is popular with four-wheel drive enthusiasts and offers trails both scenic and challenging. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest with over 200 miles of trails has some of the best trails in Washington State. A great place to ride with some spectacular views and a variety of terrain from easy to difficult.
Picking & Gathering
Kevin Clemans Nature offers traditional gatherers limited opportunities for mushroom picking and huckleberry picking within or near the forested areas along White Pass Scenic Byway. The best areas for huckleberry picking are at higher elevations in the Cowlitz and Trout Lake Districts. Mushrooms may be harvested anywhere in the National Forests unless otherwise restricted, but note that harvesting mushrooms in the Wilderness Areas is prohibited. Use a reputable forest guide to help you determine which mushrooms are edible. Don’t remove more mushrooms or berries than you need; but always remember to leave some to share with many wildlife creatures that use them for food.
Field guides can be purchased at the Northwest Interpretive Association
Huckleberry picking in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Mushroom Picking in the Naches Ranger District
River Rafting & Kayaking
Energizing the body and recharging the soul, a river rafting or kayaking adventure along one of the Byway’s waterways is an unforgettable and “moving” experience. Home to some of the fastest whitewater in the state, journey past rugged basalt cliffs and beautiful tree-lined shores. Get introduced to the rivers of the Byway, the Tieton and Tilton, Cowlitz and Cispus. Join the many people who have come to know and love rafting these raging rivers.
Take three parts exhilaration, two parts trust and one part fear. Add a dash of patience, a teaspoon of soreness, and garnish with a love of heights — the recipe for rock climbing, the ultimate Washington getaway. The Byway’s Tieton River Canyon offers numerous routes up its craggy sides. Adventurous souls can spend the day exploring its many cracks and faces while taking in the splendid vistas and that arid Eastern Washington air. A great way to stay in shape, experience the thrill of the challenge, and discover stunning vistas from quiet and remote vantage points.
Bugling elk, daring mountain goats, acrobatic eagles, and swiftly moving salmon are just a few of the area residents that can be spotted along the Byway. Head to Woods Creek Watchable Wildlife Trail, the Cowlitz Wildlife Area’s Kosmos, and Swofford Pond – home to numerous varieties of waterfowl and songbirds. The diverse lands along the Byway encompass several different habitats. From fertile valleys to alpine woodlands to pine forests, keep your eyes peeled for a wide array of wildlife.
The cool breeze on your face. Feeling the water beneath your feet. From waterskiing and windsurfing to paddleboarding, spend the day on the water at one of the Byway’s many lakes! Riffe Lake and Mayfield Lake are favorites on the west side of the Byway, while Rimrock Lake and Clear Lake are popular east side destinations. Be ready for a day of fun on the lake.