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On The Loop: Leavenworth & Cascade Foothills

At Coles Corner take the side trip to Plain, Lake Wenatchee (Highway 207) or stay on Highway 2 and continue toward Bavarian Leavenworth through the magnificent Tumwater Canyon. During spring, melting snow streams off granite spires overhead, filling the Wenatchee River as it winds through the canyon. During fall, in particular late September through mid-October, this canyon is awash with autumn colors. Travelers and photographers from around the world trek to this part of the Loop to snag views and photos of the brilliant colors and the reflections in the seasonally lower and slower-moving water. Jolanda Lake, the still area of water just above the dam, is a wildly popular spot. That said, there are many designated pullouts throughout this stretch.

Round the bend one last time and the roadway delivers you to Leavenworth. The landscape shifts immediately to that of an alpine village—the scene is reminiscent of a small village tucked into the highest peaks of Europe! The New York Times wrote “It’s like living in a snow globe.” “The Today Show” and Condé Nast Traveler described Leavenworth as a top destination for unique fall foliage. Leavenworth delivers high-voltage Bavarian memories year-round with everything from yodeling to schnitzel. It’s even home to one of the world’s largest nutcracker collections at the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum! Intricately detailed Bavarian architecture houses an abundant and growing food scene, including international restaurants and handcrafted foods. Leavenworth is home to a fast-growing wine and cider scene. Several wine tasting rooms can be found on Front Street and many restaurants here stock and serve a wealth of locally sourced wines. Guests enjoy walkable Front Street and festive outdoor dining including beer-and-bratwurst gardens. During winter months, Leavenworth  is transformed into the Village of Lights from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s weekend—over a half-million colored bulbs light up the snowy town! During warmer months, enjoy flowers throughout town while you take in the shops on foot or horse-drawn carriage. Visitors have a lot of lodging options to choose from here, including family-friendly hotels, upscale resorts, rustic cabins, vacation homes, and bed-and-breakfast inns. Be sure to peruse the lodging options and leavenworth.org/lodging.

With more than 800 miles of trails, Leavenworth offers amazing outdoor recreation! Mountain bike Freund Canyon, day hike in the Icicle River Valley, or float the Wenatchee River. There are numerous outfitters to choose from. Rock climbing and bouldering are also huge here. Rock and Ice Magazine named the Icicle climbing network in neighboring Icicle River Valley among the top five in the nation.
If hiking and climbing aren’t your forté, how about a horseback ride with Wild At Heart Horse Rides in Plain, instead? Another idea for outdoor fun in Plain, head up to Leavenworth Ziplines for a little adrenaline boost and a lot of fun!

Arts and culture are also amazing in Leavenworth. Music is often played from the gazebo on Front Street while Art in the Park can also be found on display during the summer.

Looking for a truly unique experience for the whole family? Make your way to the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. Meet, feed and learn about these endangered Woodland Caribou year-round. The farm is USDA-certified and is a member of ROBA (Reindeer Owners & Breeders Association of America). The property is also an excellent place for a picnic stop during warmer months after visiting the reindeer!

Continue on to the small town of Cashmere and you’ll find a community with a whole lot of heart. Cashmere can only be described as all-American. The town takes its high school sports seriously, the locals know their history and their neighbors, and they love to welcome visitors! Cashmere’s Cottage Avenue Historic District features early 1900s-era Craftsman bungalow homes lined with picket fences and mature trees. Learn about the region’s early days at the Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village. The kids will love the treasure hunt and peering through vintage pioneer cabins! Pay tribute to all who lost their lives and those who responded at the 9/11 Spirit of America Memorial. And finally, this year we sadly said good-bye to the beloved Cashmere candy making institution Aplets & Cotlets Candy Factory. Liberty Orchards, makers of the historic confections closed this year wrapping up over 100 years of not simply making seriously yummy candies, but of aiding the formation of the Cascade Loop back in 1978 and contributing to countless local organizations, charities, events—you name it. These guys are a class act and served an incredibly impactful role for the Cascade Loop and Washington State. Liberty Orchards, we salute and thank you!

The next region of the Loop is Wenatchee and the Columbia River!

Bavarian Village of Leavenworth

Leavenworth and Cascade Foothills Visitor Services

Current Conditions

WSDOT Traffic Conditions & Cameras

Weather

Heritage & History

The Wenatchi-P’squosa, Yakama and Kittitas tribes traveled seasonally here for fishing, gathering and hunting. Many descendants of these tribes are now part of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. 

The 1800s brought fur trappers and explorers followed by prospectors, miners and settlers. A small townsite at the mouth of Tumwater Canyon was originally settled in the 1890s and incorporated in 1906 by Captain Charles Leavenworth. The town boomed with the Great Northern Pacific Railway but suffered when the rail line and rail yard were relocated to Wenatchee in the 1920s. That, combined with the Great Depression, delivered a swift blow to the local economy. Local business leaders put their heads together in the 1960s and developed the concept of the Bavarian-themed village, and the Leavenworth we know today was reborn.

Your Next Adventure Plans

Wildlife & Birding
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Hiking
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The Arts
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Amazing Food
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Climb On
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Alpine Lakes Wilderness
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Festivals
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Side Trip: Lake Wenatchee/Plain Loop
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EV Charging Stations
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Winter
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Upcoming Events In Leavenworth

Cascade Tunnel - Longest Railroad Tunnel in the US
It was in December of 1900 when the longest railroad tunnel in the US was opened for train travel over Steven’s Pass. Nine years later the tunnel was electrified! Read More >>>>
Salmon Viewing Locations on the Loop
Fall marks the season when Salmon can be seen in the waterways along the Cascade Loop. Check this list for some of our favorites! Read More >>>>
Watchable Wildlife - Blue Heron
As you are driving along the waterways of the Cascade Loop, be on the lookout for the majestic Great Blue Heron. They are regularly spotted wading in shallow water, patiently watching for small fish or frogs, their most common meals. Read More >>>>
Top 10 Fall Color Corridors on the Cascade Loop
The thing that folks love most about the Cascade Loop is its diversity of views throughout the byway, and fall colors are no exception. The colors are wild and vibrant and showcase a range of colors and textures as you explore the route. Travel counter-clockwise for the best views and know that as always, Mother Nature sets the schedule for when and how the colors change. Typically however, travelers can expect peak colors from the last week of September through mid-October. Special note: due to COVID-19 most Autumn public events… Read More >>>>
Ten Treks To Take--Winter on the Cascade Loop
Looking for some fresh air, space to move freely and get that heart a pumpin'? Look no more! The Cascade Loop has all manner of outdoor activities to keep you busy, happy and health this winter! Read More >>>>
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