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On The Loop: Wenatchee & Columbia River Valley

Follow the Wenatchee River as it winds through orchard-lined Sleepy Hollow and descend into the Wenatchee Valley, known as the Apple Capital of the World. Wenatchee is located at the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers. Hot summer sun and abundant irrigation yield ideal produce-growing conditions. While the area has traditionally been known for the apples, pears, and cherries it grows, it also yields some pretty tasty wine grapes and a huge variety of produce as well.

Continue on Highway 2 into Wenatchee’s downtown National Historic District. Chat with friendly shopkeepers and explore boutiques, galleries, and Art on the Avenues’ impressive collection of outdoor public art. Stop by the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce Visitor Information Center and Tasting Room to get personalized guidance for local activities and sample local wines, craft beers and handmade ciders! Pybus Public Market is a community gathering spot and the permanent home of the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market, boutique shops, and family-owned and operated restaurants. Shop and dine at Pybus or go for a walk on the adjacent riverfront, which links more than 25 miles of well-maintained, paved paths that constitute the Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail. It crosses two bridges and circles both sides of the Columbia River.

The Wenatchee Valley is known for its year-round outdoor recreation. Hike the surrounding foothills and explore well-maintained trail systems. Warm months are popular for stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing in the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers. Visit cdlandtrust.org for detailed foothills trail information and maps.

Winter draws alpine skiers and snowboard enthusiasts to neighboring Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort, a short 12 miles out of town. The locals are sensitive to wildlife migratory needs during this time of year, so be sure to check in with cdlandtrust.org for information regarding seasonal trail closures before heading out for a quick snowshoe.

Next, head across the bridge to East Wenatchee. This community is home to Pangborn Memorial Airport, car rental services, lodging, shopping, dining, a Scottish links-style golf course, and award-winning wineries.

When you’re ready to continue along the Cascade Loop, head back across the river and stop at Ohme Gardens. Build a couple of hours into your schedule to explore the alpine flora. This is an amazing place to snag photos of the entire valley. Next, head toward Rocky Reach Discovery Center! Stretch your legs and explore the property’s manicured gardens and plan to enjoy a leisurely picnic! The museum has undergone a major renovation as of late with really exciting changes in store. The indoor facility is closed until its grand reopening late summer 2021—stay tuned!

Continue north to the small town of Entiat. Stop along the river at Entiat City Park, which is complete with beach access, a boat launch, restrooms and camping. A little further up the road, stop at the Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center (milepost 217). This free self-guided walk explains the role wildfires play in local forests and foothills.

The next region: Lake Chelan Valley

Wenatchee Valley & Entiat Visitor Services

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Heritage & HIstory

The Wenatchi-P’squosa people (Wenatchee Valley namesake) lived along the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers and traveled seasonally to gather, fish and hunt. David Thompson was one of the first Euro-Americans to encounter these early residents as he canoed down the Columbia in 1811. The Entiat people occupied the region from the Columbia to the Cascade mountains along the Entiat River. 

In 1855, local native tribes signed the Yakama Treaty, which terminated their rights to 10.8 million acres of land. Shortly after, some tribes claimed they did not understand the outcome and intent of the treaty. Numerous clashes and small wars broke out resulting in loss of life.

Settlers arrived in the 1870s and within a few decades, Wenatchee became the greatest apple-producing region in the world. Access to reliable irrigation, ideal growing conditions, the relocation of the Great Northern Railway, and the damming of the Columbia River all played roles in shaping today’s Wenatchee Valley.

Your Wenatchee Valley & Entiat Adventure

Wildlife & Birding
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EV Charging Stations
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Apples

Wenatchee is known as the Apple Capital of the World. Notice huge orchards as well as fruit packing and storage warehouses along the route.

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Winter

Walk Wenatchee's well maintained Apple Capital Loop trail, snowshoe on Entiat and Wenatchee designated trails , visit Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort.

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Side Trip: Entiat
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HIking

Explore the foothills surrounding the Wenatchee Valley or drive into the Entiat Valley and choose from a multitude of shaded, mountainous hikes.

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Amazing Food

Wenatchee's Pybus Public Market is home to a selection of restaurants as well as a weekend Farmers Market in season.

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Climbing

Hit Wenatchee's Riverfront Rock Gym to get a lesson, rent gear or use your own on some awesome indoor walls.

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Ohme Gardens

Spend a couple hours walking through this impeccably manicured alpine garden overlooking the Wenatchee Valley.

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Pybus Public Market

Visit with locals, shop at boutiques, dine in award-winning restaurants or visit the Farmers Market in season.

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Image from Wenatchee/ Columbia River Valley

Springtime Arrowleaf Balsamroot in the Wenatchee Foothills

Late Winter Trailer Camping
Being the first weekend in March in Wenatchee, it was chilly, but the birding was great! My husband loves to spend time by a campfire so we stocked up on bundles of firewood. We recently traded in our 20+ year old travel trailer for a brand-spanking new one, with lots of bells and whistles. They recommended we take it out and make sure everything works – so we planned a weekend at a state park a whopping 5 miles from home. Read More >>>>
The Night The Mountain Fell
On December 14, 1872, at almost 10pm, folks across the region were awakened by a massive earthquake. Contemporary accounts describe the earth rolling from North to South, no jolting bumps, just the feeling like walking on the deck of a ship in rough seas. Read More >>>>
Meet the Locals: Steven & Michelle (also their close friend, Wine)
We’ve known Michelle and Steven for a few years and know that one of the things that they really enjoy together, like many Cascade Loop travelers, is our state’s amazing local wines. Did you know that Washington State is home to over 1,000 wineries and over 60,000 acres of wine grapes? AND the Cascade Loop is home to all manner of wineries with different varietals being grown in the various regions of the Loop. It makes sense that since our byway landscape, topography and climate vary wildly from region to… 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 >>>>
Meet the Locals: Jake and Family
With a scenic byway that’s as large in scale as the Cascade Loop, naturally the landscape, views and activities vary wildly from region to region. Each area delivers its own distinct vibe, character, rich history and of course, diverse locals. The combination of these elements yield a vacation experience like none other, and significantly, the people who live and work here are the living embodiment of what makes our destination so special. In a nutshell: our diversity is what makes the Cascade Loop so special. Read More >>>>
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      Skagit Valley & Fidalgo Island
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