Plan your North/Central Cascades road trip for 2022!

Wenatchee Valley and Peshastin Pinnacles

Hike to dramatic views at Peshastin Pinnacles State Park.

Plan your North/Central Cascades road trip for 2022!

The sun shines in north-central Washington long after the west side turns gray. And with kids back in school and roads still snow-free, fall is the time to explore the North Cascades.

Even though snow is beginning in earnest, this month is the perfect time to book your fall 2022 state parks road trip!

Plan the perfect getaway and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors without really having to rough it. Want warm, friendly state park cabins, local eateries and quirky coffee shops? You’ve got it!

The trip is doable clockwise or counterclockwise, starting from most points on the itinerary. Here’s the path if you want to start in Sedro-Wooley, driving east on State Route 20 (North Cascades Highway), then South on U.S. Highway 97/2 and west on U.S. Highway 2, ending in Everett:

Fall road trip Rasar cabins

Rasar State Park offers three charming cabins in the woods.

Day 1 ~ 100 miles: Into the forest

  • This stretch of the drive winds along rushing rivers, through small towns beneath the westernmost North Cascade mountains. Your first night’s destination is Rasar State Park off the North Cascades Highway (SR20), but why not take the whole day off and see Rockport State Park a bit farther east. Set in a rare stand of old-growth, Rockport has an ADA trail to an ancient cedar, a steep trail to an overlook and everything in between.
  • Your cabin at Rasar sits in a sun-dappled glen. It features hand-hewn wood and ironwork, a porch, Adirondack chairs and an outdoor grill.
  • The paths at Rasar meander through deciduous forest and open fields, out to the blue Skagit River. You may get lucky and see an eagle or owl.   
Fall road trip Pearrygin cabins

Two Western Washingtonians get some sun at their Pearrygin Lake State Park cabin.

Day 2 ~ 115 miles: Cresting the North Cascades

  • After breakfast on the porch, head east on SR20. The fall colors get even more spectacular here. The town of Concrete has caffeine options to fuel sightseeing further east at Diablo Lake or among the towering peaks of Rainy Pass. Pick up lunch to go at the Mazama Store, the northernmost resupply stop on the Pacific Crest Trail.
  • Your pad is a lakeside cabin at Pearrygin Lake State Park near Winthrop, over the pass. Chill on your wide deck or hike the Rex Derr Trail through grassy meadows. Or ride your bike in the hills between Pearrygin and Twisp.
  • Fire up the grill or drive into Western-themed Winthrop for dinner. From pizza and Mexican to locally sourced bistros and cider houses, you’ll eat well and sleep with a full heart and stomach.
Fall road trip Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan is a blue gem in north-central Washington, and Lake Chelan State Park is the way to experience it.

Fall road trip hugging old-growth trees at Rockport

A group of young tree huggers embrace an old-growth tree at Rockport State Park.

Day 3 ~100 miles: Mighty lakes and rivers

  • Start with a misty morning walk on the lake. Attention anglers: early morning fishing here cannot be beat.
  • Stop in Twisp for fresh vegan/gluten free or carbalicious pastries at the local bakery.
  • After a brief section on SR 153, US97 and SR150, check out deep blue Lake Chelan, where stupendous fishing, lake views and lunch options await at Lake Chelan State Park.
  • You could stay all day or move south on US97 Alternate route to Daroga State Park. Daroga offers green lawns or a stroll on Lake Entiat, a reservoir of the Columbia River. Catch a whiff of fresh sage at the edge of the park.
  • Tonight’s stop is Lincoln Rock State Park, where cabins sit on or above Entiat Lake.
  • Walkers and cyclists: take an evening jaunt on the Rocky Reach Trail before retiring for the night.

If you have time, don’t miss Wallace Falls State Park. Better yet, rent the cabin there!

Day 4 ~ 150 miles: Go West!

  • Heading south on US97, check out Horan Natural Wildlife Area at Wenatchee Confluence State Park. Grab coffee or breakfast in Wenatchee, with choices for every taste and diet. Walk or bike the Apple-Capital Loop along the Columbia, or start the final leg of your journey on US2 West.
  • Peshastin Pinnacles State Park near Cashmere is worth a visit! Check out rock climbers scaling red sandstone monoliths, or hike primitive trails to Wenatchee Valley views.
  • Stop in Bavarian-themed Leavenworth for takeout – from vegan to juicy bratwurst –  and gawk at the fall colors in town. Make for Lake Wenatchee State Park 15 miles west. To ease your reentry into daily life, have a picnic by the lake, or hike up to Nason Ridge for North Cascades views.

If you can swing another night out, book the wooded cabin at Wallace Falls State Park. The day-use park will be all yours after dark. Use the next morning to explore lush, three-tiered Wallace Falls and the Skykomish River.

Cabins book early – up to nine months out - so why wait? Set your dates now and reserve your cabins for late summer and fall of 2022!