Riffe Lake, as viewed from the White Pass Scenic Byway in Washington. // © Carol Zahorsky, visitrainier.com
While Mt. Rainier hiking trails are renowned, Mt. Rainier’s roads are getting their own recognition. On Oct. 16, the White Pass Scenic Byway (Hwy. 12) became the second road in the area to be designated a National Scenic Byway by the National Scenic Byway Foundation.
One of only seven national scenic byways in Washington, the White Pass Scenic Byway runs along the south side of the Mt. Rainier region, from Mary’s Corner in Lewis County to Naches in Yakima County. Much of the byway is on Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Wenatchee National Forest land.
“The location between three major mountain peaks — Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens -- distinguishes this byway as one with unique character and prominence,” said White Pass Scenic Byway president Maree Lerchen. “The diverse landscape provides a cross section of Washington state geography and geology.” The road runs through a variety of landscapes and provides views of lakes, river valleys, foothills, mountains and arid steppes.
In earning the honor, the White Pass Scenic Byway joins the previously designated Chinook Scenic Byway, which provides access to the Mt. Rainier region on the north and east sides. The focal point is 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier, which draws visitors with its year-round recreation and mountain vacation opportunities.