One Photo:  Welcome to Omak

As I drive around exploring the Pacific Northwest, I must admit I have a bit of an addiction to taking photos of “Welcome to” signs.  These signs come in all forms.  Some are plain metal signs put up by road departments, some are works of art, and some have a vintage look to them as they’ve been standing and welcoming travelers for years.

This One Photo above is the welcome sign you see when you enter the town of Omak in North Central Washington from the south.  The yellow lettering against the aged wood shows up well and it’s got a great Old West look to it.

One Photo:  Alstown, Washington

Exploring the back roads of the Pacific Northwest can allow you to find some incredible scenic spots.  If you’re lucky, you might also stumble across the remnants of a ghost town or abandoned settlement of some sort.

Depending on what map you look at, you may see the name “Alstown” just southeast of Waterville, Washington.  Alstown was located alongside Douglas Creek and is reachable by driving south for a few miles on Douglas Creek Road from the community of Douglas on Highway 2.  It was a stop on a branch of the Great Northern Railway.  When you drive by today there is an old house or two, a barn, some outbuildings, and a nearby grain elevator that still appears to be operational.

The One Photo I’m looking at today appears to show a small house that has seen better days.  It doesn’t take much though to imagine it back in its prime.  Was that second story a full floor of its own or a more simple loft?  The view of the rolling fields around it from that upstairs window must’ve been amazing.

Five Fun Facts About Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon

Hells Canyon is an impressive chunk of land on the Washington-Idaho border that the Snake River cuts through. The canyon is deep and is popular with boaters, anglers, hikers, jetskiers, waterskiers, birdwatchers, and more. There are few points to access the water from and the dams located there are very interesting too.

Here is a look at five fun facts about Hells Canyon.

How Deep?

Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America. At its deepest, it is measured at 7,993 feet.

Missed It By That Much

Members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, using the Salmon River, came extremely close to Hells Canyon during the Corps of Discovery’s journey west to the Pacific Ocean in 1806, but turned back before seeing the majestic deep canyons.

There’s Gold In That Thar Canyon!

Gold was discovered on the gravel river bars in Hells Canyon during the 1860s. Because of its inaccessibility and remoteness, most of the miners left soon after and the region was described as not being profitable.

Slow That River Up!

In 1955, the Federal Power Commission approved plans for three dams in Hells Canyon. The first to be completed was Brownlee Dam, then came Oxbow Dam, and finally Hells Canyon Dam.

A Whole Lotta Walkin!

In the entire Hells Cayon Wilderness Area there are approximately 360 miles of hiking trails.

5 Questions With Wenatchee’s Ohme Gardens

5 Questions With Ohme Gardens

Perched high on a bluff above Wenatchee is one of the Wenatchee area’s oldest tourist attractions: Ohme Gardens. This human made little corner of paradise has been attracting visitors for decades. It provides a refuge to explore and also allows you to look out over some amazing views. Add to that the fact that this is one true world class garden attraction. It features stunning viewpoints, intricately laid out trails, serene pools complete with waterfalls, and so much more. When you visit Ohme Gardens, you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t bring your camera!

Thankfully, Ohme Gardens stepped in and helped us out too by taking a moment to answer our five questions.

5 Questions With Ohme Gardens

ohme gardens wenatchee

1st Question:
Ohme Gardens has been one of Wenatchee’s top attractions for a very long time. In what year did the gardens get their start?

Answer: The Gardens were officially open to the public in 1939 and was only known from word of mouth. Then in the 1960’s several national magazines featured Ohme Gardens and ranked it among the leading gardens in America. After achieving this national prominence and popularity, other magazines and “coffee table” garden books included the Gardens making it well known and a “must see” when in the Wenatchee area.

2nd Question:
How many people visit Ohme Gardens in a given year?

Answer: 20-25,000 which includes event attendance in the six months we are open.

3rd Question:
The pools at Ohme Gardens are all man made and not natural to the area. How many total pools are there in the garden today?

Answer: Eight-all with waterfalls.

4th Question: At the time Ohme Gardens was started, who was the owner who developed it from a sage brush covered bluff to the beautiful gardens located there now? Who currently owns Ohme Gardens?

Answer: Herman and Ruth Ohme started the development which took 60 years and two generations of Ohme family to complete. The Ohme’s sold the Gardens in 1991 to the State of Washington so that it would remain open to the public into perpetuity. The State had Chelan County manage it for them until 2008 when the ownership was transferred to Chelan County. This public garden is self-supporting.

5th Question: Could you share one “fun fact” about Ohme Gardens that most people don’t know?

Answer: We have a gnome and fairies hidden throughout the Gardens. It’s fun to try and find them all.

A big thank you to Ohme Gardens for putting up with our questions. This really is a seriously beautiful place to see when you travel through the Wenatchee area. Stop there just once and you’ll see just why so many go back again and again.

Ohme Gardens
Twitter: @OhmeGardens
Facebook: Ohme Gardens on Facebook

One Photo:  Mt. Rainier National Park Tunnel Near The Box Canyon Of The Cowlitz

Visiting Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is an excellent way to have a great time in the outdoors.  This is an iconic place in the state and is recognized nationally for its beauty and history.

This one photo here from our last trip to Mt. Rainier isn’t from the spectacular Narada Falls, the peaceful Reflection Lake, nor from the much-visited visitor center at Paradise.  This spot is a tunnel you pass through on the road to Paradise.  It sits right next to a scenic attraction known as the Box Canyon of the Cowlitz.

When you get out at the Box Canyon of the Cowlitz you get treated to some beautiful views, including a look down into the narrow canyon filled with raging water from a historic stone bridge.  There are a couple of short trails to follow, all very worthwhile.  But, just across the bridge from the parking lot is this tunnel.

The tunnel is short and very rugged, having been carved right through the local rock wall.  in addition to the two lane road going through it there’s also a sidewalk that assures you it’s fair game to enter on foot too.  Walking through this tunnel is a very minor part of a visit to Mount Rainier National Park.  The experience you get though is very memorable and unique.

5 Questions With The Oregon State Police

5 Questions With The Oregon State Police

This is the first entry in a new series at called “5 Questions With…” The goal is to provide some fun info from Pacific Northwest leaders in travel related industries. A big thank you to our first participants, the Oregon State Police.

Any traveler, whether going on a road trip or not, owes a lot of thanks to the brave law enforcement officers who help make the highways and communities they visit safer. The Oregon State Police are a unique law enforcement branch that really does contribute to making the world around them a better place. They also know a great deal about being safe out on the road.

We contacted the public information office of the Oregon State Police and they unsurprisingly swung into action to participate in:

5 Questions With The Oregon State Police

Oregon State Police

1st Question:
Oregon State Troopers provide a valuable service to everyone out on the highways but this doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy their surroundings too. What’s the most beautiful stretch of highway to patrol in the state?

Oregon has so many beautiful places to drive. From the coast all the way east over the Blue mountains. It is difficult to say which is most beautiful.

2nd Question:
Winter driving is often a challenge to commuters and travelers alike. What would be the number one tip you wish most drivers would understand when they head out on the highways in cold weather?

ODOT has shared the below list and I think that they are spot on… Also I recommend that folks check for up to date weather conditions and travel with adequate winter tires.

-Be ready to use your chains. Be patient. Go slow.

-Expect a long commute that could last hours. You never know when weather or traffic incidents will cause the road to be closed for extended periods.

-Along with snow and slick conditions, expect visibility to be limited.

-Make sure your wipers, headlights, turn signals, heater, etc. are in good working order.

-Keep fuel tank full (in case you get stuck in road closure).

-Keep cell phone charged.

-Avoid following GPS navigation directions onto remote or unfamiliar roadways if detoured off of the main highway. Most routes not considered main highways are not maintained in winter conditions.

-Carry emergency supplies (water, food, warm clothes, flashlight, etc.)

-Increase the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

-Use extra caution and keep safety in mind when installing tire chains along the side of the roadway. Other drivers may not be able to see you clearly.

-Drive according to conditions of the road, regardless of posted speed limits.

-Don’t abandon your vehicle, even in the shoulders. It could be towed at your expense.

-Keep a watch on weather conditions throughout the day in anticipation of the next snow storm which could make current road conditions worse.

3rd Question:
Who has jurisdiction on the bridges over the Columbia River that link Oregon with Washington?

Oregon certified Police Officers have jurisdiction up to the state line which is marked.

4th Question:
The Oregon State Police has a long and distinguished history. Is there a little known piece of info or “fun fact” that most people don’t know about the Oregon State Police.

This is a tough one to answer… We are one of the few State Agencies in the United States that are well rounded in law enforcement. Other words, we are not a highway patrol but a fully functional law enforcement agency.

The Oregon Blue Book has a ton of great fun facts about Oregon and I would refer you to that.

5th Question:
What item would the average traveler be surprised to find out was present in nearly every Oregon State Police car they saw on the road?

Not sure about this one… The biggest surprise I get is that I have a mobile data terminal that is a tablet with fully functional internet. I am able to exit the vehicle with it and share real time information of weather and routes to travelers as they stand next to me.

Again, thanks to the public information office of the Oregon State Police for participating in our very first “5 Questions With…”. Some real good safety insight there.

Visit: The Oregon State Police Website

Five Fun Facts About Richland, Washington

The city of Richland is one of the three that make up the Eastern Washington destination known as the Tri-Cities.  It sits right where the Columbia and Yakima rivers meet and is home to loads of great weather and fun things to do.  it’s also a very interesting place as well.

Here are five fun facts about Richland, Washington.

Two Sport Star

Gene Conley graduared from high school in Richland in 1948. He would go on to play in both Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Columbia Point

Columbia Point is located in Richland and sits right at the point where the Yakima River flows into the Columbia River. Long before Richland was settled or named, this point had been home to a historic Native American village called Chemna.

What’s In A Name?

Richland was named for Nelson Rich, a local land developer and also a state legislator.

Street Names

With Richland having been a government and military town for so long, thanks to its placement near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and its close ties to the Army Corps of Engineers, many of its street names are named for famous engineers.

October 17, 1805

On October 17, 1805, the mouth of the Yakima River where Richland now sits was visited by Captain William Clark as part of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition.

Spend The Night In Richland

Looking for a place to spend the night when you visit Richland?
Check out: Hampton Inn Richland/Tri-Cities

The Hotel Rio Vista In Winthrop Makes For A Great Road Trip Stop

NWRoadtrips Hotel Rio Vista Riverfront

Winthrop on the Cascade Loop

One of the more unique and special towns in the Pacific Northwest is Winthrop, Washington. This little community is located up in the North Cascades, just east of Washington Pass, Mazama, and North Cascades National Park. It’s the perfect place to head to for a great getaway. If you’re wanting to take a road trip on the North Cascades Highway, it’s also a great place to stop along the way.

Winthrop has a very rural mountain feel to it. This is mainly due to the incredible scenery located all around it. it also doesn’t hurt that the town has an Old West theme that it adheres to from one end to the other. That’s right, all of the businesses in the downtown area and beyond feature Old West designs, architecture, and decor. This really does make it one of the more unique experiences you’re bound to visit in the Northwest.

NWRoadtrips Hotel Rio Vista Front

Staying in Winthrop is a lot of fun. One of the best places to stay when you go there is the Hotel Rio Vista. This elaborately decorated Old West hotel is located on the east end of town and is the perfect spot to headquarter your stay from.

The Hotel Rio Vista offers more than just decor and a cowboy theme though. It’s perched right on the shore of the river running in front of it. In fact, every room in the hotel features its very own private deck where you can venture out and enjoy a view of the river and the local scenery. You’ll also love the hot tub that overlooks the same view.

NWRoadtrips Hotel Rio Vista View

NWRoadtrips Hotel Rio Vista Riverfront

Being able to set out from the Hotel Rio Vista and easily walk to any of the local restaurants, bars, shops, the local museum, and the nearby pedestrian suspension bridge also shows just why so many like coming back there year after year.

Venturing out from Winthrop allows you to experience things like North Cascades National Park, Washington Pass, Diablo Lake, and the communities of Mazama, Twisp, and Pateros. Even Lake Chelan can be reached easily from Winthrop. And when you’re done experiencing that, you get to return “home” to the welcoming Hotel Rio Vista. It can’t get much better than that.

Check out the Hotel Rio Vista online:
Hotel Rio Vista

Winthrop on the Cascade Loop