One Photo:  Vintage Life Ring At Tumwater Dam Viewpoint

Tumwater Dam is located in Tumwater Canyon on Highway 2, just a few miles west of the Bavarian destination of Leavenworth .  This is a historic dam and is often overlooked because of its size.  It’s not only an interesting attractionbthough, it’s also located in a very scenic location.

On my last stop there I became a little focused on the metal life ring holder mounted on the railing at the dam’s viewpoint.  It has a very cool look to it, especially with the rapids of the Wenatchee River trailing off behind it.  It got me thinking about why it’s there.  Yes, to rescue someone.  But to rescue someone at that spot someone else has to think it’s a good idea to disregard the posted DANGER signs and instead jump into a cold, mountain, boulder-filled river either right above or right below a concrete dam.  Not smart.

Cool contrast with the surrounding scenery though.

5 Questions With North Cascades National Park

5 Questions With North Cascades NP

North Cascades National Park is one of the top attractions in the state of Washington. There’s a really good reason for this too as there is just so much to see there. If you love history, natural beauty, or just the opportunity to get away from it all, this is the place to go. You can walk back in time, see amazing engineering marvels, stare up at incredible mountain peaks, and so much more. When you visit there, bring your camera and your sense of wonder. Both will be fully occupied in North Cascades National Park.

I reached out to the fine people who take care of North Cascades National Park for the rest of us, and Visitor Services Assistant Charlie Kolb was more than generous with his time as he took a moment to answer our five questions.

5 Questions With North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park Visitors Center

1st Question:
Do you know about how many people visit North Cascades National Park every year?

Answer: North Cascades National Park is actually part of a three unit complex which also includes Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. Combined, these three units receive approximately 800,000 visitors per year.

2nd Question:
What would you say are the top three easily accessible spots in North Cascades National Park to enjoy a picnic at?

Answer: In the village of Newhalem near the Skagit River, Colonial Creek Campground on the shores of Diablo Lake, and above the lake at Diablo Lake overlook.

3rd Question:
Is there a piece of little known info or “fun fact” about North Cascades National Park that most people wouldn’t know?

Answer: That the American Pika (*Ochotona princeps*), which can be seen running around rock fields and talus slopes at higher elevations, is actually a species of rabbit, rather than a rodent like the Hoary Marmot (*Marmota caligata*). The primary difference is in their up incisors (front teeth) of which they have four rather than two.

4th Question:
What are other more popular spots?

Answer: Diablo Lake is another great place to visit as is the Diablo Lake Overlook, which is just past Colonial Creek Campground on Highway 20. There are some great hikes as well, that start outside the park boundary, like the Maple Pass Loop that offer views deep into the park that most people rarely see.

5th Question:
Park rangers are the backbone of every national park. Do you have an estimate of how many work in North Cascades National Park?

Answer: As of 2015 we had 71 year round employees, performing all the tasks that kept the park running and then hired 104 seasonal employees to help out during the busy season in the summer.

I’d like to send out a big thank you to the staff at North Cascades National Park, both for answering our pesky questions and for the great service they provide. If you’re looking for a great road trip possibility, I can’t recommend the North Cascades Highway enough. It’ll take you right through North Cascades National Park and give you more than enough to do and see.

North Cascades National Park
Twitter: @NCascadesNPS
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One Photo:  Pacific Beach, Washington

When you visit Pacific Beach, Washington, you’ll love the beach of course, but you’ll also love the community.  This little town features a few shops, a delicious bakery, and a couple of places tobeat.  It also features some locally owned lodging options as well as Pacific Beach State Park.

The One Photo from our Pacific Beach trip that’s featured above shows off the quaint look of the town from the edge of the state park.  Doesn’t it look like the kind of place you could just escape from all the outside pressures of life too?  I look at this photo and just want to step right into it and explore the town on foot.

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.