Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade mountains where the Wenatchee and the Columbia Rivers meet the Wenatchee Valley is the epicenter of the greatest apple-producing region in the world and known for its scenic natural surroundings, making it an ideal destination for outdoor recreation.The breathtaking landscapes and the way the land is used from agriculture and hydropower to outdoor recreation can all be attributed to the cataclysmic floods produced by the Ice Age Floods of the Pacific Northwest. The floods were massive and greatly impacted the land formation of the Wenatchee Valley. The valley was carved as the floods deposited layers of sediment, rocks, and even house-sized boulders as floodwaters traveled through the Wenatchee Valley up to 65 miles-per-hour and 1,000 feet deep with icebergs rafting these massive boulders. What remained after the floods subsided was rich volcanic soils, abundant water sources, protection from high winds and impressive views.
Early settlers recognized that these key attributes along with the combination of sunny days and cool nights made it an ideal location for agriculture. The Columbia River and its tributaries contain enough water to irrigate millions of acres throughout the Pacific Northwest. For early Wenatchee tree fruit growers, getting that water to the trees was a challenge. Construction of the Highline Canal and the Pipeline bridge revolutionized the agricultural potential of the valley. A national campaign beginning in 1903 to recruit businesses and homeowners, focused on orchard opportunities- and apples quickly became the backbone of the regional economy. Today’s orchards still depend on irrigation. While apples remain the largest agricultural crop grown in the state, and Washington leads the nation in apple production, agritourism in our region has grown to include award-winning wineries and cideries known throughout the Wenatchee Valley.
Start: Begin on Route 97 in Wenatchee.
First Leg: Take WA-28 east for 54.5 mi (88 km).
Turn: Turn left onto WA-17 north toward Coulee City.
Dry Falls: After 19 mi (30.5 km), find the turn off for Dry Falls, an Ice Age waterfall. Continue on WA-17.
US-2 Connection: Follow WA-17 to connect with US-2.
Ghost Town Detour: Travel west on US-2 to explore the ghost town of Farmer with a community hall, cemetery, and abandoned structures.
Waterville: Head west 13.5 mi (22 km) to reach Waterville, surrounded by wheat fields, offering Cascade Mountain views,historic buildings, and outdoor recreation.
Final Stretch: Continue west for 27.5 mi (44 km)through Orondo, an orchard town, back to Wenatchee.
· Dry Falls: A 3.5-mile-wide, 400-foot-drop Ice Age remnant with wildlife.
· Soap Lake: A mineral-rich, foamy lake with medicinal value and Indigenous significance.
· Highland School House: An abandoned 1905 schoolhouse off US-2 with mysterious history.