Chinook Pass and White Pass

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Day’s Route

Distance: 301 Miles
Time to complete: 8+ hours

Summer officially arrived last week. With temperatures reaching into the 90s this last weekend, I opted to head towards Mount Rainier where I hoped to find cooler weather.

I took the Chinook Scenic Byway (Hwy 410) east and returned along the White Pass Scenic Byway (Hwy 12). Both were recently opened to all traffic without restrictions.

The temperatures were only a bit cooler, into the mid 80s. There was no wind, just still, hot air.

I stopped in Enumclaw for a latte on my way out, and for a sandwich and fuel on my way home.

Chinook Pass, at 5430′ elevation, is the higher of the two passes. It is scenic on a clear day. It was spectacular on Sunday.

Chinook Pass

I spoke with some other BMW riders while there. One of them had just the day before purchased a new 2016 K1600GT, the bike I’ve been considering. He was all smiles.

Just today I finally stopped thinking about replacing my bike. The prices on the 2016 GT models were tempting, but in the end I felt that while the GT would fit some of my needs better than the RT, it wasn’t “better enough” to me to justify the purchase at this time.

I realize that I’ve made all the right decisions regarding my RT if I plan to keep it long term – and that is still my intention. The extended service plan is good through March of 2020, so I have time to continue to enjoy riding on her.

Chinook Pass

Most of the snow was gone just a few miles east of the pass. At this point, Hwy 410 is following alongside the Naches River. Many great NW roads are found following alongside rivers!

Chinook Scenic Byway (east of Chinook Pass)

The further east I traveled the less densely wooded the terrain became and more typical of Eastern Washington. I turned onto Hwy 12, the White Pass Scenic Byway, just before the town of Naches.

Hwy 12

I stopped for a look at Rimrock Lake …

Rimrock Lake

before continuing on to White Pass and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Definitely back into the forested lands now.

Hwy 12 at White Pass

Approaching Mount Rainier on my return,


I turn onto Hwy 123 and re-enter Mount Rainier National Park.


Hwy 123 is not classified a scenic byway in Washington, but it is a great, non-technical road that has some twists. There was a little too much traffic on the road today – a situation I refer to as a “parade of cars.” Not much fun, but the road has some beautiful scenery to view while it takes me back to Hwy 410, heading back towards Enumclaw and home.

One thought

  1. Keith, Once again you have allowd me to experience your ride and all that beautiful, still scenery, vicariously. I felt like I could smell the air out there… Thanks!

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