Getting Oriented

The main route through eastern Washington is Interstate 90. Coming from the west, as you leave the Cascade Mountains and its foothills behind, the terrain turns to desert and sagebrush, before crossing over the Columbia River and reaching the irrigated areas where fields of crops grow. In this area's barren, dry lands a new type of farming has emerged—wind farms with giant turbines that transform the landscape and provide electricity. The southeast part of the state offers a more verdant setting—rolling hills and fields where rain helps produce abundant crops of grains and wine grapes. The northeast part of the state is flanked by three mountain ranges (Selkirk, Okanogan, and Kettle River), which are considered foothills of the Rocky Mountains; this area is rich with lakes, rivers, cliffs, and meadows, and home to diverse wildlife.

  • Southeastern Washington. In the wide-open areas of the Walla Walla and Columbia Valleys, hillsides are covered with rows of grapevines and wind turbines. Lodging, restaurants, museums, and wine-tasting opportunities can be found in Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities. Farther east are historic Dayton and the college town of Pullman.
  • Spokane. The second-largest city in Washington is home to one of the state's best hotels, the restored Davenport, and several other historic lodgings. There are numerous restaurants, from fine dining to family-friendly; a fun kids' museum and science museum, and an interesting history museum; and two especially notable parks (Manito, with its duck pond and Japanese Garden, and Riverfront, with lots of activities for the whole family).
  • East Central Washington. The highway through central Washington's desert lands can seem long and boring, but the farmers of Grant County's irrigated lands perk things up a bit with crop signs in the fences and lighted holiday displays. Venture off the main route to discover the stunning Cave B Resort by the Columbia River, see pioneer-history displays in Ephrata, and experience the healing waters of Soap Lake, before heading back on Interstate 90 through Moses Lake.
  • Northeastern Washington. Travelers to this region will find the "Eighth Technological Wonder of the World"—the Grand Coulee Dam—which features a daily laser-light show in summer. Further exploration brings you to the Colville and Okanogan national forests, and the small towns of Grand Coulee, Coulee City, Omak, and Colville.

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