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Central Washington

Caught in the foothills of the grandiose Cascade Range, Central Washington is a geographic crossroads where dramatic alpine peaks fold with eerie suddenness into a barren, steppe-like desert broken only by the winding presence of the Columbia River and its irrigating dams.

Wenatchee and Leavenworth are the most interesting urban centers here and both are popular stopping-off points on the Cascade Loop scenic drive. Aside from Leavenworth's Bavarian bonhomie, outdoor adventures are the main draw: the surrounding mountains are sought after for rugged backpacking trips, mountain biking and rock climbing.

The other big attraction is the Yakima Valley Wine Country, a highly regarded, unpretentious wine region best explored by bicycle.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Central Washington.