White Pass Scenic Byway (U.S 12)

View Hwy 12 & White Pass Scenic Byway in a larger map

US 12 is part of the United States highway system with its western point being in Aberdeen, WA and its eastern point being in Detroit, MI. Adopted in 1926, U.S 12 followed a good portion of the Yellowstone Trail. The highway was extended into Idaho and Washington in 1967 using portions of existing roads. Our journey today takes us through the White Pass Scenic Byway, a 124 mile long portion of U.S 12, starting just off I-5(exit 68) in Lewis County, Washington and ending in the town of Naches on the east side of the Cascade Mountains.


Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

This highway is a breathtaking drive full of diverse landscapes. You will see lush green valleys, alpine forests, beautiful meadows full of wildflowers, steep mountain cliffs, snow-capped hills, amazing ice blue lakes and rivers, towering volcanoes, and eventually drastically changing into dry desert land with striking basalt cliffs.  Along the way you’ll see bold views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainer and pass through both Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot National Forests.  Rivaled only by the North Cascades Highway(Hwy 20) in the north this drive is a must see while visiting Washington State.

Points of Interest:

  • Lake Mayfield– A stretch of US-12 takes you right along this beautiful lake. Make a stop at Lake Mayfield Resort
  • Mossyrock Dam– keep a look out and you’ll catch a glimpse of the tallest Dam in Washington State
  • Riffe Lake– there are 20 miles of this fantastic lake including 2 Tacoma Power Parks, Mossyrock and Taidnapam
  • Morton– home of the Annual Logger’s Jamboree in August. Grocery and Gas available
  • Packwood– gateway to Mt. Rainer a popular place to stay when touring Mt. Rainer National Park
  • Rimrock Lake– a spectacular lake towards the end of US-12 with multiple campgrounds and recreational activities available.
  • Naches– the home of the Naches spire(visitors center) and fruit stands galore

White Pass Scenic Byway

US-12 is perfectly fine route for RV’s. It is a well maintained road with plenty of space to accommodate bigger RVs.  Before you get started you’ll want to gas up as gas stations are not that prevalent along the way. There are only two that you may be able to squeeze into that I saw, the 76 station at the White Pass summit, and a Tesaro Station in Naches towards the end of the route. The road is fairly straight but does have a steady climb to the summit. White Pass summit sits at 4,500 feet and is one of four east-west highway passes in Washington State. Take your time and enjoy the view. There are several pullouts along the way to take some photos and take a break if needed.

Have you been over the White Pass Scenic Byway? We would love to hear what you think. Let us know in the comments below.

  • Ingrid

    We haven’t made it to the northwest in our travels just yet, but hope to change that. Thanks for sharing this info. It’s always helpful having some ‘insider’ tips.

    • campingourway

      Glad we can be at help. We normally search online for information about roads before we take them and don’t find a whole lot of information in regards to them being rv friendly. We want to pass on what we learn so others can benefit. Hope you make it to the Northwest someday. It’s a beautiful place.

  • Jo

    It is a beautiful route, been over it many times living here on Lake Mayfield. Going to follow Highway 12 from Mossyrock to where it ends in Detroit this fall. I found this interesting link that tells a lot about how highway 12 was routed, etc.