Washington

Click the links below to access photos of highway signs from around the state:

Last Updated December 2008.

What is this?

So, I’ve come to the end of Washington. I never actually believed I would finish it when I started, but there we go. Forever more I will be able to say I have driven every mile of state highway in Washington. That’s an accomplishment.

Some say it is sort of strange that I devoted so much time, money, and energy to doing this, but I can tell you that I finished the highway system as enthusiastically as I started it. Never once from the beginning did I say  ”This is stupid, why I am I doing this?” I love being behind the wheel of a car, and I loved every second of the adventure. I saw parts of the state nobody really knows anything about. How many people from Tacoma have really been to Kettle Falls? How many have looked at the DOT maintenance yard in Anatone?

I would wager that among people who don’t work for the department of transportation there couldn’t be many more than 10 or 20 people who have actually driven every mile of state highway in Washington. And I’m the only one who has logged it thoroughly on the internet (Google Street View might actually be catching up, but they’re a machine and don’t count). And I’m proud of that.

I have a fascination for roads and driving and exploring random (sometimes almost indistinguishable) human settlements unparalleled by a giant amount of the population. The subtle differences between a town like Dayton and a town like Colfax intrigue me. Unfortunately as a busy college student I don’t have the time or energy to really go into any of that in depth in a written format. This site caters to roadgeeks and people interested in roads. One day I might be able to expand upon it, but this is not that time. For me the only natural thing to do is go out and explore roads and see the country as best I can.

Washington is one of the most diverse states in the country, and I’m thrilled to be able to say I’ve seen the whole thing. The most frequent question I get is “What is your favorite highway?” or something to that effect, so without further ado, ranked 1-5:

Favorite highways:

  1. SR 129- This is an epic drive from Clarkston to the Oregon state line north of Enterprise. The road heads down along the Snake River before heading up a grade, and then descends down a long, windy, beautiful descent into a small valley. It then climbs back up the mountains again and crosses into Oregon halfway through
  2. SR 410- The Chinook Pass is absolutely awesome to look at. The views of Mount Rainier as one passes through the national park is unprecedented
  3. SR 31- Way up in the northeast corner of Washington are beautiful forests of tamarack and evergreen trees, lots of water, majestic cliffs, and just an overall beautiful experience. One day I want to drive the whole International Selkirk loop, but that segment was completely beautiful
  4. SR 20- What a beautiful road. Besides being Washington’s longest state route, it passes through diverse and beautiful terrain. Starting on the Olympic Peninsula, then over a ferry and up past Whidbey Island, over Deception Pass with beautiful water views. The road then passes over the North Cascades in some of the best non-Rainier mountain views in the state. It spends a few miles in the flat but scenic Okanogan Valley before passing over Wauconda Pass and into Kettle Falls and the Columbia River, before heading east and south to Newport through beautiful forests
  5. SR 504- Yes, this is the route to Mount Saint Helens. And it is beautiful, with impressive views of the mountain and the slow recovery of the forests around it after the eruption

Favorite primary cross-state route

  1. US 12- US 12 is great. It passes over all kinds of terrain, from the forests of western Washington to the beautiful mountains of White Pass to the agrarian areas of southeastern Washington before passing through the southern part of the Palouse and the Snake River area. The road varies from 2 lane to 4 lane to interstate to 4 lane to 2 lane, providing the most diverse driving experience possible

Least favorite primary cross-state route

1. I-5- I hate I-5. Lots of traffic, nothing particularly interesting to look at outside of the Seattle skyline if you’re already bored of staring at trees, generally passive drivers with no desire to get anywhere. I-5 represents everything wrong with Western Washington. If I never had to get on I-5 again I wouldn’t complain.

I would be happy to give you my 5 least favorite routes but I spent half an hour looking at the map again today and besides I-5 I don’t really dislike any of them. Every single other route has some redeeming quality that made it interesting. Some routes are more boring than others but there aren’t really any routes I look at and say “egh I do NOT want to touch that thing again.”

Perhaps the happiest part about this is that I had so much fun driving every mile of state highway in Washington that I’m continuing onto another state. I’ve been saying Oregon! Oregon! Oregon! for a while now as it is easily accessible from Washington. Unfortunately, Oregon is becoming a secondary priority. For my next semester in college I am transferring to the beautiful University of Wyoming, which means Laramie Wyoming. I’ll be majoring in Geography because I figure if this (plus mapping) is the kind of stuff I like to dedicate my time thinking about I might as well see how I can go about getting paid to think about it or something similar (I’m not sure what the pecuniary value of having pictures of a bunch of reassurance shields is but I’m guessing it’s not that much).

I will be there for at least a couple years, giving me plenty of time to drive every mile of state highway in Wyoming (Wyoming has an insane number of route numbers but they’re all concurrent). Depending on whether or not I spend my summers in Idaho, I still might make significant progress on Oregon. Any updates to the state of Oregon will be posted both there and at Wyomingroutes.org. I will not be posting again to the front page of this site. Idaho and British Columbia content will continue to be hosted here until they get their own sites (hint: British Columbia probably won’t ever get its own site). I expect I’ll generate a good deal of Colorado content as well, certainly in the Boulder/Fort Collins/northern Denver area.

It’s been a fun ride, and I thank my loyal readers, the souls that have offered invaluable information as commentors, the countless numbers of roadgeek websites that are crammed full of useful information, and everyone else who has made this possible. I had a lot of fun doing it and I hope this website can be of some use to somebody. Enjoy!

All photos on this site were taken between February 2007 and December 2008.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at davidjcorcoran (at) gmail!com (replace (at) with @ and ! with .). If you feel like you have or know of a website that provides useful information on Washington’s highways, shoot me an email as well and I’ll add you to the sidebar.