On Sunday, November 29, 2009, we drove the length of US Route Alternate 97, or US Alt 97, or US 97 Alt, or Washington State Route 97-alternate, from the Wenatchee area to the Chelan area, up the west side of the Columbia River.
State route No. 97-alternate:
A state highway to be known as state route number 97-alternate is established as follows:
Beginning at a junction with state route number 2 in the vicinity of Olds, thence northerly by way of Entiat to a junction with state route number 97 in the vicinity east of Chelan.
Here we are at the north end of Wenatchee, where US Alt 97 departs from US 2 (cosigned US 97). Those highways cross the Columbia, but we won't.
Between the cliffs and the river, our route wends. After Entiat, we find a junction with SR 971. It will take you north to Lake Chelan. . .
US Alt 97 then leaves the Columbia, heading up Knapp Coulee between the tail end of the Chelan Mountains and Chelan Butte to arrive at Lake Chelan and the other end of SR 971. The signs for 971 say "south" at this point, but you'd be heading west-northwest for almost half your journey.
We wind along the shore of Lake Chelan until we reach the city of Chelan. Don't take Woodin Avenue like you'd normally do, since that's not the highway -- although that would save you some backtracking if you wanted to go the the lakefront. In the center of town, US Alt 97 has a junction with SR 150, which will take you up the north shore of the lake. Take a right to stay on Alt 97, but go straight and take the next left to go on 150. Some of the signs for Alt 97 actually spell out "Alternate 97" in this area.
On the east edge of town, SR 150 departs US Alt 97. 150 heads southeastward down the old route of SR 151 to meet US 97 near the Beebe Bridge. We will head northeastward.
Five minutes later, we reach the end of US Alt 97 (or US 97 Alt, as the signs say around these parts) at a junction with the main route of US 97. It's now time to go back up the hill to Chelan and call it a day.
A scenic route, for sure, with towering cliffs, a couple huge lakes, and the occasional bighorn sheep to avoid. This will be our last trip to eastern Washington for the highways in quite a little while. We'll be missing it.