Highly recommended by several people I met was the drive up the North Cascades Highway or Washington State Highway 20.
They weren’t kidding about the UP. It goes through (quoting here from GORP Website), “the largest and most rugged alpine wilderness in the contiguous United States, with scores of 8,000-foot peaks, upwards of 400 glaciers, virgin Douglas fir and Western red cedar forests, and wildlife that includes gray wolves and grizzlies.” The highway goes through elevations so high that it is only open from May to November. This would certainly be the scenic route home. The tragedy was that I had so far to go and so little time. All I could do was gawk through the window as I traveled up the steep valley carved by the Skagit River. The forest was so dense that I couldn’t see the massive peaks, such as Mount Baker 10,781 feet (3,286 m). Names given by explorers to other mountains in the area: Mt Terror, Mt Challenger, Mt Fury, Mt Despair, Mt Torment. (No Mount Doom?) Not a warm fuzzy place for those early guys.
Just to give you an idea of the size of the trees
I pulled over when I finally got cell service at, what I think was, Rockport State Park. The sign said it was, “ …an ecosystem that has never been disrupted, creating a rare, natural forest with a canopy so dense that minimal sunlight penetrates to the ground.”
To say the trees were HUGE would be an understatement. These were Douglas Fir that had probably been growing in this alpine rain forest since the whole place was created. My over-active imagination was looking for mome raths and Jubjub birds and a flaming eyed Jabberwock to come “whiffling through the tulgey wood.” I was far from home, but I didn’t think I had gone through the looking glass. I’ll blame it on lack of sleep at that spooky hotel. This was like the giant redwoods with an extra helping of moss. Every millimeter of everything was alive with something.
This is what gave the Cascades their name.