Seattle to Pasco Was a 14-Hour Road Trip on First Highway Over Snoqualmie [PHOTOS]
Since the 1700s, Cascade passes have been a pathway for travelers from both the west and the east. At first, it was only used by a handful of explorers (when it was an ancient Indian trail). Now, present-day - thousands of people make the trip just about every hour.
Crossing the Cascades on horseback or by wagon was common in the early days
In the beginning, Native American tribes and emigrants traveled the route on foot, horseback, and by wagon - maneuvering their way through what we now know as Snoqualmie pass, mostly to trade and settle. Depending on weather conditions, the trip would’ve likely taken many weeks. As the years passed, the trail turned into a wagon road and was later upgraded for motor vehicles. And, in 1905 the first vehicle made the trip over the pass – it took days to complete the journey to Ellensburg - the road was extremely rough.
The first highway over Snoqualmie Pass opens
In 1915 the trail was upgraded again and named Sunset Highway. It became the first highway over the Cascades specifically for automobiles. Even with the improvements, traveling over the mountain pass was a very long day. The drive from Seattle to Yakima was said to take 10 hours or more - the highway was narrow in areas and mostly compact gravel.
As the years passed, Sunset Highway continued to be improved and more highways were built around the state. Those using the Sunset Highway traveling to Pasco would have taken Highway 10 at Ellensburg to the Pasco 395 turnoff (pictured below).
I-90 eventually replaced Sunset Highway and continues to reduce travel time.
Now, on a good day with no traffic or weather hazards, the drive can be made in roughly 3.5 hours from Pasco to Seattle. Those that make the trip often, know it's a good idea to check the conditions before you go and to top off your tank, bring a blanket, a flashlight, some non-perishable snacks, and toiletries - because getting trapped on the pass isn’t fun, right?