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Charged Up
Cascade Loop now electric-friendly

The 440-mile Cascade Loop scenic highway will become “the nation’s only fully electrified road trip” of its scale this spring, according to Annette Pitts of the Cascade Loop Association.

photoOne of the charging stations available in the Methow Valley is at the Mazama Country Inn. Photo courtesy Mazama Country Inn

There already are charging stations for electric vehicles in the Methow Valley at the Pine Near RV Park in Winthrop and the Mazama Country Inn in Mazama. A third station is to be installed at Sun Mountain Lodge this spring or summer, Pitts told the Jan. 9 meeting of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce.

She said the association plans to work with Plug-In Northwest to organize a summer electric-vehicle rally to promote the “greenest driving loop in America.” The Seattle to Wenatchee loop segment over Stevens Pass already has a string of charging stations.

Pitts also shared the following statistical information gathered by the Cascade Loop Association:

  • An estimated 672,000 individuals traveled the Cascade Loop in fiscal 2013.
  • 55 percent of those travelers spent four or more nights on the road.
  • 35 percent of them traveled during the shoulder season.
  • 66 percent flew in from out of state.

104,000 copies of the Cascade Loop Association’s annual guidebook to the highway will be distributed this year. The new edition will be out in April.

Pitts also told her audience that because of budget cuts Washington is the only state in the nation that doesn’t have a state-operated tourist bureau. However, she said the non-profit Washington Tourism Alliance, of which she is a member, will be lobbying the state Legislature later this month in an attempt to have funding restored.

The loop association is actively using social media, Pitts said, and is hoping to start updating its three-year-old web site, later in the year.

She also told chamber members that work is nearly complete on a comprehensive management plan for the Cascade Loop, which may sound boring, but having the plan will mean being able to apply for National Scenic Byway status for the entire loop.

Having byway status would “open up international marketing possibilities” and mean gaining access to federal funds to complete projects included in the plan, she said. Those projects include creating an arts and heritage network to compliment a plan for better interpretive signage along the Cascade Loop.

The number two reason people travel, according to the travel web site Trip Advisor, is to learn about heritage, Pitts said. Asked to name the number one reason, Pitts laughed and told her landlocked audience—“beaches.”


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