WA-List » Concrete ribbons: Washington’s longest highways

Concrete ribbons: Washington’s longest highways

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Transportation

Summer’s coming.  Road trip!  Pack your car, pick a highway, and see the state.

Which highway?  Suppose you wanted to tackle one road from start to finish and explore it thoroughly.  Which Washington highway would keep you busy for the greatest distance?  State Route 20 and US 12 both span the state west to east for more than 400 meandering miles.  You could certainly cover that distance in a single day, but most veteran road-trippers we know eschew speed to enjoy the places and people they discover along the way.  That’s the fun of blue highways.*

We sought out the longest Washington highways — blue or otherwise — and found 21 that stretch 75 miles or more.  (We also included a 22nd road, State Route 231, which falls only 150 feet short of 75 miles!)  Appended to each listing are any cities or towns among Washington’s 100 most populous that you would encounter en route — the largest city among them in bold type.  It’s not surprising that most of the largest cities in the state are connected to one or more of these highways.

But don’t limit your stops to those larger cities if you’re road-tripping.  Spend some time in the small towns, too.  Get lunch in a local cafe, window shop on main street, and get caught up in at least one conversation.  Then hit the road again.  There are many more miles to these highways.


Highway Miles From To Cities (in WA’s Top 100) en route
  1. SR 20 436.13 Port Discovery Newport (Idaho border) Port Townsend, Oak Harbor, Anacortes, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley
  2. US 12 430.92 Aberdeen Clarkston (Idaho border) Aberdeen, Centralia, Chehalis, Yakima, Sunnyside, Grandview, Richland, Pasco, Walla Walla, Clarkston
  3. US 101 365.56 Megler
(Oregon border)
Olympia Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Port Angeles, Shelton, Olympia, Tumwater
  4. US 2 326.36 Everett Newport (Idaho border) Everett, Snohomish, Monroe, Wenatchee, Spokane
  5. US 97 321.52 Maryhill (Oregon border) Oroville (Canada border) Toppenish, Yakima, Ellensburg, Wenatchee
  6. I-90 297.51 Seattle Liberty Lake
(Idaho border)
Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Sammamish, Issaquah, Ellensburg, Moses Lake, Spokane, Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake
  7. I-5 276.62 Vancouver
(Oregon border)
(Canada border)
Vancouver, Kelso, Chehalis, Centralia, Tumwater, Olympia, Lacey, DuPont, Lakewood, Tacoma, Fife, Federal Way, Des Moines, SeaTac, Tukwila, Seattle, Shoreline, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood, Everett, Marysville, Mount Vernon, Burlington, Ferndale, Bellingham
  8. US 395 275.00 Plymouth (Oregon border) Laurier (Canada border) Kennewick, Pasco, Spokane
  9. SR 21 191.29 Kahlotus Danville
10. SR 14 180.66 Vancouver Plymouth Vancouver, Camas, Washougal
11. SR 17 136.67 Mesa Fort Okanogan Othello, Moses Lake
12. SR 28 135.25 East Wenatchee Davenport East Wenatchee, Quincy, Ephrata
13. SR 26 133.61 Vantage Colfax Othello
14. I-82 132.57 Plymouth (Oregon border) Ellensburg Grandview, Sunnyside, Yakima, Ellensburg
15. SR 25 121.17 Davenport Frontier (Canada border)
16. SR 410 107.44 Puyallup west of Naches Puyallup, Sumner, Bonney Lake, Enumclaw
17. SR 9   97.43 Woodinville Sumas (Canada border) Woodinville, Snohomish, Lake Stevens, Arlington, Sedro-Woolley
18. US 195   93.37 Uniontown (Idaho border) Spokane Pullman, Spokane
19. SR 27   90.00 Pullman Spokane Valley Pullman, Spokane Valley
20. SR 24   79.23 Yakima Othello Yakima, Othello
21. SR 155   78.35 Fordair/Dry Falls Omak
22. SR 231   74.97 north of Sprague south of Chewelah

*Blue highway is the name given to the less-traveled roads of America by author William Least Heat-Moon in the book Blue Highways.  Unlike the major interstates, they appeared on his maps in blue.  In our experience they show the most authentic America.  People drive by on interstates, but live on blue highways,

PHOTO of State Route 21 south of Wilbur © Steve Campion.

SOURCE: Highway lengths were confirmed by the GIS and Roadway Data Office of the Washington State Department of Transportation.


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