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Columbia Basin (South)

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Auto tour map of Columbia Basin South by John King

Drive Washington’s South-Central Corner

By John King

A drive through the south-central corner of Washington state is a drive through millions of years of history. Oasis-like lake destinations enchant campers and boaters in the heart of rugged, rocky terrain; wide swaths of farmland support the region’s storied agriculture; and modern communities cater to the curious traveler with memorable attractions, fairs, festivals and more.

This South Columbia Basin Auto Tour loop covers that ground in a clockwise loop that departs from the community of Vantage on the Columbia River. From there, the loop heads east to the getaway destination of Moses Lake, south through the picturesque Potholes Reservoir and agricultural community of Othello, west through the bustling Tri-Cities and northward along the Columbia River before returning to Vantage; along the way, it covers roughly 230 miles and takes four hours, 30 minutes to drive without stops.

That said, travelers from Western Washington may find this tour works best as a scenic drive en route to Walla Walla or Pendleton; the Vantage-Moses Lake-Tri-Cities one-way segment clocks in at 120 miles and two hours without stops.

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