Auto Tour

Columbia Basin – South

Olympic Peninsula hand-drawn map

Map by John King (Click to Enlarge)

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.

Because of COVID-19, please take recommended health precautions and verify the availability of amenities and attraction before you go.

columbia river vantage bridge i-90 washington

Start Here: Vantage to Moses Lake

Begin the tour at Vantage, take I-90 and don’t miss Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, Grand Coulee Dam, Moses Lake’s Blue Heron Park, along the way.

kids canoeing at potholes reservoir

Next: Moses Lake to Pasco

Enjoy the view of crops fields, stop at Potholes Reservoir for summer activities and camping, explore the downtown of Othello or grab a bite in Mesa.

cable bridge clover island

Towns to Visit: Tri-Cities

Find out what to do in Pasco, Richland and Kennewick. Explore the towns and learn about their history and attractions along the way.

popular hiking route in pnw

End the Tour: Return to Vantage

Via S.R. 240 and S.R. 243, see Rattlesnake Mountain, Mattawa’s orchards and vineyards, Wanapum Dam, and more.

Pin It on Pinterest