Central Access Route
Connects: I-90 Junction, WA to Yellowhead Hwy 16 Junction, BC
Routes#: U.S. Highway 97, Yellowhead Highway 5
Length: 596 miles/960 km
Road Surface: Paved
Season: Open all year
Maps (1 detailed pdf files available):
Ellensburg, WA to Yellowhead Hwy 16 Junction, BC
This is a meandering, mostly 2-lane road through Washington’s Okanogan valley and British Columbia’s Okanagan (spelled with 3 a's) valley, a popular tourist area for water sports, fruit stands and wine tasting. This route then heads north through the Cariboo Mountains via Yellowhead Highway 5, accessing Wells Gray Provincial Park (famous for its waterfalls).
The Central Access Route junctions with Yellowhead Highway 16 at Tete Jaune Cache, where travelers have 2 choices to reach Dawson Creek and the start of the Alaska Highway: Drive west on Yellowhead Highway 16 to Prince George, then north on Highway 97/Hart Highway to Dawson Creek, a distance of 416 miles/669 km; or drive east on Yellowhead Highway 16 through Jasper National Park to Hinton, then take the Bighorn Route/Highway 40 north to Grande Prairie, then Highways 43/2 to Dawson Creek, for a total driving distance of 400 miles/644 km.
The MILEPOST® Quick Reference Log
Miles from Ellensburg (E) shown.
- E 0 Exit Interstate 90 at Exit 106 to Highway 97 North; food, gas/diesel, lodging. Access to Ellensburg (pop. 18,363) via 4-mile business loop of this exit or use more direct Exit 109 off I-90. Ellensburg has all services.
- E 22.3 Turnoff for U.S. Forest Service Mineral Springs campground.
- E 25.8 Turnoff for U.S. Forest Service Swauk campground.
- E 29.9 Turnout at Blewett Pass (elev. 4,102 feet).
- E 51.1 Junction of U.S. Highways 97 and 2. Northbound travelers turn east on Highway 97/2 through the Wenatchee River Valley.
- E 51.5 Shell gas station.
- E 52.9 Dryden; gas, diesel, food, groceries.
- E 57.6 Stoplight at Aplets Way and access south to downtown CASHMERE (pop. 3,063); all services. Home of Aplets & Cotlets Candy Kitchen and Country Store.
- E 58.4 Stoplight at Cotlets Way; gas/diesel, supermarket.
- E 62 Turnoff for Wenatchee River County Park, campground.
- E 65.4 Northbound traffic exits; follow signs for Highway 97 North/Okanogan. Continue straight ahead for city of WENATCHEE (pop. 31,925); all services.
- E 67.6 Stoplight at junction with Highway 28/Sunset Highway to East Wenatchee: Northbound traffic must turn left for continuation of Highway 97 North/Highway 2 East.
- E 72.2 Lincoln Rock State Park and Rocky Reach Dam; camping, picnicking.
- E 79.5 Junction with Highway 2 East to Spokane. Continue north on Highway 97.
- E 82 Orondo River Park; camping, picnicking.
- E 85.4 Daroga State Park; camping, picnicking.
- E 101 Beebe Bridge Park; camping, picnicking.
- E 101.5 Junction with Washington Highway 150 to CHELAN (pop 3,890) (5 miles), a popular summer vacation destination; all services in Chelan.
- E 120.1 PATEROS (pop. 667); food, gas, diesel, lodging and camping.
- E 126.4 BREWSTER (pop. 2,370); food, gas, diesel, lodging and other services, including a hospital.
- E 153.5 Exit for downtown OKANOGAN (pop. 2,552), all servicess, historic district.
- E 155.9 Stoplight and acccess to Omak Stampede, Carl Precht Memorial RV Park and downtown OMAK (pop. 4,845), food, gas, lodging.
- E 157.1 Stoplight: fast food, Walmart, Home Depot, gas/diesel, supermarket and shopping mall.
- E 181.8 TONASKET (pop. 1,032), food, gas, camping.
- E 197.7 OROVILLE (pop. 1,686); food, gas, lodging and other services. Visitor information.
- E 203 U.S.–Canada border at Oroville, WA; open 24-hours daily
- E 203.8 Haynes Point Provincial Park, camping.
- E 204.3 Access 1 mile/1.6 km east to OSOYOOS (pop. 5,044) all services.
- E 205.6 Stoplight at junction of Highway 97 and Crowsnest Highway 3. Easy access to gas/diesel, shopping mall and fast-food outlets at this intersection. BC Visitor Centre/Osoyoos at northeast corner of intersection.
- E 217.7 OLIVER (pop. 4,564); Oliver Place Mall, fast-food oulets, gas, diesel and lodging.
- E 221.6 Inkaneep Provincial Park; camping.
- E 227.3 Vaseux Lake Provincial Park; camping.
- E 231 OKANAGAN FALLS (pop. 1,700); food, gas/diesel, lodging.
- E 240.3 Traffic light as Highway 97/Skaha Lake Road turns north, becoming Highway 97/Channel Parkway, bypassing Penticton city centre. Continue straight for PENTICTON (pop. 32,993), a major tourist destination with all services. Gas and other services next 3.6 miles northbound.
- E 249.6 Traffic light; gas/diesel with propane and market.
- E 253.1 SUMMERLAND (pop. 11,110); all services. Visitor information.
- E 259.1 Okanagan Lake Provincial Park (South Campground); day-use and camping.
- E 259.8 Okanagan Lake Provincial Park (North Campground): day-use and camping.
- E 272.8 Welcome to Westbank (northbound sign); gas/diesel, fast-food, restaurants and other services. Westbank is a suburb of Kelowna.
- E 280.4 William Bennett bridge crosses Okangan Lake.
- E 281.2 KELOWNA (pop. 115,000), the largest community in the Okanagan and a major tourist destination; all services. Visitor information.
- E 285.2 Traffic light at junction with BC Highway 33 to Crowsnest Highway 3; gas/diesel.
- E 309 Turnoff for Kekuli Bay Provincial Park on Kalamalka Lake; camping.
- E 314.2 VERNON (pop. 38,444); all services. A popular tourist destination with a wide range of tourist services, Vernon is situated between Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes. Visitor information.
- E 320 Junction with BC Highway 97A to Sicamous on Trans-Canada Highway 1.
- E 323.1 Historic O’Keefe Ranch, one of the earliest cattle empires in British Columbia; guided and self-guided tours, admission fee charged, restaurant, gift shop, horseback and pony rides, picnic sites.
- E 341.7 Falkland, a small ranch community with coffee shop/restaurant, motel, and gas station with diesel.
- E 358.7 Hillside store, gas station, post office.
- E 369.5 Exit west at junction with Trans-Canada HIghway 1 for continuation of Central Access Route.
- E 375 Exit 391 westbound access to RV park and BC Wildlife Park.
- E 377.6 Exit 388 to Flying J Travel Plaza to north; food, gas/diesel.
- E 386 Exit 374 north for Kamloops and Yellowhead Highway 5 to Tete Jaune Cache and continuation of Central Access Route. KAMLOOPS (pop. 90,000), all services. Visitor information.
- E 424.9 BARRIERE (area pop. 5,000) has food, gas and lodging.
- E 443.5 LITTLE FORT (pop. 200) has food, gas and lodging.
- E 459.4 North Thompson River Provincial Park; picnicking and camping.
- E 461.8 Junction with Village Road at CLEARWATER (pop. 7,000); food, gas, lodging, camping.
- E 462.4 Junction with Clearwater Valley Road to Wells Gray Provincial Park. Food, gas and lodging at junction. Paved road into park leads 6.4 miles to Spahats Falls, 25.4 miles to Dawson Falls and 26.4 miles to Helmcken Falls. Beautiful side trip.
- E 504 Community of AVOLA has gas station, food and lodging.
- E 528.5 BLUE RIVER (pop. 300) all services.
- E 584.3 VALEMOUNT (pop. 1,100); food, gas, lodging. Visitor information.
- E 585.1 Irvin’s Campground.
- E 596.4 Junction with Yellowhead Highway 16 at Tete Jaune Cache. Prince George, BC, is 171 miles/275 km west; Jasper, AB, is 63 miles/101 km east.