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

The Central Access Route 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 summer water sports, fresh fruit stands and wineries. 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 multi-lane Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Kamloops is an interesting alternate route. This route begins near sea level at the confluence of the Coquihalla and Fraser rivers at Hope. Then it climbs for 70 miles/112 km up the Coquihalla River and Boston Bar Creek valleys. Then, it drops down the Coldwater River drainage to the town of Merritt. From Merritt, it climbs to the Nicola Plateau before dropping into the Thompson River Valley at Kamloops.



The MILEPOST® Quick Reference Log
Miles from Ellensburg (E) shown.

E 0 Junction of Interstate 90 and Highway 97 North at Exit 106 on I-90. Food, gas/diesel and lodging north off exit. Access via 4-mile Business Loop—or use Exit 109 off I-90 for more direct access—to ELLENSBURG (pop. 19,001); all tourist services.

E 22.3 Turnoff for Mineral Springs U.S. Forest Service Campground.

E 25.8 Turnoff for U.S. Forest Service Swauk campground.

E 29.9 Turnout to east at summit of Blewett Pass (elev. 4,102 feet).

E 51.1 Junction U.S. Highways 97 and 2. Bavarian-themed Leavenworth, 6 miles west on U.S. 2, is well worth a side trip!

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. 3,149); all services. Home of Aplets & Cotlets Candy Kitchen and Country Store.

Aplets & Cotlets Candy Kitchen and Country Store in Cashmere, WA.

E 58.4 Stoplight at Cotlets Way; gas/diesel, supermarket.

E 62 Turnoff for Wenatchee River County Park; camping, fishing.

E 65.4 WENATCHEE (pop. 32,701); all services.

E 72.2 Lincoln Rock State Park and Rocky Reach Dam; camping, fishing, picnicking.

E 79.5 Junction with U.S. Highway 2 East to Spokane and continuation of Highway 97 North to Chelan and Okanogan.

E 82 Orondo River Park; camping, picnicking.

E 85.4 Daroga State Park; camping, picnicking.

E 101 Beebe Bridge Park; camping, fishing, picnicking.

Beebe Bridge county park has tent/RV campsites and a day-use area.

E 101.5 Junction with Washington Highway 150 which leads 5 miles to downtown CHELAN (pop. 3,959), a popular vacation destination, located on one of the state’s most beautiful and most heavily used lakes. Lake Chelan is the largest natural lake in Washington, the third deepest lake in the country and ninth in the world.

E 120.1 PATEROS (pop. 667); food, gas/diesel, lodging and camping.

E 126.4 BREWSTER (pop. 2,358); food, gas/diesel, lodging and other services, including a hospital.

E 153.5 Exit for downtown OKANOGAN (pop. 2,552), all services, historic district.

E 155.9 Stoplight and access to Omak Stampede, Carl Precht Memorial RV Park and downtown OMAK (pop. 4,792), food, gas, lodging.

E 157.1 Stoplight: fast food, Walmart, Home Depot, gas/diesel, supermarket and shopping mall.

E 181.8 TONASKET (pop. 1,020), food, gas, camping.

E 197.7 OROVILLE (pop. 1,676); food, gas, lodging and other services.

E 202.9 U.S.–Canada border at Oroville, WA; open 24-hours daily

E 203.8 sẁiẁs Provincial Park, camping.

E 204.3 Access road leads 1.6 km/1 mile east to OSOYOOS (pop. 5,085) town center; all traveler services.

E 205.6 Junction of Highway 97 and Crowsnest Highway 3 (Princeton and Hope)/Main Street. Easy access to gas/diesel stations, fast-food outlets and shopping centers.

E 217.7 OLIVER (pop. 4,564); Oliver Place Mall, fast-food oulets, gas/diesel and lodging.

E 221.6 Inkaneep Provincial Park; camping, fishing.

E 227.3 Vaseux Lake Provincial Park; camping, fishing.

E 231 OKANAGAN FALLS (pop. 1,700); food, gas/diesel, lodging.

E 240.3 Traffic light. Northbound turn left to continue on Highway 97N/Skaha Lake Road which becomes Channel Parkway and bypasses Penticton city center. 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 Johnson Road. Centrex gas/diesel station with propane, convenience store and U-Haul.

E 253.1 SUMMERLAND (pop. 11,110); all services.

E 259.1 South Campground in Okanagan Lake Provincial Park; day-use, camping, fishing.

E 259.8 North Campground in Okanagan Lake Provincial Park: day-use, camping, fishing.

E 266 PEACHLAND (pop. 5,233); visitor center/museum, beachside walking path, shops and cafes.

Peachland’s accessible lakefront makes a beautiful spot to take a break.

E 272.8 Welcome to Westbank (northbound sign); gas/diesel, all services, fast-food. WESTBANK (30,892) is a booming suburb of Kelowna.

E 280.4 William Bennett Bridge crosses Okanagan Lake.

E 281.2 KELOWNA (pop. 115,000), the largest community in the Okanagan, Kelowna offers excellent accommodations— from luxury resorts to campgrounds—as well as great restaurants and boutique shops.

E 285.2 Junction with BC Highway 33 south to Big White Ski Area and on to Crowsnest Highway 3. Costco and Chevron gas/diesel station at this intersection.

E 308.3 Turnoff for Kekuli Bay Provincial Park on Kalamalka Lake; camping.

314.2 VERNON (pop. 41,671); all services. Situated between Kalamalka, Okanagan and Swan lakes, Vernon is a popular tourist destination with year-round activities and attractions suited to a wide range of ages and interests.

E 320 Junction with BC Highway 97A to Sicamous on Trans-Canada Highway 1.

Historic O’Keefe Ranch includes St. Anne’s Church.

E 323.1 Historic O’Keefe Ranch, one of the earliest cattle empires in British Columbia; guided and self-guided tours, admission fee charged during open hours, restaurant, gift shop, RV camping, glamping sites, and picnic facilities; www.okeeferanch.ca.

E 341.7 Falkland, a small ranching community. Heritage Park and Museum. Services include a pub, coffee shop/restaurant, motel and Petro-Canada gas/diesel station.

E 358.7 Hillside store, SuperSave gas/diesel station, post office.

E 369.5 Northbound travelers exit left (west) here to continue on this route via Trans-Canada Highway 1 West. Southbound travelers use Exit 399 to continue on this route via Highway 97 to Vernon.

E 375 Exit 391 is westbound access to Kamloops RV Park and BC Wildlife Park to south.

E 377.6 Exit 388/Kokanee Way access north; to Petro-Pass and 24-hour food, gas/diesel, RV parking.

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.

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, camping, fishing.

E 461.8 Junction with Village Road at CLEARWATER (pop. 2,324); food, gas, lodging, camping.

E 462.4 Roundabout at 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.

Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

E 504 Community of Avola has gas station, food and lodging.

E 528.5 BLUE RIVER (area pop. 230); all services.

E 584.3 VALEMOUNT (pop. 1,100); food, gas, lodging.

E 585.1 Turnoff to east for Irvin’s RV Park. Full range of facilities for all sizes of RV rigs.

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.