Riding The Washington Backcountry Discovery Route

The best part about living in the PNW is having an endless supply of public land and outdoor recreation readily available.  It’s amazing to be able to go from downtown Seattle to an empty hiking trail deep in the wilderness in less than an hour’s drive… depending on traffic.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have grown up in a place where the outdoors and public lands and respected and enjoyed by so many.

One of the hidden gems of the outdoors in WA is the Backcountry Discovery Route, or WABDR.  The WABDR is a 575 mile motorized route that cuts through the Cascades from the Columbia River to the Canadian Border. Every summer, people flock to the WABDR in 4x4s and on adventure motorcycles to explore the roads less traveled and experience the not-often-seen terrain of the Evergreen state.  

Ellensburg just so happens to be smack dab in the middle of the route.  In fact, if you go to the interactive map on this page, you can see [the pub] is listed as a stop on the route.          

On June 30th, my dad, 2 brothers, our buddy Dan, and I started the WABDR from the Canadian border to Ellensburg.  Dan and my brother Ryan were actually riding back from a 2,000 mile trip to AK and the Arctic Circle! We met them at the border and got moving.  

Here’s a video and pictures of the whole trip:

Day 1

Canadian Border to Chelan, WA

At the Canadian Border in Nighthawk, WA Left to right: Jesse (grey jacket), Dan (yellow Jacket), Mark (dad in the black jacket), and Ryan (white Jacket).

Nighthawk, WA

First mile of dirt heading south on the WABDR. Okanogan County.

Dan and Ryan taking in the view. Okanogan County.

Forest north of Conconully, WA

Dan hit a pothole at full speed and knocked his rear fender loose. He’s on the left, unbolting what was left of it. He and Ryan’s bikes were both beaten up from the multi-week trek down from Alaska. They chose to split off and take the highway home from Chelan.


Day 2

Chelan to Ellensburg

View from the campsite above Chelan.

Jesse above Chelan

Looking over Lake Chelan.

Jesse heading into Ardenvoir, WA

Cooper’s General Store is the only stop for gas and food in Ardenvoir, WA. You’ll usually see a few people from the WABDR here on the weekends. They also had ice cold Hand Cannon in cans!

Above Leavenworth.

Mark on the final climb to the top of Chumstick Mountain.

Top of Chumstick Mtn.

Descending from Lion’s Rock into Ellensburg.


Bonus pro tip:  You don’t need a $600 offroad GPS unit to navigate the route.  You can do it all from your phone. Just follow these steps (and don’t hold me liable if you get lost):

  1. Download the OsmAnd app.  The free version will work just fine.
  2. In the app, download the map of WA state.  If you’re not immediately prompted to do so, you can search for the WA state map under the “Download maps” tab.
  3. Go to https://ridebdr.com/WABDR and click on the button.  This will download a .gpx file.
  4. Back in the OsmAnd app go to the “Configure map” tab and import the WABDR gpx file.
  5. Turn on your phone’s gps and double check your location vs the highlighted route.










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