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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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New resort at Desert Canyon


Desert Canyon Golf Resort, located midway between Wenatchee and Chelan, offers scenic views of Central Washington.
 (Photo courtesy of Desert Canyon Golf Resort / The Spokesman-Review)
Desert Canyon Golf Resort, located midway between Wenatchee and Chelan, offers scenic views of Central Washington. (Photo courtesy of Desert Canyon Golf Resort / The Spokesman-Review)

DESERT CANYON GOLF COURSE ranks as one of the best golf outings in Washington state. Indeed, Golf Digest pins a 4 1/2 -star rating on the Orondo course, tying several West Side courses for the top mark in the state. (Both Indian Canyon and MeadowWood come in just a half star behind.)

Today, Desert Canyon boasts the sparking new Lodge at Desert Canyon Resort, a 21-suite lodge with big-screen TVs, granite countertops, full kitchens, balconies and fireplaces.

Built by Great Links Resorts, a Northwest timeshare corporation, the resort also offers nightly stays and is currently dishing up introductory stay-and-play packages starting at $99 per person. That includes a round of golf, breakfast and overnight lodging. By comparison, regular greens fees for 18 holes are $89 on weekends and $79 on weekdays.

Central Washington, from Wenatchee to Lake Chelan, shows promise as a golf destination — with four championship courses and another debuting later this summer. The new upscale Desert Canyon Resort should boost that tourism potential.

All the courses share one characteristic: spectacular views of the area’s rivers and mountains.

The links-style, 2-year-old Highlander Golf Club in East Wenatchee sits on a cliff 900 feet above the Columbia River. Lake Chelan Golf Course spreads out along a bluff looking out across the 55-mile-long lake. Alta Lake Golf Course in Pateros overlooks the confluence of the Columbia and Methow rivers. The Golf Club at Bear Mountain Ranch, expected to open later this summer, lies on the south shore of Lake Chelan and promises lake and mountain views from every hole.

Besides scenic championship golf, Desert Canyon also holds a par-70, 18-hole putting course with water features, rock formations, hazards and lights for nighttime play. This year also marks the debut of the resort’s Golf Learning Center, filled with the latest gizmos for swing training and club fitting.

A pool and tennis courts round out the resort’s sports offerings, though the surrounding region features whitewater rafting on the Wenatchee River; boating and skiing on Lake Chelan or the Columbia River; and hiking and mountain biking in the nearby forest and wilderness area.

The resort can arrange all activities. Details: (800) 258-4173; www.greatlinksresorts.com and www.desertcanyon.com.

CD tour of Glacier National Park

Narrated tours may offer great description and better enjoyment of a region, but a passenger reading a guidebook aloud can be a pain for the reader. And a guide on a tour bus barking out highlights can be just as painful.

If you’re heading to Montana’s Glacier National Park, check out “Highway to Heaven, Glacier Park Audio Driving Tour.” The double CD set dishes out geologic highlights, historic vignettes and numerous facts and figures on wildlife, forests and more. The narration points out mile markers, where to stop and when to turn off the CD to soak up the sights.

Expect some corny comedy from tour guides Jimmy Jammer, Cliff Crevasse and Skip Stones — all spinning from the heads of script writers Ted Keller, Mike Catena and Gordon Cross. The three are long-time local guides who voice the characters. The CDs also serve up songs by Jack Gladstone and Rob Quist.

One disk offers an east-to-west tour while the other follows the reverse trip.

The $19.95 set can be ordered by calling (406) 862-4378 or via the Web at www.ear2earproductions.com

New guide of Oregon Coast

Never been to the Oregon Coast? You’re missing 360 miles of dazzling beaches, dunes, headlands, tide pools and rainforests. First-timers should carry a guidebook (stop to read it, though). The new, first edition of “Moon Handbooks Coastal Oregon” by Elizabeth and Mark Morris ($16.95, Avalon, 231 pages) offers a broad overview of the entire coast.

The authors explore history, geology, climate, flora, fauna and hikes, from short loops to the Oregon Coast Trail. They review restaurants, lodging and sights, and include details on visiting lighthouses. Maps detail the region.

Recreational offerings, from fishing and whale watching to golf and jet boating, are outlined as well.

Trains with kid appeal

Thomas the Tank Engine returns to the Northwest, with stops in Hood River and Snoqualmie among his 40 events across the country this year.

Thomas — a real steam engine converted into the storybook character — is in Hood River now through July 4, chugging along the wonderfully pastoral tracks of the Mount Hood Railroad.

From July 9-11 and 16-18, Thomas will pull historic railcars on 25-minute rides to the top of Snoqualmie Falls from the Northwest Railway Museum.

Both events, called “A Day Out With Thomas,” offer frequent daily departures. There also will be storytelling and video viewing with Thomas and friends, arts and crafts, toy trains, music and more.

Mount Hood details: (800) 872-4661; www.mthoodrr.com.

Snoqualmie details: (866) 468-7623; www.trainmuseum.org.

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