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6 Pacific Northwest Road Trips for Your Adventure Bucket List

Ah, the Pacific Northwest, the "PNW," the ever-beloved upper left slice of the modern-day United States of America. A thriving mecca of outdoor adventure and just about every climate imaginable. From the vast chunk of Pacific Ocean coastline to the natural beauty of North Cascades National Park to backpacking remote hiking trails in the Olympic National Forest to driving through one of the oldest Redwood trees in California, this region of the USA is genuinely unimaginable until witness it in real life.

There are endless road trips and day trips you can embark on in the PNW. Still, we have compiled some of our most "do-able" favorites from years of experience in exploring the area. After taking a Pacific Northwest road trip, we guarantee that even you will be hashtagging #UpperLeftisBest.

Choose the Pacific Northwest Road Trip Itinerary for You

6. Mount Rainier National Park, Pike Place Market, The Space Needle

photo of various vegetables at a market

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Start/End: Seattle, Washington
Length: (1 Day, 179 miles, approximately 3.5 hours total)
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Suppose you have not spent time in the lovely metropolitan city of Seattle. In that case, we highly suggest taking in the beauty of Puget Sound and the surrounding region when you get the opportunity. Filled with beautiful city parks and iconic spots such as the original Starbucks or the famous "Gum Alley," the 90s grunge-rock capital sure sparks creativity and inspiration in any travel lover.

From seafood to the Space Needle to perusing the bustling booths of Pike Place Market, spending a day (or week) in Seattle is always a great choice!
If you are looking for a quick but wonderful day trip from the city, a visit to Mount Rainier National Park is just the solution to the question "what shall we do this weekend?"

This scenic area boasts impressive scenery and a wide variety of hiking trails trailheads that will appeal to both casual walkers and serious hikers. Highlights of this expansive park include the wildflower-centric Paradise Area, the highest point on Mt. Rainier you can get to in a vehicle in the Sunrise Area, and epic fishing spots in the Box Canyon river gorge in the Ohanapecosh area.

5. Central Oregon, Bend, Smith Rock State Park, Crater Lake National Park, Umpqua Hot Springs

A woman stops to rest while hiking at Crater Lake National Park. The island in the center is Wizard Island, a cinder cone that formed after the massive eruptions that created the lake.

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Start/End: Portland, Oregon
Length: (2-3 Days, 572 miles, approximately 11 hours total)
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Central Oregon offers a wide array of terrain, including lush forests with ancient greenery, the high desert with rock climbing, and the deepest lake in the USA. For this PNW adventure, you will begin in Portland and make the three-hour drive to Bend. In this charming river town, fill your afternoon and evening with breweries, restaurants, and tubing before calling it a fun-filled day.

On your second morning, wake early to visit MIT Rock State Park for a hike on the epic Misery Ridge Trail. Climbers will appreciate the fantastic rock climbing options here. After you finish your escapade, embark on the two-hour drive to Crater Lake National Park. Explore this natural wonder before spending the night in the area (be sure to book something ahead - options are limited). Make your final stop for a rejuvenating soak in Umpqua hot springs the following day. You will then drive through Eugene on your way back to Portland.

4. The Columbia River Gorge, Hood River & Mt. Hood

A Caucasian male 40-44 years with a red beard taking photographing the Multnomah Falls Columbia River Gorge Portland Oregon USA in the rain

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RELATED: Oregon Wine Country: Mapping the Beaver State's Wine Tasting

Start/End: Portland, Oregon
Length: (1-2 Days, 165 miles, approximately 3.5 hours total)
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Add this excellent getaway to your bucket list for an incredible weekend of epic hiking trails, plunging waterfalls, and stunning vistas of Mount Hood. Drop all your plans if you have never had a chance to take the scenic drive from Portland, Oregon, through the incomparable Columbia River Gorge, and then even further into Hood River, Washington!

The Columbia River Gorge is hands down the most majestic and convenient of all the outdoor recreational areas to visit from the Portland area. More or less an unclassified national park, the gorge is an excellent destination for outdoor activities. Families will enjoy hot spots, including the majestic Multnomah Falls and the gorge's Vista House, or eye mystical waterfalls on the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Once you have had a blissful day exploring the wonders of the Gorge, drive into the charming town of Hood River. Grab dinner and then check into your Airbnb or hotel for the night. The next day, sample delectable drinks and fare at local cideries, breweries, and restaurants! Or peruse the endless shops and cute boutiques. A riverfront park is ideal for a family picnic while watching windsurfers test the speeds of their extreme sports. Stay another night or make the quick and still-as-scenic-the-second-time drive back to Portland.

3. The Redwoods

A mother in her late 20s hiking with two children in a forest in Oregon.

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Start/End: San Francisco, California
Length: (2-3 Days, 646 miles, approximately 12 hours total)
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Starting in the bay area's booming heart, this Pacific Northwest road trip takes you through the thriving center of wine country in Napa Valley straight to the unparalleled magic of the Northern California Redwoods. Spend a night (or two or three) tasting the finest selection from some of the country's best wineries while gazing onto picturesque scenes of vineyards and rolling hills.

After you've had your share of world-class pinot noir, leisurely trek your way up north to the fairytale land that we now know as the Redwood National and State Parks. While it may seem like a trek for some trees, we guarantee you a night or two of sleeping among these ancient ancestors will do anybody's soul some good.

2. The Oregon Coast, Haystack Rock, Newport, Cape Perpetua

A couple walks hand in hand towards haystack rock on Cannon Beach, OR.

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Start/End: Portland, Oregon
Length: (3-4 Days, 755 miles, approximately 15 hours total)
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The Oregon Coast is remarkably breathtaking and features some of the best parts of the West Coast. It is approximately a seven-hour drive from the most northern town of Astoria to the southernmost town of Brookings. We suggest leaving Portland for your Oregon Coast road trip and driving two hours to Astoria (home of The Goonies). Try out some fantastic breweries (Buoy and Fort George are our personal favorites) and enjoy a coastal hike (like the Astoria Column and Cathedral Tree).

Next up, hop on the 101 and drive south through Seaside to your second destination, the famous Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach (a great place to safely see the tide pools and grab lunch). Drive one and a half hours to Newport for a sunset dinner and one-night stay in this charming small town. When you wake up on your second day, you will drive to Cape Perpetua, where you can discover Thor's Well, great sea stacks, and possible sea lion sightings.

After an exciting beach day, drive to Florence for your second night's stay near the famous dunes. You can do an afternoon dune exploration or a final Pacific Coast hike. The following day, be sure to stop by Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor on your way back to Portland.

1. Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic Peninsula

Mother and toddler daughter in the unique scenery of the Hoh Rainforest in the Beautiful Olympic National Park in Western Washington State USA.

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Start/End: Seattle, Washington
Length: (2-3 Days, 350 miles, approximately 7.5 hours total)
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A grand adventure awaits when you take this multi-day road trip through Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. A park that sprawls a vast array of ecosystems, you will find the jagged peaks of the Olympic Mountains, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the USA, and the lovely city of Port Angeles. Our trip encompasses the entirety of the Peninsula. Still, you can also forgo the entire loop and create a shorter day trip to Port Angeles, the Hoh rainforest, and back to Seattle.

We recommend finding lodging in Port Angeles if you make a shorter trip. However, suppose you are partaking in the loop trip. In that case, you can find a vacation rental or campsite in the area between Montesano and Forks. Whether you want Pacific Ocean digs or a treehouse in the forest, you can curate the perfect experience for your crew!

One of the best hikes and most popular hiking trails in the National Forest and Park the famous Hurricane Ridge, where on a clear day, you can discover 360-degree views, north across the Straits of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, Canada, or the southern view of the glacier-clad Mount Olympus. The Hurricane Ridge Road in Washington is open 24 hours a day from mid-May into October. It opens (weather permitting) primarily on weekends for the rest of the year.

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READ MORE: Cruise Down The Oregon Coast & Road Trip Through These Overlooked Cities