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8 most scenic Pacific Northwest road trips

The Pacific Northwest is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, from rugged coastlines to towering mountains and lush forests. One of the best ways to experience this region’s breathtaking landscapes is by embarking on a road trip. Here are eight of the most scenic road trips you can take in the Pacific Northwest, each offering its own unique charm and picturesque views.

1. Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 101)

Stretching from Washington State to California, the Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 101, is a dream road trip for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Along this route, you’ll encounter dramatic coastal cliffs, sandy beaches, charming seaside towns, and awe-inspiring ocean vistas. Don’t miss the iconic sights like Olympic National Park, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, and the rugged beauty of the Oregon and Northern California coastlines.

2. Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway

Follow the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway for a journey through cascading waterfalls, towering cliffs, and lush forests. This road trip showcases the natural wonders of the Columbia River Gorge, including Multnomah Falls, Vista House at Crown Point, and the picturesque town of Hood River. The scenic byway offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, photography, and exploring charming riverside communities.

3. Cascade Loop Scenic Highway

The Cascade Loop Scenic Highway in Washington State is a spectacular route that winds through the Cascade Mountains, showcasing alpine lakes, rugged peaks, and dense forests. Highlights of this road trip include the Bavarian-themed village of Leavenworth, the turquoise waters of Lake Chelan, and the majestic North Cascades National Park. Be prepared for breathtaking vistas around every corner.

4. Oregon Coast Highway (Highway 101)

The Oregon Coast Highway, part of the larger Pacific Coast Highway, is a must-do road trip for anyone visiting the Pacific Northwest. This route offers panoramic ocean views, charming coastal towns like Cannon Beach and Newport, and iconic landmarks such as Haystack Rock and Cape Perpetua. Explore tide pools, sample fresh seafood, and marvel at the rugged beauty of Oregon’s coastline.

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5. Olympic Peninsula Loop

Embark on a scenic journey around the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, where you’ll encounter diverse ecosystems, including old-growth rainforests, pristine beaches, and snow-capped mountains. Highlights of this road trip include Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge, Ruby Beach, and the enchanting Hoh Rainforest. Keep an eye out for wildlife like elk, bald eagles, and whales along the way.

6. North Cascades Scenic Highway

For a road trip filled with alpine scenery and outdoor adventures, the North Cascades Scenic Highway delivers unparalleled beauty. Drive through rugged mountain passes, past glacial lakes, and alongside cascading waterfalls in North Cascades National Park. Don’t miss attractions like Diablo Lake Overlook, Washington Pass, and the charming town of Winthrop, known for its western-themed architecture.

7. Mount Hood Scenic Byway

Explore the splendor of Oregon’s highest peak, Mount Hood, on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. This road trip takes you through picturesque landscapes of forests, meadows, and volcanic terrain. Stop by Timberline Lodge for panoramic views of the mountain, visit Trillium Lake for serene reflections, and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and snowboarding depending on the season.

8. Puget Sound and San Juan Islands

Experience the beauty of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands on a road trip that combines scenic drives with ferry crossings. Explore charming waterfront communities like Anacortes, take a ferry to the San Juan Islands for whale watching and island-hopping adventures, and enjoy the maritime scenery along the coastline. The journey offers glimpses of marine life, historic lighthouses, and stunning sunsets over the water.

In conclusion, the Pacific Northwest is a paradise for road trippers, with a wealth of scenic routes to explore. Whether you’re drawn to coastal vistas, mountain landscapes, or charming small towns, these eight road trips promise unforgettable experiences and breathtaking views of this spectacular region. Pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an adventure like no other in the Pacific Northwest.

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