Washington State boasts several scenic drives, offering breathtaking landscapes, charming towns, and natural beauty. Here are a few scenic drives in Washington State or the best road trips in Washington State.
Scenic Drives In Washington State
Scenic drives in Washington State offer an unparalleled opportunity to witness the diverse and awe-inspiring natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, showcasing majestic mountains, serene coastlines, lush forests, and charming towns in one journey.
Whether winding through the Cascades, along coastal highways, or around iconic landmarks, these drives provide an immersive experience into the region’s breathtaking landscapes, making them an essential exploration for nature enthusiasts and travelers seeking the beauty of the great outdoors.
Total Distance: Approximately 440-550 miles, depending on specific routes.
Start & End Points: Begins in the Everett or Seattle area, forming a loop through the Cascade Mountains.
The Cascade Loop in Washington State offers a breathtaking journey through diverse landscapes, including majestic mountains, serene forests, and charming small towns, providing an unparalleled scenic drive.
With its stunning vistas of snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and lush valleys, the Cascade Loop showcases the natural beauty and diverse terrain of the Pacific Northwest, making it an unforgettable and must-experience road trip for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
Things to Do:
- Enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and wildlife viewing in North Cascades National Park.
- Visit charming towns like Leavenworth and Winthrop, offering unique cultural experiences and outdoor adventures.
Scenic Stopovers: Deception Pass, Lake Chelan, Diablo Lake, and Stevens Pass.
Overnight Stay Options: Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Winthrop, and Chelan offer various lodging options ranging from resorts to cozy B&Bs.
Olympic Peninsula Loop
Total Distance: Roughly 350-400 miles, depending on detours.
Start & End Points: Typically starts in Seattle or Tacoma, forming a loop around the Olympic Peninsula.
The Olympic Peninsula Loop in Washington State is a spectacular scenic drive encompassing rugged coastline, ancient rainforests, and stunning mountain vistas, offering a diverse and captivating landscape in one journey.
From the wild Pacific shoreline to the enchanting moss-draped forests and the majestic Olympic Mountains, this loop presents a unique opportunity to witness nature’s varied beauty in the Pacific Northwest, making it an exceptional and picturesque road trip for explorers and nature lovers.
Things to Do:
- Explore Olympic National Park, known for its diverse ecosystems, including rainforests, mountains, and coastal areas.
- Visit the Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach, and Hurricane Ridge for stunning views and hiking opportunities.
Scenic Stopovers: Ruby Beach, Lake Quinault, and the picturesque town of Port Townsend.
Overnight Stay Options: Port Angeles, Forks, and Sequim offer various accommodation choices, from hotels to campgrounds.
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway (Highway 101)
Total Distance: Around 350-400 miles.
Start & End Points: Spans along the coastline, circling the Olympic Peninsula and down towards Oregon.
Washington State’s Pacific Coast Scenic Byway (Highway 101) offers a mesmerizing drive along the rugged coastline. It features dramatic ocean views, sea stacks, and charming coastal towns, making it an unforgettable journey.
With its winding roads hugging the Pacific Ocean, this scenic byway provides access to pristine beaches, stunning cliffs, and diverse marine life, creating a picturesque and captivating experience for travelers seeking coastal beauty and exploration.
Things to Do:
- Enjoy scenic coastal views,
- Visit seaside towns and
- Explore beaches and state parks. Experience the beauty of the Pacific Ocean.
Scenic Stopovers: Kalaloch Beach, Cape Flattery, and Hoh Rainforest.
Overnight Stay Options: Ocean Shores, Aberdeen, and Forks offer lodging options from hotels to vacation rentals.
North Cascades Highway (State Route 20)
Total Distance: Approximately 120 miles.
Start & End Points: Begins in Sedro-Woolley and ends in Okanogan or Winthrop.
The North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) in Washington State is a breathtaking scenic drive renowned for its sweeping mountain vistas, pristine alpine lakes, and diverse ecosystems. It offers an unparalleled experience for nature enthusiasts.
Winding through the majestic North Cascades, this route presents a visual feast of snow-capped peaks, lush forests, and crystal-clear rivers, making it an extraordinary adventure for those seeking awe-inspiring natural beauty and outdoor exploration. It is one of the most stunning road trip in Washington State.
Things to Do:
- Explore North Cascades National Park, offering outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and scenic viewpoints.
Scenic Stopovers: Diablo Lake, Washington Pass, and Winthrop.
Overnight Stay Options: Sedro-Woolley, Winthrop, and Mazama have lodging choices from inns to cabins.
Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway
Total Distance: Approximately 75 miles.
Start & End Points: Begins in Vancouver, Washington, and extends eastward along the Columbia River.
The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway in Washington state boasts stunning vistas of the majestic Columbia River, showcasing dramatic waterfalls, lush greenery, and towering cliffs, creating a picturesque and captivating drive for nature lovers.
This route offers unparalleled views of natural wonders like Multnomah Falls and diverse landscapes, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking scenic beauty and outdoor adventure in the Pacific Northwest. Nature lovers consider this as one of the best road trips in Washington State.
Things to Do:
- Witness the magnificent waterfalls like Multnomah Falls.
- Enjoy hiking trails.
- Explore the Columbia River Gorge with its geological formations and viewpoints.
Scenic Stopovers: Beacon Rock State Park, Hood River, and Maryhill Museum of Art.
Overnight Stay Options: Hood River, Stevenson, and The Dalles provide various lodging options, from hotels to bed and breakfasts.
Mount Rainier Loop
Total Distance: Around 150-200 miles.
Start & End Points: Typically begins in Seattle or Tacoma and circles around Mount Rainier.
The Mount Rainier Loop in Washington State offers an awe-inspiring drive with breathtaking views of the iconic Mount Rainier, showcasing its majestic presence against alpine meadows, dense forests, and cascading waterfalls, providing an unforgettable scenic experience.
This loop allows travelers to witness the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest’s highest peak while exploring diverse landscapes, making it an essential route for those seeking natural beauty and outdoor exploration.
Things to Do: Explore Mount Rainier National Park, which offers hiking trails, wildflower meadows, and spectacular mountain views.
Scenic Stopovers: Paradise, Sunrise, and Longmire within the national park.
Overnight Stay Options: Enumclaw, Ashford, and Packwood offer lodging choices from hotels to cabins.
San Juan Islands Scenic Byway
Total Distance: Approximately 60-70 miles, including ferry routes.
Start & End Points: Begins in Anacortes and includes ferry rides to islands such as Orcas, San Juan, and Lopez.
The San Juan Islands Scenic Byway in Washington State offers a picturesque drive through a stunning archipelago with breathtaking views of the Salish Sea, diverse wildlife, and charming island communities, providing a serene and captivating journey.
This route showcases the islands’ beauty, featuring coastal landscapes, serene shorelines, and a relaxed atmosphere. It is an ideal scenic drive for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful island getaway.
Things to Do:
- Experience island life.
- Watch whales.
- Visit local art galleries.
- Enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking and biking.
Scenic Stopovers: Moran State Park, Lime Kiln Point State Park, and Friday Harbor.
Overnight Stay Options: Friday Harbor, Eastsound, and Lopez Village offer various accommodations, including hotels, resorts, and charming cottages.
Palouse Scenic Byway
Total Distance: Approximately 200 miles.
Start & End Points: Begins in Colfax and winds through the rolling hills of the Palouse region.
The Palouse Scenic Byway in Washington is among the best road trips due to its picturesque rolling hills, vibrant farmlands, and unique landscapes that offer an extraordinary and tranquil driving experience.
This route showcases the beauty of the Palouse region, boasting expansive views, charming small towns, and an iconic tapestry of agricultural scenery, making it a must-visit for travelers seeking a serene and visually stunning road trip.
Things to Do:
- Marvel at the picturesque farmland landscapes, rolling hills, and vibrant crops.
- Visit local farm stands, take scenic drives, and capture the beauty of the rural countryside.
Scenic Stopovers: Steptoe Butte, Palouse Falls State Park, and Pullman.
Overnight Stay Options: Pullman, Colfax, and Moscow (Idaho) offer lodging choices from hotels to cozy inns.
Each route offers unique charm, showcasing the diversity of Washington State’s landscapes, from coastal views and mountainous terrain to rural countryside and island getaways.
FAQs – Scenic Drives In Washington State
- What are the best times to embark on road trips in Washington State?
The best times for scenic drives in Washington State vary by route. Generally, late spring through early fall offers pleasant weather, clearer roads and better visibility. However, some routes, particularly those in mountainous regions, might have limited accessibility due to snow in winter.
- Are there specific driving conditions or requirements for these scenic routes?
Road conditions can vary, so checking for closures or maintenance work is advisable, especially in mountainous regions where snow or ice might affect the roads. Ensure your vehicle is in good condition, and for mountainous routes, be prepared for elevation changes and potential weather shifts.
- Can I access these scenic drives in Washington State with a regular car, or do I need a four-wheel-drive vehicle?
Most scenic drives in Washington State are accessible by regular cars. However, some routes, particularly those in higher elevations or rugged terrains, may benefit from a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Checking for specific route information and any vehicle recommendations beforehand is recommended.
- Are there amenities available along these Washington State Scenic Drives?
Amenities along the routes vary. While some drives have frequent stops with amenities like gas stations, restrooms, and eateries, others might have limited services. Plan, carry sufficient water and snacks, and fill up your gas tank before embarking on these scenic drives.
- How long do these scenic drives typically take?
The duration varies based on the specific route and the number of stops you make. Some drives can be completed in a few hours, while others might take a full day or more if you plan to explore attractions or participate in activities.
- Are there specific attractions or landmarks to look out for along these scenic drives?
Each scenic drive in Washington State offers unique attractions. For example, you might encounter waterfalls, mountain vistas, charming small towns, historic sites, coastal views, and wildlife sightings. Researching the route beforehand can help identify key points of interest.
- Can I camp along these scenic drives or stay overnight nearby?
Camping and accommodation options vary along these routes. Some routes might have campsites or accommodations nearby, while others might not. It is advisable to check for camping regulations, lodging availability, and reservation requirements in advance if planning to stay overnight.
- Are pets allowed on these scenic drives and at the stops along the way?
Pet policies vary by location. Some stops or parks along the routes might allow pets, while others may have restrictions. Always check the specific pet policies for each location you visit along the scenic drive.
- Are entrance fees or passes required for these scenic drives or attractions along the way?
Some state or national parks along the routes might require entrance fees or passes. Consider purchasing an annual pass if planning to visit multiple parks. Some scenic drives, however, are free and do not require entrance fees.
- What safety tips should I remember when embarking on these scenic drives?
Ensure you have a fully charged phone, carry a paper map or GPS device, and pack essentials like water, snacks, a first aid kit, and emergency supplies. Additionally, be cautious while driving, especially in areas with steep drops, narrow roads, or adverse weather conditions.
I hope you loved reading about some of the best scenic drives in Washington State. Save these fascinating Road Trips In Washington State (Washington State Road Trips) and plan your fun-filled Road Trip in Washington.
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