Spencer, a Trippy user, needed out of the box ideas when he was planning his West Coast road trip. He wrote:
If you could plan and go on ONE dream road trip, what & where would it be? I’m planning an epic West Coast/California road trip but want to hear what would be other people’s dream road trip. Go crazy!
Elizabeth came up with the ultimate itinerary that we are expanding for you here. Take a read and start planning your Pacific Northwest road trip:
Fly to Seattle and head straight to Pike Place Market
Start your road trip in Seattle. Stay for a night or two and discover the city known for its coffee (Starbucks was founded there), seafood, and of course, Pike Place Market. Elizabeth said:
I flew to Seattle and headed straight for Pike Place Market and bought for $326.50, a Whole Sockeye White King Salmon & Jumbo Dungeness later which was to be shipped home on my return; I had a wonderful bowl of clam chowder, some off-the-hook salmon-potato croquettes with an herb sauce and a micro-brew at Lowell’s Restaurant which boasts beautiful water views. If that’s not your style, there are plenty of other good eateries here.
Mount Rainer National Park
The next day I headed for Mount Rainier National Park. This park is gorgeous–one of the most-glaciated parks in the US. (The release that you have to sign to hike there is extensive.) But it’s jaw-dropping, mind-clearing, soul-inspiring terrain.
Trippy user Michael loved Mount Rainier National Park:
I LOVE Mount Rainier. Climbed it a couple of times, but now I only go there for a long weekend PERFECT for two days. Great places to car-camp with real flushing toilets and running water allow for you to do day hikes on the Wonderland Trail. It also allows you to have a campfire in the car-camp area( depending on the fire-risk), beautiful starry nights, and even a place where the Rangers give a nightly lecture and slide show. Enter from the North near Alta Crystal Resort.
Lunch at Wildberry Restaurant in Ashford. Elizabeth wrote:
Did not research the food this time but, by accident, stumbled upon an incredible restaurant, “The Wildberry” in Ashford. Authentic Nepalese food right outside the park entrance. How appropriate. I ate a to-die-for-good meal, topped off with a slice of home-made Huckleberry pie.
Ashford is six miles from the Nisqually entrance of Mount Rainier National Park. It’s a good base for your meals and accommodation.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is about a three-hour drive from Ashford. Elizabeth wrote:
Onward and upward to Olympic National Park. You’ll drive your car onto the ferry and enjoy the ride to the Olympic Peninsula. You’ll see forest, coastal, and mountain ecosystems here. It’s designated as both a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve, so there is a lot to see. I didn’t spend nearly enough time here. Take your time. Don’t rush.
Lauren from Santa Monica liked Olympic National Park. She shared:
I recommend the Olympic National Park for sure! The Olympic Peninsula is just stunning, too, if you want to see a remarkable sunset. Camping Neah Bay is super unique and the furthest you can get. It is far, so two days might not be enough.
Go boating, hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, tide pooling (at Kalaloch’s Beach 4 and Mora’s Hole in the Wall), stargazing, and also spend some time photographing Olympic National Park.
Drive on Route 101 to Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
Elizabeth continued south on route 101, Oregon Coast to Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. She shared in detail:
Back on Route 101, heading South to the rugged, publicly-owned Oregon coast.
Spoiler alert: nerdier parts of the trip ahead: Not planned, but it was there, so I spent an afternoon at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park.
This is where Captain William Clark stood on November 7, 1805, believing he had reached the Pacific ocean. He was close, and who could blame him for mistaking the Columbia River estuary for the ocean. If you are out this way–do the Historic Columbia River Highway. In 1986, it became the first and only designated National Scenic Area. You could spend days there.
For accommodation, Elizabeth recommended Sylvia Beach Hotel, located in Newport in Central Oregon, about two hours south of the historical park. She wrote:
OK, have to stay somewhere on the coast and relax for a couple of days, so I chose this place: Sylvia Beach Hotel. I stayed in the Mark Twain room, yes, all the room are named after famous authors: Austen, Fitzgerald, Poe, Stevenson, Melville, Hemingway, Colette, Dickinson, Cather, Christie, Stein–you get the idea. The owner Goodie Cable describes her property as a “trap for interesting people.” Have to say, it certainly was. One night, at dinner, which was excellent, the woman seated across from me introduced herself as Jane Adams. Adams, as in the daughter-in-law of Ansel Adams. For over an hour, she told us stories about her famous father-in-law and how he was at his core, an environmentalist as was she.
My absolute favorite place to stay along this route is in Ashland. It’s just north of the California border, dividing your drive nearly in half. The town is beautiful, charming, and has a lot of character. Known for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, it’s also home to quite a few great restaurants, including the Liquid Assets wine bar and restaurant. I love the bacon-wrapped dates there, and they do an excellent duck dish as well.
Places to stay in Ashland:
I’ve stayed at the nearby Best Western Bard’s Inn, which is economical, but very clean and offers a decent breakfast. I’ve also stayed at the BEAUTIFUL historic Ashland Springs Hotel, which also provides a decent breakfast and has beautiful rooms. The adjoining Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine is excellent. If you have time and the season is right (not raining), you can enjoy a break from the car by perusing Main street full of cute little shops and cafes. Explore Lithia Park and, if you’re daring, try the local “Lithia Water” that comes up from fountains in the park. It’s full of minerals and, thus, not quite as delicious as normal water.
Day 6 and 7
Drive to Crater Lake National Park
Elizabeth continued to one of her favorite national parks, Crater Lake National Park. She shared:
Onward to one of my favorite National Parks, Crater Lake. How do you describe that color of blue? I give up and just call it “caldera blue.” It is such a pretty place. I met all kinds of kindred spirits here.
Janelle recommended the following activities and place to stay when visiting Crater Lake National Park:
I’d recommend Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. It’s about equidistant from Oakland and Seattle, and the scenery is breathtaking. There is boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding, even scuba diving. The Crater Lake Lodge is a good National Park Service hotel, but it’s probably booked full in August. The Prospect Historic Hotel Bed & Breakfast – Motel and Dinner House is another good hotel choice, but it might also be difficult to get rooms in August.
Crater Lake Lodge is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the beauty of sunset and sunrise. But if you prefer camping, check out Mazama Campground and Lost Creek Campground. Both must be reserved in advance, and Mazama also caters to RVs.
Scenic drive to Portland via Bend
After Crater Lake, it’s time to head north to Bend, a city known for its craft beer breweries, hiking and biking trails, and fantastic coffee. Elizabeth was so mesmerized by the beauty when driving up north through Bend, and she wrote:
Headed back to Portland now, that haven of progressive thinking and weirdness. Took the scenic route 97 cause I wanted to see Bend. Wow. Cool place. Very young and vibrant with lots of in-shape, outdoor-sporting types–hiking, biking, rafting, camping, etc. In general, the interior of Oregon is beautiful and perfectly designed for a road trip. I don’t remember the routes that I took to get to Portland from Bend, but I do remember driving through multiple, verdant wilderness areas and national forests, thinking, “This place is gorgeous, and so much of it is preserved.”
If you travel thru Klamath Falls to Bend and up and around to Portland, you will see lots of nature, and scenic views that are stunning. Oregon has phenomenal hot springs along the way.
While in Bend, Darcie, a local suggested the following things to do:
Check out McMenamins Old St. Francis School and take a dip in the steaming Turkish Bath for $5 per person. Wander around the whole property, check out the funky art everywhere and look for O’Kanes Pub hidden away behind the secret fence. Fire pits, pints of beer, and lots of locals. If the weather is good, take a hike along the Deschutes River Trail or drive up to Mount Bachelor, lots of day hikes around there.
Philip, also from Bend, said:
I’ve called Bend home for five years now. It is pretty awesome. For kayaking and Biking, there are two shops that I would recommend. Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe and Canoe in the Old Mill District is the place to get set up with your on water gear for tubing, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, or Kayaking. It’s a great place, and they’re right on the river. For bike rentals, check with Pine Mountain Sports on Century Drive. If I’m limited on time, the one hike I would be sure to do is Tumalo Falls. You can find directions at Visit Bend downtown for this hike, and tons of others. Three places I can recommend for Breakfast are Cafe Sintra downtown (my favorite), Jackson’s Corner between downtown and the Old Mill district, and Chow on Newport Ave. For Dinner, there are several different options; Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails, 900 Wall, The Blacksmith Restaurant, Bar & Lounge, Spork, and Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats are some of my favorites. Enjoy your trip, and have fun.
We suggest staying a night in Bend and definitely taking time to join the Bend Ale Trail and go on Deschutes River Trail. Stay at the Pine Ridge Inn or choose the many campgrounds and RV parks just outside the city.
Elizabeth ended her trip in Portland. You can do the same by getting an open-jaw air ticket, where you fly into Seattle and leave from Portland.
When visiting Portland, Elizabeth suggested Willamette Valley Wineries, among many other great things to do. She said:
Portland. And the Willamette, dammit! Wine-growing region. Yeah, books and wine and coffee. Without those three things, life would pretty much suck. Again, I think you could strike gold by just wandering by car through this region. I was pretty impressed with the wines at this place: Ponzi Vineyards. And when I told the server at their wine bar that I was a Pinot Noir freak, she poured from a few special bottles, not on the generic tasting selection. Oh, Momma! This is living. And this is eating at the Ponzi-family-owned Dundee Bistro where yet again I met interesting folks.
Leave for home
Either spend more days in Portland to discover more of the hidden gems of the city and its vicinity and fly back to your hometown on the tenth day.