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Epic road trips you should take in Washington State

A family having a road trip with their pet dog in tow

The Evergreen State of the Pacific Northwest has a total area of 71,362 square miles, and this sprawling region is a treasure chest filled to the brim with outdoor recreation, vista corridors, and scenic points.

If you don’t have the luxury of time to go on an extensive multi-day hike in Washington State, there’s one other way to discover its gems: by car! Pack up your bags, perhaps invite a friend or two, and make sure you have enough snacks and drinks (and the tank all filled up). Here are some of the most epic and scenic road trips in Washington State.

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway

Hoh Rainforest

Stop by Hoh Rain Forest and enter fairyland.

One of the best ways to explore the Olympic Peninsula is to go on a road trip along the 350-mile long Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, taking you all the way to the Washington State-Oregon state lines. Along the way, you’ll pass through expansive national forests and parks and then watch as the landscape opens up to views of the coast.

Some of the stops you can take include:

  • Dungeness Spit, the world’s longest natural sandspit. This is the home of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park, best visited during summer for the clear views.
  • Hoh Rain Forest, a magical and lush world of giant deciduous and coniferous trees, with the ground carpeted in ferns and moss.
  • Ruby Beach, also in the Olympic National Park, is hailed as the prettiest beach in the entire Washington State.
  • Port Townsend, famed for its Victorian buildings and booming arts and culture scene.

The Cascade Loop

Deception Pass Bridge

Deception Pass Bridge has a height of 54 meters.

The Pacific Coast Scenic Byway might be long, but the world-famous Cascade Loop is even longer. At 440 miles, it travels through diverse landscapes, from vibrant downtown districts, up to alpine passes, and down to valleys and back to Everett.

If you do the entire length, you’ll also be able to hit three birds with one stone. It’s because the Cascade Loop includes the Whidbey Scenic Isle Way, the North Cascades Highway, and the Stevens Pass Greenway.

Here are some of the gems you’ll find along the way:

  • Stevens Pass Ski and Mountain Bike Area, where you can experience some of the snow and slopes of the Cascades.
  • Leavenworth, a postcard-perfect Bavarian-style village nestled high up in the Cascades. The festivals here, such as Maifest and Oktoberfest, are fantastic.
  • Winthrop, this time an Old West village in the Methow Valley full of outdoor activities.
  • Washington Pass Overlook, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of Liberty Bell Mountain. You can also make this a jump-off point for a short hiking excursion.
  • Deception Pass Bridge and State Park, one of the most visited state parks in Washington (and with good reason).

Lewis and Clark Trail

Hells Canyon

The Corps of Discovery explored parts of Hells Canyon.

Have you ever wondered what it was like for the Lewis and Clark Expedition when they went on a never-before attempted exploration of the West? Consider taking the Lewis and Clark trail for your next road trip.

Start at Lewiston and end your journey at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in the Cape Disappointment State Park. Along the way, you’ll get to see the landscape the Corps of Discovery set foot on. Some of these landscapes have remained relatively unchanged for the past two centuries.

The stopovers you can make along this route include:

  • Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in the continent. You can access this from Lewiston, which is located at the banks of the Snake and Clearwater Confluence Site.
  • Walla Walla, dubbed as the heart of Washington State’s wine country.
  • Sacajawea Historical State Park, where the Corps of Discovery camped in a Native American community for two nights. This place is named after one of the group’s most important members: Sacagawea.
  • The REACH Museum, which has impressive exhibits on basalt lava flows and Ice Age floods and how they affect the earth.
  • Maryhill Museum of Art, a 5,300-acre institution dedicated to various artworks and pieces from different parts of the globe. One of the highlights is the Stonehenge replica.
  • Other road trips worth taking Truth be told, all of the road trips you can take in Washington State are nothing short of amazing. Here are other highly recommended routes you can take:

  • Cape Flattery Tribal Byway
  • Mount Baker Highway
  • Spirit Lake-Mount St. Helens
  • Columbia River Gorge
  • Sherman Pass and Crystal Falls
  • North Pend Oreille
  • Looking for more things to do in Washington State? You’re in the right place. Browse my website to find dining, shopping, entertainment, and recreational options in Pierce County and the Evergreen State.