Anytime is a good time for a road trip! One of the beautiful things about living on the north coast of the Pacific Northwest is that as the seasons change, so does the scenery. So, rain or shine, summer or winter, pack up a picnic and some overnight clothes and head out to enjoy these scenic road trips around the north coast of Oregon and Washington.
Oregon’s U.S. 101
Spanning about 350 miles, from Astoria to Brookings, it’s the perfect three-day weekend road trip. You’ll see jagged cliffs, many historic lighthouses, pine forests, Victorian-era homes, and charming towns around every corner. Take your time as you meander through some of the Pacific Northwest’s most picturesque scenery. Consider spending Friday night in Newport and Saturday night in Brookings. On your way back, maybe stop for the night in the quaint town of Yachats. There are so many beautiful options!
Willapa Valley Loop
A nice short road trip that will only take a few hours is the Willapa Valley Loop in Washington State. Highway 12 provides stunning views of the Pacific Northwest and winds around the southern part of Capital State Park. Add in the lush rain forest and pristine lakes, and you’ll feel captivated by the stunning sights. Head towards Montesano following the 101. At the traffic circle in Raymond, follow State Route 6 towards the town of Doty. 16 miles before Chehalis you’ll see Rainbow Falls State Park. Stop and stretch your legs as you wander among the waterfalls surrounded by mossy forest and seasonal wildflowers.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Park
History buffs come from all over the world to enjoy Lewis & Clark National Historic Park. The Lewis & Clark National Historic Park is unique in that it includes two states (Washington and Oregon), three forts, an 8.5 long paved coastal trail, and two lighthouses! There are over 20 sights of historical significance along the route with interpretive and art installations ready for your enjoyment. Learn about our area’s unique history and discover the stunning beauty of the Lower Columbia Region. Walk in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark, and imagine life before the internet, cars, and even maps! Bring out your inner explorer and go see all the landmarks that have made our coastal area so significant.
Highway 30 to Portland
Most of us have driven Highway 30 between Astoria and Portland more times than we can count, but when was the last time you enjoyed the journey instead of focusing on the destination? It may only take a couple of hours, but there are so many things to do between and Astoria and Portland. Sauvie Island is a must-see stop. Known initially as Wapato Island, it’s the Columbia River’s largest island, at around 26,000 acres. It has lots of sandy beaches, gorgeous farms, and is a birding paradise! Stop for lunch in St. Helens or Scappoose, and check out the many marinas and parks along the way.
Have you ever heard the term, “All roads lead to Vernonia?” if you look at a map of Oregon, it’s pretty much true. From Astoria to Seaside or Scappoose, you can get to Vernonia from many different directions, including Portland and Jewell. Nestled in the Oregon Coast Range on the Nehalem River, Vernonia is surrounded by Douglas Fir forests. It was originally a logging and fishing community. While you’re there, go for a long walk on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. It’s a 21 mile long, mostly paved old railroad trail that stretches from Banks to Vernonia. Along the way are many other trailheads leading to more great hikes, so get out those hiking boots, backpacks, and poles and discover for yourself why it’s so popular.
The northern coast of Oregon and Washington is loaded with fabulous day trips. Whether you want to go shopping in Lincoln City, visit local wineries, sample handcrafted beer at brewpubs, or go beachcombing in Yachats, you’re bound to have a good time. Pack your camera, some snacks, and take along your favorite four-legged companion and find your new favorite spots on these scenic road trips around the north coast of the Pacific Northwest.