What to See on a One-Week Road-trip in the Pacific Northwest
During the summer of 2018, I met up with a complete stranger and embarked on a one week road trip down the Pacific Northwest with Escape Campervans. Elisabetta (Foxsbackpack) and I started from Vancouver, Canada and headed all the way down to Oregon to explore some of the best spots along the coast. We weren’t able to see everything we wanted to in a week as we were focused on shooting mostly sunrises and sunsets, but here are a few locations that we were able to hit up. If you’re planning a trip down the coast, here are a few places that we visited that we loved, as well as a few suggestions to add to your list.
DAY 1: Park Butte Look Out, Washington
On our first day, we ended up going grocery shopping and getting to Park Butte in preparation for the sunrise mission. The drive from Vancouver to Park Butte is about three hours. The lookout at Park Butte is probably one of the best spots to see the sunrise in Washington, with an incredible view of Mt. Baker throughout the length of this trail. Fox and I started our hike early at 3AM, as it is about 13km in and out (6.5km each way). The hike takes about 2-3 hours one way, so prepare for that! The trail is marked out pretty well but at night it’s a bit difficult to find your way. Definitely download an offline map, and look up trail maps to make sure you don’t get lost. Fox and I got lost halfway up and ended up spending half an hour running around in circles! If you are interested, you can actually stay at the lookout overnight for free…on a first come first serve basis. You’d want to get there early the day before though (like EARLY). It does get cold though so bring a warm sleeping bag and some sweats! Oh and don’t forget food and a flashlight :)
DAY 2: Cannon Beach, oregon
From Park Butte, we made our way down past Seattle (we visited the first Starbucks location on the way) towards Cannon beach. The drive is quite strenuous (about 8 hours + traffic), but thankfully we made it on time for sunset. Cannon Beach is home to some phenomenal rock formations along the Pacific Ocean. There are ton of restaurants and hotels around, and overall it is a great place to unwind and have a beer while watching the sunset.
DAY 3: Rowena Road, Oregon + MULTNOMAH FALLS + TRILLIUM LAKE
We started the third day at Cannon Beach for sunrise, and headed inland towards the direction of Tokatoee Falls. Along the way, we stopped by Multnomah Falls, Rowena Road, and Trillium Lake. Multnomah Falls is a tourist spot, but offers quite an amazing view. To get there, you’ll have to park your car at a designated parking spot and take a 10 minute shuttle to it. From there, you can view the waterfall from the base, or hike up and walk on a bridge that hangs over the falls. Rowena Road is a U-shaped road that is quite famous on the gram, so we decided to check that out. For sunset, we quickly rushed over to Trillium Lake to see Mt. Hood, and stayed there for blue hour.
DAY 4: Tokatee Falls, oregon + UMPqUA Hot Springs, oregon
Tokatee falls is probably one of my favourite waterfalls that I’ve ever visited, as it isn’t very busy and it’s quite fun to hike down to. The waterfall has a viewing platform from above, but the best view is from the base which you can get down to if you’re careful. As of 2018, there is a rope that you can use to scale down on the right hand side of the view point, and from there it’s a 5-10 minute walk down. Please be careful though and do it at your own risk, as there have been reports of people dying due to falling. It’s usually best to visit the during the morning as the light rays often pop through the huge opening at the top of the waterfall.
The hot springs was a first for me. I’ve never been to a hot spring before, but after going to this one I’m seriously considering going more often! The hot springs of Umpqua are super fun to sit in and relax, and you can select the temperature by choosing which natural hot spring to get into. The top one is the hottest and it gets cooler as you go down. There’s a parking lot you can park at, and from there it’s a 5-10 minute walk. I’d suggest visiting early in the morning as it does get quite busy (we went around 8AM and there were a couple of people already there). Also, just a warning, nudity is allowed. The rest of the day was just driving back to Washington and making it to La Push for sunset (about a 7 hour drive). La Push is a beach along the coast of the Pacific Ocean with some rock formations, and it is quite fun to explore the area if you have time.
DAY 5: Olympic National Park + RETURNING TO CANADA
Olympic National Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the USA, with it’s lush forests and beautiful waterfalls. Fox and I only got to spend a morning here, but the park is massive and there are so many places to explore. Also consider exploring La Push and Ruby Beach, which are beaches along the coast near the park. Driving to the park is a bit of a hassle as the fastest way to it is by ferry. You can drive to the park without ferry, but you’ll either have to pay tolls, or go completely around and add a bit of time to your driving depending on which direction you are coming from. So if you’re on Google Maps and you don’t want to get hit with a surprise, turn off tolls and ferries in the options! That evening, Fox and I returned back to Canada to meet up with new people the next day. Fun story, Fox ended up locking our keys in the camper van, and we ended up getting stuck for a few hours in a Dairy Queen parking lot. Thankfully there was a locksmith that came to our aid!
DAY 6: Joffre Lakes, Vancouver
Our sixth and final day of exploring was spent back in my home country of Canada. Fox and I met up with some new friends that we connected with through Instagram and together, we went to explore Joffre Lakes, which is about 3 hours from Vancouver, past Brandywine Falls (a waterfall that we didn’t get to visit, but you should if you have time!). The trail is about 10 km, and takes a bout 4-5 hours round-trip. Joffre Lakes is known for it’s incredibly aqua color, and the beautiful mountains and forests surrounding it. There are three lakes in total, and my friends and I stopped at the second one for the majority of the time. After a few hours, we made our way back to Vancouver and stopped by Whistler for some food.
DAY 7: RETURNING THE CAMPER-VAN
That was basically our trip! I think one week in the PNW is definitely not enough; two weeks is probably a better duration to visit all the locations and have time to actually enjoy them. I would say that the travel duration took Fox and I by surprise as we ended up driving more than exploring. I think having a camper-van on a road-trip is one of the best decisions. It was my first time living out of a camper-van, and to have a kitchen, bed, washroom and vehicle all in one was a blessing. It was a bit difficult to find a place to park the van and sleep at times, and in cities you’ll have to find an RV Park to sleep at if you don’t want to have a nasty fine. Fox and I were able to find some everywhere we went, but book early!
If you’re planning to do a road-trip, consider using Escape Camper-vans! They have locations all along the coast and not only are they affordable they are stylish, clean, and new. Fox and I are offering 10% off with the code “FOX10”!
PLACES I WISH I GOT TO VISIT
Samuel H. Boardman State Park: probably the coolest park I’ve ever seen in photos, but also quite far. The park is located on the border of California and Oregon, but has an insanely beautiful and interesting coastline.
Crater Lake: A beautiful lake set in a crater with an island in the middle. Looks absolutely stunning in winter, but also is a mission to get up. We didn’t have time to go here, but it’s definitely on my destination bucket list!
Vancouver Island + Tofino: A wonderful area to explore for nature lovers. Lots of forests, waterfalls, and wildlife.
Capilano Suspension Bridge: A beautiful suspension bridge in Vancouver surrounded by forest. There’s a pretty expensive entrance fee, but worth the experience. If you visit during the Christmas season, there will also be lights all over the forest and bridge!
Panorama Ridge: If you’re into hiking, Panorama Ridge is perfect for you. This 30km beast is insanely hard to do, and often people camp halfway.