The Pacific Northwest is known for its beauty: National and State Parks, rainforest, ocean, and some top-notch cities. For those who love to get behind the wheel and go, to wonder at our nation’s – and our planet’s – stunning vistas from the comfort of your securely-belted seat (#ClickItOrTicket), these are the PNW’s most scenic roadtrips.
Mt. Rainier National Park
As the fifth highest peak in the continental U.S., Mt. Rainier will of course offer astonishing sights. Stay closer to sea level on routes such as Mowich Lake Road, a 25-mile (40-km), 42-minute (approximately) trip on Washington Highway 165. Two favorite scenic byways include the 124-mile (77.05-km) long White Pass Scenic Byway and the 96-mile (59.65-km) long Chinook Scenic Byway, which travels through Mt. Rainier National Park and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest over the course of two to three hours. A few other excellent options include Circle Mt. Rainier Driver, West Side Loop, and The Road to Paradise.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
US Highway 101 in Oregon: that’s right – we’re talking 338 miles (544 km) and six hours on a single road accompanied the entire way by the Pacific Ocean. Also known as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, this stunning road – attracting locals as well as tourists – includes points of interest such as Tillamook Rock, Harrish Beach, Arch Rock, Cape Perpetua, Ecola State Park, the Oregon Dunes, and Oregon’s 11 coast lighthouses. From the Washington State border to the California border (or the other way around), you’ll understand why Lewis & Clark’s discovery brought on follower after follower.
Columbia River Gorge
The eye-opening natural phenomenon that divides Washington and Oregon is filled with so many wonders that you’d have to take it in by roadtrip for even a chance to experience everything it offers. Simply following the Columbia River Gorge will take you 152 miles (244 km) and approximately three hours along Interstate 84 and US Highway 30. Otherwise, explore the Lewis & Clark Memorial Highway (Washington Highway 14), and imagine what they experienced along their longer, more treacherous route. The Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway is slowly becoming more history than highway, but is set to be re-vamped as a non-motorized, paved pathway. Whichever route you take, make sure to stop for the breathtaking waterfalls!
Hell’s Canyon Scenic Byway
Hell’s Canyon in Oregon is the deepest canyon in North America and 131% deeper than Arizona’s “Grand” Canyon. Yes, there’s a scenic byway for it. Enjoy approximately five-and-a-half hours on Forest Road 3965, Oregon Highway 82, and Oregon Highway 86 marveling at Hell’s Canyon’s 7,993 feet below you and Wallowa Mountains’ over 9,800 feet above you. Of course, you know there are hiking options across those 193 miles (311 km) if you’re looking to stretch your legs; after all, this is the Pacific Northwest.
Olympic National Park
A simply astonishing area, the Olympic National Park includes the Olympic Mountains, Olympic National Forest, Hoh Rainforest, and the Olympic Hot Springs. The Olympic Peninsula Loop brings you all of this plus Pacific Ocean Beaches. If that’s not scenic, I don’t what is. So go check out the 329 miles (530 km) across US Highways 101 (yes, it extends beyond Oregon) and 12, as well as Washington Highway 8 up in the Olympic Peninsula. In comparison to today’s fast-paced, over-connected, technological blur, everyone can benefit from an eight-hour roadtrip winding by beautiful sights largely untouched by man.
Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway
For those tired of shining oceans and wild rivers, make your way east, on US Highway 2 as well as Washington Highways 155 and 17, to the State of Washington’s desert side. The 151-mile (243-km) Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway travels along dry canyons, by austere landscapes, and through the Colville Indian Reservation over the course of three-and-a-half hours. Check out the Grand Coulee Dam, which powers 75% of the Pacific Northwest.
International Selkirk Loop
Why Selkirk? It loops the Selkirk Mountains. Why International? The loop not only passes through two states (Washington and Idaho), but two countries (U.S.A. and Canada). In fact, it is the only scenic drive in North America to cross a national border. The eight hours over 285 miles (460 km) will not only provide vistas of the Selkirk Mountains, but also of lakes, rivers, and wildlife, while passing through charming towns. Don’t forget to pack your passports!
Why settle for a scenic roadtrip of one island when you can easily double up? Take the ferry to the southern tip of Whidbey Island. From here, use Washington Highways 20 and 525 to take in the views along this narrow island over the next hour before you reach Deception Pass. Stop at Washington’s most visited state park to snap some photos, then continue along the bridge (don’t look down!). Make your way to Anacortes to catch another ferry to Orcas Island. Take another hour here to soak in the island-life and drive your way to the San Juan Islands’ highest peak: Mount Constitution.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.