From Route 66 all the way to The Loneliest Road that starts in Maryland, the United States is filled with fantastic road trips that have long been alluring travellers out onto the open road. With so many different routes to take, it’s near impossible to decide on just one road trip to take. These Washington road trips are a great starting point for an adventure with friends.
Get out of the city and discover scenic road trips along the Olympic Peninsula and Pacific Ocean, with fun beach towns and plenty of ski opportunities in between.
The Best Washington Road Trips
1. North Cascades Scenic Highway
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that that the North Cascades Highway is the most scenic drive in Washington State. As the road loops (with hairpin turns!) between massive peaks and along lakes colored turquoise by glacial silt, you’ll see why these mountains are called “the American Alps.”
Distance: 140 miles.
Route highlights: Cascadian Farm Roadside Stand; Washington Pass Overlook; Winthrop; Twisp.
When to do it: May – October ( it closes during winter months.)
2. Pacific Coast Scenic Byway
This 350-mile byway showcases they very best of the Evergreen State. It runs along the entire Olympic Peninsula, meanders through a national park and rain forests, along ocean beaches, then extends south to the border with Oregon. It’s way too long to do in one day, so plan to stop off overnight along the way, and take your time.
Distance: 350 miles.
Route highlights: Hurricane Ridge; Hoh Rain Forest; Ruby Beach; Long Beach.
When to do it: Year-round, but May – September is best.
3. Whidbey Scenic Isle Way
Whidbey Island is located just north of Seattle. This 54-mile scenic byway spans the length of Whidbey Island, providing access to everything from beaches, walking trails, friendly, quaint communities, a naval air station, amazing fresh seafood and super-fresh salty sea air.
Distance: 54 miles.
Route highlights: Washington State ferry ride; Deception Pass; Clinton; Fort Casey State Park.
When to do it: Summer.
4. White Pass Scenic Byway
Explore small communities, river valleys, foothills, and alpine countyside (including Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens) on this beautiful route. This diverse geographic range offers visitors an unlimited playground, with camping, hiking and snowshoeing trails. Bring along a swimsuit in the summertime; there are plenty of lakes to take a dip in!
Distance: 120 miles.
Route highlights: Riffe Lake; Windy Ridge Viewpoint; White Pass Ski Area; Naches.
When to do it: Year-round.
5. San Juan Islands Scenic Byway
The Byway is divided into three segments: the 30 miles along the Washington State Ferries routes, a driving tour around San Juan Island, and a driving tour on Orcas Island. The Scenic Byway starts at the Anacortes Ferry Landing. From there you travel to San Juan Island and tour that lovely island before heading to hilly and majestic Orcas Island!
Distance: 30 miles.
Route highlights: Orcas Village; Mount Constitution; Friday Harbor.
When to do it: Summer.
6. Chinook Pass Scenic Byway
Well known as one of the most scenic routes in Washington, the Chinook Scenic Byway travels through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Mount Rainier National Park. Expect picture-perfect glimpses of the second tallest peak in the continental United States, dense Fir forests and desert plains.
Distance: 96 miles.
Route highlights: Enumclaw; Skookum Falls; Mount Ranier National Park (15 miles off byway); Tipsoo Lake.
When to do it: Late May through late November.
7. Mountains to Sound Greenway
The Mountains to Sound Greenway is a beautifully scenic drive of 101 miles between Thorp and Seattle’s waterfront along Interstate 90. You’ll drive east from Seattle on I-90 through pastoral valleys, lush forests and a dramatic mountain landscape. Visit historic towns and scenic spots for forest walks or challenging hikes.
Distance: 101 miles.
Route highlights: Snoqualmie Falls; views of Lake Washington; Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
When to do it: Year-round, but roads may be difficult in winter.