On this exciting two week tour you explore the majesty of America's Pacific Northwest. Beginning and ending in Seattle, where you have time to explore this great city, you travel to Portland in Oregon stopping along the way at Mount Vernon in Washington state, at Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park for wildlife watching and to bathe in the hot springs. Drive along the Hood River and stay at the quirky town of Bend, gaze at the stunning blue waters of Crater Lake and relax on the coast at Coos Bay. There many great road trips around the US, and this is one of them.
After touching down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport you drive to your hotel in the city. Seattle is known as the “Emerald City” because of the beautiful green colour of the waters that surround it. Situated between the jagged Olympic Mountains to the west and the volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range to the east, the city sits on a narrow strip of land between Puget Sound and 18-mile long Lake Washington. The downtown area, home to Starbuck's Coffee, has many excellent shops and restaurants.
Today, enjoy all the sights and sounds of Seattle. Much of the modern city began in 1962 with the World’s Fair. It helped spark the creation of the Space Needle, the Seattle Centre, the Coliseum, and other landmarks and prompted the development of parks. One of the major. attractions is the Waterfront where you find shops, restaurants and the Aquarium. Visit Pike Place Market and have a coffee at the first Starbucks, which opened here in 1971. After a long day of walking, relax on a tour boat and enjoy the views from the waters of Puget Sound.
Seattle - Mount Vernon
Leave Seattle today and drive toward Mount Vernon. Nestled in the beautiful Skagit Valley, this pioneer town was recently voted “Best Small City in America”. The downtown area is home to many boutiques and antique shops and you can stroll along the riverfront boardwalk. Whale watching cruises area available around San Juan Islands and another option is to take the scenic drive through North Cascades National Park. Spend an evening at Lincoln Theatre, a 1920’s treasure with a rare Wurlitzer organ and classic movies.
Mount Vernon - Quinault
Leave Mount Vernon and head towards Quinault, located within the Olympic National Park. Often referred to as “three parks in one”, Olympic encompasses three distinctly different ecosystems, rugged glacier capped mountains, more than 60 miles of wild Pacific coast and magnificent stands of old-growth and temperate rain forest. Take a scenic drive to Hurricane Ridge for spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and stop at the visitor centre and take one of the popular day hikes. Enjoy a two night stay in Lake Quinault.
Olympic National Park
Spend today at Olympic National Park. At 7,965 feet, rugged Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in the range and a figurehead for the park. The Olympic Coastal Strip is a 57-mile-long expanse of rock, seawater, and sand, and is some of the most rugged and picturesque coastline anywhere. Consider a hike along this wilderness coastline and stop at the Hoh Rain Forest and Lake Crescent. and possibly slip into a pool at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Lots of wildlife can be found in the park, including elk, cougars, black bears, otters and marmots.
Quinault - Federal Way
Leave Quinault behind and travel to Puyallup where an overnight stay has been arranged. The valley in which Puyallup was originally settled is the heart of the town and here acres of daffodils are grown for distribution world-wide. Mt. Rainier is visible to the south east, making the snow-covered cascade volcano a symbol of the town’s strong northwestern natural tradition and culture. Downtown Puyallup has several notable landmarks, including Ezra Meeker’s mansion and many historic buildings. Then drive on to Federal Way where you stay tonight.
Federal Way - Mount Rainer National Park
Take a scenic route today to Mount Rainier, an active cascade volcano encased in 35 square miles of snow and glacial ice. The mountain is surrounded by lush old growth forests, spectacular meadows and a National Historic Landmark District. There are a variety of hiking trails available for all skill levels and here you can visit the Longmire Museum and the Wilderness Information Centre for trail and weather information. After visiting the National Park continue toward Yakima where you stay tonight.
Yakima - Toppenish- Hood River
Leave Yakima this morning and drive toward Toppenish, where “The West Still Lives”. Toppenish is nationally known as the “City of Murals” with more than 70 painted on buildings throughout town and you can ride aboard a horse drawn wagon for a guided tour. The Yakama Cultural Heritage Centre is located next to Toppenish, and is worth visiting. Just a short drive away, and also well worth the visit, is The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area where you can learn about the area's natural history.
Hood River - Bend
In the morning explore the route around snowcapped Mt. Hood, a dormant volcano and the tallest mountain in Oregon. The road south from Hood River to Mount Hood is among the most beautiful in the state, offering panoramic views and was the same route travelled for thousands of years by Native Americans, and more recently by pioneers traversing the “last leg” of the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. Stop at Timberline Lodge, where scenes from the film The Shining were shot, on the way to Bend where you stay for two nights.
Bend to Crater Lake National Park
The journey today leads you through fascinating volcanic Lava Lands, to Crater Lake National Park. The park encompasses the Crater Lake’s Caldera which rests in the remains of a destroyed volcano and is the deepest lake in the United States. Crater Lake has no streams flowing into or out of it and is filled entirely from direct precipitation in the form of snow and rain. The lake’s waters are famous for their striking blue colour. Then cross through the forested Cascade Mountains on Scenic Byways en route to the city of Medford.
Medford - Coos Bay
Depart Medford this morning and drive toward Coos Bay and maybe take a jet boat ride on the on the Rogue River. Then, head north and west to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area near the town of Florence, where you can go on an exhilarating dune buggy ride. Historic Old Town Florence is one of the most beautiful and charming of the Oregon coast cities and here you can visit the most photographed lighthouse in the United States, go horseback riding along the beach or play golf. Overnight in Florence.
Coos Bay - Newport
Explore Oregon’s Pacific coast today stopping at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Then the picturesque Yaquina Head Lighthouse welcomes you to Newport, a town known for its Dungeness crab and glorious harbour under the graceful Yaquina Bay Bridge. . The historic Bay Front offers a mixture of shops, galleries, canneries and restaurants and across the bay, the Oregon Coast Aquarium has four indoor galleries. An overnight stay has been arranged at Newport so plenty of time to see the sights.
Newport - Portland
Today you drive to Portland. Known as the “City of Roses” Portland retains many big city charms, but the true beauty can be found in one of the local public gardens or parks. Visit the International Rose Test Garden and visit Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, where a mechanical sculpture called the Weather Machine forecasts the weather everyday at noon. Dine and shop in the many neighbourhoods which have a strong artistic and musical community. Overnight in Portland.
End of tour
Today your wonderful trip around America's Pacific Northwest comes to an end. Leave Portland and drive back to Seattle where you can check in to a hotel and spend some more time in the city or head to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home. This road trip is ideal for nature lovers as you will experience so many beautiful sights along the way and get to the heart of one of America's truly great regions.