If this is your first road trip to the west coast, hold on to your hat because you are in for a real treat! The west coast of the USA has some of the most diverse landscapes in the world. The coast comprises the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. When planning a trip to the west coast, there are many different destinations to choose from.
You’ve got sunny beaches in southern California, redwood forests on the northern California coast, high desert mountains in Oregon, and lush Rainforests in Washington. There’s a lot to consider with so many fabulous destinations when planning a trip.
Consider your route: Where do you want to go, and what do you want to see? Make a list of what you want to see and what time of year you are going. Don’t try and fit too much in and see everything in one trip out west because it’s impossible. It’s better to spend real quality time visiting a couple of places rather than trying to rush through many different destinations. The weather will also impact your trip and make different areas more attractive for your trip. Another factor in planning your route is gas prices. In general, the west coast has higher gas prices, so consider this when planning your trip and your budget.
Joshua Tree National Park. 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, and a great park for hiking, camping, and rock climbing. It is known for its desert location, unique Joshua trees, huge boulders, and gorgeous sky for sunset and sunrise.
Lake Tahoe. A must-visit large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, straddling the border of California and Nevada. It is great to visit in winter (skiing and snow sports) or summer (hiking, biking, and water activities).
California Coast Highway 1. Drive from Big Sur, through Monterey, to Santa Cruz to see some of the most beautiful coastlines in the USA.
The Redwoods National Park. Visit this gorgeous place to see where the world’s tallest trees meet the coast.
Other CA road trip stops:
- Death Valley National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Route 66
- Mount Shasta
- Yosemite National Park
Crater Lake National Park. The deepest Lake in the US!
Bend OR. An outdoor lover’s paradise perfect for visiting year-round. Hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, and camping. Great food and beer here too!
The Columbia River Gorge. Known for its endless waterfall hikes, the gorge is a must-stop on your Oregon road trip.
Other OR stops:
- Cannon Beach
- Silver Falls State Park
- Mount Hood
Mount Rainier National Park. This is a gorgeous park to visit for endless wildflowers and beautiful hiking trails in the summer.
The Olympic Peninsula. Think Twilight the book/movie vibes. Beautiful pacific northwest scenery from rich green trees, waterfalls, and the ocean.
North Cascades National Park. This might be my favorite place in Washington! Beautiful jagged mountains, rich blue lakes, and unreal hikes.
Other WA stops:
- San Juan Islands