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  • Writer's pictureTara

Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Hi 👋 I’m Marc, Tara’s brother, and I’m taking over Tara’s Travel Tips for this post. Enjoy!

Back in my day as a blogger, I would often repeat the saying, “always find time for the things that make you happy to be alive.”

After the years we’ve had, cultivating and celebrating small moments of happiness as they come has never felt more cathartic, life-affirming, and essential to lasting well-being.

While lately I’ve been attempting to make a larger effort to curate a life I don’t feel the need to escape from, travel has still been a vital ingredient for the making of my physical and mental well-being.

Last month I had the opportunity to revisit one of my happy places — The Pacific Northwest. Physical spaces and places affect how we feel, think, and behave. There is something magical about the PNW that instantly reduces my stress, and allows me to properly reset. Best known for its beautiful coastline, green interior, and diverse hiking trails, it comes as no surprise as to why this stunning region constantly draws me in.

This particular trip I got to share with my mom and sister. Our family is anticipating big changes in the near future, so it was special to be able to take the time to make new lifelong memories, just the 3 of us.

If anyone is in need of a relaxing retreat, then the PNW comes highly recommended. Below is my 12-day Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary that highlights some of my favorite parks. This includes Samuel H Boardman, Silver Falls State Park, Columbia River Gorge, Ecola State Park, Olympic National Park, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.


Day 1:

  • Travel to Brookings, Oregon.

  • 7 hour drive from San Francisco

  • Lodging: Beachfront Inn

    • Cost for 2 nights = $507.64

  • Tip:

Cape Ferrolo

Day 2:

  1. Natural Bridges

  2. Whalehead Viewpoint

  3. Whalehead Beach

  4. Cape Ferrelo Viewpoint

  5. Indian Sands

  6. Arch Rock

  7. Secret Beach

  8. House Rock Viewpoint

  9. ETC.

  • Tips:

    • Best time to visit is Spring, during bloom season.

    • No need for a parking pass.

    • Download AllTrails to have access to trail maps offline.

    • For food check out Zolas or Whalehead Beach Resort's Retaurant owned by Stephanie.

Natural Bridges

Day 3:

  • Travel to Salem, Oregon.

    • The capital city of Oregon, and about an hour inland away from the coast. South of Portland, and near Silver Falls State Park.

  • 5 hour drive from Brookings

  • Lodging: Holman Riverfront Park Hotel

    • Cost for 1 night = $209.31

  • Tip:

Day 4:

  1. South Falls

  2. Lower South Falls

  3. Lower North Falls

  4. Double Falls

  5. Drake Falls

  6. Middle North Falls

  7. Twin Falls

  8. North Falls

  9. Upper North Falls

  10. Winter Falls

  • Tips:

    • This is a popular trail so get there early to beat the crowds and to ensure an available parking spot.

    • Pack a lunch and all your hiking essentials!

South Falls
  • Travel to Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon/Washington.

    • A canyon of the Columbia River in between both Oregon and Washington, and home to many hiking trails and more than 90 waterfalls.

  • 5 hour drive from Salem

  • Lodging: Skamania Lodge, Washington.

    • Cost for 2 nights = $1065

  • Tips:

    • For a more affordable lodging option check out the Best Western Plus Columbia River Inn

    • If staying on the Washington side, keep in mind that there is a $3 bridge toll each way in order to cross the Bridge of the Gods and explore more of the CRG.

Day 5:

  1. Multnomah Falls

  2. Latourell Falls

  3. Wahkeena Falls

  4. Horsetail Falls

  5. Oneonta Gorge

  6. Rowena Crest

  7. Wahclella Falls

  8. Elowah Falls

  9. Punch Bowl Falls

  10. ETC.

  • Since we were tight on time, we visited Multnomah Falls, Wahkeena, Wahclella, and Rowena Crest.

Multnomah Falls

Wahclella Falls

Day 6:

Canon Beach

Haystack Rock

Day 7:

  • Explore Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park

    • Points of Interest:

      • Indian Beach trail at Ecola State Park is a 4 mile out-and-back trail, which takes approximately 2 hours to complete.

      • Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Loop is a short 15 minute walk.

      • Crescent Beach at Ecola.

  • Tip:

Ecola State Park
  • Travel to Forks, Washington.

    • Located in the Olympic Peninsula and well known for the Twilight series.

  • 4 hour drive from Cannon Beach

  • Lodging: Airbnb

    • Cost for 1 night = $370

  • Tip:

    • There’s not many lodging or food options in this small logging town.

Day 8:

  1. La Push First Beach

  2. Second Beach

  3. Rialto Beach

  4. Hoh Rainforest

  5. Cape Flattery

  6. Shi Shi Beach

  7. Ruby Beach

  8. Tongue Point

  9. Marymere Falls

  10. ETC.

  • Travel to Port Angeles, Washington.

    • Another small harbor town at the very end of the Pacific Coast Highway, still located in the Olympic Peninsula.

  • 1 hour 40 minute drive from Forks.

  • Lodging: Olympic Lodge

    • Cost for 2 nights = $720

  • Tips:

    • For food check out Kokopelli Grill.

    • If visiting the Hoh Rainforest make sure to do the Hall of Mosses trail and Spruce Tree trail.

    • Bring your passport and take the ferry out to Victoria, Canada.

Mountain Mama at La Push First Beach

Second Beach

Hoh Rainforest - Hall of Mosses Trail

Hoh Rainforest - Spruce Tree Trail

Day 9:

  • Continue exploring the Olympic Peninsula

  • We drove out to Cape Flattery, which is located on the very tip of Washington, and part of the Makah Reservation. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Port Angeles one way.

  • We also checked out Tongue Point at Salt Creek Recreation Area, which is a great camping and RV site.

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery

Day 10:

  • Travel to Lincoln City, Oregon.

    • Starting our decent back to California. Lincoln City is another harbor town at the D River State Recreation Site.

  • 8 hour drive from Port Angeles

Day 11:

  • Travel to Eureka, California.

  • 7 hour drive from Lincoln City.

  • Drove past Yachats River, Cape Perpetua, Florence Lighthouse, Sea Lions cave, Oregon Dunes.

  • Entered Redwood State Park

  • Visited the Trees of Mystery — highly recommend for the Native American museum.

Avenue of the Giants

Day 12:

  • Visit the Avenue of the Giants

    • A scenic highway running through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

  • Continue home to the Bay Area

  • 5 hour drive from Eureka.

Obviously there are both cheaper and more expensive ways to do this trip. This itinerary lands somewhere in the middle. I’ve had the opportunity to complete the entire Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego California to Cape Flattery Washington.

This path is a pretty fast paced option, with an emphasis on nature, and highlights some of my favorite spots in the PNW.

For more of my photography and blog, visit -

Thanks for reading along.

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