There are few places more ethereally beautiful than the Pacific Northwest.
Travel through the great state of Washington and you’ll find everything from conifer dotted, rugged coastlines that are brimming with animal life and bustling metropolitan cities to soaring mountains and wide-open high-plains. In the midst of this stunning natural landscape are miles and miles of nearly unexplored roads that criss-cross this rich landscape. Roads that are ready to be driven, and driven hard.
If you think that Washington sounds like a dream for automotive enthusiasts, you’d be right. Once we launched Open Road and began to explore the highways, byways, and scenic roads of America, our attention was immediately drawn to the stunning Pacific Northwest. After all, what better place to mix the fury and noise of a supercar with the sublime surroundings of Mother Nature at her absolute finest?
So, what are the best driving roads in the Pacific Northwest? Let’s dig in to find out.
Yakima Scenic Byway
Most people know Washington for its rainy coastal environment, made famous by large cities like Seattle, and Tacoma. While there’s plenty to enjoy along the coastal / Puget Sound region of Washington, explorers can not forget the incredibly rugged beauty that is South Central Washington.
Running for 51 miles along State Route 97, the Yakima Scenic Byway takes road-trippers through everything from the rugged Simcoe Mountains to the fertile Klickitat Valley. Start in Toppenish, a city that’s known for its dozens of Western murals, and wind your way through the Yakima Valley and up into the mountains through Status Pass and enjoy the view of the valleys below. End your trip in Goldendale, which houses a public observatory that takes advantage of clear South Central Washington nights.
Must-see sights along the way include snapping some photos of the unique murals in Toppenish, exploring the past at Fort Simcoe Heritage Park, hiking the Toppenish wildlife refuge, and waiting for night to fall at the Goldendale Observatory for an experience you’ll never forget.
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway
Traversing 350 miles along the Washington coastline in the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway redefines the majesty of the American Roadtrip. It’s nearly impossible to drive the route in a day, so it’s best to really take your time with this trip and enjoy the local sites, smells, and flavors of the Olympic Peninsula.
WA-101 starts in Port Angeles before it winds its way through the beauty of the Olympic National Park, the Olympic National Forest, and the Hood Canal. You’ll travel along saltwater fjords that are among the lushest and most diverse environments on the continent, and enjoy views of scenic beaches, the soaring Olympic Mountains, and dozens of towns that will make you wonder what decade you’ve stepped into.
It’s hard to nail down a few of the “must-see” spots, but locations high on your list should include Hurricane Ridge, a 5,000+ mountain pass that offers panoramic views in Olympic Park, the lush Hoh Rain Forest, and the picturesque Ruby Beach. Regardless of how you traverse this incredible stretch of road, be sure to take your time and take it all in.
Located an hour or so north of Seattle, Chuckanut Drive is a 24-mile scenic byway that winds along picturesque Samish Bay and connects the quaint towns of Bellingham and Burlington. This is a perfect opportunity to take a quick jaunt from Seattle and be transported back in time to when things were much less complicated.
Start in the Victorian-style town of Burlington, and wind your way north along the rocky shores of Samish Bay on one side, while the sandstone cliffs of the Chuckanut Mountains adorn the other. Here, you’ll find the only location in the Northwest where the Cascade mountains meet the sea. This area is famous for its Oyster Farms, so do yourself a favor and enjoy the bounty of the ocean at any one of the dozens of Oyster shacks along the way.
Must-see spots along the way include Larrabee State Park, known for its shoreline of perfectly rounded pebbles, and the town of Bellingham, long a haven for artists, dreamers, and lovers of fine food.
Spirit Lake Memorial Highway
Feeling a little adventurous? Well, then it’s time to travel on the only scenic highway in the United States that also happens to be in the blast zone of a volcano. Although infamous for its 1980 eruption, Mt. St. Helens, SR-504 offers 52 miles of awe-inspiring nature that culminates in a viewing experience like no other.
Start your journey in the Columbia River town of Longview and wind your way up through Castlerock and on to the St. Helens Visitors Center for a lesson on exactly what happened that fateful day in 1980. Enjoy a stroll along Coldwater Lake Boardwalk, a lake that didn’t exist prior to the explosion, and keep your eyes out for local wildlife such as beavers and eagles. Once you’ve made your way down SR-504, your final destination will be the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Here, you’ll get within a stone’s throw of the crater and be able to capture some truly unbelievable pictures.
There may be few things cooler than driving into the blast zone of the largest volcanic eruption in the history of the United States, and we highly recommend taking the drive through this austere yet beautiful environment.
Come Drive With Us
Mother nature has provided some of the most beautiful backdrops in the world, so, what could possibly be better than that? How about experiencing this incredible environment behind the wheel of a bespoke supercar!
From one-day journeys that will stagger your soul to multi-day trips that allow for a deeper level of exploration, Open Road puts you behind the wheel of supercars from brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche. Our fully curated journeys allow you to drive each one of our supercars through the incredible roads of the Pacific Northwest, while also allowing you the opportunity to stop along the way and experience the sites, sounds, and tastes of Washington State.
This is way more than a drive, this is a journey where Mother Nature and human ingenuity collide in the most brilliant way possible.
What are you waiting for?
Loved reading about the best roads in Washington? Check out our other blogs on the best driving roads!