We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)

Ottawa, Canada
10 posts
Save Topic
9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)


We are reaching Seattle late 23rd July and will pick up our rental car 24th morning and head out for 9 days before reaching Seattle again on the 2nd to catch our flight to Anchorage, Alaska (I know it's weird and wasteful to drive back but it was the only flight we could get with our air miles).

I have packed a lot into the itinerary with the option to leave out certain areas if we run out of time and power through in some areas. I usually plan like this but have been advised by members of trip advisor to not have such a broad scope of areas to visit; but I have a hard time narrowing down areas lol.

I haven't designed a strict itinerary, just a list of places to visit. Would this list be too broad or would you suggest a different route by cutting down certain areas in favour of others?

I really want to see Olympic forest, crater lake, a bit of Oregon's coast, Yosemite and either Rainier or St. Helen's. I was going to travel to Sequoias or redwoods instead of Yosemite but I was told Mariposa grove has just as majestic trees and I swapped both out for Yosemite instead, despite the long drive.

1. Seattle, WA, USA

2. Olympic national park

3. Cannon Beach, OR

4. Oswald West state park, OR

5. Thor's well, OR

6. Sand Dunes Rd, Florence, OR

7. Bandon, OR

8. Point Reyes National Seashore, CA

9. Yosemite national park, CA

10. Crater Lake, OR

(maayyybbeeee but unlikely Smith Rock State Park, Terrebone, OR/ Painted Hills, OR)

11. Abiqua Falls, OR

12. Multmonah Falls, OR

13. Oneonta gorge in Columbia River Gorge, OR

14. Mt. St.Helens volcanic monument, WA

15. Mt. Rainier, WA

16. Snoqualmie falls, WA

17. Seattle, WA

I realize its a verryyy long list of places to cover, and I am going into this with the expectation that I may have to skip some areas but I figured a lot of the places are drive-by's or quick stop-overs, so it could be do-able? A friend of ours said while it is packed, it isn't impossible, especially if we start the day early and drive a bit late, assuming we can handle the exhaustion.

Thank you for any suggestions or tips!

We really appreciate all the help we have received from this community.

Tacoma, Washington
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
10,292 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: 9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)

you cant do 17 things in 9 days.

Olympic National park is not a drive thru park. The road around it isnt that scenic except for a few parts. You have to drive into the park and from there usually hike.

It takes 2-3 days to do it justice.

you cant do Yosemite in this trip. IT is too far given the time length of your trip. If you want to do this then that means skipping places.

The Oregon coast takes 3 days to drive it in length.

A sample itinerary of what is reasonable:

day 1 AM stop at st Helens then PM drive to cannon Beach for sunset, night there

day2 drive to Bandon

day 3 drive to Crescent City

day 4 explore Redwoods..night in Grants Pass

day 5 Crater LAke..night in Bend, OR

day 6 TM Hood and Columbia Gorge, night in Portland

day 7 Mt Rainier

day 8-9 Seattle. This Friday/Saturday is when seafair is going on which is an Airshow and boat races on Lake Washington so Seattle will be busy this weekend.

Ottawa, Canada
10 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: 9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)

What if I skip over Olympic, drive to cannon beach to get a glimpse of the Oregon coast, head to Yosemite then columbia river gorge, Mt.Rainier and finally back to Seattle?

It'd be a shame to skip Yosemite since its got sequoais as well as stunning take-your-breath-away views.

Also, the downside to not going to Olympic is that I am really keen on experiencing the temperate forest feel that Hoh or Quinualt offer. Are there any other places that are similar and on the drive back to Seattle from Cali? I was considering Carbon and Mowich.

Ottawa, Canada
10 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: 9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)

Mt.hood and columbia gorge from what you suggested would be good too instead of olympic park, rainier and st.helens

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
29,630 posts
6,180 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: 9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)

For Yosemite you must have reservations. Right now, it seems that many families are starting to panic about getting in their family vacation before schools start again - it looks like August 18 is when many will be going back to school.

To get a glimpse of the trees you could insead just go over the Oregon border into Crescent City area and go to Jedidiah Smith State Park. That will give you a very good view of the redwoods and give you more time for your Oregon and Washington piece of the trip. That will also give you more time to focus on Washington and Oregon part of your trip.


While Yosemite is amazing, figure out if you can get reservations that work with your itinerary as it will be difficult to do so.

Also regarding Olympic National Park - weather is a big factor there. If its clear its ok. It can be super foggy and all you will see is the foggy weather. As such, I would favor the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood, Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood are absolutely breathtaking.

Edited: 22 July 2014, 10:11
Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
7,097 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: 9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)

I think Yosemite is simply out of the question in your time frame. The distances are too great, the driving too slow, the crowds too dense, and the accommodations too few.

Look for substitutions. For example, one of Yosemite's glories are its waterfalls. Substitute the many waterfalls along the south wall of the Columbia Gorge. Yosemite has the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, but you could visit the Grove of the Patriarchs in Mount Rainier NP instead - pretty darn impressive, and a lot closer.

In lieu of the Oregon coast, spend a couple of days on the Pacific side of Olympic NP, where the various beaches are visual knockouts, equal to or better (IMO) than the northern Oregon coastal beaches, and where the rain forest valleys (Quinault and especially Hoh) offer awesome forest walks and vistas that are stunning. Add wildflowers and alpine scenery at Hurricane Ridge and you're good to go.

So I'd basically look at an itinerary that includes the Gorge, Crater Lake, and the Washington coast, from Cape Disappointment at the mouth of the Columbia River, all the way up and around the top of the Olympic Peninsula.

Even with this much shortened route, your still looking at a quite hectic 9 days, most of which will involve some serious car time.

Ottawa, Canada
10 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: 9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)

With an VERY heavy heart, I have given up the California portion of our road trip, including Point Reyes and Yosemite. But I am very excited to spend more time to actually breathe and soak in the beauty of Oregon and Washington :D Thank you guys once again, your suggestions have been very helpful in refining and finishing up our itinerary.

7. Re: 9-day west coast US road trip (Seattle>California>seattle)

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 25 July 2015, 05:16