The Pacific Northwest—an area of spectacular beauty graced by snow-capped mountains poking through the clouds and sprawling valleys blanketed in beautiful wildflowers. From lush evergreen forests to cliff-lined beaches, a visit to the Pacific Northwest should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you’re lucky enough plan a trip to this breathtaking region, here are six tips you should know for an adventure you’ll never forget.
1. Pack Smart
Before embarking on your tour de Pacific Northwest, you’re going to need the essentials. Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana are all known for unpredictable weather patterns. On days when Mother Nature can’t make up her mind, you’re going to want to be prepared. With only 71 days of sun per year in Seattle, expect to be either wet or chilly as you hike Mount Rainier or explore the ocean cliffs of Oregon.
July and August are great times to visit if you’re looking for warmer weather but take note, there will be more tourists and crowds at popular attractions. If you plan on traveling in colder months, make sure you store these items in your suitcase:
- Winter hat and gloves
- Winter coat with a waterproof shell
- Insulated pants
- Rain/snow boots
- Extra layers of clothing
- Wool socks
- Bathing suit (What? Yes, you read that correctly! Make sure to visit some relaxing hot springs)
2. Plan a Budget
Before any big vacation, it’s important to set a budget so you don’t spend all your money in one place. Luckily, if you’re the outdoorsy type, most hikes are free. But when it’s time to visit tourist attractions, go to restaurants, visit museums, and check into hotels, you’re going to want to have enough cash to avoid any financial issues that can turn your trip into a nightmare. The Pacific Northwest is known for its live music, especially in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, as well as mouth-watering food and one-of-a-kind craft beer. So, depending on your interests, taste, and lifestyle, map out where you’d like to visit and make an estimate on how much money you plan on spending at each destination.
3. Equip Your Car
You’re not going anywhere if you don’t have a reliable mode of transportation. Whether you plan on flying and renting a car or already live there, you must be confident that your car is in tip-top shape to handle rainy weather, icy roads, and sharp turns. If you’re unsure about whether your car can handle the elements, you can always trade in your old car at a Spokane Volkswagen dealer or a Boise Honda dealer for a new or used car. The last thing you want is to be stuck on the side of a mountain waiting for roadside assistance to save you!
4. Make an Itinerary
While spontaneity is thrilling, having some sort of itinerary to guide you along your Pacific Northwest trip will ensure you reach all your must-see destinations. There are several road trip planning apps to help you along the way, or you can stick to the old-fashion route and use a map. Here are some recommendations for jaw-dropping landscapes and attractions to see:
- Mount Rainier
- Mount Hood
- Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon
- Northern Cascades National Park
- Crater Lake
- Olympic National Park
- Snoqualmie Falls
- Mount St. Helens
- San Juan Islands
5. Explore Hidden Gems
There’s nothing like blending in with the locals and acting like you own the place. If you want to go off the beaten path, exploring hidden gems that aren’t tourist traps will immerse you into the culture and give you a true feel for what it’s like to live in the Pacific Northwest. From rose festivals in Oregon to whitewater rafting in Idaho, there are plenty of unique and memorable activities to check out. Take a look at these unique attractions not many people know about:
- John Day Fossil Beds National Park
- Hoh Rainforest
- Tree Root Cave, Kalaloch Beach
- Ape Cave
- The Oregon Vortex
- Thor’s Well
6. Stay Safe
Safety is key on any vacation, especially when traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest. With extraordinary wildlife such as gray whales and orcas swimming through the water, Roosevelt elks and pronghorn antelopes trotting across the land, and bald eagles soaring overhead, it’s important for you and wild animals to stay safe.
Always make sure you pick up trash and litter wherever you travel, whether hiking along the volcanic cones or camping in the forests. It’s also important to always travel with a buddy and let people know your itinerary. Don’t forget to remind your children of safety rules, either, so they can stay out of harm’s way. Finally, carrying a first aid kit with equipment like bandages, gauze, a flashlight, gloves, tweezers, flares, and a radio (to name a few), will be heaven-sent in case of an emergency.
Ready, Set, Go!
Now that you know how to make the most of your Pacific Northwest trip with these six tips, it’s time to pack your bags to embark on your road trip! Make sure you have a camera, your friends or family, and some snacks to take along the way—it’s going to be a trip worth remembering.