10 of Our Favorite Driving Roads in Washington State

You’ve got the car of your dreams, now it’s time to take it for a spin. To the gas station? Booooring. Get out of town and hit the open road to see what your new vehicle can do on these best driving roads in Washington state

1. Chuckanut Drive

A dramatic cliff-side highway halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, on State Route 11. This 21-mile winding road passes through several towns, so if you need a break there are plenty of pit stops for lunch. Weather permitting, you can schedule a trip to the beach at Larrabee State Park for a nature walk. It’s also well known for bird watching. Just make sure you don’t miss the beautiful sunsets.

2. Palouse Scenic Byway

Described as “a road trip movie scene”, with mountains, desert, and sea all within a day’s drive. Steptoe Butte (3,618 feet high) is highly recommended for its panoramic views of the region.

3. Cascade Loop

A road trip with an electric car can be nerve-wracking if you aren’t 100% certain there are enough charging points. Folks at Cascade Loop have ensured that the park can be enjoyed by drivers of electric vehicles, thanks to the charging points that they have installed throughout the course. Whatever you drive, you’ll love the beauty, views, and visitor attractions in one of America’s best-loved drives. Highlights include the route along SR-202 that follows the Snoqualmie River.

Top 10 Driving roads in Washington state
Photo courtesy of FluttershyIsMagic via Wikimedia.


4. Gifford Pinchot Forest / Mount St Helens

If you want to see what your all-wheel drive is really made of, this is the route for you. The acres of forest, river valleys, mountains, and waterfalls are truly breathtaking. RF 99 and RF 25 are our favorites, but with this motor vehicle map, you won’t go wrong.

5. Chinook Scenic Byway

This byway takes drivers through Snoqualmie National Forest and Mount Rainier National Park. As you travel from the White River Valley up to the 5,430 feet high Chinook Pass, you will enjoy unbeatable views of Mount Rainier. You’ll need to take your time to truly appreciate the awe-inspiring views, so plan the trip to include mealtime pit stops (there are several restaurants in the area) and overnight lodging.

6. Sherman Pass Scenic Byway

Head toward Kettle Falls on SR-20 to cross the Sherman Pass. History buffs will find this route fascinating, as it traces the historic route used by Native Americans on their way to fish. At 5,575 feet, this is the highest maintained pass in the state. You will drive past waterfalls and through an array of gorgeous trees that change color with the seasons.

Top 10 Driving roads in Washington state

7. Hood Canal

Early risers are in for a treat with this route, which you can see in the image above. It’s not a canal, but a narrow bay hugged for 70 miles by US 101. If you take the trip in the morning, you’ll have the afternoon free to enjoy the activities in the area, which range from sea kayaking to hiking.

8. Pend Oreille Valley Scenic Byway

Your 50-mile journey will begin on Highway 20 at Newport. Aside from the beautiful river valleys, one of the benefits of this trip is that you can take it all year round. Birdwatchers tend to make the trip in early Spring to watch the tundra swans, osprey, and eagles. Be sure to mark the July Lavender Festival in your calendar. Kings Lake Sno-Park has 134 miles of trails that are suitable for snowmobiles.

Top 10 Driving Roads in Washington State

9. Cape Flattery Scenic Byway

Approximately 150 miles from Seattle, this route is the perfect opportunity to take in some of the amazing sights our state offers, and that’s before you even reach the Cape Flattery Scenic Byway! This is a prime spot for bird-watching, so remember to pack your binoculars (they’ll come in handy to spot the otters, seals, and whales that live in the waters here). This is the only tribal-designated byway in Washington state, so be sure to stop and learn more about the Makah Nation. It’s just a three-mile walk to Shi Shi Beach, recognized as one of the most spectacular in the world.

10. San Juan Islands Scenic Byway

This is Washington state’s newest byway, one that we highly recommend exploring. The two-day itinerary (or, one day if you’re pushed for time) put together by ScenicWA.com takes in the highlights and lets you in on some of the best-kept secrets of the area. If water-view restaurants, ceremonies that end with the guard jumping into the bay, and whale-watching sound good to you, then check out the suggested route here.

Why not share your favorite road trips with the rest of the TRED community? You can tell us about your top getaways on Twitter or Facebook.

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