If this was my ultimate road trip, here's how I would do it: firstly, driving across Canada, I would head North to Banff National Park, stay three nights in the park and set off early to Vancouver. Now, this drive is a 9-hour drive, so be prepped and ready, have planned stops every 3-4 hours of driving, don't forget snacks and drinks to keep your body fuelled up, and don't forget to plan your fuel stops along the way. Then, after that tiresome drive, you will need a rest day in Vancouver to recover; I'd stay three nights in Vancouver and explore the city. From Vancouver, I would start heading south to Seattle, Washington. This drive is a 2 hr and 31-minute drive, so that it will fly by compared to the last drive. I would love to explore the city life in Seattle and do those touristy-attraction things, it may be lame, but I'd rather say I did it than what if I haven't gone and done it. Now everyone's ultimate PNW road trip may look a little different, but it is down to preference and your lifestyle.
The next section of the road trip is going to take us in a loop, so firstly stopping at Olympia, which is a 1-hour drive from Seattle, this would be more of a stop along the way, pull in, grab a coffee see what it's all about get a picture for the gram and start driving to Forks. From Olympia to Forks, it is just under a 3-hour drive, taking highway 101 up North again. If you didn't know or just lived under a rock for the last decade, Forks is where the hit film saga Twilight was filmed; this is a small town now dedicated to Twilight-loving tourists. From Forks to La Push - also out of Twilight- La Push beach has a beautiful landscape lined on the horizon in the ocean and where giant driftwood gets washed onto shore. From La Push to Port Angeles, it is going to be another 1 hour and 30-minute drive. Port Angeles has some beautiful scenery and local hiking trails, and just outdoor activities, in general, to do. Going from Port Angeles back to Seattle will have led you in a loop; this is also known as the Olympic Peninsula. You can drive this section of the road trip in one day with a total of 7 hours and 35 minutes in driving time, but it will take you longer depending on how long you stop off at these locations.
Now heading south to Portland, Oregon, (FYI to drive through Oregon, you need to pay to drive on the roads, so prepare by getting your pass before entering the state) this is the 2nd state in our Pacific Northwest road trip; from Seattle to Portland, you can either take the Interstate 5 (which is the fastest route) with a driving time of 2 hours and 44 minutes or if you want to be more adventurous you can start on the interstate five and come off at Olympia then join the route 101 which will lead you down to Astoria, Oregon from Seattle to Astoria it takes 3 hours and 16 minutes of driving time along the coastline. Astoria is a city on the Columbia River near the Pacific Ocean, known for its history in shipping, fishing, and Military History. Now, suppose you don't want to stay and explore Astoria. In that case, I do, however, suggest you stop at one of the many local coffeehouses and grab a coffee and a snack to go, or if you're rolling into town in the evening time, Astoria has a fantastic nightlife scene with lots of bars and restaurants. From Astoria to Portland, there are three ways you can take: option one head East on route 30 and join up with interstate five, which will take you an hour and 30 minutes, option 2 stay on route 30 down to Portland, which will take you 1 hour and 55 minutes and lastly option three (this is the one I would take) head South on route 101 and then join route 26 which will take you South-East to Portland and this will take you 1 hour and 52 minutes.
Portland, Oregon. This city is known to be, um, "weird for decades," as google will tell you, but asides from that, Portland is a great resting spot to relax and take the city vibes in as well as the national parks surround you. "From mountains to ocean and deserts to valleys, the region surrounding Portland offers endless adventure," taken from the 'Travel Portland' website, the surrounding area of Portland has lots and lots to offer tourists. If you want to search for different activities within the Portland Region, I'd highly suggest heading over to the Travel Portland website as they have all the activities you can do broken down into sections; for example, there is Mount Hood that offers you all the Winter activities, to Uncork Wine Country -this is where you'll find me, to Oregon Coastline as well as the Explore the Gorge and near the city activities can help you figure out what you want to do in a city full of outdoor adventure fun. I would suggest staying in Portland for a week or so, depending on your schedule, as there is a lot to explore.
From Oregon to Idaho, there are plenty of different routes you can take; you can take the main highway, which is interstate 84, or you can take Route 26 east and then get on Route 20 East out of Portland; through Mount Hood National Forest, both of these routes will take you to Ontario, Idaho - don't worry you haven't somehow got yourself back to Ontario, just yet. Taking the Interstate 84 East will take you 6 hours and 13 minutes of driving time while on the other hand, the Route 26 & 20 East will take you 7 hours and 51 minutes of driving time - but you are going through the National forests plus being able to see Oregon's smaller towns.
Nampa, Idaho - if this town doesn't scream, I live in a Hallmark movie; I'm not sure what does. This beautiful city is a great place to relax after those long driving days, the place where you can walk the high street and get coffee and baked goods to go from a local coffee shop and truly feel like your living in that Hallmark movie moment. I'd say a couple of days here would be a good place to reboot your batteries to hit the road once again. Now, if you haven't looked at the map of Idaho, then you'll be surprised to see that half of Idaho is just National Forests; so for this reason, we will be heading further south into Idaho to do more fun actives and explore more of Idaho that means when we start heading North once again, we will end up crossing into the State of Montana - and yes, we are aware that Montana isn't apart of the PNW unless we are backtracking back to Washington then to get to the Canadian Border, we need to head through Montana. So who's up for an extra State to travel through?
Our next stop is Twin Falls, Idaho; the shortest of drives so far on our PNW journey is going from Nampa to Twin Falls with a drive time of 2 hours and 15 minutes. When first getting into Twin Falls, this beautiful city will have lots to offer you outdoor activities all year round; and of course, the iconic waterfall near Twin Falls is the Shoshone Falls which is a must-see - also known to be the Niagara of the West. With an adventure-packed city like this one, you should head over to their website, www. visitsouthidaho.com, for all the outdoor activities you can do when you visit. The next city over will Pocatello, an hour and 46-minute drive, so it could be a nice little stop along the way, where you can visit the city centre and grab lunch while passing through to Idaho Falls!
Idaho Falls is nestled between Snake River that runs straight between the city, this gives a great place to go for a walk along the riverfront while the sun is going down, and then you can head into the heart of downtown Idaho Falls for a beautiful meal in one of the many restaurants and then stroll the downtown area to browse in the shops while walking home. From the riverfront walks to the Idaho Zoo to visiting the art museum of Eastern Idaho. There is plenty to do in this city for everyone to be entertained. I think three days maximum in Idaho Falls city will give you enough time to relax and settle in to explore the city and explore the surrounding areas like the National Forests.
Getting back into the driver's seat, we are finally heading north; now crossing over into Montana, the next stop along our destination is Missoula. With a driving time of 4 hours and 21 minutes, we will be at our next destination - I do want to mention that if you decide to take Route 20 east and then join on Interstate 90 West further up, you will pass Yellowstone National Park, which is in Wyoming. If you've got time to do a fly and stop, I'd highly recommend it, but because Yellowstone National Park is so vast and so much to do, I'd recommend exploring Yellowstone as an entirely separate trip.
Missoula, Montana, where city life meets outdoor adventurers. This town has it all, from high-end restaurants to mountain hikes that you can do, overlooking the city. Even though this isn't a part of our PNW road trip, it's always good to explore out of boundaries to find and see more; this is why living a Nomad lifestyle can give you the freedom to do all that and more. www.missouladestination.org has a simple format for navigating their website to find out what you'd like to do in the town, from heading to the farmers market or hitting up the ghost towns that are only a short drive away. This stop is unplanned, but it's going to give a lot more than expected; after spending 3 -4 days here in Missoula, we are starting to get closer to the Canadian Borderline.
Now the drive from Missoula, Montana to Roosville, British Columbia, is 3 hours and 41 minutes in driving time - of course, you can drive it in one go without stopping, but I think you'd like to take this last section of driving time slower before ending our The Ultimate PNW Road Trip. Heading Northbound, you will be driving on Route 93 North, but along this route, you'll be passing through small towns and villages, as well as going around Lake Flathead, which could be a pretty stop off along the way to the border to take in these last few moments before completing this ultimate road trip.
Now back in Canada, our Ultimate PNW road trip has come to a dead-end but having this experience of a lifetime is something that you'll never forget. Living the actual dream of a Nomad and being able to travel wherever your heart desires. So until our next road trip together, reboot your batteries, wash those dirty clothes, clean your vehicle to get ready for the next adventure: The Historic Route One.
Some helpful tips for the road trip series:
One) Hire a car if you don't want to add too many miles to your vehicle.
Two) If you can, get a Credit Card that will earn you points towards fuel and road trip snacks.
Three) Don't have any wash facilities in your vehicle, think about getting a Planet Fitness gym membership where you can get a shower for free, plus Plant Fitness is EVERYWHERE in the US.
Four) Always stay hydrated, and if you feel tired, pull over and take a break or a nap. Do NOT try to push through the tiredness; listen to your body if it needs a break.
Five) Don't forget a camera of some sort to capture all the beautiful things along your journey.
Remember to follow your gut instinct if you feel something isn't right when parking or staying in specific locations; this isn't to scare you away from completing this journey but reminding you that not everyone has a good heart and intentions. To find overnight parking that isn't a Walmart parking lot, I'd highly recommend using the app iOverlander - this gives you rated reviews from previous Nomads that have stayed here, also lets you know where close by washrooms are, where you can dump your grey and black water tanks and where refill stations are to top your water up.