This is among the most beautiful places to explore nature in Washington. Filled with gorgeous mountains, inactive volcanoes and luscious forests. This place is worth a long camping trip in the summer, or even the long drive to see some of it’s wonders in a day trip. The hikes and waterfalls in this area are endless because of all the mountains in the area.
Here are some of this forests best sites.
Mount Saint Helens Area
This inactive volcano is famous for it’s incredible destruction in 1980, you can see incredible views of this volcano and the effects of it’s eruption and learn more about it. It’s pretty amazing.
The ape caves are truly unique, make sure to bring a flash light and warm clothing, because it is pitch dark! It’s quiet the adventure to work you way through this two and half mile lava tube, the longest continuous cave in the U. S!
This is the easiest viewpoint to see Mount St. Helens, it’s a stunning view where you can also see Spirit Lake. There is also a hike along Windy Ridge called Loowit trail, a 28 mile round-trip hike that has gorgeous waterfall along the way. Make sure to research required permits for hikes such as this in the area.
Mt. Adams Area
This area is particularly known for climbing Mt. Adams, it is a a 10 mile, round trip hike with a 4500 ft elevation gain, and leads to some amazing views!
With the Columbia River Gorge being on the opposite site of this area, it has no shortage of gorgeous waterfalls, some of my favorite in the state are in this area!
I believe this to be the most beautiful waterfall in Washington, it flows so perfectly and is wide, and it is easy to get to the bottom of the falls for amazing views and a swim 🙂 The long drive is beautiful and it is a short quarter mile hike that allows every viewpoint.
If you’re planning a 101 coastal road trip, I deeply recommend doing it right. That means starting from the 101 no one thinks about, right off the coastal road.
I’ve done this 101 road trip, and took my sweet time along the process. Not only this but I quiet literally live right off highway 101 in southern Washington, so I know the famous highway well!
Here are the must stop visits while traveling this amazing highway, from north Washington to California.
This area often goes overlooked, it is not the 101 right next to the ocean, though it is close, this area is beautiful! It is right next to the Olympic Rainforest and some small towns by the bay. The famous Vance Creek Bridge is hidden in this area. A partial amount of this bridge has been torn down now but if your feeling reckless, you may still be able to explore part of it.
This area also is covered with amazing hikes and waterfalls and is one of the only places on the coast where you can harvest your own oysters! Stop at Hama Hama to get the beginning of your seafood experience and enjoy some wine and music by the bay in Hoodsport.
Some of my favorite waterfalls include Rocky Brook Falls, Murhut Falls, Hama Hama Falls and Vincent Creek Falls (High Steel Bridge). Read all about this area here.
This area is the northern tip of the U. S but not very popular, which is good for us! The trail is well maintained and the views are gorgeous. Read more about it here.
This is the most stunning beach in Washington, right off 101, the drive to this place is covered with spectacular beaches, but this is the one you’ll want to stop at. There’s tide pools to explore and the beach goes on forever. This beach is most famous for it’s large rock on the beach with a hole in the middle that I didn’t manage to get a picture of. You can read more about it in the link above as well.
Quinault is a special, quaint place where you can experience the world’s only temperate rainforest that is completely untouched. There are many nature trails in the area from quarter mile hikes to backpacking trips and waterfalls right along side them. There is also the world’s largest Spruce Tree here as well and the Hoh Rainforest is also close by if you can’t get enough of the luscious greenery.
Fort Stevens State Park
Fort Stevens is located right outside of the beautiful small city of Astoria, OR, most famous for the movie The Goonies. What makes this park so special is the ship wreck of Peter Iredale, where you can see the iron remains of this ancient ship right on the beach, accessible to the public. It’s quiet the site, see more about it here
I think when people are planning 101 trips, their first destination is Canon Beach, so I hope all the posts above have caught your interest to see before northern Oregon. Canon beach is a small beach town with an open bottle policy, meaning you can drink beer wherever you’d please. Most famous for Haystack rock on it’s beach, where you can climb around it and view the tide pools. It also has a lot of puffins at the top of the rock.
It’s a popular destination spot, but also not incredibly crowded.
This place was one of my favorite experiences along our 101 travels. Located in the middle of Oregon in the town of Pacific City, Cape Kiwanda is what it means to travel 101. You show up at this beach, to a Haystack Rock way in the distance, you are able to climb a sand hill to your right which leads you to Cape Kiwanda. You can walk all along this Cape and experience amazing views. There are some dangerous areas but they will give you the best Instagram shot! Many wander past the warning signs to get the best photo, but because of the Oregon Beach Bill, I do not believe you can get fined for it.
You can also take the Three Capes Scenic Route before Cape Kiwanda to experience even better views, but we missed the turn, so keep a look out! Devil’s Punchbowl is nearby as well, though we didn’t go there. More on Cape Kiwanda here.
Samuel H. Boardman’s State Scenic Cooridor
This is located in southern Oregon in a small city called Brookings, right before you hit California. It is several different stops off the side of the Highway, all absolutely gorgeous. They meet up with the Oregon Coast Trail, the scenic points that I thought were most amazing was Natural Bridges, where you can hike your way to the top of these magnificent arches and Arch Rock Point.
The Redwood Forest
Of course, the Redwood Forest is a must-see along 101. It is located in northern California and is quiet the enchanting adventure. There is so much to see here, there are several different areas to go, we went to the Jedidiah Forest, which was amazing, but simply driving through these areas is worth the drive.
Unfortunately, we were not able to experience Big Sur, California, as when we went they had an enormous landslide right before Big Sur on Highway 101, but it is still on my bucket list! I recommend stopping at Pfieffer Beach. I’ve heard that the sand turns purple on some sunsets and it is quiet magical!
Simply driving down this highway is spectacular! There are views of the ocean right on the side of the road so pull over as much as you can and enjoy the views! There are of course many more places of interest, but these are my top ten. So pull over as much as you can and maybe spot some whales in Oregon!
I love the location of this waterfall, I saw it in the middle of winter. It was snowing and everything was covered in white as this waterfall trickles down a rock wall high up in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This waterfall is located near the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge and the whole area is gorgeous!
You can also hike to the bottom of this, it’s not difficult, it was just too slippery for us at that time but I recommend it!
This is my second favorite waterfall in Washington. Located on the Hood Canal near the Olympic National Forest, an area full of beautiful waterfalls, but this one is well hidden and contains only a small sign you couldn’t see from the road. It’s about a quarter mile, easy hike to the waterfall and you can get right up to it and even climb up it a bit!
There is also a small pool at the bottom that we were pleased to jump off rocks into 🙂
The area of which this waterfall is, is spectacular. Near the Olympic National Forest and the ever-so-blue Lake Crecent, you’ll find a short half-mile hike to find this waterfall. I think it’s the location that makes this waterfall stand out to me
This is my favorite waterfall I’ve seen in Washington! This spectacular waterfall is one of the many waterfalls in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, it is not a waterfall that is right off the side of the road by any means, it is deep into this forest, a long drive up towards Ape Caves in the Mt. St. Helens region. The hike once you hit the parking lot is only a quarter mile and there are many viewpoints and even access to get to the bottom of the waterfall, where you can swim or walk on the shallow grounds! You can also access the top of the waterfall and find some swimming holes or cliff jump into the deeper parts of bottom of the waterfall.
This waterfall is massive! The biggest in Washington I’m pretty damn sure! You can see the waterfall from the parking lot, it pours into a giant crater so perfectly. You are able to hike along the rock sides and where the river flows before it leaves down the waterfall. You can even climb dangerously along the rocks where the waterfall falls off the giant ledge. There is also a small path to get down to the bottom, it looks a little sketchy, we didn’t do it but it would be an amazing view!
The Wailua River is a wide river very popular for kayaking and paddle boarding. It takes about three hours round trip to paddle board and it is full of luscious rainforest and stunning views every where you turn. From it, you can paddle to Secret Falls, located in a small village about half way through your trip and one other waterfall. We rented our boards from an amazing shop very close to the main entrance for the river, Stand Up Paddle.
O’opaka Falls is easily accessible to view, it is a massive waterfall that you can see from a distance right off the road, in the middle of Kauai’s luscious rain forests.
Wimea Falls is a very tall waterfall, also easily accessible. The view point allows you to see from the top down, though you can also climb to the bottom which I highly recommend.
Wimea Canyon State Park
Wimea Canyon State Park is an absolute MUST SEE on the island of Kauai. You can spot gorgeous views throughout the entire park, waterfalls, canyons, forests, red sand areas and several incredible viewpoints.
There are several hiking paths in this park as well that supply spectacular views!
There are many ways to access the Na Pali Coast, most of which costs you money, such as a boat tour or a helicopter tour. Both of these, we wished to have done, but it was simply too expensive but I do recommend it if you have the money for it.
There are many other incredible places to see on the island of Kauai, but these were my absolute favorites.
This island is magical, you can even spot the forbidden island of Niihau, from the western part of the island.
It is much more luscious greenery than the other islands.
Though I’ve lived at the bottom of the Washington coast all my life, last weekend was the first time I drove all the way up 101 North. We’ve just about traveled all of the 101 highway now, and Washington’s coast is not much short of Oregon’s.
We took advantage of good winter weather and traveled from South Bend, WA, up 101 all the way to the most northwestern tip of the United States, Cape Flattery. Of course we stopped at some destinations along the way, and all of them were amazing, where the temperate rainforests of Washington meet with the coastal waves.
Our first stop was Quinault, a beautiful area full of nature trails from a quarter mile long, to full backpacking trips. The largest Sitka Spruce tree in the world lives in this lush forest, as well as many other large trees and some coastal redwoods. There are plenty of waterfalls, some you can hike to and some right off of the road.
We stayed in the Quinault lodge, though in the summer there are so many beautiful camping spots next to the Lake Quinault. This lodge is gorgeous and relaxing though, with access to trails and the lake right outside. It has a nice restaurant, pool, game room and an overall nice environment.
The next morning we woke up and started heading further north, our next stop being Kalaloch and Ruby Beach, some of the coastal gems of Washington.
Kalaloch Beach has a famous tree called the Tree of Life or Big Tree Cave. You can see the entire root system from the beach, it grows in the air and the ends connect to the ground, above the beach.
Ruby Beach has lots of giant coastal rocks, easily accessible from the sand. One has a natural arch, others have holes through them, it is quite the site. You can spot some star fish, sea urchins and other marine life as well.
This beach is called Ruby Beach because you can find ruby clusters within the rocks if you look hard enough!
After this pit stop, we headed up North towards Port Angeles, I recommend stopping at Lake Crescent along the way, as it is beautiful and has a hike to a waterfall that is lovely. We stayed in Port Angeles for the night and headed west to the northwestern tip of the U. S, Cape Flattery. This is about two hours from Port Angeles and well worth it.
Located on an Indian Reservation, it is a well-kept trail with handmade walking sticks for anyone in need. The trail is wooden and an absolute gorgeous two-mile hike, round-trip. There are several viewpoints along this trail, and every one is worth seeing. You can see coastal rock caves where the ocean meets, many coastal rocks and an island not too far from the edge of the cape with a lighthouse.
The northwestern tip is nothing short of magical, and every step to get there makes the adventure even more beautiful.
Cape Kiwanda is my favorite cape on the Oregon coast, and that says a lot because Oregon is full of beautiful coastal lines.
The best thing about the Oregon coast is it’s Oregon Beach Bill, which allows you to wander anywhere your heart desires on the beaches, as the beaches belong to the people and are protected from being owned or industrialized. So many signs can say to not go beyond this point or something, but it’s more of a warning.
Cape Kiwanda is located in Pacific City, a small, simple and beautiful town that I love so much! The beach is a very public beach and not hard to find, it also has Pelican Brewing (which has great beer) right on the beach, which is a perfect place with outdoor seating to enjoy the view of haystack rock and the sunset.
There’s also a good amount of waves to surf, which many people do here. If your entering the beach, you’ll see a huge sandhill to the right, climb this and you will be on top of Cape Kiwanda.
Once you get on top of this sand hill, there is so much to space to wander, and so many views to see, make sure not to miss a single one and to experience it as best you can, ignoring the warning signs!
Also, make sure to take the scenic view to get to Pacific City, which allows you to see two other capes before Cape Kiwanda, it’s called the three capes scenic drive. You’ll take a right about 20 miles before Pacific City to take this route, there will only be one sign, so much sure to keep a look out for it.
Crater Lake is an absolute must-see location in the Pacific Northwest and one of my favorites! When I first saw Crater Lake with my own eyes, I could only describe it as heaven on Earth. This could have very well been because of the timing of which I was there, which I recommend to anyone wanting to visit there. I was in Crater Lake in July, early in the morning, with a blue sky and clouds within it. The water was incredibly still and the water was a beautiful reflection of the snow of the crater and the sky above it, so perfectly that it was difficult to tell where the water began and the sky started.
Crater Lake was once a volcano, called Mount Mazama. This volcano’s eruption was so enormous, that it caused the volcano to collapse into itself, leaving a giant crater, almost 2,000 feet deep. This crater filled with water through rainfall and melted snow, making it insanely clean and therefore a gorgeous, bright blue.
There are many different areas to view the crater and there is one area that you can actually get into the water, this place is called Cleetwood Cove and is about a 20 foot cliff. This jump is a must do! Seeing the snow-covered crater from the crystal clear water is like pure magic and the water isn’t as cold as you would expect. You have to hike about a mile downhill to reach this area, the hike down is wonderful and the hike up can be a little difficult, but well worth it.
The main area of Crater Lake has a lot of information to learn everything about the area, as well as buy souvenirs and some fancy food, which wasn’t as expensive as I expected, with the view that we had.
It is, till this day, the most beautiful place I have ever seen, if you are anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, this is a place that you must see, and I recommend it in the early morning in good weather, and to stay throughout the day.
Brookings, Oregon is one of my favorite locations in the PNW, for simple reasons such as the beauty and the both Oregon and California coastal feel. Brookings is on the beautiful southern Oregon coast, just thirty minutes from The Redwood Forest in California.
The main attraction here is the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, which is several stops right before you enter into the city off of the famous highway 101. It is a total of 12 miles along the Oregon coast trail and all views can be accessed through simply walking the trail. If you have planned this out beforehand, this would be a gorgeous hike.
These stops are full of incredible views of natural arches and bright blue ocean waters. Some of my favorites are the Natural Bridges, where you can hike on top of the arched rocks themselves, Arch Rock Point, Spruce Island Viewpoints and Cape Forrelo Loop. There is a total of ten hikes and viewpoints. If your doing any of these trails from right off the freeway, the hikes are short, magnificent and not difficult at all.
The Oregon coast contains so much beauty, all the way from north to south. The interesting thing about the beach of Fort Stevens in Warrenton, OR is that it contains history that stands strong in it’s place.
Fort Stevens is in the small city of Warrenton, between the lovely Seaside and Astoria, OR near the state of Washington. The main attraction of this area is it’s beach, where the iron skeleton of Peter Iredale ship still remains. This outline of history is so close to the beach that you can climb upon it when the waves go back into the ocean that gives you a beautiful site of the Pacific Ocean in a whole new way.
Though this is the main attraction, there are many batteries to be seen in Fort Stevens as well, this place is really full of gorgeous history.
The Washington coast goes a bit unnoticed when put next to the beautiful Oregon and California coast. This coast is unique in so many ways and gives an entirely new moody feel of the ocean. The Washington coast contains lots of rain, wind and fog but it is also what makes it so different and a must-see experience.
Cape Disappointment State Park is located in Ilwaco, WA, very close to Astoria, OR and has many wonders to see within the area full of beautiful temperate rainforests.
When you first enter into the park, each side of the road are covered in greenery, there are a few lookout spots that tell the history of the area, like Beardman’s Hollow. There are many wooden bridges throughout the park as well that work well for photography!
This cape contains two lighthouses, the first you will see is the North Head Lighthouse, which is only a quarter mile, easy hike. Of course it tells you to not go close to edge of the cape, but many people had already crossed the fence so I found no harm in doing the same. The view is gorgeous and you can walk far out onto the grass-covered cape to see the Pacific Ocean.
The next lighthouse is the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, this trail is a half mile and a bit more difficult. There are many hills, but it is a very pretty hike with access to beaches along the way.
Along the way you’ll run into Dead Man’s Cove, one of my favorite views of the coast, especially when the lighting is just right. You have to walk down to the beach if you want the best view, but no matter how you see Dead Man’s Cove, it is a spectacular view.
Once you get to the lighthouse, the view overlooks all of Ilwaco and Astoria, you can see the Astoria bridge and all the boats coming in from the ocean into the bay area. The view is perfect for some photographs.
Within the Cape Disappointment State Park you will also have the chance to see Fort Canby and many of it’s batteries as well as the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.