500km, 5.5hrs driving
Get a glimpse of the abundance of things to do in this region.
Oregon and Washington seem to go under the radar when it comes to tourism, especially considering the impressive and diverse landscapes. This drive is straightforward in terms of start/end points; but I have included two short side trips out of Portland worth considering before heading north.
▐ Portland to Seattle
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Navigational Google Map:
Portland to Seattle
U.S. Route 30 –
Interstate 84 – (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway)
Interstate 5 –
▐ Portland to Seattle (~500km, ~5.5hrs)
This drive starts in Portland , Oregon. The first place on the agenda is the magnificent St. Johns Bridge that spans across the Willamette River. The bridge has the typical turquoise colour of bridges built during the Great Depression as part of President Roosevelt’s reform policies. I would highly recommend driving out as it is not that far out of Portland compared to many other bridges in this style. Head west along from Portland to get there.
Once you have finished admiring the bridge, head back east to Portland, and jump onto which follows the shores of the Columbia River. This section of the drive is gorgeous, with huge trees lining the freeway as you drive along the river. One stop I would consider to be essential is the incredible Multnomah Falls . This awesome waterfall is actually two-in-one, and runs almost 100m tall in total. You can choose the short walk up to the bridge, or complete the several hour trail to the top of the falls.
Once you are ready to depart, continue east along until you reach Exit 40. Here you will find the Bonneville Dam, maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Bradford Island Visitor Center has a small museum with an aquarium, and information on the dam.
After the dam, you must continue east along for a small distance before turning around to head west back to Portland. It could be worth stopping at Cascade Locks for a food break depending on the time of day. Head west until you reach Dodson, where you will turn off onto the Historic Columbia River Highway. This alternative route will provide another angle of the Columbia River Gorge. One stop I highly recommend is Vista House . This has a great lookout of the Columbia River Gorge, and is well worth spending some time at.
You can turn back onto a bit further along the road, where you continue westbound to Portland. Once in Portland, transfer to and head north. If you don’t have time to visit Mt. St. Helens on your trip, you can still drive into the visitor centre . On a clear day, you can see Mt. St. Helens, as well as learning about its fascinating history.
Continue north along to Seattle . Before arriving in downtown, consider a visit to the Museum of Flight , located in the vicinity of Boeing’s head office. It is an awesome place, with some of the most incredible aircraft ever produced including the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, and the Concorde.