While you can get to Portland from Seattle in about three hours, this journey through the Pacific Northwest offers a lot to travelers. There are so many fascinating places to visit on the route—from national parks to botanical gardens—that you'll want to do more than just head south on Interstate 5. Take the time to explore the beautiful destinations of southwestern Washington and northern Oregon. An RV makes the perfect hotel on wheels as you go from Seattle to Portland.
During your Seattle to Portland RV road trip, you'll pass national parks filled with history where you can learn about the Native Americans and the first settlers. You can also find areas with outdoor adventure opportunities, like rock climbing, canoeing, and hiking.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
The Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park consists of a two-story building where you can learn about the role that the community played during the Gold Rush. During the summer, watch as rangers demonstrate how to mine for gold twice daily. Get the map or join a guided tour of 18 stops in Seattle’s oldest neighborhood to learn more about its history.
Mount Rainier National Park
There are many reasons that you will want to stop at Mount Rainier National Park. It contains the highest point in the Cascade Range. Mount Rainier is also an active volcano, and it is the most glaciated peak in the continental United States. While there are many hiking paths to higher elevations, you can enjoy scenic hikes that require not as many physical skills. You can also go backcountry camping and wildlife watching.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
While this national historical park covers six diverse and widely spaced sites, the most popular portion of the protected area is Fort Clatsop, located near Astoria, Oregon. This replica fort was reconstructed in 1955 using sketches from Captain Meriwether Lewis’s notebook.
During your Seattle to Portland road trip, you'll want to allocate time to visit some state parks. These destinations generally get less foot traffic from travelers.
Paradise Point State Park
Easily accessible from Interstate 5, this state park in Washington offers 6,180 feet of freshwater shoreline where you can hike and swim. You can also enjoy occasional programming at the amphitheater. While there is no boat launch, visitors may launch canoes and personal rafts into the Lewis River.
Seaquest State Park
This state park in Washington offers 7 miles of hiking trails, two children’s play areas, a volleyball field, and horseshoe pits. Stop in the visitor’s center to learn more about the area and participate in ranger-led programming.
Goldendale Observatory State Historic Site
The dark skies above this park draw thousands annually. At Goldendale Observatory State Historic Site in Washington, you can see the night sky through a large, powerful telescope. Afternoon and evening programming helps everyone appreciate what they are seeing when looking at the galaxies.
Government Island State Recreation Area
Accessible only by boat, this state recreation area near Portland actually includes three islands. Most visitors head to the 1,760-acre Government Island. Once you get ashore, stroll along 15 miles of shoreline or use the two boat launch facilities.
White River Falls State Park
This state park tucked into the Tygh Valley in Oregon gives you a chance to hike a one-quarter mile trail that ends at a beautiful waterfall. Here, the water tumbles off a horseshoe-shaped, basalt ledge. It then falls 65 feet to the ground below where a vintage hydropower plant is located. You can also go fishing or have a picnic at White River Falls State Park.
As you travel along the Pacific Coast in Washington and across Oregon to Portland, there are many points of interest that you will not want to miss seeing.
Soos Creek Botanical Garden & Heritage Center
Drawing inspiration from famous gardens around the United States, something is always in bloom at Soos Creek Botanical Garden. You can see many perennials that have recently been developed. Do not miss the sound garden as you stroll through this beautiful facility.
Point Defiance Park
There are many reasons to stop at Point Defiance Park. At this destination in Tacoma, there's a zoo, an aquarium, scenic drives, boat rentals, hikes, and a marina. Take some time to see the animal shows during the summer and stroll through the numerous gardens, which include a dahlia trail.
Climb the talus slope to get a view of this two-tier waterfall from its top or enjoy the view of the waterfall from the bottom. It is the tallest waterfall in Oregon at 620 feet. Furthermore, Multnomah Falls is the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest. Consider eating a picnic at this point of interest as you enjoy the lush natural environment.
Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center
This museum uses fun, interactive exhibits to teach you about the geological factors that formed the Columbia River Gorge, which runs along the Washington-Oregon border. You'll learn about the people who survived in the region and the future for this national scenic area. You can also get a snack at the café and take nature walks.
Port of Cascade Locks
Take a ride on a stern-wheeler boat to see all the scenic beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. When you're done with that, go on the Cascade Locks Scavenger Hunt to explore the park’s different areas. Be sure to visit the historical museum, too. There are many scenic drives that use this location as their starting point. You can also stroll along the riverbank.
While you can choose to race down the major highways on your road trip from Seattle to Portland, going the scenic route allows you to see many things and do activities that you would otherwise miss. Consider adding the following cities to your road trip itinerary from Seattle to Portland.
You will discover an excellent blending of old and new in Tacoma. While you're here on the banks of Puget Sound, visit the glassblowers and the vibrant downtown area. There are many campgrounds nearby, and you can find Washington dump stations. While Tacoma is only 33 miles from Seattle, the town has a whole different vibe that you will want to take time to explore. Consider staying at the Majestic Mobile Manor RV Park where you can swim in the pool. Saltwater State Park has a dump station that you can use.
Known for its outstanding wines, Yakima has a rich history. Its unique physical location means that you can snow ski, bike, hike, and golf all in the same day. Since you might not have time to get it all done, consider staying at a local campground so that you can spend extra time exploring this area near Mount Saint Helens and the Yakima Indian Reservation. Consider camping at Yakima Sportsman State Park or at Windy Point Campground. Yakima Sportsman State Park has a dump station you may want to use before leaving Washington.
Located at the junction of the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Range, Hood River is a good spot for windsurfing. Check out the farm-to-table restaurants in this area as many offer incredible food and breathtaking scenery. This town is also a great place to go camping, and you may want to stay at Bridge RV Park and Campground. Dump stations in this area are available at the Hood River Wastewater Plant.
This community is located at the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. There are numerous outdoor destinations to explore, so do not get in a hurry to end your road trip from Seattle to Portland. Choose to spend a night camping here at Cascade Locks/Portland East KOA. Before you leave, be sure to use their dump station.
You can quickly drive down the interstate to get from Seattle to Portland, or you can take the scenic route and explore Mount Saint Helens, the Columbia River Gorge, and much more. Traveling by RV is the best way to see all that this area offers. Whether you want to get a rental in Seattle or Portland, RVshare has you covered.