Wave goodbye to Seattle as you set out along the Pacific Coast toward San Francisco. With so many wonderful small towns to explore that are surrounded by amazing scenery, you can expect the trip to take you about a week. However, it's worth the extra time. When you reach San Francisco, you'll have plenty of stories to tell about the fascinating marine life you saw, amazing hikes you took, and Pacific Northwest cities you visited.
Your road trip itinerary from Seattle to San Francisco can include some fascinating national parks. While some of the following options may be slightly off-route, they will make your trip unforgettable.
Olympic National Park
You may not want to head straight south on your Seattle to San Francisco road trip. Instead, head west to visit the almost million-acre Olympic National Park, where you can explore several ecosystems, including about 70 miles of coastline. Depending on the weather, you may also enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Dark-sky and ranger-led programs allow you to learn more about this destination.
Lewis and Clark National Historical Park
There are several different ways to explore Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in northwest Oregon. You can use your smartphone to go on a self-guided audio tour of the fort and visitors center. Check out the schedule to see live reenactments at the fort. Paddle your own canoe as you participate in ranger-led tours with the park supplying all supplies, including the life jacket and the canoe. You can also use this park to launch your canoe. Explore the scenic beauty by walking on the 14.5 miles of trails.
Redwood National Park
While Redwood National Park is known for its beautiful tall trees, this scenic wonderland offers so much more. If you want to see protected forests, beaches, and grasslands along Northern California’s coast, add this destination to your road trip from Seattle to San Francisco. You may want to take a scenic drive, and you will find choices lasting from five to 45 minutes. There are also plenty of hikes and backcountry camping opportunities.
As you journey on your Seattle to San Francisco road trip, there are many state parks you may want to explore. Many of these parks offer just as much scenic beauty as their federally protected counterparts.
Pacific Beach State Park
Inhale the salt air floating off the ocean as you take a break at Pacific Beach State Park in Washington. During the day, you can enjoy beach activities like clamming in season, building sandcastles, and working on your tan. In the evening, relax around a beach campfire while eating gooey s'mores.
Deception Pass State Park
The 3,854-acre Deception Pass State Park features so many attractions that it's a must-see for any road trip from Seattle to San Francisco. Romantics will love a sunset stroll on the north and west beaches. The youngest members of your party will enjoy looking at the tide pools at Rosario Beach. Anglers will love that both freshwater and seawater fishing are available at this park. Long and short hikes are possible under some of the oldest trees in Washington. You may even get lucky enough to see U.S. Navy personnel parachute onto a nearby airplane carrier.
Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area
One of the most unusual sites along the Pacific Coast is at this day-use state park in Oregon. The almost circular Devils Punchbowl was probably created when two caves that had been carved in the sandstone collapsed. Water enters the cauldron, swirls around, and exits while leaving white foam behind regularly. This is a prime spot for whale watching. Join the surfers playing in the ocean or watch the harbor seals sunning nearby.
Angel Island State Park
Angel Island is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay, so be sure to stop here before you reach your final destination. Take the opportunity to visit the on-site exhibits that cover the history of immigration through Angel Island. The island has also been used as a working ranch, and it served as a military base for over 100 years. Many exhibits at this park allow you to learn more about each period. You can hike and bike on many paths within the park, which is only accessible by boat or helicopter.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
While you are only 70 miles from completing your road trip from Seattle to San Francisco, you will not want to miss the opportunity to visit this state park in the Napa Valley. You can listen to the water splashing on the rocks in the creek bed as you stroll under tall trees. Cool off afterward with a dip in the swimming pool. If you hear a pecking on a nearby tree, you are probably noticing one of the six types of woodpeckers that live in this park.
Outside of the national and state parks, there are many points of interest that you'll want to visit on your Seattle to San Francisco RV road trip.
While you will find many beautiful places to take photos on your RV road trip, do not pass up a stop at Cape Flattery in Washington. Owned by the Makah Tribe, this destination offers amazing views of water crashing against huge boulders. To capture the motion with your camera, use a telephoto lens with a maximum aperture and a fast shutter speed. You will find great spots to have a picnic, so bring some food along with you.
If you love to look for things in tide pools at low tide, make sure to time your trip to be at Cannon Beach in Oregon at the right time of day. You will be rewarded with all types of finds. Stroll to Hug Point, where you can watch the waterfalls flow onto the beach. National Geographic has named this one of the most beautiful places in the world, and you will not be disappointed.
This spot along the Oregon coast is essentially a giant hole that looks like it could swallow up the whole ocean. This site is best observed at high tide, but be careful because the ocean current can try to suck you in, too. Under the right conditions, water pours into the hole from the bottom also, and it fills with water. Then, it shoots into the air like a geyser.
Napa Wine History Museum
Set in one of the oldest Victorian homes in the Napa Valley, the Napa Wine History Museum offers a fascinating introduction to many of the region's earliest residents. See old winemaking equipment, and learn what it took to make the wine world-famous.
This 11-mile bike or hiking path in Marin County, California, will likely take you all day to complete because of its fantastic scenery. Start at the ridgeline east of Olema Valley and follow the path through coastal rangeland, under towering redwoods, and across open chaparral. At the southern trailhead, near Alpine Road on Mount Tamalpais, you will be treated to breathtaking views of Bolinas Lagoon, Tomales Bay, and the Pacific Ocean.
While you will not find too many big metro areas on your road trip from Seattle to San Francisco, you will pass through some unique cities. Take the time to stop and explore them.
Six miles of sandy beaches are the main attraction in this city in Washington. Deer roam the streets of Ocean Shores, which is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and Grays Harbor. There are many beachfront campgrounds in this area, like those at Ocean City State Park. In fact, some of them are among Washington's best campgrounds. If you're looking for dump stations, you'll find some operated by the Ocean Shores Park Department.
You'll love visiting the lighthouse in this community in Oregon. This town has a lively art scene, so spend some time exploring it by staying in one of their campgrounds, like the Sea & Sand RV Park. You can also find nearby Oregon dump stations, like the one at the Newport Chamber of Commerce, to make your trip easier.
Many cool adventures are waiting in this Northern California city. Crescent City has seen its share of tragedies over the years from shipwrecks to tsunamis, but it seems to come back stronger each time. Check out the local campgrounds, like the sites at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. For dump stations, head to Bayside RV Park or Ramblin' Redwoods Campground.
This tiny community welcomes you to come to explore California's Lost Coast. You will love the black sand beaches. Great campground options, like Shelter Cove RV Park and Campground, are available. You can also find nearby dump stations in Jedediah Smith Redwoods.
You'll want to try the local wines while checking out the fantastic coastal views near Mendocino, California. There are many luxurious campground options near this community. You'll also find many nearby dump stations, including the one at Hendy Woods State Park.