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Pacific Northwest Road Trip: Cascadia Volcanic Loop

Pacific Northwest Road Trip: Cascadia Volcanic Loop

It’s just a quick drive from Seattle to three of the most prominent volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range: Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, and Mount Adams. Mountain lovers will rejoice in this epic Pacific Northwest road trip. You will travel from Puget Sound to the highest peaks in Washington and Oregon and visit a national forest and two national forests.

Travel Time for a Pacific Northwest Road Trip From Seattle to Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, & Mount Adams

On this Seattle to Oregon road trip, you’ll travel 585 miles from our Seattle location to visit the three peaks and return to the city. The total drive time for this Pacific Northwest road trip is 10 hours and 50 minutes. We recommend taking 4-6 days to complete this journey through the Pacific Northwest.

Best Time of Year for a Seattle to Oregon Road Trip

Summer: The long days of seemingly eternal sunshine and comfortable temperatures make summer in the PNW hard to beat when traveling to Oregon from Se.

Fall: Early fall is similar to the summer. The sun lingers high in the sky late into the day, and the temperatures are relatively warm. As fall continues, the days get abruptly shorter, and the rain, wind, and colder temperatures arrive. This usually happens from mid to late October.

Winter: Winter in the PNW is still magical if you know where to look. Skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other winter sports are available in the mountains. While lower elevations see their fair share of rain and wind, the mountains receive hundreds of inches of snow each winter. Temperatures will range from below-freezing to the high 40s.

Spring: Spring in the Pacific Northwest can be pleasant, but the rain is still a factor. Warm temperatures don’t typically arrive until the late spring or early summer. With colder mountain weather, expect temperatures to hover around the 40s and 50s.

Preparation for a Seattle Road Trip

Gear

Rain Gear: When you travel in the PNW, you never know what the weather will do. Come prepared for the rain and sun. Bring a rain jacket, waterproof layers, and plenty of dry clothes.

Sun Protection: The PNW has plenty of sunshine during the summer. Bring sunscreen and a hat for the long summer days.

Layers: The nights and cloudy days in the mountains can be chilly, so layer up.

Water & Food: A camper van lets you take everything you need on the road. Add a kitchen kit to your camper van to plan your meals during your journey.

Campsites

Finding a campsite: camper vans fit in almost every standard-sized campsite and don’t require electrical or water hookups, making camping easy.

Dispersed camping vs. campsites: A van makes dispersed camping easy. You can camp for free on federal and BLM land. Plenty of apps help you find a dispersed camping site on your route. If you’re considering booking a campsite in a national/state park or a private campsite, make sure you book at least a few months before your Pacific Northwest road trip.

Navigation

Phones & Chargers: Navigation is integral to your Seattle road trip’s success. Make sure you bring a smartphone or GPS device and a charger. Download maps offline to have navigation access when you lose service.

Pacific Northwest Road Trip Stops

Cascadia Loop: Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, & Mount Adams

This epic Cascadia loop road from Seattle takes you to the region’s highest mountains and most pristine wilderness areas. You’ll encounter wildlife, see glaciated features, and hike some of the most breathtaking trails in the US.

Stop 1: Seattle to Mount Rainier National Park 

If you’ve never been to Seattle, we recommend taking a day, or at least a few hours, to explore the city. See what downtown Seattle has to offer, from Pike Place Market to the Chihuly Museum of Glass, the Space Needle, and the original Starbucks coffee shops, to name a few.

Mount Rainier over the Seattle skyline.

Just a 2-hour road trip from Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park rises over the surrounding landscape and is visible on a clear day throughout the state.  Mount Rainier is a towering 14,411-foot stratovolcano, and its size is almost unfathomable.

When you pick up your van in Seattle, Mount Rainier will be a beacon for the first part of your drive, guiding you south toward your adventure. Mount Rainier National Park has some of the best campsites in the state, with unobstructed views of the majestic mountain. This year, visitors must apply for permits to reserve their right to enter the park. Learn more about Mount Rainier Permits here.

Camping in Mount Rainier National Park

Ohanapecosh Campground: Located on the park’s southeast side, this highly recommended campground is shaded by old-growth forest and bisected by a rushing river. It gives visitors easy access to the famous Silver Falls and Grove of the Patriarch trails. This campground has 188 individual sites for RV or tent camping. Campers can access potable water, food storage, picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms.

Cougar Rock Campground: Cougar Rock is located within the national park and offers 173 individual sites and 5 group sites, along with picnic tables, fire platforms, flush toilets, and drinkable water. This campground puts you right next to the popular Cedar Falls trail. Reservations are strongly recommended.

White River Campground: This first-come, first-serve campground is at an elevation of 4,440 ft, 1200 ft higher than any other campground. It is open June through September and has 88 available sites for $20 a night. Campers must physically arrive at the campground to purchase and claim a site. Campers have access to fire rings, picnic tables, and flush toilets.

Crystal Mountain Resort: Crystal Mountain is Washington’s largest ski resort, next to Mount Rainier National Park. It offers RV sites with unparalleled views of Mt. Rainier.

You can take scenic gondola rides to the top of Crystal Peak for an unforgettable view of Mount Rainier and the surrounding peaks. On a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Baker from the top of Crystal Mountain.

Mounthaven Resort: This resort is about halfway from the Nisqually Park entrance. Mounthaven Resort offers RV sites, cabins, and tent sites deep in the Washington wilderness. Mounthaven is a great pet-friendly camping option right by the park.

Mineral Lake Lions Den Campground: The Lions Den Campground at Mineral Lake is one of the only waterfront campgrounds near Mount Rainier. Choose from 105 campsites with lake and mountain views.

What to do in Mount Rainier National Park

Hike the Skyline Loop Trail: This hike is the scenic route! It is a difficult 5.7-mile loop that offers surreal views of Mount Rainier. Despite its difficulty, the hike is incredibly popular, so arrive at the trailhead early to beat the crowds.

Visit Myrtle Falls: Myrtle Falls is a 60-foot braided cascade at the end of a half-mile paved trail and one of the park’s top attractions.

Take the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail: This moderate 5.7-mile out-and-back trail leads hikers to an up-close and personal view of Mount Rainier. If you’re looking for the best view of Mount Rainier, Mount Fremont Lookout should be on your list.

Hike the Bench and Snow Lakes Trail: This moderate 2.2-mile out-and-back trail brings you to a chilly alpine lake with Mount Rainier towering behind. Pack your swimsuit and take a refreshing dip in the lake.

Hike the Naches Peak Loop: The Naches Peak Loop is an easy 3.5-mile loop with spectacular views of the mountain, alpine lakes, and abundant wildflowers. If you want stellar views without a strenuous trek, try this hike.

Drive the Chinook Pass: The Chinook Scenic Byway is part of the 107-mile SR 410, also known as the Stephen Mather Memorial Parkway. Often described as the most scenic road in Washington, this drive begins in nearby Enumclaw and ends in Naches.

Where to Eat in Mount Rainier National Park

Pizza Express: Located in nearby Elbe, Washington, Pizza Express serves tasty pizza to diners in a refurbished train car. Nothing beats a good slice of pizza after a long day on the mountain.

Paradise Inn: This historic Inn in Mount Rainier National Park first opened its doors in 1916. With a focus on sustainable agriculture and local ingredients, Paradise Inn offers fine dining in the heart of the park. Stop by for brunch before hitting the trail or enjoy a date night in the shadow of Mount Rainier.

Summit House Restaurant: Dine with the clouds at the Summit House Restaurant at Crystal Mountain. Located at the top of the Mount Rainer Gondola, the Summit House offers a literal elevated dining experience with a divine view. Take the scenic Gonala 2500 feet to the top of the ski mountain to sample the finest flavors in the PNW.

Packwood Brewing Co: Packwood Brewing’s craft beer and decadent locally sourced menu make it a worthwhile stop for any beer lover.

Stop 2: Mount Rainier National Park to Mount Adams

Mount Adams stretches 12,281 feet into the sky north of the Oregon border. As the second tallest mountain in Washington, Mount Adams is often overshadowed (literally) by Mount Rainier. Blocked from view in Seattle by Rainier, residents usually look to other wilderness areas for recreation.

Mount Admas, however, is easily accessible via a Portland or Seattle road trip and offers visitors a sprawling wilderness area with hiking, biking, and mountaineering opportunities. This active stratovolcano is located in the eastern Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

A mountain range in the Pacific Northwest.

Camping in Mount Adams

Goose Lake Campground: Goose Lake is a popular summer campground, open from July through October, that offers fishing, boating, and swimming near Mount Adams. Campsites feature lake views and access to a nearby boat ramp. They also have fire rings, picnic tables, and restroom facilities. This campground is first come, first serve only.

Moss Creek Campground: Located in the southeast corner of the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest near the Columbia River Gorge, this campground is an excellent option for exploring the Mount Adams area. Campers can access fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking water. Moss Creek Campground is open seasonally from July to October.

Panther Creek Campground: With wooded campsites within a short walk of Panther Creek and just four miles from Panther Creek Falls, Panther Creek Campground is an ideal getaway near Mount Adams. The campground is near the Pacific Crest Trail and is available by reservation. Campers have access to vault toilets and potable water. Panter Creek Campground is open seasonally from July to October.

Oklahoma Campground: Located along the banks of the Little White Salmon River, the Oklahoma Campground offers large wooded and meadow campsites. Fishing is available on the nearby river, and the campground is on the Monte Carlo Trail. Oklahoma Campground is open seasonally from July to October and available by reservation.

Things to Do in Mount Adams

Hike the Sleeping Beauty Trail: This short but challenging hike takes trekkers to a stunning viewpoint after a 1400-foot climb. Although the trail is under 3 miles round trip, the rapid elevation gain makes the hike difficult. If you’re up for a challenge, take on the Sleeping Beauty Trail.

Raft on White Salmon River: Experience the rapids of the White Salmon River with a guided whitewater rafting experience. Several guided outfits take clients on the White Salmon River. We like the guys at Wet Planet White Water.

Take on the Mount Adams South Climb Trail. Mount Adams’ glaciated peak attracts climbers from all over the PNW. Mount Adams will be a fun yet challenging experience if you’re an avid alpine climber.

The trail is an 11.6 mile out and back, gaining nearly 7,000 feet of elevation. While Mount Adams is a relatively easy summit for mountain climbers, it’s still an advanced peak that should be treated cautiously. Get a climbing permit here.

 Places to Eat Near Mount Adams

Mt. Adams Pizza: Refuel after spending the day outside at Mt. Adams Pizza. Pick up a pizza for your campsite, or dine in and sample some local beer and wine.

Station Cafe: Enjoy a burger and huckleberry shake on the shaded patio at Station Cafe. This local burger joint is a charming stop for anyone traveling in the Mt. Adams or Lake Trout area. They offer breakfast and lunch.

Trout Lake Country Inn: This old-fashioned country inn offers a quaint dining experience with a gourmet take on home-style cooking. Sit on the porch and sip a huckleberry lemonade while you enjoy a warm summer day, and then head inside for a steak dinner.

KJ’s Bear Creek Cafe: This charming cafe is perfect for hot coffee, baked goods, and a hearty breakfast after a night of camping. Like the other restaurants in the area, it utilizes local huckleberries in its baked goods and other menu items.

Stop 3: Mount Adams to Mount Hood

Like Mount Rainier and Mount Adams, Mount Hood is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most prominent stratovolcanoes. At an immense height of 11,249 feet, it stands guard over Portland and is the tallest mountain in Oregon. 90 minutes from Portland, Mount Hood is the city’s outdoor destination, one of the few permanently glaciated places in the country that allows summer skiing.

Mount Hood in Oregon is the perfect distance for a Portland of Seattle road trip.

Camping in Mount Hood

Lake Harriet Campground: Located along the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River, Lake Harriet Campground has 11 reservable campsites accessible from Forest Rd 4630. Campers can enjoy hiking, fishing, and boating with access to drinking water and on-site vault toilets.

Trillium Lake Campground offers outdoor hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, and boating. Its 64 campsites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance. Sites include vault toilets and drinking water.

Hood View Campground: The aptly named Hood View Campground on Timothy Lake is one of the most cherished campsites in the area. Hood View is great for fishing the lake and admiring the mountain. The campground boasts dozens of sites, with 200 total in the lake area. Campers have access to fire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water.

Milo McIver State Park: With 950 acres of dense forest on the Clackamas River and nearby Estacada Lake, campers have their pick of activities. The park even has a 27-hole disc golf course. Campers have access to flush toilets and hot showers.

Lost Lake Campground and Resort: With over 100 miles of nearby trails, campers at Lost Lake Campground Resort may never leave. The general store offers kayak and SUP rentals. Vault toilets and drinking water are available onsite. Campsites can be reserved online here.

Mt. Hood Village Campground and RV Resort: Mt. Hood Village and RV Resort has been serving Oregon campers since 1984. With top-of-the-line amenities, like a swimming pool, a spa, laundry facilities, and more, a stay at Mt. Hood Village Campground and RV Resort is camping on a different level.

Things to do in Mount Hood, Oregon

Hit the slopes: Mount Hood is Portland’s ski mountain with six separate ski areas: Timberline Lodge, Mountain Hood Meadows, Mount Hood Ski Bowl, Cooper Spur, Snow Bunny, and Summit. Mt. Hood Meadows offers the most skiable terrain, with approximately 2,150 skiable acres. You can even ski in the summer on Mount Hood at the Timberline Lodge.

Paddle or swim at Trillium Lake: the Trillium Lake area is excellent for fishing, swimming, and paddling. Head to Mount Hood Outfitters for your kayak rental.

Hike to Ramona Falls: Romona Falls is a fierce cascade that stands 120 feet tall. The hike to the falls is a moderate 7-mile loop that climbs 1,046 feet before reaching the mighty cascade flowing over a series of giant moss-covered boulders.

Drive the Mount Hood Scenic Byway: See Mount Hood in all its glory without leaving your car. The Mount Hood Scenic Byway is perfect for photographers searching for the ideal vantage point to capture the mountain. Throughout the Pacific Northwest road trip, you’ll pass through many charming towns that make the Mount Hood area unique, including Sandy, Barlow Pass, and the historic Timberline Lodge.

Places to Eat in Mount Hood

Koya Kitchen: Located in the Mt. Hood Village, Koya Kitches serves an exciting mix of classic Japanese cuisine, from sushi to Japanese curry. Indulge in the rich flavors of a culture of a world away while surrounded by the Oregon wilderness.

Skyway Bar & Grill: Skyway Bar & Grill features a unique mix of light fixtures and collectibles, creating an atmosphere where guests enjoy smokehouse classics like ribs, smoked chicken, and pork shoulder.

Dragonfly Cafe & Bakery: Tucked away in the Mt. Hood Village Campground and RV Resort, Dragonfly Cafe & Bakery serves delicious homemade baked goods and breakfast favorites. Stop by to fuel up on homemade goods before heading out for a day on the mountain.

Huckleberry Inn: A stop in Government Camp isn’t complete without a visit to Huckleberry Innf or their famous Huckleberry pancakes, milkshakes, and pie. This classic diner serves all your favorites, utilizing local huckleberries for a sweet addition to everyday diner fare.

Mt. Hood Brewing Co: Mt Hood has been making regionally celebrated craft beer in the PNW since 1991. Using the actual glacier water from the mountain, Mt. Hood Brewing Co. brews various beers, serves pub fare and local favorites from burgers, and pulled port to Oregon rockfish and chips.

Mount Hood to Escape Campervans in Seattle

Unfortunately it’s the end of your Seattle road trip. Wake up at your leisure in the shadow of Mt. Hood before packing up camp and heading north to Seattle. The drive from Mount Hood to Seattle covers 241 miles and takes approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. You’ll pass through Portland for lunch and then continue on I-5 until you reach Escape Camper Vans in Seattle.

Why Rent a Camper Van for a Cascadia Loop Pacific Northwest Road Trip

The perfect blend of mobility and comfort: A camper van offers the ideal blend of mobility and comfort. It allows you to enjoy a stress-free Seattle road trip from the coast to the mountains.

Traveling in an RV means you’re limited to where you can park and stay. A camper van offers the best of both worlds—comfortable camping and easy meals on the go. Enjoy all the freedom of camper van travel, including easily navigating winding mountain roads, accessing remote campsites, and camping anywhere.

Easy to drive: Unlike RVs, camper vans drive just like normal cars, fit into regular parking spots, and are easy to use both in nature and in the city. Camper vans are unrivaled when it comes to dispersed camping. Access remote campsites and trails high in the mountains and blend in seamlessly while exploring the streets of Seattle and Portland.

Flexible Camping: Since camper vans don’t require electrical or sewer hookups, you can camp in tent-designated campsites and remote dispersed sites.

Convenient and fun: With dozens of add-ons and five models, our camper vans make spending the night in nature easy and enjoyable. Pack everything you need for your adventure in your van and avoid wasting time setting up a tent or looking for RV-designated camping.

Reserve With Escape Camper Vans For Your Seattle Road Trip

A camper van is the ultimate adventure vehicle for exploring the Pacific Northwest, from the high volcanic peaks to the craggy coastline. The combination of mobility and comfort is unmatched by any other form of camping.

Don’t waste time unpacking and pitching a tent when you have everything you need to camp inside your van. Pick up your camper van at Escape Camper Vans in Seattle to start your Pacific Northwest road trip adventure tomorrow. This journey can also begin from our Portland, Oregon, location.

Book My PNW Volcanic Getaway!

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