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Cascade Volcanoes Loop: Oregon and Washington in 6 Days

Portland to the Cascade Volcanos Loop

The Cascade Volcanoes offer some of the most scenic vistas, hikes, and drives in the Pacific Northwest. Making them the perfect destination for a Portland road trip.

Starting from Escape Camper Vans in Portland, you can take a six-day Portland road trip to see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens.

You’ll learn about the impressive geological, human, and environmental history that has created this landscape. And there’s no better way to explore the Cascade Volcanoes than in a homey camper van!

Travel Time for a Cascade Volcano Loop Portland Road Trip

The complete Cascade Volcano Loop, starting and ending at Escape Camper Vans in Portland, Oregon, takes 12.5 hours. It covers 487 miles of scenic roads between Oregon and Washington in the Cascade range.

We recommend spending six days on this loop to explore the impressive Pacific Northwest volcanoes!

Best Time of Year for a Cascade Volcanoes Loop Portland Road Trip

The Cascade Volcanoes see a variety of weather throughout the year. Including heavy snow in the winter, which lasts well into spring and sometimes summer. Choose when to start your Portland road trip based on the activities that interest you.

Summer

Summer is the best time for a Portland road trip to the Cascade Volcanoes Loop to Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens.

During summer, you can access snow-free hiking trails and roads and see wildflowers blooming! Temperatures are comfortable, and summer is the sunniest time of year to explore this part of the US.

However, summer is the busiest time to visit the Cascade Volcanoes. Which makes starting your days early and reserving campsites in advance critical.

Fall

Fall is a great time of year to avoid the summer crowds and see leaves changing colors, which is always a beautiful sight. Temperatures start dropping in the fall, so try to choose campsites at lower elevations where it’s warmer. Occasional early snow storms can occur in late fall, making staying up to date about weather conditions and seasonal road closures vital.

Winter

Winter is the time to visit if you’re into snow sports like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing! Otherwise, wait until another season.

The 4 Cascade Volcanoes receive a lot of snow each year, and seasonal road closures interrupt travel plans in the winter.

Spring

Visiting in spring is a great way to avoid the summer crowds, and many roads begin opening in the spring. However, some roads don’t open until summer, so check conditions before you head out. Expect more rain throughout the spring, meaning clouds potentially cover the peaks.

Preparation for a Cascade Volcanoes Road Trip

Proper preparation is essential to a well-executed Cascade Volcanoes trip. Here are some tips specific to the Pacific Northwest.

You can bring your dog on your Portland road trip to explore the Cascade volcanos.

Reserve Campsites in Advance

Many of the destinations along this Cascade Volcanoes Loop are busy during the summer. Book campsites in advance to secure your spot. Reservations for the national park and national forest campgrounds open 6 months in advance.

Check the Weather

The weather varies drastically when driving around the Pacific Northwest volcanoes, especially as you drive to higher elevations. Check the weather for each area before you head out. Sometimes a fluke snowstorm happens in the summer or strong winds or rain affect travel.

Check Park Road Conditions

With all the snow the Cascade Volcanoes receive in the winter, many seasonal roads close from the late fall to spring or early summer. Google Maps does a good job updating road closures but check local conditions in each region before you head out.

Pack Layers

Weather varies around the volcanoes. In towns at the base of the volcanoes, it’s significantly warmer than when you drive up each Cascade Volcano. Expect temperatures to vary by over 30 degrees.

Day and night temperatures vary quite a bit, too, so pack layers to accommodate the varying weather. And always pack a rain layer—the Pacific Northwest is well known for rain.

Fuel Up

When traveling between the Cascade Volcanoes, there are remote stretches. Fill up your tank as often as possible, especially if taking remote forest roads to trailheads or campgrounds.

Download Offline Maps

Download offline maps before you head out and lose service. AllTrails offers great options for offline hiking trails, and Google Maps offers offline road travel features.

Pack a Rechargeable Battery

You’ll definitely want to keep your camera and phone charged for this scenic Portland road trip. Escape Camper Vans only charge devices while the vehicle is running. Pack a rechargeable battery pack to keep your devices running throughout the night.

Be Bear Aware

The areas surrounding the Cascade Volcanoes are in black bear country.

Remember always to follow bear precautions. Always store food in the bear lockers at campgrounds. Never leave food or scented items unattended, even just for a minute! The bears will go after it!

Hikers do not commonly carry bear spray in this region. Hikers should keep a steady conversation to alert bears to their presence.

Cascade Volcanoes Loop Itinerary

Try to give yourself six days to explore all four Cascade Volcanoes: Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens. See below for a Cascade Volcanoes map.

Map of the Volcanos in the PNW.

Day 1: Mt. Hood

After picking up your Escape Camper Van in Portland, hit the road to check out the first volcano, Mt. Hood. Standing 11,239 feet tall, Mt. Hood is the highest peak in Oregon!

Hike through forests, meadows, and around lakes. Or explore the dense Pacific Northwest flora in the Columbia River Gorge.

Portland to Mount Hood is only about an hour’s drive, so stay at one of the Mt. Hood camping options on the first night of your Cascade Volcanoes road trip!

Things to Do Near Mt. Hood

Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake is a beautiful lake southwest of Mt. Hood and is popular for swimming, kayaking, wildflower viewing, and photography. Try to visit the lake early on a calm, no-wind day to see Mt. Hood reflecting in It.

The road to Trillium Lake is open from early June to late September. From December to May you must ski up to the lake.

Mt. Hood Meadows

Mt. Hood Meadows is the largest ski resort on Mt. Hood and is a popular spot for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing tours. The ski resort usually opens in late November to early December and stays open as late as early May!

In the summer, visit Mt. Hood Meadows for hiking, the summer concert music series, or a scenic chairlift ride.

Lookout Mountain Trail

Hike the Lookout Mountain Trail near the town Government Camp for striking views of the Cascade Volcanoes.

On a clear day, you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Jefferson all at once!

The moderate trail is just under 3 miles out and back, gaining about 560 feet of elevation, and is best hiked May through October.

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

The 80-mile-long Columbia River flows between Washington and Oregon. With waterfalls, cliffs, spires, and ridges, it’s a beautiful spot you don’t want to miss when visiting Mt. Hood.

On your way from Mt. Hood to Mt. Adams, you’ll pass through the cute town of Hood River. This is a popular spot for many outdoor activities.

To the west is the Columbia River Gorge. If waterfalls are on your must-see list, head west. Multnomah Falls is one of the most popular and easily accessible.

Head to the east, and the landscape becomes more desert-like and dry. If you want to explore this area more, we recommend adding an extra day to your itinerary.

Ramona Falls

Ramona Falls is one of the most striking waterfalls near Mt. Hood. Located in Mt. Hood Wilderness, a glacially fed river dramatically shapes the landscape.

Ramona Falls Trail is a moderate 7-mile loop that gains about 1,050 feet in elevation. Ramona Falls is best hiked from May through October, and there might be some snow on the trail in the spring.

Camping Near Mt. Hood

Sherwood Campground

Sherwood Campground is a 14-site campground in Mt. Hood National Forest along the East Fork of Hood River.

The campground has picnic tables, fire pits, and toilets. No drinking water is available at Sherwood Campground. The campground is open from mid-May to mid-September, and reservations are open six months before.

Still Creek Campground

Still Creek Campground is another Mt. Hood National Forest Campground. The convenient location means close access to hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails.

The 26-site campground is open from late May to late September. Still Creek Campground has drinking water, toilets, picnic tables, and fire pits.

Trillium Lake Campground

Trillium Lake Campground is a beautiful campground located alongside Trillium Lake near Government Camp. It offers views of Mt. Hood.

Trillium Lake Campground opens from late May to late September, and the campground releases reservations six months in advance.

Best Restaurants near Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood Brewing Co.

87304 Government Camp Loop, Government Camp, OR 97028

Stop by Mt. Hood Brewing Co. for a tasty selection of local small-batch ales made from clean and pure Mt. Hood glacial water and Pacific Northwest hops and barley.

The Glacier House

88817 Government Camp Loop, Government Camp, OR 97028

The Glacier House is a cozy, family-owned European comfort food restaurant in Government Camp. Enjoy a delicious meal, craft cocktails, or coffee in the alpine-themed Glacier House.

Crooked Tree Tavern & Grill

10755 Cooper Spur Rd, Mt. Hood, OR 97041

Enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, or drinks at the Crooked Tree Tavern & Grill at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort on Mt. Hood. They serve home-cooked meals with a community bar and restaurant.

Days 2 – 3: Mt. Adams

By the middle of day two, drive north along the White Salmon River to the Mt. Adams area. Trout Lake, Oregon, is a good place to base yourself, and it’s only an hour and a half drive from Mt. Hood.

Get a roof top sleeper for your Portland road trip. Then you can sleep up to five people.

Things to Do Near Mt. Adams

Sleeping Beauty Trail

The Sleeping Beauty Trail to Sleeping Beauty Peak is a stunning trail in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From Sleeping Beauty Peak, you will have sweeping views of Mt. Adams towering above the dense forest. The trail is challenging at 2.6 miles out and back with a 1,350-foot elevation gain.

Trout Lake

Trout Lake is a small lake in Trout Lake, south of Mt. Adams. From Trout Lake, you will see Mt. Adams and the surrounding meadows.

Guler Ice Caves

The Guler Ice Caves are a unique spot to explore on a Cascade Volcanoes road trip. Located just west of Trout Lake, a 650-foot-long cave filled with ice stalactites and stalagmites in the spring.

Whitewater Rafting

Go whitewater rafting on the White Salmon River for an extreme Cascade Volcanoes adventure. The popular spot is along Route 141 between Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

Camping Near Mt. Adams

Morrison Creek Campground

Morrison Creek Campground is a forest service primitive campground near Trout Lake. The basic campground has vault toilets but no running water. The campground is open seasonally, usually from late spring to fall.

Takhlakh Lake Campground

Takhlakh Lake Campground is a forest service campground in Gifford Pinchot National Forest on Takhlakh Lake. From the campground, you can see stunning views of Mt. Adams.

The campground opens from July to September, and reservations are recommended. Takhlakh Lake campground does not have drinking water but toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings.

Olallie Lake Campground

Olallie Lake Campground is on the shores of Olallie Lake, just east of Mt. Adams in Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

This is a small, first-come, first-serve campground that usually opens from July to September. It has vault toilets but no drinking water.

Best Restaurants Near Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams Pizza

2291 WA-141, Trout Lake, WA 98650

After a day of hiking or road-tripping, nothing is more appetizing than pizza. Choose from one of the many specialty pizzas and dine in the outdoor seating or inside by the cozy fireplace.

The Station Cafe

2374 WA-141, Trout Lake, WA 98650

Stop by The Station Cafe located in Trout Lake, near Mt. Adams for great local meals, friendly service, and fresh food. The Station Cafe is a popular PCT hiker stop. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, or coffee here.

Days 3 & 4: Mt. Rainier

Spend your third and fourth days exploring Mount Rainier National Park. Mount Rainier is a common Portland road trip route, and there is no wonder why. At 14,411 feet, it is the tallest mountain in Washington and a national park.

Mount Rainier National Park offers a wide range of activities and sights. From alpine lakes to wildflower meadows, hiking trails, and scenic drives, there’s something for everybody. From Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier is just over a four-hour drive.

Things to Do Near Mt. Rainier

Reflection Lakes

Head to Reflection Lakes in Mount Rainier National Park to take in stunning views of Mt. Rainier. On calm, clear days, there’s a chance you’ll see Mt. Rainier reflecting in the lake. This is one of the most impressive viewpoints in the park, and you can access it right off the road.

Reflection Lakes is on Stevens Canyon Road and is open during the summer from June to September. A timed entry reservation is required to access the Paradise Corridor of Mount Rainier National Park from May 24 to September 2.

Skyline Trail

The Skyline Trail is one of Mount Rainier National Park’s most popular hiking trails. The trail offers stunning views of Mt. Rainier from Panorama Point. If you complete the full 5.5-mile loop, you’ll also see Paradise Valley and Myrtle Falls.

On average, the trail gains 1,700 feet and takes about 4.5 hours to complete.

Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls is an impressive 60-foot braided waterfall flowing through the landscape with striking views of Mt. Rainier.

The waterfall is in Paradise, right on the Skyline Trail. However, you don’t have to hike Skyline Trail to see Myrtle Falls. From the parking lot, it’s a 0.4-mile walk to Myrtle Falls.

Paradise

The Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most popular spots to explore. It offers access to hiking trails, alpine meadows, the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, the historic Paradise Inn, and more. Pop into the visitor center to chat with a ranger about how to spend your time or join a ranger-led program.

The Paradise and Sunrise corridors require timed entry reservations during the summer.

Tipsoo Lake

Tipsoo Lake is in the northeast part of Mount Rainier National Park. Set in a glacier-carved basin in beautiful subalpine wildflower meadows, it offers stunning views of Mt. Rainier towering above the landscape. The lake is accessible via a flat 0.7-mile loop trail.

Mount Fremont Lookout Trail

The Mount Fremont Lookout Trail takes hikers to the Mount Fremont fire tower, which offers stunning and close views of Mt. Rainier. The trail is about 6 miles out and back and gains about 1,100 feet in elevation, making it a moderate to challenging hiking route.

Longmire Visitor Center

Stop by the Longmire Visitor Center in Mount Rainier National Park to learn about the park’s history, geology, wildlife, and environment.

Longmire is open year-round. It features a museum and wilderness information center, where you can chat with a ranger.

Camping Near Mt. Rainier

Cougar Rock Campground

Cougar Rock Campground is a 179-site campground southwest of Mount Rainier National Park near Paradise. The campground is open seasonally from late May to late September. The campground has drinking water, flushing toilets, fire grates, and tables. Cougar Rock requires reservations from late June to early September, and they are open six months in advance.

Ohanapecosh Campground

Ohanapecosh Campground is in the southeast part of the park and also has 179 sites. The campground is open from late May to late September and has drinking water, flushing toilets, fire grates, and picnic tables. Reservations are open six months in advance.

Big Creek Campground

Big Creek Campground is just outside Mount Rainier National Park in Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Ashford. Since the campground is in a forest, campsites are private.

The campsites have toilets, picnic tables, fire pits, and drinking water. Big Creek Campground opens in mid-May and closes in late September. Reservations are available six months in advance.

Best Restaurants Near Mt. Rainier

Paradise Inn Dining Room

52807 Paradise Rd E, Ashford, WA 98304

The Paradise Inn Dining Room is in Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. The restaurant offers many classic American comfort foods in the cozy, historic inn. Sit by the fireplace and enjoy the piano player while dining in the evening.

National Park Inn Dining Room

Washington 706, Ashford, WA 98304

Enjoy American Favorites at the National Park Inn in Mount Rainier National Park. Home-style meals make up the menu, and the National Park Inn Dining Room offers spectacular views of Mt. Rainier.

Rainier Basecamp Bar & Grill

30027 WA-706, Ashford, WA 98304

Enjoy fresh comfort food at Rainier Basecamp Bar & Grill, located in Ashford, just outside the park. Order mountain-fresh pizza, hot sandwiches, soups, and local craft beer while dining here.

Days 5 & 6 Mt. St. Helens

Mount St. Helens is often overlooked on a Cascade Volcanoes road trip, but still just as impressive and possibly more geologically fascinating. On May 18, 1980,

Mount St. Helens had one of North America’s major eruptive events ever recorded. Mount St. Helens still has volcanic activity, and many sites offer information about the massive eruption.

The drive from Mt. Rainier is about three hours. It takes about an hour and a half from Mount St. Helens to Escape Camper Vans in Portland.

Things to Do Near Mount St. Helens

Forest Learning Center

Mt. St. Helens Forest Learning Center is the spot to learn about the geology and impact of Mt. St. Helens. The Forest Learning Center has many fascinating exhibits covering forest recovery, conservation, reforestation, and forest resources.

Castle Lake Viewpoint

Castle Lake Viewpoint is right off Spirit Lake Highway, Route 504, near Mt. St. Helens.

The viewpoint is easily accessible and offers impressive views of Mt. St. Helens, Castle Lake, and the debris landslide deposit from the 1980 eruption. Parking here is plentiful.

Johnston Ridge Observatory

The Johnston Ridge Observatory is at the end of State Highway 504, and it’s in the heart of Mt. St. Helens’ 1980 blast zone. If you are interested in Cascade Volcano geology, you don’t want to miss it.

To see more, there’s also a short 0.5-mile trail to the crater, lava dome, landslide deposit, and pumice plain.

Ape Cave Interpretive Site

Ape Cave is a lava tube that extends over two miles and is the third longest lava tube in North America. Inside the cave is pitch black and cold, but it is worth the visit to explore and understand volcanic geology. Ape Cave requires timed-entry permits.

Camping Near Mount St. Helens

Seaquest State Park Campground

Seaquest State Park offers year-round camping in the forest near stunning panoramic views of Mt. St. Helens.

Seaquest State Park Campground has drinking water, fire pits, toilets, and picnic tables. We recommend getting a reservation during the summer months.

Lower Falls Campground

Lower Falls Campground is a beautiful campground on the Lewis River next to Lower Falls.

Campsites are among the trees and have picnic tables, toilets, fire grates, and drinking water. Lower Falls Campground is open from mid-May to late September.

Eagle Cliff Campground

Eagle Cliff Campground is a private campground on the southwest side of Mt. St. Helens. It has 15 campsites with drinking water, tables, bathrooms, and fire grates. Eagle Cliff Campground is open year-round and features a camp store.

Best Restaurants Near Mount St. Helens

Fire Mountain Grill

9440 Spirit Lake Hwy, Toutle, WA 98649

Fire Mountain Grill is a beloved local restaurant that serves homemade burgers, refreshing drinks, and more. The restaurant is open seasonally from late April to late October.

Lone Fir Cafe

16806 Lewis River Rd, Cougar, WA 98616

Lone Fir Cafe is in the Lone Fir Resort near Mt. St. Helens. It is known for its warm and cozy lodge, which features some of the tastiest meals, from chili and burgers to pizza and fire-roasted veggie soup.

Parkers Steakhouse & Brewery

1300 Mt. St. Helens Way NE, Castle Rock, WA 98611

Head to Parker’s Steakhouse & Brewery for comfort food with a large selection of chops, burgers, cocktails, and local beers. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of this charming, family-friendly restaurant.

Why Rent a Camper Van for a Cascade Volcanoes Loop?

An Escape Camper Van is the best way to experience a Portland road trip to the Cascade Volcanoes Loop to Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens.

A camper van has all the comforts you need to travel easily. Camper vans are mobile and compact and much easier to drive than an RV, which requires electric and sewer hookups.

You will also visit many locations on this Portland to Cascade Volcanoes trip, and a camper van makes packing up camp a breeze. With Escape Camper Vans, you can reserve extra accessories so your trip runs smoothly.

Reserve with Escape Campervans for your Cascade Volcanoes Road Trip

Now you have the complete Cascade Volcanoes road trip itinerary. Whether you’re interested in hiking, photography, enjoying wildflower blooms, or taking scenic drives. All you have to do is book your Escape Camper Van today to travel but with comfort in your home on wheels!

Explore the Cascade Volcanos

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