Road Trip

Adventures for a Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

A favorite scenic driving route for many Americans, the Pacific Coast Highway meanders along the rugged coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California, forging a path to some of the West Coast's wildest, most beautiful sites.

This alternately sun-soaked and fog-enshrouded trip takes you more than 1,000 miles from Washington's Olympic National Park to Southern California's César E. Chávez National Monument.

Olympic National Park

Washington
Start Here: 0 miles, 0 hours

Olympic National Park encompasses nearly one million acres, 95 percent of these designated as wilderness, with lush rainforest valleys that offer some of the most peaceful and secluded hiking trails in the country. If you have time to spend the night, you'll also find dozens of campgrounds that range from primitive to modern. Summer is the least rainy season at Olympic, but you should still be prepared for a light shower or two.

Things to Do

  • Birdwatching
  • Arts & Culture
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Children's Programs

Oregon Caves National Monument

Oregon
Stop No 2: 538 miles, 11 hours

Despite its small size, 480-acre Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is rich in diversity. The landscape includes old-growth coniferous forest, but for many, the real attraction lies underground. Don't leave without exploring the parks’ marble caves, created over hundreds of thousands of years by the power of rainwater from the forest above. Rain is rare during the summer months, and you can expect comfortable temperatures from the mid-60s to the mid-80s.

Things to Do

  • Birdwatching
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Caving
  • Children's Programs

Redwood National Park

California
Stop No. 3: 571 miles, 12.5 hours

Redwood National Park and neighboring Redwood State Park are home not only to the tallest trees on earth, but also to 40 miles of pristine coastline and vast grasslands that support Roosevelt elk and black-tailed deer. The weather in summer is usually rain-free, but you can expect a thick veil of fog to rise up along the coast on any given morning.

Things to Do

  • Biking
  • Arts & Culture
  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Children's Programs
  • Hiking

Point Reyes National Seashore

California
Stop No. 4: 870 miles, 19 hours

The rugged coast that now makes up Point Reyes National Seashore claimed more than its share of shipwrecks before lighthouses were erected along the shore in the late 1800s. Today, visitors come for the striking scenery, wildlife-viewing opportunities, and solitude. The inland portion of the park is usually warm and dry in summer, but coastal areas can be up to 20 degrees cooler with heavy fogs at any time of day.

Things to Do

  • Camping
  • Biking
  • Children's Programs
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

California
Stop No. 5: 908 miles, 20.5 hours

The history of Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses everything from Native American culture through the California gold rush to the rise of urban San Francisco. The recreation area includes a vast collection of historic buildings, military installations, and other structures, some dating back to the 1700s, along with a view that offers a striking contrast between urban and rural landscapes. The summer climate is dry, almost to the point of being drought-like at times.

Things to Do

  • Biking
  • Arts & Culture
  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Children's Programs
  • Fishing

Pinnacles National Park

California
Stop No. 6: 1,066 miles, 23.5 hours

East of the rich Salinas Valley lies the spectacular and unique landscape of Pinnacles National Park. Hiking and rock climbing are popular among the park's rugged valleys and towering rock formations, though the hot, dry summer climate makes it essential that hikers carry plenty of water.

Things to Do

  • Camping
  • Birdwatching
  • Caving
  • Children's Programs
  • Climbing
  • Hiking

César E. Chávez National Monument

California
Stop No. 7: 1,305 miles, 28 hours

Nestled within the property known as Our Lady Queen of Peace (Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz), César E. Chávez National Monument marks the home and burial site of César E. Chávez, arguably the most important Latino leader in the U.S. during the 20th century. Visitors may tour the visitor center and the memorial garden where Chávez is buried.

Things to Do

  • Arts & Culture
  • Children's Programs
  • Historical
  • Shopping
  • Tours

The Pacific Coast Highway offers access to some of the most exciting national parks on the West Coast. 

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