Driving Through the Pacific Northwest

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

I love nothing more than a good adventure, especially if it involves capturing some great images along the way. When I had the time open to explore the Pacific Northwest, I thought it would be a great chance to take my two adventure dogs and hit the road to explore a unique landscape I had yet to see.

This was definitely a wildlife, landscape, and nature journey. If you want to plan a trip into a city, check out these perfect 3-day itineraries to Seattle.


On a traffic-loaded Los Angeles Wednesday night, my two dogs and I got way, way out of town and drove just over 830 miles up to the rocky coastline of Bandon, Oregon. While driving through the night involved many stops, a lot of podcast episodes (thanks Last Podcast on the Left), and some intense moments driving through freshly snowed mountains, it was well worth it to arrive just in time for Golden Hour.

The jagged coastline of Bandon is gorgeous, full of sea stacks, lush grass, and unique landscapes shaped by the tumultuous waves that come bounding in. From Bandon, we drove up the coast for about two hours before pulling off again for an opportunity to see some incredible rock formations that make the surrounding landscape seem to breathe and roar with life. Locating spots like Thor's Well and Spouting Horn can be difficult, but the best way to find them is to to park across the road from the Cape Perpetua Visitor's Center at a little turnout near Cook's Chasm.

Our Oregon adventure continued up the coast to Newport's Historic Bayfront to see some sea lions. Pro-tip: you'll hear them before you see them...they are very loud and do a good job at making their presence known. There was an attraction that I was almost drawn to called Sea Lion's Cave down near Bandon, but I thought I'd have just as good of luck going the free route by seeing them on the Bayfront, and I wasn't disappointed. Sea lions were lounging everywhere and the Bayfront was a great place to take a walk and enjoy the beautiful morning.

Finally, we stopped our driving marathon and headed over to West Linn, Oregon to crash. Again, the scenery did not disappoint.


Our next destination was Anacortes, Washington, but first we took a detour up to Whatcom Falls near the US/Canada border. Driving through the vastness of the Washington forests during March was a silent dream. Bald eagles soared overhead or took residence on treetops along the highway, searching for mice. The foliage was lush from recent rain, and snow still covered the ground in certain mountainous areas. It was a surreal setting when we finally got to the falls.

The next morning, I embarked on a whale watching adventure with Maya's Legacy Whale Watching tour. I chose their tour because their boat is smaller, they only take up to 12 people, and the cost is right on par with the rest of the tours in the area. I was more than impressed by their crew and appreciated their attention to detail, their immeasurable knowledge of both the whales and the location, and their general great demeanor.

Before we left the harbor, we were told that every whale watching experience was different, and to only expect about a 60% chance of seeing orcas. I was steadfast in my belief that we would see at least a glimpse of an orca, and fortunately, I was right. Only two minutes into the trip, we were alongside a family of local orcas known as the T124A's, and they had a baby in tow, as well.

After about an hour with the family, we were informed of another sighting, and we made our way out to another resident group, the T123's. Here was another small group with a baby, and accompanying them was a large male known as Stanley, with his gigantic dorsal fin.

Spending time watching orcas just exist in the wild was an experience I won't forget. They're such gorgeous creatures and their intelligence, communication abilities, and cunning nature really does make them an awe-inspiring force to be around.

Back to California

The dogs and I made our way back to Southern California, but not before making one last adventure stop to round out our journey. The Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge hosts the largest concentration of bald eagles in the lower 48 states from December - March, and having never seen a bald eagle in the wild before, this was another chance I did not want to pass up. If you're in the area (the California/Oregon border) during this time of year, I highly recommend taking the Auto Tour Route, which you can Google. It will not disappoint you if you love birds!

It's also one of the most gorgeous settings I've ever been in, with the gigantic Mt. Shasta sitting neatly in the background.

Coming back into the city after a 5-day journey was puzzling. It was hard to believe all that I had seen in such a short amount of time, and the sounds of the whales breathing, the eagles screeching, and the water churning are still bouncing in my head fondly.

I hope you can take this roadmap, expand upon it, and make an adventure of your own with it.

The adventure dogs:

About CRUSOE: CRUSOE has a network of real travelers who write perfect 3-day itineraries to every city in the world. They save you hundreds of hours of research by revealing their hidden gems in these extremely-detailed itineraries. Morning, afternoon, evening; breakfast, lunch, and dinner — everything is planned out on paper so you can explore more real culture in this world.

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