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How to Plan a Pacific Northwest Vacation

pacific northwest vacation planning

The Pacific Northwest is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions in the world. While visiting the Pacific Northwest is a must, planning a trip to this area of the continent involves various considerations. Learn the best ways to travel the Pacific Northwest, which attractions to see and how to map out your route so you can plan the best Pacific Northwest vacation possible.

Best Ways to Travel the Pacific Northwest

When it comes to gathering Pacific Northwest vacation ideas, there's no better way to take in all of the area's natural beauty than a road trip. By driving across the Pacific Northwest, you'll get to see stunning national parks and sweeping coastal scenes. Of course, embarking on such an extensive road trip means you'll want to rent a luxury off-road vehicle.

If you're looking for a high-end way to drive through the western part of the continent, consider these premium vehicles:

  • Mercedes-Benz G 550: The all-terrain abilities of this Mercedes model make it a reliable option for navigating rocky ridges, mud pits and small streams. This tall and boxy luxury vehicle is also perfect for fitting bikes in the back, allowing you to cycle through all the gorgeous trails the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
  • 2022 Lincoln Aviator: More than just a pretty vehicle, the 2022 Lincoln Aviator can accelerate and handle bumpy roads with ease. This mid-size SUV also offers ample cargo space and stout towing capacity, making it ideal for long road trips.
  • Lamborghini Urus: If you want to cruise through Pacific Northwest backroads, choose the Lamborghini Urus. While this powerful vehicle can reach top speeds quickly and turn crisply, it can also conquer deeply rutted and rocky roads. This spacious vehicle can also fit multiple people and their gear, no problem.
  • Tesla Model Y: If you're looking for a compact SUV for your road trip, the Tesla Model Y is the rental vehicle for you. This car features cutting-edge amenities and an exceptionally long electric driving range, making it perfect for cruising through the environmentally conscious Pacific Northwest.

Where to Start?

Ultimately, where you start your Pacific Northwest adventure is up to you. If you're lucky enough to have the time to explore the whole region, you can start at the top or bottom and work your way down or up. If you're a bit more pressed for time, choose to focus on one area or state in particular and fly in and out of the same airport.

Depending on which part of the Pacific Northwest you want to start in, here are the best places to fly into:

  • Washington: If you want to explore the west side of Washington, fly into the Seattle airport. To start your trip on the east side, fly into the Spokane airport. Either way, you'll be able to rent a car and be driving through majestic mountains and towering forests in no time.
  • Oregon: For an Oregon-based road trip, fly into Portland and rent a vehicle for the duration of your vacation.
  • Northern California: San Francisco and Oakland are both great cities to fly into and rent a car for starting your Pacific Northwest journey.
  • Wyoming: Start your Wyoming trip by flying into Jackson Hole. This cool town will serve as an excellent home base for your trip.
  • Montana: You can fly into Bozeman to check out the Hyalite Area and pop over to Yellowstone National Park or touch down in Kalispell to begin your road trip at Glacier National Park.
  • Idaho: Land in Boise and rent a vehicle to start driving around the state's southwest sights, or take Interstate 90 East to begin a North Idaho adventure.
  • Alberta, Canada: If you're interested in seeing Banff National Park, fly into Calgary, rent a car and start driving west toward the mountains.
  • British Columbia, Canada: To see the western portion of the province, fly into Vancouver. To see the eastern side, you may want to fly into either Calgary, Alberta or Spokane, Washington, then drive into British Columbia. For a Vancouver Island expedition, fly into Victoria or Vancouver and board the ferry to the island.

Places You Need to See

The Pacific Northwest is home to more than 18 national parks that will take your breath away. From mighty mountains and powerful pines to crystal clear lakes and icy glaciers, the Pacific Northwest is full of natural wonders. As a bonus, there are also several cities that serve as must-see cultural hubs throughout the region.

If you're starting to plan your trip, here are the top national parks and cities to include on your Pacific Northwest vacation itinerary:

  • Washington: While in Washington, make sure you explore the North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park. These Washington parks offer fun trails and stunning mountain views. For a more urban playground, spend some time exploring Seattle.
  • Oregon: In Oregon, check out Crater Lake National Park for an unbelievable waterside adventure. You'll also want to walk around Portland to get a taste of the city's unique culture.
  • Northern California: Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park and Redwood National Park to witness two forces of nature that will leave you in awe. After admiring the parks, hang out in San Francisco to check out the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy the bay and grab a delicious dinner.
  • Wyoming: You can't miss Yellowstone National Park with all its geysers and colorful hot springs. You'll also enjoy Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole while in Wyoming.
  • Montana: Montana's top attraction is Glacier National Park. Full of glacier-carved peaks and pristine waters, this natural masterpiece is something everyone should get to behold at least once in their life.
  • Idaho: In Southeast Idaho, you'll discover Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, which features ancient lava flows and cinder cones. Travel to the north to see more mountains and lakes and participate in some extreme sports.
  • Alberta: Alberta is home to Banff National Park, a sweeping expanse of mountainous terrain that features numerous glaciers and ice fields. Banff also boasts gorgeous alpine landscapes and dense coniferous forests. If you visit at the right time, you'll get to glimpse the northern lights, too.
  • British Columbia: This Canadian province is full of national parks, including Kootenay National Park, Yoho National Park, Pacific Rim National Park and Glacier National Park of Canada. Choose your parks depending on whether you're chasing waterfalls, hot springs, mountain views, glaciers, kayak opportunities, rainforest trails or wildlife sightings.

Where to End?

Where you end your Pacific Northwest road trip depends on how much time you have and how many miles you want to log. Before booking a flight, map out your road trip route to ensure you have enough days allotted for each stop, along with enough rest time between stretches of driving.

Try using Google My Maps to plan your route by dropping points of interest on the map and seeing which places are near and far from each other. Once you have this visual, it will be easier to add or cross areas off of your itinerary as necessary. As you plan your route, make sure you take into account details like where you'll stay each night, where park entrances are and how long you'll be in the car each day.

Depending on how many vacation days you have to work with, you can traverse the entire length of the region or do a smaller loop. Even if you're planning a shorter trip, you can still make your route a straight line and fly out of a different airport than the one you arrived at. Essentially, you can end your Pacific Northwest trip wherever you'd like — just make sure you can return your rental vehicle at a different location.

start your pacific northwest vacation

Start Your Adventure With a Quote From GrandView Aviation

If you're ready to trek across the Pacific Northwest, trust GrandView Aviation to get you there. GrandView Aviation provides safe, efficient and reliable private charter flights to help you arrive at your destination promptly. When you fly with GrandView Aviation, you'll enjoy phenomenal perks like luxury seating, enhanced safety measures, free Wi-Fi, curated catering and other benefits to make your travels comfortable and convenient.

Begin planning your Pacific Northwest trip by getting your quote from GrandView Aviation today.



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