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A woman enjoying the views of the Oregon coast

Also referred to as Cascadia, the Pacific Northwest is a breathtaking region in Northwestern North America.

This part of the world receives A LOT of rainfall and because of that, it is comprised of beautiful nature such as snow-covered mountain ranges, rocky Pacific coastline, sky-high redwood tree forests, peaceful rivers, breathtaking waterfalls and a lot of greenery.

Both Northern California and Oregon are two gorgeous areas to see in the United States and I truly fell in love with all of its beauty through a memorable road trip.

Three women having a drink in Lake Tahoe, California

During July 2020, I did a girls’ trip, which just so happened to be a fun mini road trip in Northern California and Oregon.

We started our adventure in Sacramento, California and then ended in Portland, Oregon. Along the way, we stopped and spent three days in Lake Tahoe on both the California and Nevada sides and then made our way to Lassen Volcanic National Park and Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California.

From the Redwoods, we drove north along the coast of Oregon before stopping in Eugene and checking out the Portland area. This amazing and memorable Pacific Northwest road trip was everything I dreamt it would be and more!

A woman wandering through the Redwoods Forest in Northern California

The Pacific Northwest consists of Oregon, Washington and Idaho along with parts of Northern California, Montana and Wyoming. Canada’s British Columbia is also part of this region along with areas of the Yukon.

If you are looking to see the best of Northern California and Oregon, I recommend following along this amazing road trip itinerary that features everything you could see in 8 days.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


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The perfect road trip in Oregon and California

The Best Northern California and Oregon Road Trip

A woman walking the beach on a Northern California and Oregon road trip

Day 1: Sacramento to Tahoe

A woman having fun on a Northern California and Oregon Road Trip

Arrive In: Sacramento, CA

Where to Stay: Lake Tahoe, CA

Tahoe Hotel Recommendation: Granlibakken Tahoe in Tahoe City, CA

Where to Eat:

Breakfast in SacramentoMilk Monkey

Lunch in SacramentoSelland’s Market Café

Dinner in TruckeeFiftyFifty Brewing Co.

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Over 2 Hours

Starting in Sacramento, California:
Old Town Sacramento

Unless you already have your own vehicle with you, I recommend booking your flights into Sacramento International Airport. The reason why I am telling you to fly into Sacramento is because it is more affordable than flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which is closer to Lake Tahoe.

(Click here if you are planning to road trip around the United States and want to rent an RV.)

Also, from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, there are quite a few things you could enjoy along the way.

Roses in Sacramento

If you arrive into Sacramento early, I highly recommend checking out the city.

It is the state of California’s capital, so you could take a tour through the Capitol itself; wander around Old Town; check out a brewery, restaurant or coffee shop and even walk through the State Capitol Park that features the World Peace Rose Garden.

Check out the Emerald Pools in Tahoe National Forest:
A woman hiking Emerald Pools in Tahoe National Forest

On your way from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, I recommend discovering the Emerald Pools in Tahoe National Forest.

We saw the Emerald Pools early in the morning, on our last day in Tahoe, but I personally believe it is easier to see them on your first day from Sacramento, since it is on the way.

Emerald Pools in Northern California

When you first enter Tahoe National Forest to see the Emerald Pools, you will need to drive a way before reaching a small parking lot.

The Emerald Pools are at the base of where the Yuba River in California flows. The water is a gorgeous emerald color and I highly recommend going swimming in them on a hot day.

There are a range of large and small pools on this specific hike and you will need to climb over rocks and gorges to get to the hidden gems. (Please note that it is free to see the Emerald Pools.)

Dinner in Truckee, California:
Dinner in Truckee, California

Another cool spot to check out from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe is the charming western town of Truckee, California.

What was once a historic logging town is now a western style artistic hub that has lovely restaurants, boutique shopping, local art galleries and nature spots.

During our own road trip, we got dinner in Truckee on the first night and fell in love with how quaint the town was and at night, the entire downtown area was lit up in Christmas lights!

The drive from Truckee to Granlibakken Tahoe in Tahoe City (where we stayed in Lake Tahoe) is around 20 minutes.

Day 2: Hiking in Lake Tahoe

A woman hiking in Lake Tahoe, California
Where to Eat in Lake Tahoe:

BreakfastDriftwood Café, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Lunch – I recommend going to the grocery store and packing a lunch or snack to go.

DinnerHacienda Del Lago, Tahoe City, CA

Beautiful views in Northern California

During your time in Lake Tahoe, I recommend doing one of the amazing hikes in the area.

Some of my favorites are the Eagle Falls Hike to Emerald Lake and the Rubicon Trail, if you’re looking for a longer hike, along with Emerald Bay State Park and the Stateline Trailhead, if you’re looking for a shorter hike.

Eagle Falls to Emerald Lake Hike:
A woman hiking Eagle Falls trail to Emerald Lake in Tahoe, California

The Eagle Falls hike to Emerald Lake is a 3.6-mile round trip hike that will take you over a bridge with waterfalls, through woodland paths and up to Emerald Lake, which is absolutely gorgeous!

You could go swimming in Emerald Lake and there are also natural pools along the trail. It is an easy-to-moderate hike and it is also good for families!

The Rubicon Trail:
A woman enjoying views of Lake Tahoe from the Rubicon Trail

The Rubicon Trail is a 16.4-mile moderate hike that starts in D.L. Bliss State Park and ends at Emerald Bay State Park.

During this hike, you will walk along an edge that has stunning views of the lake and then head into deep forests. The Rubicon Trail also has an elevation gain of 2,306 feet.

Even though the Rubicon Trail is a long hike, you could still hike parts of it if you don’t have enough time! Please note that if you drive to D.L Bliss State Park or Emerald Bay State Park, you will need to pay $10 USD.

Emerald Bay State Park:
A woman enjoying views of Emerald Bay State Park in Tahoe, California

Emerald Bay is definitely a must see during your time in Lake Tahoe. It is considered a crown jewel that is an oasis of beautiful Emerald green water, offers a stunning mountain backdrop and features a serene ambiance.

To get to Emerald Bay, you will need to do a short, one-mile hike down to the bay. The hike down is fairly easy, but pretty strenuous as you hike back up.

Since Emerald Bay is a State Park, you will need to pay $10 USD to park your car there.

North Lake Tahoe Trail Head for Stateline Lookout:
A woman having fun on a hiking trail in North Lake Tahoe

Another great short hike I recommend is the North Lake Tahoe Trail Head for Stateline Lookout.

It is small uphill hike where you could walk from Nevada into California and vice versa. The views at the lookout are beautiful!

Day 3: Swimming in Lake Tahoe

A woman enjoying the water at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
Where to Eat in Lake Tahoe:

BreakfastFire Sign Café, Tahoe City, CA

Lunch – I recommend going to the grocery store and packing a lunch or snack to go.

DinnerRiva Grill, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park:
A woman enjoying Lake Tahoe during a Northern California and Oregon Road Trip

During a hot summer day in Lake Tahoe, there is nothing more refreshing than cooling off in the lake.

On the eastern shores of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park are gorgeous white sand beaches, crystal-clear water and large boulders that allow for swimming and water sports on a hot day during the summer.

Sand Harbor is the perfect place to enjoy a day on the water and what is awesome about this side of the lake is that there are private swimming areas all along the shore. I highly recommend renting kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, etc. at Sand Harbor Rentals.

A woman enjoying the sun in Lake Tahoe

In addition, you could also enjoy other fun action water sports on Lake Tahoe such as jet skiing, parasailing, boating, windsurfing, wake boarding, knee boarding, water tubing, etc. You could also go fishing on the lake as well!

Overall, you will LOVE Lake Tahoe and its definitely a highlight during a Northern California and Oregon road trip.

Day 4: Lake Tahoe to Lassen Volcanic National Park to Redding, CA

Beautiful views in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California

Travel From: Lake Tahoe

Travel To: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Where to Stay: Redding, CA

Redding Hotel Recommendation: Best Western Plus Twin View Inn & Suites, Redding, CA

Where to Eat:

Breakfast/Lunch – I recommend picking something up on the road. There are plenty of restaurants and food stores along the way during the drive from Lake Tahoe to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We stopped at a 7-Eleven in Tahoe and picked up something quick.

Dinner in ReddingLa Cocina De Chuy, Redding, CA

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Around 4.5 Hours

Lassen Volcanic National Park:
Beautiful tree views in Lassen Volcanic National Park

A little less than a 3-hour drive North of Lake Tahoe is Lassen Volcanic National Park.

It is known as one of the most underrated National Parks in the United States and it should totally be on your Northern California and Oregon road trip itinerary.

Views of Lassen Volcanic National Park on a Northern California and Oregon road trip

Overall, it will cost $30 USD per vehicle to enter into Lassen Volcanic National Park. (It is $5 cheaper than other big National Parks.)

I recommend entering Lassen by the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and making your way into the park from there.

Yes, this wonderful National Park has volcanoes in it and you could also find steaming fumaroles, gorgeous meadows with stunning wildflowers that make you feel like you’re in The Sound of Music, serene lakes and enchanting woodland trailheads.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend downloading the AllTrails app that will help you find the perfect curated trailhead without getting lost! I always use AllTrails when I go to National Parks or do any local hike. It makes adventuring the great outdoors so easy! (Please make sure you download the app and map out your hike when you have WiFi or cell service. The app will still work when you have no service, but it cannot download anything new.)

Sulphur Works in Lassen Volcanic National Park

When you first arrive, pick up a park map at the visitor’s center and start driving on Route 89, which is Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. (Please note that this road is closed during the winter months.)

From the visitor’s center, make your way to Sulphur Works, which is a colorful former sulphur mine. There are signs all along the scenic byway, but you will definitely know when you’re at Sulphur Works because it will smell like rotten eggs. There will be a hiking path that you could walk up and see the fumaroles and bubbling mud pots. It is such a cool site!

If you plan to do the entire hike at Sulphur Works, it is 1.1 miles (one way).

A woman enjoying lake views in Lassen Volcanic National Park

After walking around Sulphur Works, hop back in your car and enjoy the drive along the scenic byway. (I am recommending this route based off of what we did.)

There are gorgeous views of the mountains, valleys and Lassen Peak, which is the iconic volcano in the park. Along the way, make a pit stop at both Emerald Lake and Lake Helen.

I recommend parking your car and doing the Bumpass Trailhead hike to see Bumpass Hell, which is the largest hydrothermal area in Lassen Volcanic Park. This is definitely a must-see when you visit and it is a 1.3-mile hike (one way).

Cold Boiling Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park

From Bumpass Trailhead, drive up to the highest point on Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, which is 8,512 feet above sea level.

If you have time, you could hike 2.5 miles up to Lassen Peak (one way), which is 10,457 feet above sea level.

Next, head over to Upper Meadow and park your car at the Kings Creek Picnic Area and take a half mile hike to Cold Boiling Lake, which are cool boiling springs in a meadow. You could also continue on that same trailhead and eventually reach Bumpass Hell that way too.

(There are so many great hiking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park, I wish I had more time to do them all. The Pacific Crest Trail, which is famous from the Cheryl Strayed book and movie Wild, also goes through Lassen. In addition, you could find great campsites within the park.) Click here for Lassen Volcanic National Park’s map.

Beautiful Views in Lassen Park, California

As you continue through Lassen Volcanic National Park via the byway, you will drive through an area of dead trees. California in general unfortunately gets a lot of wildfires, but this part of the state gets them the worst. It was pretty sad seeing all burnt nature.

If you go camping anywhere in the world, please be mindful and report any unattended fires, extinguish fire pits, do not smoke, be extra cautious when using flammable liquids, refrain from using fireworks and check the local forecast where you plan to camp, go hiking, etc.

A woman enjoying the beautiful views at Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park

The last spot we visited in Lassen Volcanic National Park before moving on was Manzanita Lake.

In my opinion, it is the most beautiful spot to see Lassen Peak and there are gorgeous reflections on the water. There is a flat trail along Manzanita Lake that you could walk around and the campground there is the largest in the park. You could also exit the park right from there.

Chicken fajitas in Redding, California

It will take around 45 minutes to get from Lassen Volcanic Park to Redding. I will admit that the actual downtown area of Redding was a little sketchy, so that is why I recommend staying at a hotel in the Twin View Subdivision.

A restaurant that you MUST go to in downtown Redding is La Cocina De Chuy. It is an authentic Mexican restaurant that offers delicious dishes. My chicken fajitas dish hit the spot!

Day 5: Redding to Redwoods National and State Parks

A woman wandering through the Redwoods in Northern California

Travel From: Redding, CA

Travel To: Redwood National and State Parks

Where to Stay: Crescent City, CA

Crescent City Hotel Recommendation: Best Western Plus Northwoods Inn, Crescent City, CA

Where to Eat:

Breakfast/Lunch – I recommend picking something up on the road. The ride from Redding to Redwoods is more remote, so you will not come across as many restaurants along the way. We grabbed breakfast at a Starbucks in Redding and then stopped for snacks at a convenient store in a small town that we drove through along the way.

Dinner in ReddingSeaQuake Brewing, Crescent City, CA

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Around 4.5 Hours

Redwood National and State Parks:
The beautiful Redwood Forest

The drive from Redding to the Redwoods is anywhere from 3.5 to over 4 hours, depending on where you go within the Redwood Forest. (We also hit traffic along the way.)

The Redwoods are both a State and National Park and there are multiple entrances to the park. (It is totally a place you have to visit on your Northern California and Oregon road trip.)

We put in Redwood State Park into the GPS and it took us from Route 299, to coastal Route 101 and then onto Bald Hills Road, which led us into the park. You do not have to pay to get into the Redwoods!

A woman walking through the Redwoods in California

Please note that as you drive inland to the coast in Northern California, there will be a significant decrease in the temperature outside. When we finally saw the Pacific Ocean and then drove into the Redwoods, the temperature went down to 54 degrees Fahrenheit from the low 80s (mind you, it was the middle of July when we visited).

Also, Northwestern California is also where Bigfoot dwells in the wilderness according to North American folklore. As you drive around the local small towns, you will see restaurants and cafés named after Bigfoot, statues that you could buy of Bigfoot and gift stores that sell apparel and merchandise that have Bigfoot on them!

If you are unaware of what Bigfoot is, it is a hairy, ape-like creature who wanders through the Redwood Forest and leaves behind massive footprints. A lot of people have claimed they’ve seen Bigfoot faintly in the woods and there is even an American television series on Animal Planet called Finding Bigfoot that follows four researchers who investigate potential evidence of the creature.

Redwood National and State Parks

Unfortunately, we weren’t the lucky ones to find Bigfoot during our time at Redwood National and State Parks, but we did see some enchanting nature!

The Redwood National and State Parks are home to the tallest trees on Earth and it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as an International Biosphere Reserve.

Most of the redwood trees are over 370 feet tall and they are absolutely fascinating to see in person. Other beautiful nature that you’ll see in Redwood National and State Parks are clovers, ferns, lupins, wildflowers, rhododendron and more.

You could also find a lot of wildlife such as different bird species, bears, deer, elk, reptiles, fish and more.

The tallest trees on Earth

There are a plethora of different things to see at Redwood National and State Parks.

After entering the park, we first saw Lady Bird Johnson Grove where we walked over a bridge and into a forest featuring towering trees and shrubs.

From there, we drove to Redwood Creek Overlook, which is located at 2,000 feet above sea level and you could catch distant views of the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. (Overall, Redwood National and State Parks range from sea level to over 3,100 feet above that.)

As we drove through the park, we went through heavy clouds and then into areas where sun beams magically shone through deep forests. It was one of the most beautiful sights!

In addition, the temperature outside ranged from 50-something to 80-something as we made our way throughout the park.

Beautiful Redwood trees in Redwood National and State Parks

One of the best areas to see the redwood trees in the park is by hiking the Tall Trees Grove.

As you drive beyond the Redwood Creek Overlook, there will be a sign for the Tall Trees Grove trail. You will need to drive down a gravel road for about 10 minutes before you reach the parking lot for Tall Trees Grove and the start of the trail.

Overall, the Tall Trees Grove trail is around a 4-mile roundtrip moderate hike with a 1,600 feet elevation change. It is here where you will see the most beautiful redwood trees that lead to the Redwood Creek.

I loved feeling so small next to these big trees! I even enjoyed looking into the big and dark hollows. You could fit an entire room in there!

A woman standing outside a tree hollow in the Redwoods

After your awesome hike through Tall Trees Grove, I recommend getting back in your car and driving to Gold Bluffs Beach where you could check out Fern Canyon in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Fern Canyon is an epic narrow canyon where walls are covered in forest green ferns and mosses and it is absolutely breathtaking! The canyon can be reached by a moderate 5-mile hike on the James Irvine Trail, which starts at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor Center.

A New England clam chowder in a bread bowl

Later in the day, we drove around 40 minutes to Crescent City where we spent the night at the Best Western there. We also grabbed dinner at SeaQuake Brewery, which has a lot of awesome local craft beers.

It was a cold evening, so I enjoyed a delicious New England clam chowder in a toasty bread bowl. It was perfect! Just like Redding, Crescent City is also on the sketchy side, so we just grabbed dinner and hung out at the hotel.

Day 6: Crescent City through the Oregon Coast to Eugene

A woman walking the trail at Natural Bridges in Oregon

Travel From: Crescent City, CA

Travel To: Oregon Coast to Eugene, OR

Where to Stay: Eugene, OR

Eugene Hotel Recommendation: Home2 Suites by Hilton Eugene Downtown

Where to Eat:

Breakfast – We started our day by grabbing Starbucks in Crescent City, CA.

Lunch – As you drive along the Oregon Coast, you will drive past seafood restaurants and cafés along with chain restaurants. I honestly wished I would’ve found a great place for a lobster roll, but unfortunately, they aren’t as common as they are on the East Coast, so we ended up eating Subway sandwiches in Florence, OR last minute.

DinnerSabai Café & Bar, Eugene, OR

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Around 5.5 Hours

Natural Bridges, Oregon Coast:
Natural Bridges in Oregon

After spending the night in Crescent City, we drove 45 minutes through the state border into Oregon.

Our first stop was to Natural Bridges along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The coast in the Pacific Northwest is absolutely gorgeous and it is a must visit during a Northern California and Oregon road trip.

Located along Highway 101 that goes from Northern Washington to Southern California and vice versa, Natural Bridges is one of the best places to see the natural sea arches in the Pacific Ocean. Natural Bridges features steep cliffs, Secret Beach, mystical nature and nesting shorebirds.

Secret Beach at Natural Bridges in Oregon

The best time to visit Natural Bridges is in the morning and there is a scenic overlook that isn’t too far from the parking lot. You could also do a hike that leads down to the arches and even walk over some of them.

Now, I highly recommend that you have the proper hiking shoes and gear if you decide to do this hike. It’s short, but strenuous! I personally didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get down to the viewing points.

The trail is a narrow and steep dirt path that is filled with poison ivy. Thankfully, no one got hurt, but I honestly didn’t enjoy hiking down there! The hike over the arches is even more narrow and honestly, very dangerous, so I didn’t walk over them.

Honestly, the photo wouldn’t have been worth it. (Please never let a photo opportunity put your life in danger!) Natural Bridges is absolutely gorgeous and it was nice to see the Secret Beach, but I would’ve been perfectly okay just enjoying the views from the overlook that is closest to the parking lot.

Bandon and Coos Bay, Oregon:
A woman walking Bandon Beach in Oregon

As we made our way north along the coast of Oregon, we stopped in beautiful Bandon before making our way to Coos Bay.

Just like other beaches in Oregon, Bandon features fascinating rock formations in both the ocean and on the shore along with sea caves, tide pools and wildlife. Bandon is located an hour and 20 minutes north from Natural Bridges and it takes another half hour to get to Coos Bay.

A woman enjoying Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast

One of the most breathtaking places to visit along the Oregon coast on a road trip from Northern California is Coos Bay.

It is where the Coos Rivers enters the Coos Bay on the Pacific Ocean. This area is filled with picturesque state parks, recreational areas and stunning beaches.

The best places to visit around Coos Bay are Cape Arago State Park and Lighthouse, Sunset Bay State Park, Shore Acres State Park and the Oregon Sand Dunes Recreational Area. No matter where you go, there will be breathtaking views all over and you could also see seals in this area!

In addition, Coos Bay has a lot of great seafood restaurants and cafés.

Sweet Creek Falls, Oregon:
A woman admiring Sweet Creek Falls in Oregon

We were originally supposed to visit Thor’s Well from Coos Bay. Thor’s Well is a cool bottomless sinkhole that is considered a natural wonder. It is great to see, but it was a bit out of our way from Eugene (where we were heading) and there isn’t much else around it.

Instead, we wanted to do a hike and found out about Sweet Creek Falls, which was an hour and a half north east from Coos Bay and on the way to Eugene. I am so happy we went to Sweet Creek Falls because it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to! Seriously, it was heaven on Earth.

Sweet Creek Falls in Oregon

Overall, Sweet Creek Falls trail is an easy, 2.2-mile round trip hike where you could see breathtaking falls along the Coast Range Gorge.

Sweet Creek Falls is very green and lush. There is moss everywhere, the falls are absolutely stunning and sky-high trees surround the trail. I couldn’t recommend this great and easy hike more if you are on a road trip from Northern California into Oregon.

(Sweet Creek Falls is around an hour and 15 minutes west from Eugene.)

Eugene, Oregon:
Thai food from Eugene, Oregon

Eugene is a city situated on the Willamette River in Central Oregon that is located a little over 1.5 hours south of Portland. A Northern California and Oregon road trip should include Eugene and it is the perfect place to spend a night.

We arrived in Eugene in the evening and got a delicious Thai dinner at Sabai Café and Bar. This great Thai restaurant is located in Eugene’s Oakway Center, which features high-end restaurants, luxury fitness studios and high-fashion stores. I highly recommend eating in this shopping center if you plan to visit Eugene.

In addition to Thai, you could find Mexican, Italian, Modern Latin, Vegan/Vegetarian, Chinese and American restaurants.

Eugene food carts

Other things to do in Eugene is visit the Oregon Air and Space Museum, University of Oregon, Owen Rose Garden, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and more. Eugene also has awesome food carts.

Day 7: Eugene to Mount Hood to Portland

A woman hiking Tamanawas Falls in Oregon

Travel From: Eugene, OR

Travel To: Mount Hood to Portland, OR

Where to Stay: Portland, OR

Portland Hotel Recommendation: Inn at Northrup Station

Where to Eat:

BreakfastOff the Waffle, Eugene, OR

Lunch – I recommend going to the grocery store and picking up snacks or making a sandwich for lunch if you plan to hike in Mount Hood like we did. (We also stopped at Dairy Queen after our hike since there were so many of them in the Mount Hood area.)

DinnerSansai Fresh Japanese Grill, Portland, OR

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Around 5 Hours

Off the Waffle breakfast in Eugene, Oregon

Since Eugene has a great foodie scene, we decided to go to a sit-down place for breakfast before our fun filled day of hiking in Mount Hood National Forest.

We got breakfast at Off the Waffle, which is a great breakfast spot that offers Liege waffles with all different toppings. I got The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy waffle that came with one sunny side up organic farm-fresh egg with bacon and Vermont maple syrup. It was incredible!

Mount Hood National Forest – Tamanawas Falls:
Tamanawas Falls at Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon

Mount Hood National Forest features the tallest mountain in Oregon and it is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Mountains.

It took us 3 hours to drive from Eugene to the start of the Tamanawas Falls trailhead in Mount Hood, which is the hike we did in the National Forest. It is a 3.3-mile round-trip moderate hike that leads to a gorgeous waterfall. We LOVED this hike and it was absolutely breathtaking!

Mount Hood in Oregon

Other things you could do between Eugene and Portland are visit the vineyards and do a tasting in the Willamette Valley Wine Region, walk through the lavender fields at Hood River Lavender Farms and see Multnomah Falls.

Portland, Oregon:
Sushi from Portland, Oregon

After arriving in Portland and checking into the Inn at Northrup Station in the Northwest District of the city, we got sushi at Sansai Fresh Japanese Grill. It was so delicious!

Overall, this entire area features art galleries, boutique shopping, amazing restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, theaters, museums and more!

Day 8: Explore Portland, Oregon

A woman in front of the Portland Stag Sign
Where to Eat in Portland:

BreakfastPine State Biscuits

Lunch/DrinksBreakside Brewery

DinnerSerratto Restaurant and Bar

A woman at Cathedral Park in Portland, Oregon

Since we only had one full day in Portland, we packed a lot in.

Some of the best things to do in Portland is walk through the Washington Park Rose Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden; wander through Cathedral Park; go on a hike in Forest Park; see the White Stag Sign; pick up a few new reads at Powell City of Books in downtown; check out the Portland Food Carts and much more!

We flew home the next day from Portland International Airport.


A woman exploring the Redwoods on a Northern California and Oregon road trip

I hope you all enjoyed reading about the best Northern California and Oregon road trip itinerary. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]

Make sure to pin this post if you find it useful!

Northern California and Oregon Road Trip

Basic Facts of the United States:

Currency: United States Dollar, Capital: Washington D.C., CA State Capital: Sacramento, OR State Capital: Salem, CA & OR Time Zones: Both are Pacific Standard Time

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*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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40 Comments

  1. Kim Deer on August 18, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Very resourceful guide for a great northwest road trip through beautiful northern CA and OR. So many gorgeous places to hike ~ the photos of Lake Tahoe are breathtaking ~ the color of the water is amazing and love those beautiful tall redwoods ~ looks like a fun filled adventurous trip! You gals looked like you had an amazing time ~ awesome blog ~ love you, mom xoxo 🌲🏞🏃‍♀️👍👌🤎

    • Taylor Deer on August 19, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Thank you mom! It is a beautiful part of our country. Love you too! xoxo

  2. Katie on August 19, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Taylor this guide is amazing! I can’t wait to visit Lake Tahoe – we were meant to go a few years ago from San Fran but decided against it and now I am having big regrets!

    • Taylor Deer on August 19, 2020 at 9:22 am

      Thank you Katie and yes, you totally have to go back and stay a few days in Tahoe! 🙂 It now gives you a reason to go back.

  3. Rebecca on August 19, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    So many great waterfalls! A PNW road trip is a must for my future. I didn’t know about Eugene so will need to look into it.

    • Taylor Deer on August 19, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      Yes, you totally have to go! It is so beautiful there. 🙂

  4. Lisa on October 9, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    Girl, I don’t know what I’m more envious of… this amazing road trip or your beautiful blonde curls!!! haha 🙂 definitely inspiring me to check out western america sooner rather than later. As an east coast girl, I don’t make it out there too often!

    • Taylor Deer on October 9, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Ah thank you so much Lisa! You’re so sweet. 🙂 You totally have to do a road trip out west at some point. It’s so breathtaking out there.

  5. Valentina on October 9, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    You provided so many useful information! I love the photos as well!

    • Taylor Deer on October 9, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Thank you so much Valentina! 🙂

  6. Marjut | The Smooth Escape on October 9, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    OMG can’t believe how many beautiful spots there are on this route!! and your photos are always so pretty! 🙂 I seriously need to go explore this area – looks like an absolute paradise for nature lovers.

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 12:03 am

      Thank you so much Marjut! It really was a breathtaking area to visit in the U.S. You would love it. 🙂

  7. Madhu on October 9, 2020 at 11:31 pm

    Wow that’s an amazing itinerary and such lovely places .I visited Lake Tahoe last year and just loved it. Thanks for sharing

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 12:03 am

      Thank you so much Madhu and Lake Tahoe is amazing. I can’t wait to go back in the future. 🙂

  8. Devin Held on October 9, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    Your road trip looked so incredible! I’m obsessed with waterfalls and the ones you visited are so amazing.. Definitely pinning for when I can finally visit this area!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 12:04 am

      Thank you Devin! You totally would love the Pacific Northwest area. 🙂

  9. Carley on October 10, 2020 at 3:40 am

    Great share, and awesome pictures! I loved the tips about visiting the Redwoods. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you so much Carley! The Redwoods were fascinating. 🙂

  10. Cosette on October 10, 2020 at 4:01 am

    That looks like a great Northern California Oregon road trip. Have yet to explore this part of the USA. Your photos are amazing.

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you Cosette! You totally need to visit the Pacific Northwest at some point. 🙂

  11. kelly on October 10, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Lovwly photos and would love to explore more of the west coast. So much stunning. Natural beauty. Thabks for the tips!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you so much Kelly! 🙂

  12. Or Amir on October 10, 2020 at 11:57 am

    The views are absolutely amazing! I’d love to go on this road trip one day 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:48 pm

      It really was such a scenic trip! I loved it so much and I know you would too. 🙂

  13. Katie Diederichs on October 10, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    I’ve taken similar routes on a few different trips, and you’re right — there are just so many things to see and do! That’s why I keep coming back, I suppose 😉 In fact, I moved to Oregon last year and feel lucky to get to explore this beautiful state more in-depth. The place on your route I still haven’t been (and have been wanting to for yearrrrs!) is Lake Tahoe! Your gorgeous pictures are really making me want to get there… now the question is winter (for skiing & cozy cabins!) or summer (for lake time and hiking!….? I guess I might have to do both!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      That is awesome and there really is so much to do and see. Also, you totally need to experience Lake Tahoe. All seasons are beautiful there. 🙂

  14. Disha Smith on October 10, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful region of the States! Your photos are beautiful! I love that you included food recommendations as well. The sushi looks especially yummy! This guide is so amazing and helpful!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      It really is Disha! I loved it so much. Also thank you! 🙂

  15. Kriszti on October 10, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    This is such an amazing guide! Lake Tahoe is on my bucket list like forever but I’ve just added a couple more to my list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:54 pm

      Thank you Kriszti! You totally have to go to Tahoe. It is amazing. 🙂

  16. Linnea on October 10, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    This post is so cute Taylor! Fifty Fifty Brewing and Pine State Biscuits are two of my favorite! Love your hotel recs too! You always find the best places. Saving this for when I go back!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you so much Linnea! I want to go back lol. 🙂

  17. Kirsten on October 10, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Ok wow this road trip looks amazing! So many incredible sights to see. You’ve definitely put it on my radar. Love your photos too btw

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      It really was Kirsten! I loved it so much. You totally have to go. Also thank you! 🙂

  18. Madeline Rae Away on October 11, 2020 at 7:00 am

    Gorgeous photos! I have wanted to travel through this part of the US for so long. I’ll definitely be saving this for later 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on October 11, 2020 at 9:39 am

      Thank you Madeline! It is absolutely breathtaking. 🙂

  19. Carrie Mann on October 11, 2020 at 10:05 am

    This seems like such a beautiful part of the country! I’d love to visit some of these outdoor destinations — hiking at least part of the PCT is definitely on my bucket list.

    • Taylor Deer on October 11, 2020 at 8:00 pm

      It really is gorgeous Carrie! You totally have to go at some point. 🙂

  20. Karen on October 16, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    You certainly found some stunning views. And great photos of food. Where do I sign up? I love the redwoods and miss them. A hike on the PCT is always a draw for me.

    • Taylor Deer on October 17, 2020 at 12:50 am

      Thank you Karen! It was amazing out there. Also, I would love to hike part of the PCT as well sometime in the future. 🙂

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Natural-Bridges-Taylor11

A woman enjoying the views of the Oregon coast

Also referred to as Cascadia, the Pacific Northwest is a breathtaking region in Northwestern North America.

This part of the world receives A LOT of rainfall and because of that, it is comprised of beautiful nature such as snow-covered mountain ranges, rocky Pacific coastline, sky-high redwood tree forests, peaceful rivers, breathtaking waterfalls and a lot of greenery.

Both Northern California and Oregon are two gorgeous areas to see in the United States and I truly fell in love with all of its beauty through a memorable road trip.

Three women having a drink in Lake Tahoe, California

During July 2020, I did a girls’ trip, which just so happened to be a fun mini road trip in Northern California and Oregon.

We started our adventure in Sacramento, California and then ended in Portland, Oregon. Along the way, we stopped and spent three days in Lake Tahoe on both the California and Nevada sides and then made our way to Lassen Volcanic National Park and Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California.

From the Redwoods, we drove north along the coast of Oregon before stopping in Eugene and checking out the Portland area. This amazing and memorable Pacific Northwest road trip was everything I dreamt it would be and more!

A woman wandering through the Redwoods Forest in Northern California

The Pacific Northwest consists of Oregon, Washington and Idaho along with parts of Northern California, Montana and Wyoming. Canada’s British Columbia is also part of this region along with areas of the Yukon.

If you are looking to see the best of Northern California and Oregon, I recommend following along this amazing road trip itinerary that features everything you could see in 8 days.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


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The perfect road trip in Oregon and California

The Best Northern California and Oregon Road Trip

A woman walking the beach on a Northern California and Oregon road trip

Day 1: Sacramento to Tahoe

A woman having fun on a Northern California and Oregon Road Trip

Arrive In: Sacramento, CA

Where to Stay: Lake Tahoe, CA

Tahoe Hotel Recommendation: Granlibakken Tahoe in Tahoe City, CA

Where to Eat:

Breakfast in SacramentoMilk Monkey

Lunch in SacramentoSelland’s Market Café

Dinner in TruckeeFiftyFifty Brewing Co.

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Over 2 Hours

Starting in Sacramento, California:
Old Town Sacramento

Unless you already have your own vehicle with you, I recommend booking your flights into Sacramento International Airport. The reason why I am telling you to fly into Sacramento is because it is more affordable than flying into Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which is closer to Lake Tahoe.

(Click here if you are planning to road trip around the United States and want to rent an RV.)

Also, from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, there are quite a few things you could enjoy along the way.

Roses in Sacramento

If you arrive into Sacramento early, I highly recommend checking out the city.

It is the state of California’s capital, so you could take a tour through the Capitol itself; wander around Old Town; check out a brewery, restaurant or coffee shop and even walk through the State Capitol Park that features the World Peace Rose Garden.

Check out the Emerald Pools in Tahoe National Forest:
A woman hiking Emerald Pools in Tahoe National Forest

On your way from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, I recommend discovering the Emerald Pools in Tahoe National Forest.

We saw the Emerald Pools early in the morning, on our last day in Tahoe, but I personally believe it is easier to see them on your first day from Sacramento, since it is on the way.

Emerald Pools in Northern California

When you first enter Tahoe National Forest to see the Emerald Pools, you will need to drive a way before reaching a small parking lot.

The Emerald Pools are at the base of where the Yuba River in California flows. The water is a gorgeous emerald color and I highly recommend going swimming in them on a hot day.

There are a range of large and small pools on this specific hike and you will need to climb over rocks and gorges to get to the hidden gems. (Please note that it is free to see the Emerald Pools.)

Dinner in Truckee, California:
Dinner in Truckee, California

Another cool spot to check out from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe is the charming western town of Truckee, California.

What was once a historic logging town is now a western style artistic hub that has lovely restaurants, boutique shopping, local art galleries and nature spots.

During our own road trip, we got dinner in Truckee on the first night and fell in love with how quaint the town was and at night, the entire downtown area was lit up in Christmas lights!

The drive from Truckee to Granlibakken Tahoe in Tahoe City (where we stayed in Lake Tahoe) is around 20 minutes.

Day 2: Hiking in Lake Tahoe

A woman hiking in Lake Tahoe, California
Where to Eat in Lake Tahoe:

BreakfastDriftwood Café, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Lunch – I recommend going to the grocery store and packing a lunch or snack to go.

DinnerHacienda Del Lago, Tahoe City, CA

Beautiful views in Northern California

During your time in Lake Tahoe, I recommend doing one of the amazing hikes in the area.

Some of my favorites are the Eagle Falls Hike to Emerald Lake and the Rubicon Trail, if you’re looking for a longer hike, along with Emerald Bay State Park and the Stateline Trailhead, if you’re looking for a shorter hike.

Eagle Falls to Emerald Lake Hike:
A woman hiking Eagle Falls trail to Emerald Lake in Tahoe, California

The Eagle Falls hike to Emerald Lake is a 3.6-mile round trip hike that will take you over a bridge with waterfalls, through woodland paths and up to Emerald Lake, which is absolutely gorgeous!

You could go swimming in Emerald Lake and there are also natural pools along the trail. It is an easy-to-moderate hike and it is also good for families!

The Rubicon Trail:
A woman enjoying views of Lake Tahoe from the Rubicon Trail

The Rubicon Trail is a 16.4-mile moderate hike that starts in D.L. Bliss State Park and ends at Emerald Bay State Park.

During this hike, you will walk along an edge that has stunning views of the lake and then head into deep forests. The Rubicon Trail also has an elevation gain of 2,306 feet.

Even though the Rubicon Trail is a long hike, you could still hike parts of it if you don’t have enough time! Please note that if you drive to D.L Bliss State Park or Emerald Bay State Park, you will need to pay $10 USD.

Emerald Bay State Park:
A woman enjoying views of Emerald Bay State Park in Tahoe, California

Emerald Bay is definitely a must see during your time in Lake Tahoe. It is considered a crown jewel that is an oasis of beautiful Emerald green water, offers a stunning mountain backdrop and features a serene ambiance.

To get to Emerald Bay, you will need to do a short, one-mile hike down to the bay. The hike down is fairly easy, but pretty strenuous as you hike back up.

Since Emerald Bay is a State Park, you will need to pay $10 USD to park your car there.

North Lake Tahoe Trail Head for Stateline Lookout:
A woman having fun on a hiking trail in North Lake Tahoe

Another great short hike I recommend is the North Lake Tahoe Trail Head for Stateline Lookout.

It is small uphill hike where you could walk from Nevada into California and vice versa. The views at the lookout are beautiful!

Day 3: Swimming in Lake Tahoe

A woman enjoying the water at Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
Where to Eat in Lake Tahoe:

BreakfastFire Sign Café, Tahoe City, CA

Lunch – I recommend going to the grocery store and packing a lunch or snack to go.

DinnerRiva Grill, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park:
A woman enjoying Lake Tahoe during a Northern California and Oregon Road Trip

During a hot summer day in Lake Tahoe, there is nothing more refreshing than cooling off in the lake.

On the eastern shores of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park are gorgeous white sand beaches, crystal-clear water and large boulders that allow for swimming and water sports on a hot day during the summer.

Sand Harbor is the perfect place to enjoy a day on the water and what is awesome about this side of the lake is that there are private swimming areas all along the shore. I highly recommend renting kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, etc. at Sand Harbor Rentals.

A woman enjoying the sun in Lake Tahoe

In addition, you could also enjoy other fun action water sports on Lake Tahoe such as jet skiing, parasailing, boating, windsurfing, wake boarding, knee boarding, water tubing, etc. You could also go fishing on the lake as well!

Overall, you will LOVE Lake Tahoe and its definitely a highlight during a Northern California and Oregon road trip.

Day 4: Lake Tahoe to Lassen Volcanic National Park to Redding, CA

Beautiful views in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California

Travel From: Lake Tahoe

Travel To: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Where to Stay: Redding, CA

Redding Hotel Recommendation: Best Western Plus Twin View Inn & Suites, Redding, CA

Where to Eat:

Breakfast/Lunch – I recommend picking something up on the road. There are plenty of restaurants and food stores along the way during the drive from Lake Tahoe to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We stopped at a 7-Eleven in Tahoe and picked up something quick.

Dinner in ReddingLa Cocina De Chuy, Redding, CA

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Around 4.5 Hours

Lassen Volcanic National Park:
Beautiful tree views in Lassen Volcanic National Park

A little less than a 3-hour drive North of Lake Tahoe is Lassen Volcanic National Park.

It is known as one of the most underrated National Parks in the United States and it should totally be on your Northern California and Oregon road trip itinerary.

Views of Lassen Volcanic National Park on a Northern California and Oregon road trip

Overall, it will cost $30 USD per vehicle to enter into Lassen Volcanic National Park. (It is $5 cheaper than other big National Parks.)

I recommend entering Lassen by the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and making your way into the park from there.

Yes, this wonderful National Park has volcanoes in it and you could also find steaming fumaroles, gorgeous meadows with stunning wildflowers that make you feel like you’re in The Sound of Music, serene lakes and enchanting woodland trailheads.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend downloading the AllTrails app that will help you find the perfect curated trailhead without getting lost! I always use AllTrails when I go to National Parks or do any local hike. It makes adventuring the great outdoors so easy! (Please make sure you download the app and map out your hike when you have WiFi or cell service. The app will still work when you have no service, but it cannot download anything new.)

Sulphur Works in Lassen Volcanic National Park

When you first arrive, pick up a park map at the visitor’s center and start driving on Route 89, which is Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. (Please note that this road is closed during the winter months.)

From the visitor’s center, make your way to Sulphur Works, which is a colorful former sulphur mine. There are signs all along the scenic byway, but you will definitely know when you’re at Sulphur Works because it will smell like rotten eggs. There will be a hiking path that you could walk up and see the fumaroles and bubbling mud pots. It is such a cool site!

If you plan to do the entire hike at Sulphur Works, it is 1.1 miles (one way).

A woman enjoying lake views in Lassen Volcanic National Park

After walking around Sulphur Works, hop back in your car and enjoy the drive along the scenic byway. (I am recommending this route based off of what we did.)

There are gorgeous views of the mountains, valleys and Lassen Peak, which is the iconic volcano in the park. Along the way, make a pit stop at both Emerald Lake and Lake Helen.

I recommend parking your car and doing the Bumpass Trailhead hike to see Bumpass Hell, which is the largest hydrothermal area in Lassen Volcanic Park. This is definitely a must-see when you visit and it is a 1.3-mile hike (one way).

Cold Boiling Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park

From Bumpass Trailhead, drive up to the highest point on Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, which is 8,512 feet above sea level.

If you have time, you could hike 2.5 miles up to Lassen Peak (one way), which is 10,457 feet above sea level.

Next, head over to Upper Meadow and park your car at the Kings Creek Picnic Area and take a half mile hike to Cold Boiling Lake, which are cool boiling springs in a meadow. You could also continue on that same trailhead and eventually reach Bumpass Hell that way too.

(There are so many great hiking trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park, I wish I had more time to do them all. The Pacific Crest Trail, which is famous from the Cheryl Strayed book and movie Wild, also goes through Lassen. In addition, you could find great campsites within the park.) Click here for Lassen Volcanic National Park’s map.

Beautiful Views in Lassen Park, California

As you continue through Lassen Volcanic National Park via the byway, you will drive through an area of dead trees. California in general unfortunately gets a lot of wildfires, but this part of the state gets them the worst. It was pretty sad seeing all burnt nature.

If you go camping anywhere in the world, please be mindful and report any unattended fires, extinguish fire pits, do not smoke, be extra cautious when using flammable liquids, refrain from using fireworks and check the local forecast where you plan to camp, go hiking, etc.

A woman enjoying the beautiful views at Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park

The last spot we visited in Lassen Volcanic National Park before moving on was Manzanita Lake.

In my opinion, it is the most beautiful spot to see Lassen Peak and there are gorgeous reflections on the water. There is a flat trail along Manzanita Lake that you could walk around and the campground there is the largest in the park. You could also exit the park right from there.

Chicken fajitas in Redding, California

It will take around 45 minutes to get from Lassen Volcanic Park to Redding. I will admit that the actual downtown area of Redding was a little sketchy, so that is why I recommend staying at a hotel in the Twin View Subdivision.

A restaurant that you MUST go to in downtown Redding is La Cocina De Chuy. It is an authentic Mexican restaurant that offers delicious dishes. My chicken fajitas dish hit the spot!

Day 5: Redding to Redwoods National and State Parks

A woman wandering through the Redwoods in Northern California

Travel From: Redding, CA

Travel To: Redwood National and State Parks

Where to Stay: Crescent City, CA

Crescent City Hotel Recommendation: Best Western Plus Northwoods Inn, Crescent City, CA

Where to Eat:

Breakfast/Lunch – I recommend picking something up on the road. The ride from Redding to Redwoods is more remote, so you will not come across as many restaurants along the way. We grabbed breakfast at a Starbucks in Redding and then stopped for snacks at a convenient store in a small town that we drove through along the way.

Dinner in ReddingSeaQuake Brewing, Crescent City, CA

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Around 4.5 Hours

Redwood National and State Parks:
The beautiful Redwood Forest

The drive from Redding to the Redwoods is anywhere from 3.5 to over 4 hours, depending on where you go within the Redwood Forest. (We also hit traffic along the way.)

The Redwoods are both a State and National Park and there are multiple entrances to the park. (It is totally a place you have to visit on your Northern California and Oregon road trip.)

We put in Redwood State Park into the GPS and it took us from Route 299, to coastal Route 101 and then onto Bald Hills Road, which led us into the park. You do not have to pay to get into the Redwoods!

A woman walking through the Redwoods in California

Please note that as you drive inland to the coast in Northern California, there will be a significant decrease in the temperature outside. When we finally saw the Pacific Ocean and then drove into the Redwoods, the temperature went down to 54 degrees Fahrenheit from the low 80s (mind you, it was the middle of July when we visited).

Also, Northwestern California is also where Bigfoot dwells in the wilderness according to North American folklore. As you drive around the local small towns, you will see restaurants and cafés named after Bigfoot, statues that you could buy of Bigfoot and gift stores that sell apparel and merchandise that have Bigfoot on them!

If you are unaware of what Bigfoot is, it is a hairy, ape-like creature who wanders through the Redwood Forest and leaves behind massive footprints. A lot of people have claimed they’ve seen Bigfoot faintly in the woods and there is even an American television series on Animal Planet called Finding Bigfoot that follows four researchers who investigate potential evidence of the creature.

Redwood National and State Parks

Unfortunately, we weren’t the lucky ones to find Bigfoot during our time at Redwood National and State Parks, but we did see some enchanting nature!

The Redwood National and State Parks are home to the tallest trees on Earth and it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as an International Biosphere Reserve.

Most of the redwood trees are over 370 feet tall and they are absolutely fascinating to see in person. Other beautiful nature that you’ll see in Redwood National and State Parks are clovers, ferns, lupins, wildflowers, rhododendron and more.

You could also find a lot of wildlife such as different bird species, bears, deer, elk, reptiles, fish and more.

The tallest trees on Earth

There are a plethora of different things to see at Redwood National and State Parks.

After entering the park, we first saw Lady Bird Johnson Grove where we walked over a bridge and into a forest featuring towering trees and shrubs.

From there, we drove to Redwood Creek Overlook, which is located at 2,000 feet above sea level and you could catch distant views of the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. (Overall, Redwood National and State Parks range from sea level to over 3,100 feet above that.)

As we drove through the park, we went through heavy clouds and then into areas where sun beams magically shone through deep forests. It was one of the most beautiful sights!

In addition, the temperature outside ranged from 50-something to 80-something as we made our way throughout the park.

Beautiful Redwood trees in Redwood National and State Parks

One of the best areas to see the redwood trees in the park is by hiking the Tall Trees Grove.

As you drive beyond the Redwood Creek Overlook, there will be a sign for the Tall Trees Grove trail. You will need to drive down a gravel road for about 10 minutes before you reach the parking lot for Tall Trees Grove and the start of the trail.

Overall, the Tall Trees Grove trail is around a 4-mile roundtrip moderate hike with a 1,600 feet elevation change. It is here where you will see the most beautiful redwood trees that lead to the Redwood Creek.

I loved feeling so small next to these big trees! I even enjoyed looking into the big and dark hollows. You could fit an entire room in there!

A woman standing outside a tree hollow in the Redwoods

After your awesome hike through Tall Trees Grove, I recommend getting back in your car and driving to Gold Bluffs Beach where you could check out Fern Canyon in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Fern Canyon is an epic narrow canyon where walls are covered in forest green ferns and mosses and it is absolutely breathtaking! The canyon can be reached by a moderate 5-mile hike on the James Irvine Trail, which starts at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor Center.

A New England clam chowder in a bread bowl

Later in the day, we drove around 40 minutes to Crescent City where we spent the night at the Best Western there. We also grabbed dinner at SeaQuake Brewery, which has a lot of awesome local craft beers.

It was a cold evening, so I enjoyed a delicious New England clam chowder in a toasty bread bowl. It was perfect! Just like Redding, Crescent City is also on the sketchy side, so we just grabbed dinner and hung out at the hotel.

Day 6: Crescent City through the Oregon Coast to Eugene

A woman walking the trail at Natural Bridges in Oregon

Travel From: Crescent City, CA

Travel To: Oregon Coast to Eugene, OR

Where to Stay: Eugene, OR

Eugene Hotel Recommendation: Home2 Suites by Hilton Eugene Downtown

Where to Eat:

Breakfast – We started our day by grabbing Starbucks in Crescent City, CA.

Lunch – As you drive along the Oregon Coast, you will drive past seafood restaurants and cafés along with chain restaurants. I honestly wished I would’ve found a great place for a lobster roll, but unfortunately, they aren’t as common as they are on the East Coast, so we ended up eating Subway sandwiches in Florence, OR last minute.

DinnerSabai Café & Bar, Eugene, OR

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Around 5.5 Hours

Natural Bridges, Oregon Coast:
Natural Bridges in Oregon

After spending the night in Crescent City, we drove 45 minutes through the state border into Oregon.

Our first stop was to Natural Bridges along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The coast in the Pacific Northwest is absolutely gorgeous and it is a must visit during a Northern California and Oregon road trip.

Located along Highway 101 that goes from Northern Washington to Southern California and vice versa, Natural Bridges is one of the best places to see the natural sea arches in the Pacific Ocean. Natural Bridges features steep cliffs, Secret Beach, mystical nature and nesting shorebirds.

Secret Beach at Natural Bridges in Oregon

The best time to visit Natural Bridges is in the morning and there is a scenic overlook that isn’t too far from the parking lot. You could also do a hike that leads down to the arches and even walk over some of them.

Now, I highly recommend that you have the proper hiking shoes and gear if you decide to do this hike. It’s short, but strenuous! I personally didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get down to the viewing points.

The trail is a narrow and steep dirt path that is filled with poison ivy. Thankfully, no one got hurt, but I honestly didn’t enjoy hiking down there! The hike over the arches is even more narrow and honestly, very dangerous, so I didn’t walk over them.

Honestly, the photo wouldn’t have been worth it. (Please never let a photo opportunity put your life in danger!) Natural Bridges is absolutely gorgeous and it was nice to see the Secret Beach, but I would’ve been perfectly okay just enjoying the views from the overlook that is closest to the parking lot.

Bandon and Coos Bay, Oregon:
A woman walking Bandon Beach in Oregon

As we made our way north along the coast of Oregon, we stopped in beautiful Bandon before making our way to Coos Bay.

Just like other beaches in Oregon, Bandon features fascinating rock formations in both the ocean and on the shore along with sea caves, tide pools and wildlife. Bandon is located an hour and 20 minutes north from Natural Bridges and it takes another half hour to get to Coos Bay.

A woman enjoying Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast

One of the most breathtaking places to visit along the Oregon coast on a road trip from Northern California is Coos Bay.

It is where the Coos Rivers enters the Coos Bay on the Pacific Ocean. This area is filled with picturesque state parks, recreational areas and stunning beaches.

The best places to visit around Coos Bay are Cape Arago State Park and Lighthouse, Sunset Bay State Park, Shore Acres State Park and the Oregon Sand Dunes Recreational Area. No matter where you go, there will be breathtaking views all over and you could also see seals in this area!

In addition, Coos Bay has a lot of great seafood restaurants and cafés.

Sweet Creek Falls, Oregon:
A woman admiring Sweet Creek Falls in Oregon

We were originally supposed to visit Thor’s Well from Coos Bay. Thor’s Well is a cool bottomless sinkhole that is considered a natural wonder. It is great to see, but it was a bit out of our way from Eugene (where we were heading) and there isn’t much else around it.

Instead, we wanted to do a hike and found out about Sweet Creek Falls, which was an hour and a half north east from Coos Bay and on the way to Eugene. I am so happy we went to Sweet Creek Falls because it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to! Seriously, it was heaven on Earth.

Sweet Creek Falls in Oregon

Overall, Sweet Creek Falls trail is an easy, 2.2-mile round trip hike where you could see breathtaking falls along the Coast Range Gorge.

Sweet Creek Falls is very green and lush. There is moss everywhere, the falls are absolutely stunning and sky-high trees surround the trail. I couldn’t recommend this great and easy hike more if you are on a road trip from Northern California into Oregon.

(Sweet Creek Falls is around an hour and 15 minutes west from Eugene.)

Eugene, Oregon:
Thai food from Eugene, Oregon

Eugene is a city situated on the Willamette River in Central Oregon that is located a little over 1.5 hours south of Portland. A Northern California and Oregon road trip should include Eugene and it is the perfect place to spend a night.

We arrived in Eugene in the evening and got a delicious Thai dinner at Sabai Café and Bar. This great Thai restaurant is located in Eugene’s Oakway Center, which features high-end restaurants, luxury fitness studios and high-fashion stores. I highly recommend eating in this shopping center if you plan to visit Eugene.

In addition to Thai, you could find Mexican, Italian, Modern Latin, Vegan/Vegetarian, Chinese and American restaurants.

Eugene food carts

Other things to do in Eugene is visit the Oregon Air and Space Museum, University of Oregon, Owen Rose Garden, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and more. Eugene also has awesome food carts.

Day 7: Eugene to Mount Hood to Portland

A woman hiking Tamanawas Falls in Oregon

Travel From: Eugene, OR

Travel To: Mount Hood to Portland, OR

Where to Stay: Portland, OR

Portland Hotel Recommendation: Inn at Northrup Station

Where to Eat:

BreakfastOff the Waffle, Eugene, OR

Lunch – I recommend going to the grocery store and picking up snacks or making a sandwich for lunch if you plan to hike in Mount Hood like we did. (We also stopped at Dairy Queen after our hike since there were so many of them in the Mount Hood area.)

DinnerSansai Fresh Japanese Grill, Portland, OR

Total Amount of Driving Hours: Around 5 Hours

Off the Waffle breakfast in Eugene, Oregon

Since Eugene has a great foodie scene, we decided to go to a sit-down place for breakfast before our fun filled day of hiking in Mount Hood National Forest.

We got breakfast at Off the Waffle, which is a great breakfast spot that offers Liege waffles with all different toppings. I got The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy waffle that came with one sunny side up organic farm-fresh egg with bacon and Vermont maple syrup. It was incredible!

Mount Hood National Forest – Tamanawas Falls:
Tamanawas Falls at Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon

Mount Hood National Forest features the tallest mountain in Oregon and it is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Mountains.

It took us 3 hours to drive from Eugene to the start of the Tamanawas Falls trailhead in Mount Hood, which is the hike we did in the National Forest. It is a 3.3-mile round-trip moderate hike that leads to a gorgeous waterfall. We LOVED this hike and it was absolutely breathtaking!

Mount Hood in Oregon

Other things you could do between Eugene and Portland are visit the vineyards and do a tasting in the Willamette Valley Wine Region, walk through the lavender fields at Hood River Lavender Farms and see Multnomah Falls.

Portland, Oregon:
Sushi from Portland, Oregon

After arriving in Portland and checking into the Inn at Northrup Station in the Northwest District of the city, we got sushi at Sansai Fresh Japanese Grill. It was so delicious!

Overall, this entire area features art galleries, boutique shopping, amazing restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, theaters, museums and more!

Day 8: Explore Portland, Oregon

A woman in front of the Portland Stag Sign
Where to Eat in Portland:

BreakfastPine State Biscuits

Lunch/DrinksBreakside Brewery

DinnerSerratto Restaurant and Bar

A woman at Cathedral Park in Portland, Oregon

Since we only had one full day in Portland, we packed a lot in.

Some of the best things to do in Portland is walk through the Washington Park Rose Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden; wander through Cathedral Park; go on a hike in Forest Park; see the White Stag Sign; pick up a few new reads at Powell City of Books in downtown; check out the Portland Food Carts and much more!

We flew home the next day from Portland International Airport.


A woman exploring the Redwoods on a Northern California and Oregon road trip

I hope you all enjoyed reading about the best Northern California and Oregon road trip itinerary. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]

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Northern California and Oregon Road Trip

Basic Facts of the United States:

Currency: United States Dollar, Capital: Washington D.C., CA State Capital: Sacramento, OR State Capital: Salem, CA & OR Time Zones: Both are Pacific Standard Time

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40 Comments

  1. Kim Deer on August 18, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    Very resourceful guide for a great northwest road trip through beautiful northern CA and OR. So many gorgeous places to hike ~ the photos of Lake Tahoe are breathtaking ~ the color of the water is amazing and love those beautiful tall redwoods ~ looks like a fun filled adventurous trip! You gals looked like you had an amazing time ~ awesome blog ~ love you, mom xoxo 🌲🏞🏃‍♀️👍👌🤎

    • Taylor Deer on August 19, 2020 at 9:21 am

      Thank you mom! It is a beautiful part of our country. Love you too! xoxo

  2. Katie on August 19, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Taylor this guide is amazing! I can’t wait to visit Lake Tahoe – we were meant to go a few years ago from San Fran but decided against it and now I am having big regrets!

    • Taylor Deer on August 19, 2020 at 9:22 am

      Thank you Katie and yes, you totally have to go back and stay a few days in Tahoe! 🙂 It now gives you a reason to go back.

  3. Rebecca on August 19, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    So many great waterfalls! A PNW road trip is a must for my future. I didn’t know about Eugene so will need to look into it.

    • Taylor Deer on August 19, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      Yes, you totally have to go! It is so beautiful there. 🙂

  4. Lisa on October 9, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    Girl, I don’t know what I’m more envious of… this amazing road trip or your beautiful blonde curls!!! haha 🙂 definitely inspiring me to check out western america sooner rather than later. As an east coast girl, I don’t make it out there too often!

    • Taylor Deer on October 9, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Ah thank you so much Lisa! You’re so sweet. 🙂 You totally have to do a road trip out west at some point. It’s so breathtaking out there.

  5. Valentina on October 9, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    You provided so many useful information! I love the photos as well!

    • Taylor Deer on October 9, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Thank you so much Valentina! 🙂

  6. Marjut | The Smooth Escape on October 9, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    OMG can’t believe how many beautiful spots there are on this route!! and your photos are always so pretty! 🙂 I seriously need to go explore this area – looks like an absolute paradise for nature lovers.

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 12:03 am

      Thank you so much Marjut! It really was a breathtaking area to visit in the U.S. You would love it. 🙂

  7. Madhu on October 9, 2020 at 11:31 pm

    Wow that’s an amazing itinerary and such lovely places .I visited Lake Tahoe last year and just loved it. Thanks for sharing

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 12:03 am

      Thank you so much Madhu and Lake Tahoe is amazing. I can’t wait to go back in the future. 🙂

  8. Devin Held on October 9, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    Your road trip looked so incredible! I’m obsessed with waterfalls and the ones you visited are so amazing.. Definitely pinning for when I can finally visit this area!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 12:04 am

      Thank you Devin! You totally would love the Pacific Northwest area. 🙂

  9. Carley on October 10, 2020 at 3:40 am

    Great share, and awesome pictures! I loved the tips about visiting the Redwoods. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you so much Carley! The Redwoods were fascinating. 🙂

  10. Cosette on October 10, 2020 at 4:01 am

    That looks like a great Northern California Oregon road trip. Have yet to explore this part of the USA. Your photos are amazing.

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you Cosette! You totally need to visit the Pacific Northwest at some point. 🙂

  11. kelly on October 10, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Lovwly photos and would love to explore more of the west coast. So much stunning. Natural beauty. Thabks for the tips!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you so much Kelly! 🙂

  12. Or Amir on October 10, 2020 at 11:57 am

    The views are absolutely amazing! I’d love to go on this road trip one day 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:48 pm

      It really was such a scenic trip! I loved it so much and I know you would too. 🙂

  13. Katie Diederichs on October 10, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    I’ve taken similar routes on a few different trips, and you’re right — there are just so many things to see and do! That’s why I keep coming back, I suppose 😉 In fact, I moved to Oregon last year and feel lucky to get to explore this beautiful state more in-depth. The place on your route I still haven’t been (and have been wanting to for yearrrrs!) is Lake Tahoe! Your gorgeous pictures are really making me want to get there… now the question is winter (for skiing & cozy cabins!) or summer (for lake time and hiking!….? I guess I might have to do both!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      That is awesome and there really is so much to do and see. Also, you totally need to experience Lake Tahoe. All seasons are beautiful there. 🙂

  14. Disha Smith on October 10, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful region of the States! Your photos are beautiful! I love that you included food recommendations as well. The sushi looks especially yummy! This guide is so amazing and helpful!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      It really is Disha! I loved it so much. Also thank you! 🙂

  15. Kriszti on October 10, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    This is such an amazing guide! Lake Tahoe is on my bucket list like forever but I’ve just added a couple more to my list. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:54 pm

      Thank you Kriszti! You totally have to go to Tahoe. It is amazing. 🙂

  16. Linnea on October 10, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    This post is so cute Taylor! Fifty Fifty Brewing and Pine State Biscuits are two of my favorite! Love your hotel recs too! You always find the best places. Saving this for when I go back!

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you so much Linnea! I want to go back lol. 🙂

  17. Kirsten on October 10, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Ok wow this road trip looks amazing! So many incredible sights to see. You’ve definitely put it on my radar. Love your photos too btw

    • Taylor Deer on October 10, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      It really was Kirsten! I loved it so much. You totally have to go. Also thank you! 🙂

  18. Madeline Rae Away on October 11, 2020 at 7:00 am

    Gorgeous photos! I have wanted to travel through this part of the US for so long. I’ll definitely be saving this for later 🙂

    • Taylor Deer on October 11, 2020 at 9:39 am

      Thank you Madeline! It is absolutely breathtaking. 🙂

  19. Carrie Mann on October 11, 2020 at 10:05 am

    This seems like such a beautiful part of the country! I’d love to visit some of these outdoor destinations — hiking at least part of the PCT is definitely on my bucket list.

    • Taylor Deer on October 11, 2020 at 8:00 pm

      It really is gorgeous Carrie! You totally have to go at some point. 🙂

  20. Karen on October 16, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    You certainly found some stunning views. And great photos of food. Where do I sign up? I love the redwoods and miss them. A hike on the PCT is always a draw for me.

    • Taylor Deer on October 17, 2020 at 12:50 am

      Thank you Karen! It was amazing out there. Also, I would love to hike part of the PCT as well sometime in the future. 🙂

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