Sacramento Skyline at night with water and boats in the foreground and skyscrapers behind
Andrew Zarivny/

Road Trip from Portland to Sacramento

Updated by Pat Dorri on February 2 2023

Sacramento, nestled between the beautiful Pacific Coast and the famous national forests of California, is a colorful and hip city with a thriving foodie scene. If you are looking for an adventure that combines beautiful forests and lakes with urban vibes, then this road trip from Portland to Sacramento is the perfect journey.

The 730-mile road trip from Portland to Sacramento takes 11 hours to drive. The trip's signature stops include Cape Perpetua, Lake Shasta, Redwood National and State Parks, Bend, Crater Lake National Park and Umpqua and Willamette National Forests.

Read on to find out more about what routes you can take on the drive from Portland to Sacramento, where you should stay, and the best attractions along the way.

How far is Sacramento from Portland and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip route options between Portland and Sacramento
RouteDistanceDriving Time
The Coastal Route730 miles13 hours 40 minutes
The Inland Route600 miles10 hours 20 minutes

The Coastal Route for a road trip from Portland to Sacramento covers 730 miles and will take you at least 13 hours and 40 minutes to drive once you have factored in breaks.

The Inland Route will take relatively shorter at 600 miles and will take 10 hours and 20 minutes to complete without accounting for any detours you might want to make.

We would recommend giving yourself at least a week for this road trip so you have time to enjoy all the attractions along the way.

Sunrise through redwood trees in the Redwood National & State Parks in northern California.
Daybreak among the Redwoods in one of the State's national parks
Stephen Moehle/

Best road trip route from Portland to Sacramento

The best road trip route from Portland to Sacramento depends on exactly what you are looking for, with both routes offering a nice variety of things to see and do along the way.

The Coastal Route offers rugged scenery and the chance to visit some of the gorgeous Redwood Parks in northern California.

The Inland Route will provide beautiful mountain vistas and a chance to get active by going hiking and seeing more outdoor sights. The inland route is shorter, so if time is of the essence, that's the one you'll want to take.

Neither route encounters any particularly large cities, so there should be very few congestion issues. Both routes mainly follow major highways, which makes the drive easy but gives you plenty of opportunities to stop

If you have time, consider getting the best of both worlds by following one route on the way to Sacramento and the other on the way back.

How to drive from Portland to Sacramento

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Portland and Sacramento. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

The Coastal Route

Leave Portland on Interstate 5, heading south. You will quickly reach the city of Albany, where you will exit the interstate and join Highway 20, taking you towards the coast.

From there, you will leave Highway 20 and join Highway 101, heading south once again. You will remain on Highway 101 for some distance as it winds its way along the rugged Oregon coast.

After passing Gold Beach, you will cross the state border and enter California. Remain on Highway 101, which will take you past Crescent City and a handful of the famous Redwood Parks.

You will leave the coast after Eugene and begin heading inland - stay on Highway 101 until you reach Redwood Valley, near Lake Mendocino. Here, you will turn onto Route 20, which you will follow past Clear Lake, heading east.

Stay on this road until you get to the small town of Williams, then get onto Interstate 5. From there, all you have to do is follow the interstate the rest of the way to downtown Sacramento.

The Inland Route

Bend, Oregon, USA taken at Tumalo Falls surrounding by green trees.

🚗 600 miles ⏱️ 10 hours, 20 minutes

Take in the mountain views in Mt Hood National Forest and admire the beautiful Tumalo Falls near Bend before reaching Crater Lake National Park and continuing into California.

Exit Portland on Highway 26, following it directly towards Mt. Hood National Forest. Follow the highway as you traverse past the base of Mt. Hood and continue south.

At the town of Madras, you will merge with Highway 97 and remain on this highway as it takes you through Redmond, Deschutes, and Bend. Highway 97 will eventually take you close to Crater Lake National Park - a short detour on Route 138 will take you into the park.

Mount Hood with an orange sunset sky above and misty trees in the foreground
A foggy view of Mount Hood, Oregon
Thye-Wee Gn/

Return to Highway 97 to resume your journey south. The highway will lead you past Upper Klamath Lake before crossing into California. Mt. Shasta will dominate the horizon as you turn off Highway 97 onto Interstate 5.

Once on Interstate 5, simply follow it as it takes you through Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Redding, and into Sacramento.

Best places to stop between Portland and Sacramento

The road trip from Portland to Sacramento gives you plenty of stopover opportunities, despite the relative lack of major cities. Although there are plenty of good hotel options, these are some of the finest that the road trip has to offer:

Descend on Bend

Nestled along the scenic byways of Central Oregon, Bend is a great place to stop and take a break on the Inland Route. This outdoor paradise for its recreational opportunities, such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and in winter, skiing at nearby Mt. Bachelor.

If you are an adventurous soul, then you can enjoy white water rafting on the Deschutes River, or leisurely paddleboarding if you would prefer a more tranquil activity.

The Newberry National Volcanic Monument offers a fascinating glimpse into the region's volcanic past. The monument's highlights include the Lava River Cave, Oregon's longest lava tube, and the stunning Paulina Peak, which offers sweeping views of the Cascade Range.

Once you are done exploring, the Tetherow Hotel is located right on the edge of Deschutes National Forest, and offers a relaxing setting to spend the night and the most glorious sunrise you've ever seen. Set on a semi-private golf course, this hotel offers everything you need for a reasonable price.

The Hotel has two on-site restaurants, called the Row and Solomons. The Row is perfectly suited to casual dining, offering class American food, Scottish-inspired dishes, and even a great selection of wine and beer available.

Backpacker looking at a waterfall running through the trees at Willamette National Forest
Waterfall in Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Kris Wiktor/

Solomons, on the other hand, is one of the best fine-dining restaurants in Bend. They boast a menu that relies heavily on local ingredients, and the menu is guaranteed to impress.

All the rooms at the Tetherow Hotel are modern and stylish, boasting windows with impressive views of the surrounding area.

The resort also has a fitness center, steam room, and sauna, giving you plenty of recreational activities for your downtime. A complimentary shuttle will help you get into Bend should you want to explore what is on offer.

Enjoy the splendor of the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel in Sacramento

It is time to relax and unwind once you reach your destination in Sacramento. You can take a break from driving and leave your car behind as you explore. The city's grid layout makes it pleasantly navigable, revealing tree-lined streets that lead to an array of farm-to-table restaurants.

Among Sacramento's must-visit attractions is Old Sacramento, a living historic district that recaptures the excitement and flavor of the Gold Rush era with its wooden sidewalks, horse-drawn carriages, and old-fashioned candy shops.

For a beautiful place to stay, the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel is the epitome of modern sophistication - its dazzling architecture, spacious rooms, and plentiful amenities are sure to leave a lasting impression.

You will be impressed from the minute you lay eyes on this hotel - the layout of the lobby and the rooms are sleek and modern, and the large windows make the already-spacious suites feel that much more open.

Essentials aside, the hotel has a fitness center, rooftop pool, and in-room spa service, rounding out a set of amenities you are sure to enjoy.

There are a number of dining and social spaces at the Kimpton Sawyer - the Revival Bar and Lounge is a trendy place to have a drink, Echo & Rig is a spectacular steakhouse, and the Punch Bowl Social is an excellent choice for a more casual affair.

Pink flowers in the dawn light in downtown West Sacramento, with Tower Bridge in the background
Sunrise in downtown West Sacramento
Chris LaBasco/

Things to see on a road trip from Portland to Sacramento

The road trip from Portland to Sacramento has no shortage of incredible places to check out. Although it's impossible to list everything, these are some of the places you'll want to pay attention to:

The Coastal Route

  1. Cape Perpetua - Cape Perpetua is a majestic convergence of land and sea. The area's rich tide pools, volcanic basins, and spouting horns accentuate its dramatic beauty, making it a photographer's paradise and a naturalist's playground.
  2. Thor's Well - This seemingly bottomless sinkhole is at its most spectacular during high tide or winter storms, where it showcases the raw force of nature.
  3. Heceta Head Lighthouse - This historic light casts a beacon over the rugged clifftops and misty shores, a romantic nod to the region's maritime past. The surrounding state park offers a chance to explore sandy coves and hike forested trails.
  4. Sea Lion Caves - The Sea Lion Caves offer a rare opportunity to observe an adorable colony of sea lions in a massive, naturally formed subterranean cavern, which these marine mammals have claimed as their own.
  5. Cape Blanco State Park - Here, the windswept headlands, miles of hiking trails, and an iconic, often fog-enshrouded lighthouse create a serene outpost for visitors to connect with Oregon's coastal wilderness.
  6. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park - This park is a gateway to the storied groves that have stood watch over the Northern California landscape for millennia, offering trails that meander through ecosystems seemingly untouched by time.
  7. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park - Sn emerald realm within the Redwood National and State Parks complex. With the awe-inspiring Fern Canyon and the pristine Gold Bluffs Beach, this park is a haven for those looking to immerse themselves in tranquility.
  8. Redwood National and State Park - Home to the iconic redwood trees, with prairies, rivers, and coastal zones adding to its ecological richness.
  9. Eureka - Eureka, nestled along California's Northern Coast, is a Victorian treasure trove, with the entire Old Town district listed on the National Register of Historic Places, showcasing ornate homes and storefronts that hark back to the glamor of the 19th century.
  10. Humboldt Redwoods State Park - This is the last Redwood Park on this route, and it is just as exceptional as the rest. Worth a visit as you can drive through the trunk of a tree.
Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon with the blue sea and sky in the background on a clear day
Heceta Head lighthouse on a beautiful clear day
Bob Pool/

The Inland Route

  1. Mt. Hood National Forest - Mt. Hood National Forest is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, offering a myriad of recreational opportunities from hiking trails winding through old-growth forest to skiing on the slopes of Oregon's highest peak.
  2. Trillium Lake - Trillium Lake, set against the backdrop of Mount Hood, offers a postcard-worthy vista of Oregon's tallest mountain, reflected in the still waters of this alpine lake, making it a cherished spot for photographers, fishermen, and picnickers.
  3. Smith Rock State Park - Smith Rock State Park is a haven for rock climbers, hikers, and nature lovers, with its sheer cliffs of tuff and basalt that are an iconic part of Central Oregon's high desert landscape.
  4. Tumalo Falls - Tumalo Falls, just west of Bend, Oregon, presents an invigorating hike through evergreen forests to a thundering 97-foot waterfall, one of the most beautiful cascades in the region, with multiple vantage points.
  5. Crater Lake National Park - Crater Lake National Park is famed for its deep blue water and striking caldera, offering a panorama of breathtaking views that are most vivid and accessible during the summer months when the Rim Drive and hiking trails are free from snow.
  6. Williamette and Umpqua National Forests - Admire the thick canopies of Douglas fir and hemlock trees create a great environment for outdoor adventures such as hiking, mountain biking, and camping amidst the serene beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
  7. Mt. Shasta - Mt. Shasta dominates the skyline with its majestic presence, providing a playground for outdoor sports enthusiasts who can hike its challenging trails in the summer or ski down its snowy slopes in winter.
  8. Lake Shasta Caverns - Nestled within the rugged landscape along Lake Shasta, offers an underground adventure through a geological wonder that has been forming for millions of years, with guided tours leading through a fascinating world of stalactites and stalagmites.
  9. Old Sacramento - Old Sacramento transports visitors back to the Gold Rush era with its meticulously restored historic district along the Sacramento River, where wooden sidewalks and horse-drawn carriages recreate the city's bustling 19th-century atmosphere.
Shimmering reflective sunlight, blue skies, white clouds and waves splashing along the ragged cliffs of Ragged Point by Highway 1 on the California Central Coast.
Beautiful Crater Lake National Park
randy andy /

Best time of year to go on a road trip from Portland to Sacramento

There genuinely isn't a 'best' time for the road trip from Portland to Sacramento - the time you make the trip should depend on what you hope to get out of it.

Summer temperatures often climb the mid to high 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Sacramento, so if you enjoy getting out to go hiking or other activities, then it may be the best time for you. However, summer also brings more tourists, larger crowds, and more expensive hotel prices.

Christmas tree lit up outside the Capitol building in Sacramento at night
Christmas at the Capitol Building in Sacramento
Andrew Zarivny/

If you prefer things a little quieter but dislike the cold of winter, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall may be a great time to go on a road trip.

During these times, you can expect milder temperatures ranging from the high 50s to mid-70 degrees, though be careful with early or later snowfall, as Crater Lake is open year-round, but some facilities and roads do close due to snow and ice.

On average, winter is the quietest time of year to travel. You may be able to score a deal on a hotel, but in the mountainous regions, you will also have to contend with colder temperatures that can drop to the low 30s to 40 degrees.

Sacramento is also a good place to visit in winter, with its milder winter temperatures generally staying between 40-55 degrees, though there is more rainfall and cloudier conditions. If you are used to colder temperatures, then it may be a good time to go, as it rarely drops below 40 degrees.