A summer day view of the Great Northern Clock Tower, Expo Pavilion, Spokane River
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Road trip from Portland to Spokane

Published by Pat Dorri on November 30 2023

Both Oregon and Washington are known for their beautiful forests, majestic mountains and stunning views, and a road trip from Portland to Spokane is dotted with the best scenery you can see in both states. From alpine lakes to the rugged beauty of the North Cascades, you will be treated to one picture-postcard landscape after another.

The 470-mile road trip from Portland to Spokane will take 8 hours and 15 minutes to drive. The highlights en route are Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Gorge, Mount Hood, Kennewick, Vancouver, Olympia, Tumwater, Seattle, Gold Bar, Leavenworth and Cashmere.

Get ready, because even though it's a relatively short drive from Portland to Spokane, this road trip will be filled with fun and adventure. Read on below to learn more about our recommended routes, top highlights, places to stay, and the best seasons to travel.

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

Comparison of road trip routes between Portland and Spokane
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Direct Route350 miles5 hours and 30 minutes
Seattle Route470 miles8 hours and 15 minutes

The Direct Route to travel from Portland to Spokane is a shorter and more straightforward journey, covering a distance of 350 miles and taking around 5 hours and 30 minutes.

On the other hand, the Seattle Route offers a longer excursion, spanning 470 miles with a drive time of around 8 hours and 15 minutes.

Although the trip can be completed in a single day, we recommend taking 3-4 days on the road. This way, you'll get to take advantage of this stunning region of the USA.

Spokane Falls and view of buildings in Spokane, Washington.
The beautiful city of Spokane is the perfect destination to visit on a road trip from Portland.
Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com

Best road trip route from Portland to Spokane

While both routes from Portland to Spokane are rich in scenery and experiences, they are quite different in what they offer travelers. Which one you choose depends on what you want to see and experience the most.

The Direct Route is a relatively short and straightforward path, where you'll find yourself hugging the shores of the Columbia River for most of the drive. This route offers a visual feast of incredible waterfalls, dramatic gorges, and the chance to see changing fall colors along the river if you travel during the autumn.

You'll also get glimpses of Mount Hood's majestic peak towering in the distance as you start your journey. If you have more time, consider making a detour to Mt Hood and Government Camp to take in the beauty of this area up close.

The alternative Seattle Route gives you the chance to explore the quirky city vibes of both Portland and Seattle. This longer journey takes you through diverse terrain, including rugged mountain ranges with awe-inspiring rock formations and forests.

A highlight of this route is the chance to experience the Bavarian Christmas spirit in Leavenworth, Washington. You'll also get to pass through some of the most charming towns in the Pacific Northwest.

While offering fun city activities and diverse landscapes, this route may not have the same nature-heavy experiences as the Direct Route. However, you can choose to drive further north and follow the beautiful Cascade Loop if you have more time.

If you'd like to add Cascade Loop to your itinerary, here is our ultimate guide to get you started.

How to drive from Portland to Spokane

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

Direct Route

Starting your journey in Portland, Oregon, head east along Interstate 84 (I-84) and drive along the breathtaking Columbia River. Your first major stop will be the iconic Multnomah Falls, a majestic waterfall that offers stunning views.

Continuing along the interstate, you'll pass through the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, renowned for its dramatic landscapes and numerous hiking trails.

Further along the route, the charming town of Hood River awaits you, a perfect spot to see the amazing Mount Hood in the distance. As you progress, consider a detour to Oneonta Gorge for an adventurous hike through a unique slot canyon.

Continuing your journey, you'll cross into Washington and head towards Kennewick, where you can explore the REACH Museum, a tribute to the region's natural history and science.

Driving northward, you'll find the Lasting Legacy Wildlife Museum and the Maryhill Museum of Art, each offering unique insights into local culture and history. Afterwards, you will soon reach your destination in beautiful Spokane.

Exposed moss-covered walls of 25-million-year-old basalt
You can visit the otherworldly scenery of the majestic Oneonta Gorge and its 25 million-year-old basalt walls on the Direct Route.
Abbie Warnock-Matthews/Shutterstock.com

Seattle Route

Beginning your adventure from Portland, Oregon, head north on I-5 towards Vancouver, Washington. From there, continue north on I-5 to Mount St. Helen's Visitor Center near Castle Rock, where you can learn about the famous volcano and its surrounding natural beauty.

As you proceed northward, you will reach Olympia, which is a great place to take a break. After Olympia, a visit to Tumwater Falls offers a scenic break with its lush park and cascading waterfalls.

Driving further north on I-5, you reach Tacoma, home to the Museum of Glass, a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Continuing to Seattle, the iconic Space Needle awaits you, offering panoramic views of the city and beyond. After your visit, you'll drive to Wallace Falls State Park, a natural haven ideal for hiking and enjoying the tranquility of the forest.

From here, head east on US-2, you'll arrive in Leavenworth, a charming Bavarian-themed town, where the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm offers a unique wildlife experience.

Continuing on the highway, make a stop at the Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village for a dive into local history. After this point, you will continue heading east through Coulee City and Davenport to arrive in Spokane.

Seattle Skyline and Mount Rainier, Washington, USA with a view of the Space Needle, skyline and Mount Rainier from Kerry Park on a clear blue day.
For a complete change of scenery, you can choose the more urban route and visit Seattle's famous Space Needle.
happycreator/Shutterstock.com

Best places to stop between Portland and Spokane

With so much to see and do on a road trip from Portland to Spokane, you'll want to make a stop at one of the exciting destinations below. This way you'll be able to rest in style and have time to explore the beautiful places along your route.

Stunning lake views in Boardman

Boardman, a charming lakeside town located about 2 hours and 40 minutes into your journey on the Direct Route, is the perfect spot for an overnight stop. Nestled just over halfway to Spokane, it offers a picturesque setting that rejuvenates you for the remaining drive.

Boardman, primarily known as a major agricultural and manufacturing hub, has a unique blend of history and natural beauty. A must-visit is the SAGE Center, an interactive museum showcasing sustainable agriculture and energy technologies.

Elevated view of the gorge on a beautiful but cloudy autumn day
The drive to Boardman next to the dramatic Columbia River Gorge will be a stunningly scenic experience.
Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

Nearby, the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge offers a serene escape into nature, with diverse wildlife and scenic vistas to enjoy. Once back in town, you can head to downtown Spokane, where you'll enjoy the quiet peaceful atmosphere and wonderful restaurants.

For your overnight accommodation, the highly-rated River Lodge and Cabins provide a perfect blend of rustic charm and comfort. These gorgeous alpine-style cabins, set on the banks of the Columbia River, offer stunning river views right from your doorstep.

Unwind in the outdoor pool after your drive, or mingle with fellow travelers in the cozy, shared lounge area. Amenities include a fantastic bar and a popular restaurant that serves delicious meals.

Enjoy a Bavarian break in Leavenworth

Leavenworth, a quaint town about 5 hours into your journey on the Seattle Route, is the ideal location for an overnight stop. Leavenworth is celebrated for its enchanting Bavarian theme, which truly shines during the holiday season, with over half a million lights illuminating the town.

Leavenworth's Christmas spirit is truly unique, offering you attractions like the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm and Leavenworth Sleigh Rides. This small town is truly a winter wonderland experience.

Festive decorations adorn shop fronts in Leavenworth, WA at Christmas at night time
You are in for a festive treat if you visit Leavenworth during the holiday period.
Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock.com

Leavenworth Ski Hill has hosted several American championships. So, if you love winter sports, this is the place for you.

For your stay, the luxurious Bavarian Lodge offers an exquisite taste of Bavarian hospitality right in the heart of the town. Each room in the lodge features detailed and authentic Bavarian d├ęcor, providing either a breathtaking mountain or charming village view.

Relax in the year-round outdoor pool, and start your day with a delightful free breakfast. When it comes to exploring, you're just a stone's throw away from the heart of Leavenworth.

The Nutcracker Museum, a 2-minute walk from the lodge, showcases a fascinating collection of nutcrackers, some dating back centuries. Front Street Park, also a brief 2-minute walk, is a picturesque spot to relax and soak in the fun atmosphere of this unique town.

Where to stay when you reach Spokane

Spokane, once known primarily for its natural resources, has blossomed into a city rich in education, industry, and culture. Among its standout features is Riverfront Park, a lush urban green space that has a blend of relaxation and activity in the heart of the city.

For wine enthusiasts, Spokane doesn't disappoint, with Barrister Winery being one of the many exceptional wineries in the area. If you'd like to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors, we also recommend visiting Manito Park and then Spokane Falls, one of the largest urban waterfalls in the United States.

Ornate stone bridge crossing a small body of water with autumn foliage reflected in a calm lake
To catch your breath, relax and center, a visit to Spokane's beautiful Manito Park is a must.
Vickie Ambrosetti/Shutterstock.com

In the midst of Spokane's downtown stands the luxurious and highly rated The Historic Davenport, a grand and iconic building that has been beautifully restored. The hotel has three onsite restaurants, catering to a variety of tastes, with many more dining options within easy walking distance.

The opulent design of The Historic Davenport is evident throughout, from its majestic exterior to the grand entrance hall and the finely detailed touches in each room. With valet parking available, your arrival and stay at The Historic Davenport are sure to be stress-free and luxurious.

Things to see on a road trip from Portland to Spokane

The drive from Portland to Spokane is full of amazing things to do and see. To help you plan your drive easier, we've included our favorite highlights below.

Direct Route

  1. Multnomah Falls - Multnomah Falls is a breathtaking 611-foot-tall waterfall, the tallest in Oregon, offering scenic views and a picturesque bridge perfect for photography.
  2. Columbia River Highway - This historic highway winds through the Columbia River Gorge, offering stunning vistas, access to numerous waterfalls, and a drive filled with natural beauty.
  3. Oneonta Gorge - A hidden gem in the Columbia River Gorge, Oneonta Gorge offers a unique hiking experience through a narrow canyon leading to a secluded waterfall.
  4. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area - Spanning the border of Oregon and Washington, this area is renowned for its spectacular gorge, panoramic views, and a multitude of outdoor activities.
  5. Hood River - A charming town known for its vibrant downtown, Hood River also serves as a gateway to Mount Hood and is a hub for wind sports on the Columbia River.
  6. Rowena Crest Viewpoint - A scenic overlook offering panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge, characterized by its winding roads and unique, horseshoe-shaped curves. This viewpoint is popular for photography, especially during spring when the wildflowers bloom.
  7. Mount Hood - Oregon's highest peak, Mount Hood, is a prominent landmark offering year-round recreational activities, including skiing, hiking, and scenic drives.
  8. Whitman Mission National Historic Site - A slight detour, this historical park commemorates the 1836 mission founded by Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, which played a key role in the Oregon Trail migrations.
  9. Fort Walla Walla Museum - If you choose to make the detour to Walla Walla, this museum showcases the military history and pioneer life of the Walla Walla Valley, featuring original buildings, extensive artifact collections, and living history performances.
  10. REACH Museum - Located in Richland, Washington, the REACH Museum showcases the natural history, science, and culture of the Columbia Basin through interactive exhibits and educational programs.
  11. Lasting Legacy Wildlife Museum - This museum in Kennewick, Washington, features an extensive collection of wildlife exhibits, showcasing animals from North America and around the world.
  12. Odessa Craters - Another detour option, this geological area in Eastern Washington is known for its distinctive basalt rock formations and craters created by the Ice Age floods. The area is a hidden gem for hiking and exploring unique landscapes.
  13. Fishtrap Recreation Area - A vast outdoor recreation area in Eastern Washington known for its picturesque Fishtrap Lake and diverse wildlife. It offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, birdwatching, and exploring historic ranch lands.
Stunning sunrise and wildflowers covering the hills
The gorgeous sunrise over the hills at Rowena Crest Viewpoint will take your breath away, especially if you are traveling in the spring and can view the wildflowers.
kan_khampanya/Shutterstock.com

Seattle Route

  1. Vancouver, Washington - A city with a blend of historic charm and modern amenities, Vancouver is nestled on the north bank of the Columbia River, offering parks, cultural sites, and a vibrant waterfront.
  2. Mount St. Helen's Visitor Center - This visitor center provides educational exhibits and stunning views of Mount St. Helens, offering insights into the volcano's history and impact.
  3. Chehalis-Centralia Railroad and Museum - A heritage railroad located in Chehalis, Washington, offering vintage train rides through scenic landscapes. The museum preserves and displays historical railroad equipment and memorabilia.
  4. Washington State Capitol Building and Campus - Located in Olympia, this historic building boasts impressive architecture and landscaped grounds, serving as the center of Washington State government.
  5. Tumwater Falls - A scenic park in Tumwater featuring a series of cascading waterfalls, walking trails, and picnic areas, perfect for a peaceful retreat in nature.
  6. Museum of Glass - An innovative museum in Tacoma dedicated to contemporary glass art, featuring live glassblowing demonstrations and a diverse collection of modern glassworks.
  7. Space Needle - An iconic structure in Seattle's skyline, the Space Needle offers panoramic views of the city, Puget Sound, and surrounding mountains from its observation deck.
  8. Pike Place Market - A bustling public market in Seattle, famous for its fresh produce, artisanal goods, unique shops, and the original Starbucks coffee shop.
  9. Seattle Aquarium - Located on the Seattle waterfront, this aquarium offers an exploration of marine life, with exhibits on local sea creatures, interactive displays, and educational programs.
  10. Wallace Falls State Park - A state park near Gold Bar, Washington, known for its stunning 265-foot waterfall, hiking trails, and lush forested landscape.
  11. Barclay Lake - A serene, alpine lake nestled in the Central Cascades of Washington State, known for its easy access and scenic beauty. It's a popular destination for hiking, camping, and fishing, surrounded by lush forests and mountain views.
  12. Leavenworth Reindeer Farm - A unique attraction in the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, where visitors can interact with reindeer and learn about these fascinating creatures.
  13. Cashmere Museum and Pioneer Village - Located in Cashmere, Washington, this museum and historical village showcase the region's pioneer history through artifacts, exhibits, and reconstructed historical buildings.
Beautiful waterfall in between evergreen trees in the forest, gloomy day
The emerald green forests and the majestic waterfall of Wallace Falls State Park will take your breath away on the Seattle Route.
Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

Best time to go on a road trip from Portland to Spokane

Spokane, a beautiful destination at the end of your road trip from Portland, offers unique experiences each season. However, the season you choose to travel in will have an affect on which amazing experiences await you on this road trip.

In winter, Spokane typically sees temperatures ranging from highs around 34 degrees Fahrenheit to lows near 22 degrees, offering a cold but picturesque snowy backdrop. This is a magical time for the Seattle Route, with Leavenworth's extended Christmas festivities lasting until February.

However, if you're taking the Direct Route, be mindful that while main roads remain open, some through Mt. Hood National Park may be closed due to weather conditions.

Snowy mountain forest with footsteps on fresh snow
Visiting Spokane in winter will mean that you can enjoy winter sports and snowy strolls on the nearby Mount Spokane.
Evan Sloyka/Shutterstock.com

Spring in Spokane brings milder temperatures, averaging highs in the 50s and 60s. This season is perfect for enjoying the Spokane Lilac Festival and the Lilac Bloomsday Run in May.

Summer sees Spokane bask in warm weather, with average highs in the 80s, ideal for exploring Riverfront Park or visiting one of the local wineries. July and August are particularly warm and dry, making the Direct Route a great choice for those seeking sunny road trip weather.

During this season, the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival in July adds a musical flair to your journey's start. Plus, you'll get to enjoy some of the best 4th of July festivities in America along both routes.

Fall in Spokane is a spectacle of changing foliage, with temperatures cooling to pleasant highs in the 50s and 60s. The Seattle Route is full of stunning autumn colors in late September and October, aligning perfectly with Leavenworth's famous Oktoberfest.

Meanwhile, the Direct Route also has beautiful fall colors along the Columbia River, making late September to mid-October an ideal time for this journey.