White foam waves lapping along Cannon Beach shoreline with Haystack Rock in the background
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Road Trip from Seattle to Cannon Beach

Updated by Dianne Titos on November 13 2023

This picturesque road trip from Seattle to Cannon Beach takes in some of America's most beloved national parks, dotted with jaw-dropping lookouts, interesting museums, daring mountain tops and old volcano spots. It doesn't get more scenic and outdoorsy than this adventure!

The 435-mile road trip from Seattle to Cannon Beach takes 8 hours 30 minutes, weaving past Tacoma, Olympia National Park, Quinault Reservation, Bone River Natural Area Preserve, Greenwater, Mount Rainer National Park, Mount St Helens and Vancouver.

This beautiful journey takes you through so many stunning sites where you can explore the area's forests and learn more about this region. Keep reading to see about some great routes to take and where to stop along the way before you reach stunning Cannon Beach.

How far is Cannon Beach from Seattle, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip routes between Seattle and Cannon Beach
RouteDistanceDriving Time
The Olympic Peninsula Route435 miles8 hours and 20 minutes
The Washington's Volcano Route435 miles8 hours and 50 minutes

The incredibly scenic and cultural journey along the Olympic Peninsula Route covers 435 miles and takes around 8 hours and 50 minutes to travel.

If you take the alternative but equally impressive Washington's Volcanos Route then you cover the same 435 miles, however it takes a little longer to travel at around 8 hours and 50 minutes.

With so much to explore and enjoy on this road trip from Seattle to Cannon Beach, we suggest taking 3-4 days to make the most of it and to spend overnight in some amazing cities along the way.

Winding Olympic Peninsula highway, surrounded by rocks and forests one side and water alongside the other
Take the winding Olympic Peninsula Route to Cannon Beach and you can expect jaw-dropping landscapes along the way.

Best road trip route from Seattle to Cannon Beach

Check out this road trip between Seattle and Cannon Beach and you can expect to enjoy incredible landscapes, lookouts and historical sites along the way.

The Olympic Peninsula Route allows you to hike through incredible scenery at Gold Mountain, Manchester State Park, and Bone River Natural Area Preserve, and a million acres of memorable Olympia National Park.

Take the Washington's Volcanos Route and you can expect panoramic views at Sun Top, impressive National Parks Mount Rainier and Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and the must-visit Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument.

How to drive from Seattle to Cannon Beach

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

Olympic Peninsula Route

From Seattle, take Interstate-5 (I-5) south towards Tacoma, before taking WA-16, then WA-3 over Hood Canal Floating Bridge.

From here, WA-104 and then US-101 north takes you on the Olympic Highway and around Olympic National Park and Hot Springs. Spend a night or more in Forks before heading back on the US-101 towards the interesting Quinault Reservation.

Take WA-109 south passing Hoquiam and Aberdeen, before WA-105 leads you along the coastline past Johns River State Wildlife Area and Twin Harbors State Park. US-101 then takes you to Sunset Boulevard in Cannon Beach.

Washington's Volcanos Route

A similar start to the alternative route, take Interstate-5 (I-5) south towards Tacoma, but then take WA-164 and WA-410 east to very scenic Greenwater.

From here follow WA-410 to Sun Top Lookout and arrive at Mount Rainier National Park and Gifford Pinchot National Forest. After plenty of exploring jump back on the WA-123 and US-12 then I-5 south towards Mount Saint Helens. Stop off here first to find out more about the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980.

From here the WA-503 and I-5 heads to Vancouver, Washington, where you can enjoy the historic scenic sites including Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, before the next day taking US-26 west to Sunset Boulevard in Cannon Beach.

Reflection lake trail surrounded with purple wildflowers and Mount Rainier in the distance
Visit in summer and you are greeted with stunning wildflowers and scenery as you hike towards Mount Rainier.
Roman Khomlyak/Shutterstock.com

Best places to stop between Seattle and Cannon Beach

Take a road trip between Seattle and Cannon Beach and you can be sure of amazing National Parks and interesting stop-offs whichever route you take.

With so much to see make sure to stay a night or two along the way. Here are our recommendations on some fabulous places to make your trip even more special.

Take a scenic and supernatural tour around Forks

Just under halfway along the Olympic Peninsula Route and you will arrive at Forks, a great location to stop off at the midway point and explore to the gateway of Olympic National Park, and well known for its teen favorite ‘Twilight' setting.

Forks is renowned as a gateway to many natural wonders. It is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including the Hoh Rainforest and Olympic National Park where you can hike, camp, fish and admire wildlife spots to your heart's content.

Close up of 'City of Forks Welcomes You' sign along the highway
Stop off in Forks, the gateway to many natural wonders, and you are in for a warm welcome and interesting visit.

Learn more about the area's history with a visit to the Forks Timber Museum. Explore exhibits on the town's logging history, check out vintage logging equipment, and learn more about this bygone era.

Forks has also grown in popularity given the fictional town of Forks served as the backdrop of the popular book and movie series ‘Twilight'. Fans often visit for pictures at some of the locations and you can go on a guided ‘Twilight Tour'.

With so much to see, stay for a night or two in the exceptional Misty Valley Inn, rated highly for its excellent location close to the Olympic National Park and Sol Duc River.

A real talking point is the gorgeous gardens here, so sit back and relax on the beautiful terrace to enjoy coffee overlooking the lush forests below

Before heading off exploring enjoy the delicious Full English and Continental breakfast options, with drinks and snacks available during your stay.

Enjoy city sights with waterfront views in Vancouver, Washington

Head along Washington's Volcanos Route and about three-quarters of the way in you'll find Vancouver, Washington. A different vibe from the earlier part of the trip which was very scenic, you now get to enjoy some city sights.

Best known for its waterfront views and historic sites, there is plenty to see and do, with a visit to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site a must. Learn about the area's history at this informative and interactive house and grounds, and more about trading from here in the Civil War.

Nestled next to the Columbia River, make sure to take time out to follow the waterfront pathway, the Waterfront Renaissance Trail is a beautiful path to follow.

Waterfront and walkway in downtown Vancouver, Washington
Meander along the waterfront in downtown Vancouver and you can enjoy shopping and relaxing with gorgeous river views.

For the best places to head for coffee and brunch then visit downtown Vancouver for a meander. It's dotted with weekend farmers' markets and nice shops.

To best enjoy those waterfront views, stay a night or two at the impressive AC Hotel by Marriott Vancouver Waterfront, with an absolutely fabulous beachfront location and gorgeous outdoor terraces to dine.

Super close to many top attractions, including Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Plaza, Capt. George Vancouver Monument Plaza and Old Apple Tree Park, all within a quick stroll.

Modern decor, with stylish fixtures and floor-to-ceiling windows for incredible views, you can be sure of a luxurious stay. Plus, free parking on site, so easy to drop your car off and enjoy exploring this pretty area on foot.

Where to stay when you reach Cannon Beach

At Cannon Beach every season offers something different to enjoy, with woodlands and wetlands great for year-round exploring and wildlife spotting. Whenever you choose to visit make sure to stay at the Inn at Cannon Beach, a superb-rated inn where you can be sure of a great stay.

Just a short drive from Tolovana Beach State Park and Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, it in a great spot ideal for exploring and enjoying some rest and relaxation.

Sit back and enjoy the beautiful manicured outdoor gardens and admire the view or head down to the beach with complimentary blankets and chairs and Cannon Beach just a short stroll away.

Please check our comprehensive guide out to learn more about Cannon Beach:

READ MORE - Our Guide to Cannon Beach

Things to see on a road trip from Seattle to Cannon Beach

This beautiful and scenic road trip from Seattle to Cannon Beach takes you through so many parklands, forests, historic stop-offs and monuments. Do keep reading to see all the great things you can see along the way.

The Olympic Peninsula Route

  1. Gold Mountain - A scenic spot known for its hiking trails and stunning mountain vistas. Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the trails, including the 1,761-foot ascent to the summit for the fittest.
  2. Manchester State Park - A little detour will lead you to Washington's Kitsap Peninsula and this pretty park with a beachfront setting. Sit back and enjoy panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains. Great for a lunch break.
  3. Port Angeles Fine Arts Center - A popular site hosting contemporary art exhibits and installations. Located in Port Angeles, there are plenty of local artists' work on display and is open 11:00am-5:00pm Thursday to Sunday.
  4. Elwha Klallam Museum - Also found in Port Angeles is this dedicated museum celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the Elwha Klallam Tribe and gives a chance to understand their fascinating Northwest culture
  5. Olympia National Park - Spanning nearly 1 million acres, this vast national park has everything from snow-capped mountains to pristine coastal beaches. The Hall of Mosses Trail, located in the Hoh Rainforest, is a gentle, pretty trail to explore.
  6. Olympic Hot Springs - A special part of the park is the Hot Springs. If you fancy it then head to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, heated from the rain and melting snow and reaching up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit this is a scenic and relaxing spot!
  7. Forks - Known best as the setting for the ‘Twilight' book series. It is surrounded by lush forests and is a gateway to Olympic National Park.
  8. Ruby Beach - Within Olympic National Park, it is known for its dramatic coastline and has a tremendous amount of driftwood. You can see sea stacks and ruby-like crystals in the beach so is a unique beach to head to.
  9. Quinault Reservation - The ancestral home of the Quinault Indian Nation you are welcome to explore the reservation and visit the Quinault Cultural Center for more information about this community
  10. Lake Quinault - A serene and picturesque lake surrounded by lush rainforests. Plenty of outdoor recreation can be enjoyed on the Olympic Peninsula, with pretty lake side trails
  11. Lady Washington Maritime Museum - Found in Aberdeen, Washington, this museum celebrates the history and legacy of sailing ships. The replica tall ship Lady Washington is particularly impressive.
  12. Columbia River Maritime Museum - Interesting and interactive hub recognizing the maritime heritage of the Pacific Northwest. The museum features exhibits on maritime history, shipwrecks and navigational instruments. Open daily 9:30am-5:00pm.
  13. Lewis and Clark Historic Park - Just before arriving at Cannon Beach you can visit this center commemorating the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the journey made to cross the newly found western part of the US.
  14. Bone River Natural Area Preserve - Found in Hoquiam, Washington, this is a protected area spanning 2800 acres with marshes, freshwater streams and wetlands, making for interesting nature walks and birdwatching.
Beautiful clear day at Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington, with rock formations dotted along the shoreline
Marvel at the beautiful shoreline of Ruby Beach dotted with rock formations, sea stacks and driftwood.
Jeremy Janus/Shutterstock.com

Washington's Volcanoes Route

  1. Greenwater - Stop off in Greenwater, and you can be sure of plenty of outdoor recreation with a very scenic backdrop. Explore this small logging community and its pretty surroundings.
  2. Sun Top Lookout - Just a short distance from Greenwater, you can visit this historic fire lookout tower. Marvel at the panoramic views of the stunning mountains and valleys
  3. Paradise - Found within Mount Rainier National Park, it is best known for its meadows and wildflowers, so visiting in spring is especially impressive.
  4. Mount Rainier National Park - One of the oldest National Parks after being founded in 1899, and spanning a huge 235,000 acres, here you can see the amazing Mount Rainier, the highest peak in Washington State.
  5. Reflection Lakes - Worth a stop whatever the weather, but arrive on a sunny and calm day and you can be sure of an incredible reflection from the alpine lake
  6. Longmire - A very popular spot for visitors of Mount Rainier National Park, Longmire offers a glimpse into the area's history, with a museum, hiking trails and hot springs to enjoy.
  7. Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Along southwestern Washington and spanning 1.3 million acres, there is plenty to see. Take a trip around the Emerald Ridge Trail to Aurora Lake and you can be sure of lush forests and lake views along this 22-mile hike.
  8. Mount Saint Helen's Visitor Center - Stop off here first to find out more about the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in 1980 with a visit to this interesting visitor center.
  9. Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument - Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument preserves the area around the volcano eruption, and offers opportunities for hiking. The site covers 110,000 acres and looked after for research and education
  10. Vancouver, Washington - Stop off along the banks of the Columbia River and enjoy a visit to Vancouver. Historic sites include Fort Vancouver National Historic Site where you can learn about this reconstructed 19th-century areas history.
  11. Clatsop State Forest - This vast forested area in northwest Oregon has a range of recreational activities such as hiking, and fishing and wildlife viewing along Lost Lake.
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument viewpoint overlooking volcano and monument signage in forefront
Make sure to stop off at the impressive Mount Saint Helens and Monument. A historic and fascinating landmark.

Both Routes

  1. Wild Waves Theme and Water Park - Visit for a variety of exhilarating rides, water slides, wave pools, and family-friendly entertainment in Tacoma
  2. Museum of Glass - A popular museum in Tacoma dedicated to the art, history, and science of glassmaking. The museum features a stunning collection of glass art and a glass-blowing demonstration.

Best time to go on a road trip from Seattle to Cannon Beach

The weather at Cannon Beach is pretty mild throughout the year at around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, so regardless of when you go, as long as you pack well you can make the most of your exciting visit.

However, the most popular time to visit is when the weather is warmest and you can enjoy the sandy shores, but it can also be especially busy. Visit during the summer months and you can expect crowded beaches and local attractions.

Views across Cannon Beach with waves along coastline and lush forests surrounding, trees in forefront.
Whenever you decide to visit Cannon Beach you can be sure of incredible scenery, plenty to do, and an unforgettable time.

Although you might not expect Cannon Beach to be welcoming in winter, it has a lot of appeal. You can expect wildlife delights come winter, including Roosevelt Elk and from mid-December to mid-January, you may see Gray Whales migrating.

Spring is a great time to visit when the weather is mild with highs of 55 degrees Fahrenheit and lows of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the attractions are all open, but you avoid the crowds who are typically waiting for the summer season.

Likewise, in fall, Cannon Beach is still great for visiting but without the masses. The off-season in fact, from October to May, is often called the magic season, given the lovely quiet sites and scenery you can explore. Just pack a raincoat as wet weather is likely.

In such a beautiful setting, there are many annual events taking place. Between April and May Fat Bike events is a fun and energetic way to explore Cannon Beach. Join beach bike rides and guided rides along Klootchy Creek Trails.

Visit Cannon Beach in June and the annual Sandcastle Contest will be in full swing. Since 1964 people have been designing sandcastle extravaganzas.

Towards the end of the year in November, the magical Haystack Holidays kicks off. A range of events celebrating the holiday season build-up, with musical acts, arts and theatre shows. Many people descend on Cannon Beach to enjoy.

Also in November is the Stormy Weather Arts Festival, which has been held for over 36 years. Art is a big part of the community and many artists participate in this festival, which helps put Cannon Beach on the art map with its impressive talent.