Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you need to be stuck at home. Winter is the perfect time to get out and explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest. If you’re looking to plan some winter drives through some of the country’s most beautiful scenery, try one of these tried and true itineraries, and see our pick for the best car to get you there. After all, winter drives in the Pacific Northwest are some of the best road trips!
Bellingham to Mount Baker
Bellingham, Washington is nicknamed “The City of Subdued Excitement” and is the perfect place to start your winter drive. This college town is full of quirky museums, theaters, shops, pubs, and restaurants. Take the time to explore the historic village of Fairhaven while you’re there. Founded in 1890, this gem retains much of its charm. Bundle up and walk the cobblestone streets, just as Mark Twain did many years ago. Step back in time to when this area was a major jumping off point for explorers in search of gold in British Columbia and Alaska!
From Fairhaven take the Mount Baker Scenic Byway along Nooksack River. In early winter, pull off at Mosquito Lake Road to Welcome Bridge Park. There at the shores of North Fork, you can see hundreds of bald eagles feasting upon the salmon in the river. End your trip at Mount Baker, a 10,781-foot volcano with full ski resort and activity center. It’s also home to Mount Shuksan, one of the most photographed scenes in the country with its perfect reflection in Picture Lake below. A stunning addition to your bucket list of winter drives in the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle to La Hoh Rainforest
Another of our favorite Pacific Northwest winter drives begins in Seattle. Lying on the Puget Sound, there is no shortage of things to see here. Be sure to see the iconic Space Needle and visit the world-famous Pike Place Market. After you’ve had your fill of this vibrant city, head towards Sequim. Sequim is located in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, making it the driest part of western Washington. From here detour to Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and explore Dungeness Spit, the largest natural sand spit in the country. It juts out over 5 miles into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Keep a lookout for the many ducks, seabirds, harbor seals, sea lions, and even the occasional whale that call this area home.
From Dungeness Spit head to Hurricane Ridge for a daily guided snowshoe tour. Next, continue west on US-101 towards Forks, made famous by the Twilight novels and movies. From Forks head to the beaches of La Push, First, Second, and Rialto, home to the Quileute Tribe. The shore here is full of silvered driftwood and beach stacks and makes for a fabulous hiking destination. End your journey an hour south on US-101 at the unique Hoh Rain Forest. This is the last old-growth temperate rain forest in the Western hemisphere. It averages a whopping 14 feet of rain per year, so bring your rain gear!
The Best Car for Winter Drives
When it comes to winter drives in the Pacific Northwest, we recommend the environmentally-friendly and uber-luxurious Tesla Model X. The only electric car with all-wheel drive, the Model X is a pro at handling rough weather. It also comes with the perks only Tesla can offer like roof-hinged “Falcon doors,” an expansive panoramic windshield, and Tesla’s signature 17-inch touchscreen. Be sure to map out Tesla’s network of Supercharger stations to make your road trip anxiety-free, as the electric charge lasts approximately 237 to 295 miles.
Regardless of how you choose to explore, plan some winter drives in the Pacific Northwest this winter. You’re bound to see some of the most amazing scenery in the United States. For even more travel ideas in this region, explore this Travel Guide for IPAs in the Pacific Northwest.