Julie Itinerary, United States 85 Comments

This Washington itinerary is geared to visiting the three national parks in Washington state: Olympic, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades. But you also have enough time to visit Leavenworth, a Bavarian-themed town, go wine tasting at Lake Chelan, visit Mount Baker, and go on a day hike in the Enchantments.

Note: There is currently a road closure in Mount Rainier National Park (for road construction). Make sure you check the National Park website for updated information. 

About this Washington Itinerary

This Washington road trip is written as a 10-day itinerary. At the end of this post, we have a 7-day and 14-day itinerary, if you have more or less than 10  days.

The national parks in Washington are the larger side, and even with 10 days, what you can see and do in these parks is very limited. As you will see, you will also spend a lot of time driving from park to park.

On this Washington itinerary, you will start and end in Seattle, making one big loop through the state. You will drive 1,225 miles and this does not include any additional mileage for detours. Your mileage could vary a little bit depending on where you stay in each national park.

On this road trip, all of the roads you will drive are either paved roads or gravel roads that are suitable for standard cars, so a standard 2WD vehicle will do just fine.

This itinerary works best from July through September, when all of the roads and hiking trails are open in the national parks. You can still do a version of this itinerary outside of this time frame, but just be aware that some park roads will be closed from fall through spring.

On this Washington Itinerary, You will Visit:

This Washington itinerary focuses on the three national parks in Washington with several other notable destinations.

  • Olympic National Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Leavenworth
  • Enchantments (optional)
  • Lake Chelan
  • Mount Baker (optional)

If you are an avid hiker, you will love this itinerary. The hikes in these three national parks are incredible. If you have extra time to add to this itinerary, I highly recommend adding on the Enchantments. I don’t think it is worth zipping through these national parks any faster than I have written this itinerary, in order to squeeze in the Enchantments. At the end of the post, I will let you know how to add on the Enchantments.

And if hiking is not your thing, not to worry. With gorgeous scenic drives, stunning overlooks, and short but sweet strolls through the parks, you can have a fantastic trip without venturing too far down a hiking trail.

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
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Washington Itinerary: Day 1

Arrive in Seattle, drive to Port Angeles

On the Road: 95 to 130 miles, 2.5 hours

Fly into Seattle – Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and pick up your rental car.

Drive to Port Angeles. There are several routes you can choose from. All routes take roughly 2.5 hours. The shorter routes are only 95 miles but you will have to take a car ferry. To avoid this, you can drive south through Tacoma. This route is 130 miles long and takes just under 2.5 hours, as long as there is no traffic. This is the route we took to Port Angeles.

Get settled in your hotel and have dinner. We recommend Sabai Thai and Next Door Gastro Pub.

Where to Stay in Port Angeles

We stayed at the Olympic Lodge and highly recommend it. This hotel is centrally located in Port Angeles, with quick and easy access to restaurants and the park entrance. Sea Cliff Gardens and A Hidden Haven Cottages (great for families with four people!) also get great reviews. If you are traveling by RV, you can stay at the Crescent Beach and RV Park.

You will stay in Port Angeles for two nights.

Washington Itinerary: Day 2

Olympic National Park

On the Road: 200 miles, 4.5 hours

This is a big day. Today you will visit the western side of Olympic National Park. You will divide your time between the coastal sights and the temperate rainforest.

The two big sights you will visit are Rialto Beach and the Hoh Rainforest. For some people, this will be sufficient. But there are optional add-ons such as Mount Storm King and/or Marymere Falls, Ruby Beach, and Sol Duc Falls.

Start your day at the Pacific coast. To get here, take Highway 101 west from Port Angeles. You will drive past lovely Lake Crescent.

Optional: Mount Storm King and/or Marymere Falls

Two trails start at Lake Crescent and both of these are optional: Mount Storm King and Marymere Falls. For those who like the idea of visiting a waterfall, but have no interest in doing a strenuous hike, you can hike to Marymere Falls from Crescent Lake (1.8 miles, easy, about 1 hour).

Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls


Mount Storm King

Mount Storm King

If you are an avid hiker, I recommend starting the day with the Mount Storm King hike. This is one of the most popular hikes in Olympic National Park so it’s a good one to do first thing of the day.

This hike is short but very strenuous. It’s just over 4.5 miles long, out-and-back, but it ascends over 2,000 feet. It will take 3 to 5 hours and you have the option to add on Marymere Falls at the beginning or end of the hike. Get the full details in our Guide to Mount Storm King.

Rialto Beach

Continue on Highway 101. In the town of Forks, take route 110 out to the coast. “Hike” along Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall. This is an easy, 3.5-mile round-trip stroll along the beach where you get to see the sea stacks and rock formations that make the Olympic beaches look so unique.

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach

There are other gorgeous beaches to visit in the nearby area. The La Push Beaches, which include First, Second, and Third beaches, are very nice to visit. To the north, Shi Shi Beach and Cape Flattery also look amazing.

Optional: Ruby Beach

If you like the idea of visiting another beach, put Ruby Beach on your list. You can have a picnic lunch here or hike along the coast until you get to the Hoh River (6 miles round trip).

Ruby Beach

This detour adds on 30 miles and about 40 minutes of additional driving time. Plan on spending 30+ minutes at the beach.

Hoh Rainforest

From Highway 101, turn onto Upper Hoh Road. This road is 18 miles long and travels through a dense temperate rainforest. It ends at the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center.

For many people, a visit to the Hoh Rainforest is the highlight of a visit to Olympic National Park.

When you walk through the Hoh Rainforest, you feel like you are journeying back in time. Moss drips from trees that are over 250 feet tall and hundreds of years old. The understory is filled with fallen trees, saplings, and ferns. Keep an eye for deer, the northern spotted owl, elk, raccoon, and black bear.

There are two trails to walk here.

The Hall of Mosses is 0.8 miles round trip. It loops through some of the oldest trees in the area. As its name implies, it is also one of the best places to capture the moss hanging from the trees.

The Spruce Nature Trail is a 1.2 mile loop which features more views of the rainforest and the Hoh River. This trail tends to be less crowded than the Hall of Mosses.

Hall of Mosses

Hall of Mosses Trail

Return to Port Angeles

Drive back to Port Angeles. On the drive, there is one more optional detour. Sol Duc Falls is a waterfall that is tucked away in the temperate rainforest. Just before you reach Lake Crescent, turn right onto Sol Duc – Hot Springs Road and take this to the end.

From the parking lot, it is an easy 2.25 mile round trip walk to the waterfall. This visit, including driving time, will take 2 to 3 hours. I only recommend this if you are doing well on time.

Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls

Washington Itinerary: Day 3

Olympic National Park

On the Road: 220 miles, 5 hours

Today you will visit Hurricane Ridge and then drive to Mount Rainier National Park.

Hurricane Ridge

From Port Angeles, it is a quick, easy, and very scenic drive to Hurricane Ridge (20 miles, 45 minutes).

At Hurricane Ridge, take your pick from easy walking trails to strenuous hikes. Here are a few ways to spend your time:

High Ridge Trail. Walk 0.5 miles round-trip for nice views along Hurricane Ridge Road. Go a little farther to Sunrise Point for a 1.6 mile round-trip hike.

Hurricane Ridge Trail to Hurricane Ridge. 3.2 miles, easy to moderate, 2 hours. This is our top pick if you are traveling with kids. As this wide trail heads along the ridge, it slowly gains elevation, but it is nothing too strenuous. There are a few switchbacks at the end of the hill as you climb up to the final peak, but your reward is a spectacular view of Olympic National Park.

Sunrise Ridge Via the Sunrise Point Trail. 3 miles, easy to moderate, 2 hours. This entire hike is beautiful, as you are hiking along a ridge with panoramic views the entire way. This hike ends at an overlook where you have a great view of Mount Angeles.

Klahhane Ridge Trail to Mount Angeles. 6.5 miles, strenuous, 4 to 6 hours. This hike is an extension of the Sunrise Ridge Trail mentioned previously. If you like the idea of climbing to the highest peak in the Hurricane Ridge area and the chance to have one of the best panoramic views in Olympic National Park, put this hike on your list.

Hurricane Ridge

Klahhane Ridge Trail

You can also visit the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.

Another idea for something to do is to drive Obstruction Point Road. Obstruction Point Road is frequently called Washington’s scariest road. This gravel road starts at the Hurricane Ridge parking lot and ends at Obstruction Point at an elevation of 6,150 feet. Once at Obstruction Point, you can take your pick from the trails that head further into the mountains.

Obstruction Point Road Washington itinerary

Obstruction Point Road

Important Note: This road is generally open from mid-July through October. A standard car is suitable for this drive but RV’s and trailers are not permitted on this road.

Midday: Lunch

Return to Port Angeles and have lunch.

Afternoon: Drive to Mount Rainier National Park

It takes three to four hours to drive to Mount Rainier National Park, depending on where you stay.

TIMED ENTRY PERMIT: A timed entry permit is required from May 24 through September 2, 2024, to visit the Sunrise and Paradise areas of Mount Rainier National Park. Learn more on the NPS website.

For this Washington itinerary, I recommend staying at the Paradise Inn or in Ashford or Packwood. We stayed at Ashford and Packwood and they both work just fine for this itinerary. If you stay in Ashford, it will be a shorter drive today. However, it will be a much longer drive when you visit the Sunrise area of the park, compared to Packwood.

In Ashford, we stayed at the Nisqually Lodge. Another nice place to stay is the Mountain Meadows Inn. The Copper Creek Restaurant was our go-to spot for dinner while staying in Ashford.

In Packwood, we stayed at the Cowlitz River Lodge. The Packwood Lodge and the Packwood Ski or Vacation Getaway also get good reviews. For dinner, we recommend Packwood Brewing Company and Cliff Droppers.

If you will be camping, Cougar Rock Campground, La Wis Wis Campground, and Big Creek Campground have convenient locations.

You will stay in Ashford, Packwood, or the Paradise Inn for 3 nights.

Mount Rainier Travel Guide

Washington Itinerary: Day 4

Mount Rainier National Park

On the Road: 40 miles, 1.5 hours from Paradise Inn; 80 miles and 3 hours from Ashford; 66 miles and 2 hours from Packwood

Spend the Morning in Paradise

Paradise definitely lives up to its name. This is one of the most beautiful areas of Mount Rainier National Park.

Take your pick from numerous hiking trails that lead higher onto Mount Rainier. The shorter, easier trails take you up to nice viewpoints of the mountain and these include the Alta Vista Trail (1.7 miles) and the Nisqually Vista Trail (1.2 miles).

For the best experience, hike the Skyline Trail to Panorama Point, one of the best hikes in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s a big day, 6.2 miles round trip with some hefty elevation gain, but you are rewarded with panoramic views of the park.

Paradise Mount Rainier

The Skyline Trail


Skyline Trail Mount Rainier

Another view of the Skyline Trail

If you aren’t big into hiking, have brunch at the Paradise Inn and then walk to Myrtle Falls (1 mile, easy, 30 minutes).

Myrtle Falls Washington itinerary

Myrtle Falls

Afternoon: More Sights in Mount Rainier National Park

From Paradise, it is a quick drive to Narada Falls. To view Narada Falls, it is a short but steep walk to the viewpoint (0.2 miles round trip). You might get a little wet, since you are close enough to feel the spray of the waterfall.

From Narada Falls, it takes about 7 minutes to drive to Reflection Lake, one of the prettiest lakes in the park.

Reflection Lake

Reflection Lake

If you like the idea of adding on another hike, you can hike to Bench and Snow Lakes. The trailhead is located on Stevens Canyon Road, just a short distance away from Reflection Lake. This hike is 2.7 miles round-trip and takes about 2 hours.

The final stop of the day is the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail. It can be challenging to get a parking space here since it is a popular spot. This easy, 1.5 mile round trip trail takes you past some of the largest and oldest trees in Mount Rainier National Park. These ancient Douglas firs, western red cedars, and western hemlocks are enormous. You will cross a suspension bridge and then walk on a series of boardwalk and dirt trails through the forest. Note: The Grove of the Patriarchs Trail is closed due to damage to the suspension bridge from flooding. Get updates on the National Park Service website.

Grove of the Patriarchs Washington itinerary

Grove of the Patriarchs

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you are staying in Ashford, save the Grove of the Patriarchs for tomorrow. This will save you 30 miles and an hour of driving today, bringing down your total to 50 miles and 2 hours of driving. Visit the Grove of the Patriarchs first thing in the morning on the drive to Sunrise.

Washington Itinerary: Day 5

Mount Rainier National Park

On the Road: 125 miles and 2.75 hours from Paradise Inn; 160 miles and 3.25 hours from Ashford; 106 miles and 2.25 hours from Packwood

Morning: Sunrise

Spend the morning in beautiful Sunrise. This is the highest you can get by car in the park. At an elevation of 6,400 feet, not only do you have fantastic views of Mount Rainier, but you can also look out over the Cascade Range.

On the drive, get out and stretch your legs at Sunrise Point. From this hairpin bend in Sunrise Park Road, not only do you get a great view of the peak of Mount Rainier, but you can also see Mount Adams, the second highest peak in Washington.

Mount Rainier View Washington itinerary

Sunrise Point

There are a handful of hikes that start in Sunrise, ranging from short, easy strolls to challenging day hikes. I recommend hiking the Sourdough Ridge Trail…the views of Mount Rainier are awesome. For the best experience, hike out to the Mount Fremont Fire Lookout for truly spectacular views (6 miles round trip). The Sunrise Nature Trail is also nice hike if you are looking for something shorter.

Sourdough Ridge Trail

Sourdough Ridge Trail


Mount Fremont Fire Lookout

Mount Fremont Fire Lookout

For a detailed list of hikes in Sunrise, check out our article 15 Epic Day Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park.

There is a visitor center in Sunrise, as well as the Sunrise Day Lodge, which has a gift shop and food services.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Sunrise Road is only open during the summer. The road opens in late June or early July and closes in late September or early October.

Afternoon: Crystal Mountain

If you want jaw-dropping views with very little effort, ride the Mount Rainier Gondola to Crystal Mountain.

From Crystal Mountain Resort, ride the gondola up to the peak of Crystal Mountain. This is the location of the Summit House Restaurant, Washington’s highest elevation restaurant.

Washington Road Trip Itinerary

The food is great and the view from the outdoor patio is absolutely amazing. There is also indoor seating if it is cold. Even during the summer months, temperatures can be very chilly, so bring extra layers for warmth.

For more details on hours and pricing, visit the official website.

Washington Itinerary: Day 6


On the Road: 182 miles and 3.75 hours from Paradise Inn; 190 miles and 3.5 hours from Ashford; 165 miles and 3 hours from Packwood

In the morning, drive to Leavenworth. The route you take depends on your starting location. As you can see in the estimates above, it takes 3 to 4 hours to drive to Leavenworth. 

You will arrive in Leavenworth in the early afternoon. Check in to your hotel and spend the afternoon strolling through the shops in Leavenworth. This is a very small but picturesque town with many boutique shops and restaurants. Leavenworth is modeled after a Bavarian village in Germany.

Leavenworth Washington

For dinner, we recommend Visconti’s Ristorante Italiano (great Italian food with an outdoor patio), Mozart’s Steakhouse (great food and awesome cocktails), and Andreas Keller Restaurant (traditional German food and beer in a cozy, Bavarian-style restaurant).

Where to Stay in Leavenworth

The Bavarian Lodge is awesome and this is where we stayed. Enzian Inn gets superb reviews and has an indoor pool. PostHotel Leavenworth gets almost perfect reviews and is Adult Only. The Storybook Riverside Inn is a small, boutique hotel located in a Bavarian-style house. Rooms can accommodate two people and it looks amazing.

You will stay in Leavenworth for one night.

Washington Itinerary: Day 7

Lake Chelan

On the Road: 115 miles, 2.5 hours

Today is a low-key day. There is no need to roll out of bed early. In fact, you can take your time in Leavenworth and go out to breakfast if you like. However, if you are an avid hiker, see our optional recommendation below.

Today you will drive north to the eastern side of North Cascades National Park. On the way, spend a few hours on lovely Lake Chelan.

From Leavenworth, it takes about an hour to drive to Lake Chelan.

Top things to do in and around Lake Chelan include cruising around Lake Chelan on a jet ski or boat, taking the kids to Slidewaters water park, cruising Lake Chelan on Lady of the Lake, or visiting the wine cellars.

We had an awesome lunch and wine tasting at Tsillan Cellars. This beautiful winery has a covered outdoor restaurant with views of Lake Chelan. The food and the wine are fantastic. They get busy midday, so if this sounds like something you would like to do, I recommend making a reservation in advance.

Tsillan Cellars Washington itinerary

Tsillan Cellars

From Chelan, drive north to either Twisp or Winthrop. Twisp is a tiny town without much to do, but this is where we spent two nights and loved it. Winthrop is a larger town with a western theme. There are several highly rated hotels and restaurants here to choose from. Sherri’s Sweet Shop is a busy place that serves great ice cream and desserts.



Optional: Hiking the Enchantments

If you are an avid hiker, Leavenworth is the gateway into the spectacular hiking destination known as the Enchantments, which is part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Today, you have the option to go hiking in the Enchantments, saving the drive to Twisp or Winthrop for the end of the day.

The best hike to do in the Enchantments is the thru-hike of the Core Enchantments. Turquoise, emerald, and aquamarine alpine lakes are scattered through the jagged, snow-capped mountain peaks. Wildflowers bloom along the edges of the trail and mountain goats graze on the grasses.

This is a massive hike. It’s just under 20 miles long with over a mile of elevation gain. It can be done in one day if you are fit and fast. However, you won’t have enough time to do this hike, recover, and then drive north towards North Cascades National Park, all in one day. If you want to hike the Core Enchantments, I recommend adding a day onto this itinerary.

If you want to day hike in the Enchantments and still have enough time and energy to drive to Winthrop or Twisp, I recommend hiking out-and-back to Colchuk Lake. This hike is 11 miles long with 2,200 feet of elevation gain. It will take between 6 and 7 hours.

Colchuk Lake

Colchuk Lake

Where to Stay in Twisp & Winthrop

In Twisp, we stayed at Twisp River Suites. Take your pick from standard rooms to suites that have a full kitchen. The best part…sitting in the river and having dinner at the end of the day.

In Winthrop, the River’s Edge Resort gets impeccable reviews. The Methow River Lodge and the Mt Gardner Inn are also top picks.

You will stay in Twisp or Winthrop for one night.

Washington Itinerary: Day 8

North Cascades National Park

On the Road: 95 miles, 2 hours to Marblemount; 175 miles, 4 hours to Glacier

North Cascades is a large, sprawling park that is made up of several sections. Today, you will drive through the heart of the park, visiting the most popular viewpoints with the option to go hiking.

From Twisp and Winthrop, head west along Highway 20. It’s a beautiful drive as you head into the jagged mountains that make the North Cascades so spectacular.

Just beyond the hairpin bend, stop off at the Washington Pass Overlook. From here, you have an outstanding view of Highway 20 and Liberty Bell Mountain.

Washington Pass Overlook Washington itinerary

Washington Pass Overlook

Three Optional Hikes

Technically, these hikes are located just east of the official national park border but they are beautiful and worth the time and effort. These are listed in order from east to west, as you drive on Highway 20.

Blue Lake. A few miles west of the Washington Pass Overlook is the trailhead for Blue Lake. This 5-mile round-trip hike is easy to moderate so it’s great for all ages and ability levels. The trail ends at the Blue Lake, a brilliantly blue lake that is surrounded by towering mountains.

Blue Lake Washington itinerary

Blue Lake

Maple Pass Loop. 7.2 miles, moderate to difficult. The Maple Pass Loop offers a little bit of everything…wildflowers, old growth forests, a visit to a lovely alpine lake, and (the best part) panoramic views of the North Cascades. We liked this hike more than Blue Lake…it’s a fun but challenging hike and the views are outstanding.

Maple Pass Loop Washington itinerary

Maple Pass Loop

Rainy Lake. 2 miles, easy. This paved trail takes you to a viewpoint of Rainy Lake. This walk shares the same trailhead as the Maple Pass Loop.

Rainy Lake North Cascades Washington itinerary

Rainy Lake

More Sights in North Cascades National Park

Continue west on Highway 20. Visit the Diablo Lake Overlook for one of the best views of the day and one of the most unique photos you will take on this trip. Diablo Lake gets its unusual color from the melting glaciers. The glaciers grind against the rocks, forming a powdery silt. The water washes this silt into the lake, giving it this milky green-blue color.

North Cascades National Park photo

Diablo Lake

Farther down the road, take in the view from Gorge Lake Overlook, where you can see the Skagit Gorge and the Gorge Dam.

In Newhalem, you can walk the Trail of the Cedars, a 0.3 mile flat, easy trail that takes you through an old growth forest that faintly resembles the temperate rainforests of Olympic National Park. However, the temperate rainforests you saw in Olympic and Mount Rainier are more impressive, so this is skippable, in my opinion.

Cedars Washington itinerary

Trail of the Cedars

Finally, at the North Cascades Visitor Center, you can walk the short, easy Sterling Munro Trail to view the Pickett mountain range.

You are now on the western edge of North Cascades National Park. Get settled at your hotel and have dinner.

Where to Stay

If you plan to hike the Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm trail tomorrow, stay in Marblemount. If you plan to visit Mount Baker tomorrow, you can also stay in Marblemount. However, you will have more hotel and restaurant options if you stay in Bellingham or along Highway 542 at Glacier.

MARBLEMOUNT: We stayed at the North Cascades Inn. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s clean, the rooms are large, and the Wi-Fi works well. There are also a few restaurants within walking distance.

BELLINGHAM: We stayed here after our visit to Mount Baker and before driving to the airport. We stayed at the TownePlace Suites but there are many more hotels to choose from.

GLACIER: This tiny town is located on Highway 542 near Mount Baker. We stayed at the Blue T Lodge. Rooms were basic but clean and quiet. For dinner, we ate next door at Chair 9 Pizza & Bar.

You will stay at this hotel for 1 night.

North Cascades Travel Guide

Washington Itinerary: Day 9

North Cascades National Park or Mount Baker

Today you will make a choice. Would you like to hike an awesome trail in North Cascades National Park or would you rather explore Mount Baker?

OPTION #1: Cascade Pass & Sahale Arm Hike

For hikers, I recommend hiking the Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm trail in North Cascades National Park. This was our final hike after a six-week road trip through the national parks of Colorado and Washington state and it was one of the best.

Often labeled as the best day hike in North Cascades National Park, the Sahale Arm hike is gorgeous every step of the way. You’ll hike through evergreen forests, through fields of heather and wildflowers, past marmots, mountain goats, and maybe even bear. Once at the Sahale Glacier Camp, you get to enjoy spectacular views over Doubtful Lake and layers of jagged, snow-capped peaks.

Best North Cascades Hike

This challenging hike is 12 miles out-and-back with 4,150 feet of total elevation gain. It’s tough but it’s worth it.

Before doing this hike, check the national park service website about the status of Cascade River Road. This gravel road is only open during the summer. In 2020, the final section opened on July 12.

OPTION #2: Mount Baker

Mount Baker lies to the north of North Cascades National Park. In the summer it is a hiking destination and in the winter it is a skiing destination.

If you are not an avid hiker, I still recommend making the trip to Mount Baker (at least if the skies are clear) because the views are beautiful. Plus, there are two short, easy trails you should put on your to-do list.

Here are four hikes to do in the Mount Baker area.

Skyline Divide. This hike is 9 miles long with an elevation gain of 2,500 feet. This hike offers incredible, high alpine views with great views of Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Kulshan, and the North Cascades off in the distance.

Ptarmigan Ridge Trail. This hike is also 9 miles in length with 1,350 feet of elevation gain. Get close-up views of Mt. Baker with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Artist Ridge. This easy hike (only 1.2 miles and fairly flat) offers panoramic views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan.

Table Mountain. A bit longer and more challenging than Artist Point (2.6 miles with 725 feet of elevation gain), this trail steeply climbs up to the top of Table Mountain for panoramic views of the area.

We spent one day at Mount Baker, but stormy weather and low-lying clouds made it impossible to do the hikes on this list. Guess we’ll have to come back someday, not that we mind. The North Cascades are gorgeous and the type of place we would love to visit again in the (hopefully) near future.

Where to Stay

Spend the night near the airport.

The Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport is a beautiful property. Rooms look out over Lake Washington. There are onsite restaurants and bars.

The Cedarbrook Lodge has standard rooms and suites that can accommodate families. It’s a nice pick if you want a property that gets excellent reviews and is not a chain hotel.

But since you are near the airport, there are a bunch of chain hotels to choose from (great for those of you who rack up hotel points). The Residence Inn by Marriott Seattle Sea-Tac Airport, Aloft Seattle Sea-Tac Airport, and the Hilton Garden Inn Seattle Airport all get awesome reviews.

Washington Itinerary: Day 10

Fly Home

On the Road: Minimal

Fly home or continue to your next destination.

How to Modify this Itinerary

With Less Time

If you want to do this Washington itinerary but don’t have 10 days, what should you eliminate?

To make this a 9-day itinerary, remove day 9 (the Cascade Pass hike and Mount Baker). At the end of day 8, drive to the airport.

To make this an 8-day itinerary, combine days 6 and 7. On day 6, drive through Leavenworth, have lunch, continue past Chelan, and get settled into your hotel in Twisp or Winthrop.

It gets tough to make this a 7-day itinerary. You will have to eliminate either a day from Olympic National Park or Mount Rainier National Park.

7 Day Washington Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Washington, drive to Port Angeles
Day 2: Olympic National Park
Day 3: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 4: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 5: Drive through Leavenworth and Chelan to Twisp/Winthrop
Day 6: North Cascades National Park
Day 7: Fly home

If you only have 7 days, you can also eliminate one national park, so you are not zipping through all three. Combine Olympic and Mount Rainier into one trip and save the North Cascades for a future visit.

With More Time

If you have more than 10 days for this Washington itinerary, here is where I recommend putting your extra time.

Add on one to two days for the Enchantments. One extra day gives you enough time to day hike the Core Enchantments. If you plan to backpack the Enchantments, add a second day.


The Enchantments

Add more time in Mount Rainier National Park. We spent 6 days here and never ran out of things to do. There are other sections of the park that are not included on this itinerary but they are worth the extra time. Take a look at our Things to Do in Mount Rainier article for more ideas of what you can see and do here.

Add more time in Olympic National Park. With one to two more days, you can explore the southern and eastern parts of Olympic National Park and/or add on more hikes. Take a look at our Things to Do in Olympic National Park to learn more.

Add one more day so you can visit Mount Baker and hike the Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm Trail.

Add one to two days to visit Seattle.

Add one to three days to visit the San Juan Islands.

14 Day Washington Itinerary for Hikers

Day 1: Arrive in Washington, drive to Port Angeles
Day 2: Olympic National Park
Day 3: Olympic National Park
Day 4: Olympic National Park
Day 5: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 6: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 7: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 8: Leavenworth
Day 9: Hike the Enchantments
Day 10: Lake Chelan
Day 11: North Cascades National Park
Day 12: Cascade Pass & Sahale Arm hike
Day 13: Mount Baker
Day 14: Fly Home

14 Day Washington Itinerary for Non-Hikers

Day 1: Arrive in Washington, drive to Port Angeles
Day 2: Olympic National Park
Day 3: Olympic National Park
Day 4: Olympic National Park
Day 5: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 6: Mount Rainier National Park
Day 7: Leavenworth
Day 8: Lake Chelan
Day 9: North Cascades National Park
Day 10: San Juan Islands
Day 11: San Juan Islands
Day 12: Seattle
Day 13: Seattle
Day 14: Fly Home

Washington Travel Guide

Best Time for This Washington Itinerary

The best time for this itinerary is in the summer months (mid-July through the end of September), when the roads in all three of the national parks are open. Outside of these months, you will have to alter this itinerary to account for road closures.

Olympic National Park

The main park roads in Olympic National Park stay open all year. There are a few interior roads and high-elevation roads, such as Obstruction Point Road, that close due to snowfall. But for the most part, you can visit Olympic National Park all year.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier can also be visited all year. Summer and early fall are the best times to visit, since all of the park roads and hiking trails will be open. The wildflowers typically bloom from mid-July through mid-August. If you want to see Mount Rainier during the peak blooming season, plan your visit for early August.

In Mount Rainier, there are several roads that close in the fall and don’t reopen until spring. If you plan to do this itinerary between October and June, you will have to skip several sections of the park (such as Sunrise).

Here are the opening and closing dates for the roads in Mount Rainier National Park:

  • Stevens Canyon Road: open during the summer and early fall
  • Sunrise Road: opens in late June or early July and closes in late September or early October
  • Chinook Pass and Cayuse Pass: Chinook Pass and Cayuse Pass are generally open from Memorial Day through mid-November, depending on snowfall

North Cascades National Park

Highway 20, the main road in North Cascades National Park, is typically closed from early November through early May, although these times can change depending on snowfall amounts. If you plan to do this Washington itinerary between November and May, you will need to skip North Cascades National Park.

Cascade River Road, the gravel road that ends at the trailhead for the Cascade Pass to Sahale Arm hike, is only open from early July through October.

When to Go to Mount Rainier

Planning Your Trip

Hotel Reservations

Here is a list of where you will need to make your hotel or campsite reservations for this Washington itinerary. If you plan to visit Washington state during the busy summer and fall months, I recommend making your reservations 4 to 6 months in advance.

  • Port Angeles: 2 nights
  • Mount Rainier National Park: 3 nights
  • Leavenworth: 1 night
  • Twisp or Winthrop: 1 night
  • Marblemount, Glacier, or Bellingham: 1 night
  • Seattle – Tacoma International Airport: 1 night

National Park and National Forest Fees

  • Olympic National Park: $30, valid for 7 days
  • Mount Rainier National Park: $30, valid for 7 days
  • North Cascades National Park: Free
  • Enchantments: Northwest Forest Pass: $30 annual or $5 per day
  • Maple Pass Loop: Northwest Forest Pass: $30 annual or $5 per day
  • Mount Baker: Northwest Forest Pass $30 annual or $5 per day

America the Beautiful Pass

This annual park pass costs $80 and is valid for one year. You will get free admission to any national park or federal recreation sites that you visit within 365 days of purchasing this pass. This pass includes Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks and the Northwest Forest Pass for the Enchantments, the Maple Pass Loop, and Mount Baker.

For this Washington itinerary, you will almost break even if you purchase the America the Beautiful Pass. However, if you plan to visit more national parks or federal recreation sites within the year, then it is worth it to purchase this pass.

Click here to learn more.

Links to the Washington National Parks

Here are the links to each national park website. Check park conditions and road closures as you make your travel arrangements and just before your trip. Roads can close due to road construction projects and forest fires can close parts of these parks, so it is very important to stay updated and the best place to do so is on the National Park Service websites.

If you have any questions about this Washington itinerary, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Washington

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK: Hiking one or more of the trails is one of the best things to do in Olympic National Park. See the full list of must-have experiences in our guide to the Best Things to Do in Olympic National Park.

ENCHANTMENTS: The Enchantments is an epic hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington State. Check out our Enchantments Trail Guide and our guide to how to handle the logistics of hiking the Enchantments.

NORTH CASCADES: Take a look at our North Cascades National Park Travel Guide for important travel planning tips, sample itineraries, advice on when to go, where to stay, and more.

BEST OF MOUNT RAINIER: While in Mount Rainier, top experiences include hiking the top trails in the park and visiting Paradise and Sunrise. Get the full list in our article Best Things to Do in Mount Rainier.

USA ROAD TRIPS: Planning your next big adventure in the USA? Check our our USA Road Trip Guide for travel ideas and sample itineraries.


If this is part of a bigger road trip through the USA, visit our United States Travel Guide and our Washington Travel Guide for more inspiration and travel planning tips.


Washington Road Trip Travel Guide


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Comments 85

  1. Avatar for Kathrine

    Hi Julie
    Great Itinerary…. We plan to travel 3-17 October. from the UK. Would you recommend changing any of the itinerary for these dates? We love hiking but probably not the most strenuous hikes thus time as I have had surgery (nothing major)above my right knee which may inhibit me a little. We did some epic hikes whilst in Canada ( Calgary to Vancouver) which have given us the travel bug!!
    Best Regards

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I’m not 100% sure, but the weather should generally be nice in October. I’m not sure if rain chances go up but snow could occur at the higher elevations. In October, there are a few roads in the park that will close. The road closures in Mount Rainier could greatly affect your trip as some of the best parts of the park may not be accessible. I recommend starting this itinerary with Mount Rainier, to make sure you can see as much as possible before the roads close. Continue with the itinerary through North Cascades and then add on Olympic at the very end. This increases your chances of seeing everything in Mount Rainier which is a spectacular park. If you have any other questions please let me know. Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Kathrine
  2. Avatar for Jeremy

    Hello. For the North Cascades leg of the suggested itinerary is it always best to spend the second night on the west side rather than doubling back to WInthrop or Twisp (assuming we are staying two nights, which is the plan)? I am trying to check driving times to see what makes sense (need to be in Seattle the next day around 3), but I am having trouble with googlemaps. I think the map is not letting me look at driving options that include roads currently closed. Hopefully I can book my trip before July, which is when we leave.


    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Jeremy. On Google Maps, you can change the date of your drive for a day in July (change the Leave Now for a future date), to get accurate time estimates (this is great to do for locations with snow, especially this time of year). If you have to get to Seattle, you will have a much longer drive from the east side of the park. Plus, I think it makes sense to see the sights as you drive through the park and end on the west side, rather than driving to the east side again. Because you would then repeat that same drive to get to Seattle. I hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Jay

    Hi! Thank you for the itinerary and suggestions!

    I am traveling to Seattle in April and will have 4 park days. Can you recommend which ones would be the best to visit during this time of the year?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Olympic is the best one to visit since most of the park roads will be open. Many of the roads in Mount Rainier and North Cascades don’t open until May through June (and even into July some years in the North Cascades). Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Mary Schmidgall
    Mary Schmidgall

    We are a family of 4- avid hikers. (2 adults, 13 &11 yr old) This is out first time to Washington State. We are on a National Park bucket list. We would love any recommendations you have for hikes that are moderate with big vistas at the end. We did Rocky Mt NP this fall and did 27 miles in 4 days at 7-12K elevation. We definitely want to have time at each park- Mt. Rainier, Cascades, and Olympia. We did Motorhome around Iceland Ring road last year, we loved it. Is this route Motorhome friendly, if we rented one in Seattle? We like having a home base to eat and cook out of when traveling, but we can rent car and drive also.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Mary. This itinerary is motorhome friendly but you will have to do some research on where to stay in each park, since we have only done this with a car and staying in hotels. If you plan to drive Cascade River Road in North Cascades, you might not be able to take an RV on this road. We have a hiking guide for Olympic, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades National Parks, with info on which ones are moderate with recommendations at the end of each guide. If you have any other questions please let me know. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Katie Puntoriero
    Katie Puntoriero

    Hi, Julie! First I want to tell you how appreciative I am of your blog. It is so detailed and helpful in planning my trips. I’ve done about a dozen national parks, and I always consult your blog in my planning process. With that being said, we’re planning a trip to Washington for July. We will land on a Wednesday at 7 p.m. so will spend the night in Seattle and then begin our trip. We fly home on the following Monday at 11:50 p.m. so we have 11 full days for the parks and about a half day before we head back to Seattle for the flight home. We love to hike (Sky Pond was one of our favorites thanks to your recommendation!) but aren’t avid enough hikers to add on the Enchantments, so we’re going to spend all of our time at the three parks. We are planning to start the day driving to each park as opposed to leaving a park at the end of the day and heading to our next destination. One exception is that we may head to Cascades in the afternoon/evening as opposed to the beginning of the day. This is what I’ve come up with and would love any input.
    Wednesday – land in Seattle
    Thursday – drive to Olympic (stay in Forks)
    Friday – Olympic (Forks)
    Saturday – Olympic (Port Angeles)
    Sunday – Olympic (Port Angeles)
    Monday – drive to Rainier (Packwood)
    Tuesday – Rainier (Packwood)
    Wednesday – Rainier (Ashford)
    Thursday – Rainier (Ashford)
    Friday – either drive to Cascades first thing in the morning or spend some more time in Rainier and then drive to Cascades (Twisp)
    Saturday – Cascades (Twisp)
    Sunday – Cascades (Twisp)
    Monday – Cascades for half the day/drive back to Seattle

    Thursday to Sunday – Olympic
    Monday to Thursday (or Friday) – Rainier
    Saturday (or Friday) to mid Monday – Cascades
    If you have any suggestions on edits to this trip, I’d love to hear it! I was trying to split our time in Olympic between Forks and Port Angeles as well as split Rainier between Packwood and Ashford. If it helps, we’d probably max out on a hike at 10 miles, although I do have Cascade Pass to Sahale Arm written down for Cascades. Thank you so much!!!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Katie. I think your itinerary looks fantastic! You have lots of time in each park which is great. My only suggestion would be to change where you stay on Sunday night, to set you up for the Sahale Arm hike (from Twisp, it is almost a 3 hour drive to the Sahale Arm trailhead). Sunday night, stay on the west side of the park, in Marblemount or Concrete. So during the day Sunday, you’ll see the sights and hike a short trail or two as you drive through the park. And as for what you do on Friday, I would say play it by ear. I think 2.5 days in the North Cascades is a sufficient amount of time so it will probably be better to spend that half day in Mount Rainier. Have a great time exploring the Washington parks and hiking to Sahale Arm (it’s the best experience in North Cascades that we had). Cheers, Julie

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