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Whether you favor high country or the ocean, familiar landscapes or new experiences, you can see it all across the region’s four states and two Canadian provinces.

All you need is a light packing job and a game plan, because two tanks of gas and a day’s drive can transport you farther from home than you think. With spring in full swing and long, freeing days of summer on the horizon, here are some spectacular Northwest destinations you can reach before dinnertime.

Across the border

Make sure to pack your passport for these trips in the medium-to-long range and head north for the substantial offerings of southern Alberta and British Columbia, hosts to a large number of Canadian must-see destinations.

Making Calgary a destination also gives you a great base of operations for a wide range of activities. On top of being a modern, cosmopolitan area with a striking skyline, Alberta’s largest city (population of roughly 1.4 million) is an hour’s drive east of the peaks of the Canadian Rockies and the beauty of Banff National Park and south of the prehistoric badlands of Dinosaur National Park.

Western British Columbia offers some of Canada’s most beautiful sights, with two of its showpiece cities – Vancouver and capital city Victoria - just across the border. Farther north and just outside the 8-hour border you’ll find Whistler, one of North America’s top all-season resorts and an all-around beautiful stop as you travel from Vancouver on the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

Enhanced driver’s licenses

Washington is one of four U.S. border states that issues official identification cards that serve as proof of citizenship and therefore allow travel to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and much of the Caribbean without need for a traditional passport. To convert your existing Washington license to an EDL, you’ll pay $4 for each year remaining before your next renewal.


Getting your U.S. passport

The U.S. government provides two options for passports, a card with a $30 base price and the traditional book that runs $110. The card functions like the enhanced Washington driver’s license and only allows travel within most of North America, while the book allows for extended international travel.

Standard shipping and processing can take over 4-6 weeks, but you can pay a $60 fee to expedite the process which can guarantee a quicker delivery and can sometimes be sped up further if your planned travel begins fewer than 2 weeks from application.


0-4 hours

Three great recreation-friendly destination lakes plus the stark beauty of Palouse Falls highlight this otherwise sparse travel range, offering expansive views of vastly different terrain in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

Western Montana’s largest city, Missoula, offers travelers a great intermediate stop as they head east, and also houses a wealth of railroad history, river recreation options and a diverse offering of restraints and shops downtown.

Lake Chelan: Abundant hiking opportunities from high country to lakeside, as well as impressive offering of wineries.

Wallowa Lake: Known as the Switzerland of America, this family-friendly lake mountain provides endless outdoor fun.

4-6 hours

HIGH COUNTRY: Breathtaking peaks and can’t-miss vistas await in all directions, from Oregon’s Mount Hood to Montana’s famed Glacier National Park. Seattle is a natural travel hub to much of Western Washington and Oregon.

Mount Rainier: The highest mountain in Washington has beneath it bountiful hiking and sightseeing opportunities.

Olympic National Park: A rugged mountain range and a rainforest all in one place offers endless adventure.

6-8 hours

BEACHES AND MORE: This ring provides the most diverse offering of destinations as you can reach a central Oregon’s coast, or even its stunning Deschutes National Forest. Washington’s picturesque San Juan Islands and Idaho’s capital city of Boise are both reachable, as well.

West Yellowstone: Popular entry to famed national park, home to Old Faithful and the Yellowstone Museum.

Crater Lake: The deepst lake in the United States has everything from free hikes to a great guided boat tour.

More one-day drives

Use our map to find more one-day drives to visit. Click on the locations to navigate a route to the location.