The Northwest has something spectacular; it is filled with an endless variety and beauty. From the sweeping views over the boundless sea of the Pacific Coast, the amazing views of the Columbia River flowing right through the mountains to the vistas over the clear blue lakes in the magnificent Cascade Mountains.
Here are some of most beautiful scenic viewpoints in the Northwest from which to appreciate all that Mother Nature has to offer and to soak in the breathtaking scenery. You’ll find this guide an excellent companion to our list of the most scenic Northwest road trips.
Ecola State Park Viewpoints, Oregon
The view from Ecola State Park may be the most photographed on the Coast. On a bright day, you look out over the endless ocean, Cannon Beach, and the Haystack Rock. Above that, the park also offers the best viewpoint to see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse offshore. You can see (and hear) birds and sea lions hanging out on offshore rocks. But Ecola State Park offers much more. How about a picnic lunch, some time for beach combing or fishing and then a short drive through the park to Indian Beach, where you see surfers maneuver through the waves.
Cape Arago Lighthouse Viewpoint, Oregon
The Cape Arago Beach Loop leads to three spectacular State Parks on Cape Arago: Sunset Bay, Shore Acres and Cape Arago State Parks. Enjoy stunning cliff side viewpoints, and hike the easy walking paths on the Oregon Coast Trail. Take at Shore Acres State Park a winding path to the secluded Simpson Beach. Here you’ll find migrating whales, and views of hundreds of seals and sea lions. The Cape Arago Lighthouse is not open to public, but the panorama from the viewpoint is breathtaking.
Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, Oregon
This 12-mile stretch of coast is a forested linear park with a rugged, steep coastline interrupted by small sand beaches. Spectacular vistas, sea stacks, secluded cove beaches, and tide pool areas come one after the other in this park. This stretch of land offers numerous attractions: You can see the 300-year old Sitka spruce trees, admire the beautiful Arch Rock and Natural Bridges standing out in the sea, or hike the Oregon Coast Trail that goes through giant forests.
Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon
At 200 feet above the ocean, Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint offers stunning views of the Oregon coastline with its magnificent rock formations. Cape Meares provides not only a delightful view of the largest colony of nesting common murres—a penguin-like bird native to the Oregon Coast – it is also an excellent spot for whale-watching, and to see seals and sea lions.
Even more, this small, but impressive park has spectacular and secluded beaches, and is a perfect location for beach combing, kite flying, and offers mile and miles of hiking trails among forested sand dunes.
Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway viewpoints, Oregon/Washington
Whatever way you look at it, the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway is a marvel — for its incredible scenery. The views of the spectacular waterfalls, the sweeping panoramas from 900 feet above the river and fantastic vistas of the snow-clad summit of Mount Hood offer an unknown variety of beauty along this highway.
Washington Pass Overlook at North Cascades Scenic Highway, Washington
The route begins in the tulip fields of Skagit County and crosses the peaks of the North Cascades Mountains. The highway passes streams that run through hanging valleys, waterfalls, and glaciers. Then it goes along the borders of the clear blue waters of Ross Lake before descending into Methow Valley’s high desert. An obligatory stop on this highway is Washington Pass Overlook, the road’s highest point (at 5,500 feet). Be ready for breathtaking vistas over the North Cascade peaks.
The sunsets of Chuckanut Drive, Washington
This road runs through the Chuckanut Mountains that rise straight up from the waters of Chuckanut Bay. From the Samish lowlands, known for its oyster beds and tidal flats, to the pretty, historic town of Bellingham, this byway is known for its exquisite sunsets over the San Juan’s and secluded pocket beaches (like in Larrabee State Park).
The Sawtooth Scenic Byway, Idaho
The Sawtooth Scenic Byway takes you to the heart of the Idaho Rockies. Here you get rewarded with beautiful views over a diverse landscape, from endless fertile agricultural land and woodlands to countless rivers and alpine lakes. Don’t forget to stop a moment and look up and admire the peaks of the Sawtooth mountains that dominate the skies.