7 Must-See Stops from Oregon to California

map, time, and distance it takes from oregon to california
Image by Google Maps

Key Highlights

  1. The Pacific Coast Highway road trip from Oregon to California is a stunning journey that showcases the beauty of the West Coast.
  2. Some of the must see stops on this road trip include Crater Lake National Park, Redwood and State Parks, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and the Avenue the Giants.
  3. The best time to embark on this road trip is during the spring or fall when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller.


The Pacific Coast Highway road trip from Oregon to California is a journey that combines scenic drives, national parks, state parks, and iconic destinations. Whether you are a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or a history buff, this road trip has something for everyone. From the deep blue wonder of Crater Lake National Park in Oregon to the towering redwoods of Redwood National and State Parks in California, this road trip will take you through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the United States. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to explore unique destinations such as Ashland, Oregon, a cultural gem, and the Avenue of the Giants, an iconic drive through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Whether you have a week or more, this Northern California and Oregon road trip itinerary is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of the West Coast. To save money and add some variety to your trip, consider starting and ending your journey in Eugene, Oregon and following this round trip route.

7 Unmissable Stops on Your Oregon to California Road Trip

Embarking on a road trip from Oregon to California is a fantastic way to explore the scenic beauty of the West Coast. To make the most of your journey, consult the best travel guides to discover several unmissable stops that will create lasting memories. From the first stop at Natural Bridges along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor to the deep blue wonder of Crater Lake National Park and the towering redwoods of Redwood National and State Parks, these stops offer a diverse range of landscapes and experiences. Don’t forget to explore the coastal route, take a detour to Ashland, and soak in the rugged coastal beauty of the Mendocino Coast before reaching your final destination of San Francisco.

1. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon – A Deep Blue Wonder

crater lake national park, oregon
Image by Canva

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is a must-see stop on your road trip from Oregon to California. This national park is home to the stunning Crater Lake, which is known for its deep blue color and pristine beauty. Created by the collapse of a volcano thousands of years ago, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and offers breathtaking vistas from every angle. Take a hike along the rim of the caldera, explore Wizard Island with its unique cinder cone, or simply take in the deep blue waters and serene surroundings. A convenient parking lot is located just off the Rim Drive, allowing visitors to easily access the Pinnacles, a fascinating sight where you can see the years of wind and water erosion at work. From the parking lot, it is only a short walk to the Pinnacles, making it a perfect stop for a quick and easy nature break. Crater Lake National Park is a true natural wonder and a great place to visit for any nature lover or outdoor enthusiast.

2. Redwood National and State Parks, California – Among the Giants

two people standing in front of a large redwood tree
Image by Canva

A visit to Redwood National and State Parks in California is like stepping into another world. These parks are home to some of the tallest and oldest trees on Earth, the majestic redwoods. Standing among these giants in Redwood National Park is a humbling experience that will leave you in awe of nature’s wonders. Take a hike through Fern Canyon, a lush and verdant canyon lined with ferns and moss-covered walls. Marvel at the sheer size of the redwoods as you explore the groves and trails of these parks. After your hike, make sure to drive to Gold Bluffs Beach, located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, to witness the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the towering redwoods at Gold Bluffs Beach. Redwood National and State Parks are a testament to the beauty and resilience of nature and should not be missed on this road trip.

Best Time to Road trip from California to Oregon

california poppy fields - california poppies stock videos & royalty-free footage
Image by Canva

The best time for a road trip from California to Oregon is spring or fall when the weather is mild and crowds are fewer. Spring offers blooming wildflowers and green landscapes, while fall showcases colorful foliage and stunning sunsets. Visit on weekdays to avoid peak times and potential road closures. Check weather and road conditions before your journey to avoid delays and added driving time. This trip allows you to explore the beauty of the West Coast at a leisurely pace with scenic drives, national parks, and state parks along the way.

3. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California – A Geothermal Marvel

a blue lake surrounded by trees and mountains
Image by Canva

Lassen Volcanic National Park in California is a hidden gem that offers a unique glimpse into the geothermal wonders of the region. From the bubbling mud pots and fumaroles to the colorful hydrothermal areas and lava tubes, this national park is a geothermal marvel. Hike to the summit of Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world, for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Explore the park’s many trails and discover the beauty of its alpine lakes, meadows, and forests. Lassen Volcanic National Park is a fascinating destination that combines natural beauty with geologic wonders, making it a must-visit stop on your road trip from California to Oregon.

Road Detours to Consider on Your Road Trip to Oregon from California

a road closed sign with an arrow pointing to the right
Image by Canva

Enhance your California to Oregon road trip with scenic detours. Take the coastal route for ocean views, secret beaches, and charming Ashland town. Explore hidden gems like “Dune Country” sand dunes and Coos Bay on this memorable journey.

4. Ashland, Oregon – A Cultural Gem

a stream runs through a wooded area in the fall
Image by Canva

The town of Ashland located in southern Oregon, is a cultural gem that should not be missed on your road trip from Oregon to California. Known for its vibrant arts scene and world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural offerings. Explore the quaint downtown area and discover charming shops, galleries, and restaurants. Take in a performance at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which showcases classic and contemporary plays in state-of-the-art venues. Enjoy the stunning scenery of the surrounding Rogue Valley, with its rolling hills, vineyards, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Ashland is a must-visit stop that combines culture, nature, and small-town charm on your road trip.

yellowstone national park, wyoming, usa - geyser stock videos & royalty-free footage
Image by Canva

Embark on a day trip to Bumpass Hell within Lassen Volcanic National Park – a geothermal marvel worth exploring. Begin your journey by starting early to make the most of your day. The drive to the park itself is scenic, offering glimpses of Northern California’s beauty along the way, including stunning views of Lassen Peak and a pit stop at Lake Helen. Once you arrive, follow the marked trails to witness bubbling mud pots, steam vents, and colorful mineral deposits unique to the area. Take in the otherworldly landscape and the pungent smell of sulfur, immersing yourself in nature’s raw power. Remember to carry water, snacks, and suitable hiking gear to fully enjoy this intriguing destination. It’s a day trip filled with natural wonders that will leave a lasting impression.

5. Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California – Outdoor Adventures Await

a winding road with trees and hills in the background
Image by Canva

Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Northern California is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. From hiking and camping to fishing and boating, this national forest offers a wide range of outdoor activities. Explore the numerous hiking trails that wind through the forest and lead to stunning waterfalls, alpine lakes, and breathtaking vistas. Take a scenic drive along Trinity Scenic Byway and marvel at the rugged beauty of the landscape. Go fishing in one of the many lakes and rivers that are teeming with trout and salmon. Shasta-Trinity National Forest is a nature lover’s playground and a perfect stop on your road trip from Oregon to California, with an elevation gain of 2,500 feet. Don’t forget to make a stop at Yaks, a must-visit spot for us every year, even during our road trip last year when we convinced ourselves it was “on the way” from Lassen to Tahoe.

Highways for Access: Interstate 5 and the Pacific Highway

big sur highway - california stock videos & royalty-free footage
Image by Canva

Interstate 5 and the Pacific Highway, also known as Highway 101, are the main highways that provide access to the scenic beauty of the West Coast on your road trip from Oregon to California. Interstate 5 offers a faster route, while the Pacific Highway takes you along the coastline and offers stunning ocean views. Both highways have their own charm and provide different perspectives of the landscape. Consider taking the Pacific Highway for a more scenic and leisurely drive, or take Interstate 5 for a quicker journey. Whichever route you choose, you are sure to be captivated by the beauty of the West Coast.

6. Avenue of the Giants, California – An Iconic Drive

an empty road in the middle of a redwood forest
Image by Canva

The Avenue of the Giants in California is an iconic drive that takes you through the heart of the majestic redwoods in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This scenic drive is a must-do on your road trip from California to Oregon. As you wind your way along the highway, you will be surrounded by towering redwoods on both sides, creating a magical and awe-inspiring experience. There are numerous turnouts and viewpoints along the way where you can stop and admire the beauty of these ancient giants, including Stop 3, the Humboldt Redwoods Interpretive Association Visitor Center. The exhibits at the visitor center will deepen your appreciation for the magnificent landscape you are driving through. The Avenue of the Giants is a testament to the resilience and grandeur of nature and is a great option for a full day scenic drive on your road trip.

Best Seasons: Spring and Fall for Mild Weather

a walkway through a park with trees and flowers
Image by Canva

The best seasons to embark on a road trip from California to Oregon are spring and fall. During these seasons, the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller, making for a more enjoyable and comfortable journey. Here are some reasons why spring and fall are the best seasons for this road trip:

  1. Mild temperatures and comfortable weather for outdoor activities.
  2. Spring brings blooming wildflowers and vibrant green landscapes.
  3. Fall offers colorful foliage and stunning sunsets.
  4. Smaller crowds allow for a more peaceful and relaxed experience.

Plan your road trip during the spring or fall months to make the most of your journey and enjoy the natural beauty of the West Coast.

7. Mendocino Coast, California – Rugged Coastal Beauty

rocky coastline with waves crashing into the ocean
Image by Canva

The Mendocino Coast in California is a rugged and picturesque destination that should not be missed on your road trip from California to Oregon. This stretch of coastline offers stunning views of rocky cliffs, crashing waves, and hidden coves. Explore charming seaside towns such as Mendocino and Fort Bragg, known for their artistic communities and breathtaking scenery. Visit coastal parks and nature reserves where you can hike along coastal trails and spot wildlife such as seals, whales, and seabirds. The Mendocino Coast is a nature lover’s paradise, offering a unique blend of rugged beauty and coastal charm. Don’t forget to take a drive across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge before starting your journey along the Northern California coast. Make sure to stop at Bodega Bay, a charming coastal town with delicious fish tacos at The Birds Cafe.

Video by Kaylee Foster

Detour Options: Mattole Road Wild Coast Access

an aerial view of a river and beach near the ocean
Image by Canva

If you have some extra time and want to explore a lesser-known gem, consider taking a detour along Mattole Road for access to the wild and rugged Lost Coast. This remote and untouched stretch of coastline offers dramatic cliffs, secluded beaches, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. You can hike along the Lost Coast Trail, camp near the beach, or simply take in the beauty of this untouched wilderness. Keep in mind that the road can be challenging and not recommended for large RVs or trailers. But if you’re up for an adventure and want to experience a truly wild and untouched coastline, Mattole Road is definitely worth the detour. Don’t forget to download offline Google Maps before you head out, as there are large stretches of this drive with no cell phone service.

Scenic Routes and Highways

When planning your road trip from Oregon to California, there are two main scenic routes to consider: the Pacific Coast Highway and Interstate 5. The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1, is famous for its stunning coastal views and winding roads that hug the shoreline. It’s the ultimate coastal drive, taking you through charming coastal towns, past rugged cliffs, and offering breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Interstate 5, on the other hand, is a faster route that takes you through the heart of California’s Central Valley, offering a different perspective of the state’s landscapes.

Pacific Coast Highway – The Ultimate Coastal Drive

bixby bridge, big sur, california
Image by Canva

The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as Highway 1, is one of the most iconic and scenic drives in the world. Spanning the entire length of California’s coastline, this road offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, towering cliffs, rugged coastlines, and charming coastal towns. From dramatic Big Sur to the picturesque beaches of Malibu, the Pacific Coast Highway, which starts near Dana Point in southern California, is the ultimate coastal drive. Take your time to explore the beautiful lookout points, visit hidden beaches, and enjoy the stunning natural beauty that this famous highway has to offer.

Interstate 5 – Fast Track from Oregon to California

an aerial view of a highway in the middle of the desert
Image by Canva

If you’re looking for a faster route from Oregon to California, Interstate 5 is the way to go. This major highway runs through the heart of California’s Central Valley, offering a quicker path from one state to the other. Along the way, you’ll pass through agricultural landscapes, small towns, and bustling cities. While it may not offer the same scenic views as the Pacific Coast Highway, Interstate 5 allows you to cover more ground in less time, making it a popular choice for travelers looking to reach their destination quickly. Just keep in mind that the drive can be monotonous at times, so be sure to plan some stops along the way to break up the journey.

What’s the distance from California to Oregon?

a map showing the route for a road trip to California
Image by Google Maps

The distance from California to Oregon varies depending on your starting and ending points. By road, the distance between the two states is approximately 1,000 miles. If you take the Pacific Coast Highway route, the driving distance is around 600 miles. However, if you choose to take Interstate 5, the distance is shorter, averaging around 500 miles. Keep in mind that these distances are estimates and can vary depending on your specific route and any detours or side trips you choose to take along the way.

Foodie Destinations Along Your Oregon to California Drive

One of the highlights of a road trip from Oregon to California is the opportunity to indulge in some delicious food along the way. Both states are known for their culinary scenes, offering a wide range of dining options to suit every taste. From fresh seafood spots along the Oregon Coast to farm-to-table dining experiences in Northern California, there are plenty of foodie destinations to explore, including amazing coffee shops. Don’t miss the chance to savor local specialties, such as Dungeness crab in Oregon or wine and cheese in California’s wine country. Whether you’re a seafood lover or a fan of farm-fresh ingredients, there’s something for everyone on this epic road trip, and you can even grab some tasty meals to go for the next day’s drive.

Best Seafood Spots Along the Oregon Coast

front window of mo's seafood and chowder restaurant
Tada Images/ Adobe Stock

The Oregon Coast is a paradise for seafood, with an abundance of fresh and delicious options to choose from. Here are some of the best seafood spots to check out along your road trip:

  1. Local Ocean Seafoods in Newport: This award-winning seafood restaurant and fish market offers a variety of fresh seafood dishes, including Dungeness crab, oysters, and fish tacos.
  2. Mo’s Seafood & Chowder in Cannon Beach: Known for its famous clam chowder, Mo’s Seafood & Chowder is a must-visit spot for seafood enthusiasts. Enjoy a bowl of their creamy chowder or try their fish and chips.
  3. South Beach Fish Market in South Beach: This family-owned seafood market and restaurant serves up delicious seafood platters, fish and chips, and their famous seafood cocktail sauce.
  4. Pacific Seafood in Bay City: Located right on the water, Pacific Seafood offers a farm-to-table dining experience with fresh seafood caught daily. Sample their grilled oysters or indulge in their seafood pasta.

Farm-to-Table Dining in Northern California

entrance to the single thread farms restaurant
Image by SingleThread Farms Facebook

Northern California is renowned for its farm-to-table dining scene, with an emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Here are some of the best farm-to-table restaurants to try along your road trip:

  1. The Kitchen in Sacramento: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a unique dining experience with a focus on seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Enjoy a multi-course meal prepared by talented chefs right in front of you.
  2. SingleThread Farms in Healdsburg: This three-Michelin-starred restaurant offers a tasting menu that showcases the best of Northern California’s produce. The ingredients are sourced from their own farm and local purveyors, ensuring the freshest and highest quality dishes.
  3. The Fremont Diner in Sonoma: This charming roadside diner serves up delicious comfort food made with ingredients sourced from local farms. Try their popular fried chicken and waffles or indulge in their homemade pies.
  4. The Girl & The Fig in Sonoma: Known for its rustic French-inspired cuisine, The Girl & The Fig offers a menu that highlights the flavors of the region. Enjoy dishes such as duck confit and fig and arugula salad.

Adventure Activities Along the Way

In addition to breathtaking scenery and delicious food, a road trip from Oregon to California offers plenty of opportunities for adventure. Here are some of the best adventure activities to consider along the way:

  1. Hiking in Oregon’s Hidden Gems: Explore the stunning hiking trails in Oregon, from the Columbia River Gorge to Crater Lake National Park. Don’t miss the chance to hike to stunning waterfalls or summit a volcano.
  2. Water Sports on California’s Rivers and Lakes: California is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re into kayaking, paddleboarding, or rafting, there are plenty of rivers and lakes to explore, such as the Russian River or Lake Tahoe.

Hiking in Oregon’s Hidden Gems

a map showing the route for a road trip to California
Image by Canva

Oregon is a paradise for hikers, with a wide range of trails to explore. Here are some hidden gems that offer breathtaking views and unique hiking experiences:

  1. Columbia River Gorge: This stunning area offers numerous hiking trails, including the popular Multnomah Falls and Eagle Creek Trail. Explore lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and dramatic cliffside views.
  2. Crater Lake National Park: Hike along the rim of the deepest lake in the United States and take in the stunning blue waters and surrounding volcanic landscapes. Don’t miss the chance to hike to the summit of Mount Scott for panoramic views.
  3. Smith Rock State Park: Known for its dramatic rock formations and challenging hikes, Smith Rock State Park offers stunning views and a range of trails for all skill levels. Try the Misery Ridge Trail for a challenging but rewarding hike.

Water Sports on California’s Rivers and Lakes

a river flowing through a forest with rocks and trees
Image by Canva

If you’re a fan of water sports, California has plenty to offer. Here are some of the best rivers and lakes for water sports along your road trip:

  1. Russian River: Located in Sonoma County, the Russian River offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Enjoy the scenic beauty of the river and take in the surrounding vineyards and redwood forests.
  2. Lake Tahoe: Known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning mountain backdrop, Lake Tahoe is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Try your hand at paddleboarding, kayaking, or jet skiing and take in the breathtaking scenery.
  3. Trinity River: Located in Northern California, the Trinity River is a popular spot for whitewater rafting and fishing. Experience the thrill of navigating rapids and enjoy the pristine beauty of the surrounding wilderness.


Exploring the stunning road trip from Oregon to California reveals natural wonders and cultural gems all within the United States. From the deep blue marvel of Crater Lake to the towering Redwoods, each stop offers a unique experience. Don’t miss the geothermal marvel of Lassen Volcanic National Park or the cultural richness of Ashland. Embrace outdoor adventures in Shasta-Trinity National Forest and revel in the coastal beauty of Mendocino. Whether you’re a foodie seeking seafood delights or an adventure enthusiast craving hiking trails and water sports, this journey has it all. Plan your adventure along scenic routes and highways, indulging in the best of both states’ culinary delights. So, hit the road and embark on an unforgettable journey through the diverse landscapes of Oregon and California.

If your looking for more destination guides centered around the West Coast of the United States, be sure to check out our wide array of locations here!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are other scenic drives to take in the US?

If your craving for more scenic drives after you complete your road trip from Oregon to California, don’t worry our travel guides have you covered. Cruise down the Pacific Coast in style! The route from San Francisco to Santa Cruz offers charming towns, hidden beaches, and stunning ocean vistas. Craving a desert adventure? Explore Phoenix’s scenic drives, where cacti and red rock formations paint a breathtaking picture. For a touch of international flair, journey from Seattle to Vancouver and discover the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

What are the different ways to travel from Oregon to California?

Travelers from Oregon to California can choose to drive along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway for breathtaking ocean views, take a flight for a quick journey, hop on an Amtrak train to enjoy the landscapes stress-free, or embark on a bus tour to explore with convenience and guided insights.

What route would I take on a California to Oregon road trip?

On a California to Oregon road trip, choose between the scenic Pacific Coast Highway for coastal views or the faster inland route via Interstate 5. Explore Redwood National Park or Crater Lake for nature lovers. Foodies can enjoy diverse culinary scenes in San Francisco or Portland. Both routes offer unique attractions for a memorable journey.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top