You don’t have to travel far to find incredible places in Washington. Depending on where you live and what kind of vehicle you drive, you can head out to see a lot of stunning Northwest scenery without even having to stop for gas once. But if you don’t really want to go long distance, there are still plenty of extraordinary places around here where you can go for a short drive with only one tank of fuel, or less. Like these 10 spots:
1. Mount Constitution (Orcas Island)
The highest point on the San Juan Islands, Mount Constitution can be reached by either driving or hiking. A medieval-like stone tower sits on the summit, which you can also head to the top of. From there, you'll be able to get a 360-degree view of other islands and the Cascade mountains for miles.
2. Long Beach
Going for a walk on the beach can be pretty relaxing, but driving along the sandy shore is a whole new kind of experience. Long Beach is home to one of the longest (and most beautiful) drivable beaches in the world - stretching for 28 miles long.
3. Olympic Game Farm (Sequim)
Even just a half tank of gas could easily cover a trip through this drive-thru game farm on the Olympic Peninsula. As you slowly roll forward, you'll be surrounded by all kinds of different creatures. Don't be alarmed if the llamas, bison or yak come up to your window, though - you'll be able to feed them slices of whole wheat bread!
4. Mount Spokane
Mount Spokane is one of the highest mountains in eastern Washington, and can also be easily reached by road. It's usually open from mid-June to mid-October, and leads all the way to the top where you'll find a historic Vista House, restrooms, and sweeping vistas of Washington, Idaho, and Canada in the distance.
5. Merriman Falls
Merriman Falls is the easiest waterfall to find in the Quinault area, and can effortlessly be spotted while just driving down South Shore Road. The lovely cascade drops nearly 40 feet off a cliff into a pile of rocks below that are covered in moss and ferns.
6. Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge is the best place to enjoy unobstructed views of the Olympic mountains. It can be reached by road from Port Angeles, with an elevation of 5,242 high. Open year-round, it's a great place to stop and take hiking trails out in the summertime.
7. The Circle Mount Rainier Tour
Most people know about the hiking trails in Mount Rainier National Park, but not many are aware of the short 'n scenic drive-through tours through the area as well. It's really perfect if you aren't much of a hiker, but still want to get up-close views of our grandest mountain and the surrounding alpine scenery. The Circle Mount Rainier Tour runs for 147 miles (or about 5 hours), eventually making a loop around the majestic peak. (Read more directions
8. Mount Walker
Another drivable summit, Mount Walker is actually the only peak facing Puget Sound that features both a trail and a road. To reach the viewpoint, you can take Highway 101 south of Quilcene for about five miles to reach Mt. Walker Viewpoint Road. From there, a four-mile gravel path will lead you up to the peak with panoramic views of the Olympic mountains and waterways below.
9. Steptoe Butte
Steptoe Butte will give you the most stunning viewpoint over the rolling Palouse hills. At 3,612 feet tall, it looms high over the countryside, with a narrow, winding road that leads to a parking area all the way up at the top.
10. Mount Erie
Some of the most spectacular views of Fidalgo Island can be seen from the top of Mount Erie. At 1,300 feet tall, the summit is easily accessible by a short drive (only about 20 minutes from downtown Anacortes), or by way of foot. At the top, you'll be rewarded with vistas of the Cascades, San Juan Islands, and the beautiful Puget Sound.
Have you been to any of these places before? Where do you like to go in Washington on only one tank of gas or less?