The Pacific Coast Highway is one of America’s most coveted road trips – especially for motorcycles. This journey from border to border showcases three states, almost endless miles of gently curving shore hugging highway, and with some slight detours, some of the America’s best national parks.
Although we didn’t hit the coast until Oregon, Jesse and I tried to see the best of the west when we traveled 2,500 miles from Kelowna, BC to San Diego, CA last month.
We saw waterfalls, whales, and redwood trees. We climbed Half Dome in Yosemite. We traveled through 3 national parks and on most of the Pacific Coast Highway. We saw my country from border to border on this beautiful coast, and boy, was it amazing.
We started by heading south through British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley into central Washington, all of it wine, apple, and peach country. It is rocky high country with beautifully irrigated orchards and vineyards lining rivers and lakes.
Then we cut west through the Columbia River Gorge and crossed the Bridge of the Gods into Oregon, heading to Multnomah Falls on our way to Portland. After meeting friends at the Deschutes Brewery Pub, our first coast destination was Cannon Beach – a quintessential Oregon Coast town.
From Cannon Beach we cruised through morning mist and lush forests on the gently bending coastal highway, with brilliant blue ocean, light houses, fields of cows, and beautiful bridges on the way.
At Bandon we strayed east to Crater Lake. We had a few hours of forest and a drive next to this jade river tumbling toward the coast, but closer to the national park boundary the landscape turned dry and hot. We climbed pumice fields and volcanic mountain to reach the summit where we stared down into the unimaginably blue water of the lake.
Bound for the coast again, our journey took us through 100-degree central southern Oregon before the misty relief of the Redwood Highway and California’s proud pockets of ancient giants. You could spend weeks, years, hiking these forests and basking in the presence of these enormous trees, but without days to devote exploring by foot, our favorite part was cruising the Avenue of the Giants. Wow. Oh, and sitting on Paul Bunyan’s shoe.
At this point our next stop would be San Francisco. We cruised the windblown Northern California coast and crossed the Golden Gate into one spectacular sunset over the city from my friend Emilie’s rooftop.
Then, off to Yosemite National Park again! Arriving in Yosemite Valley felt like coming home. After so much new territory, we were back with the mountains we met in May. We stayed two nights in the park and conquered Half Dome – a 19 mile 12.5 hour trek from our camp to the top and back.
Incredibly sore from the hike, we got back on the bike and made it to Monterey Bay & the greatest aquarium I’ve ever experienced – their kelp forest, jelly fish experience, mesmerizing schools of anchovies and massive tunas, otters, penguins, sea birds, and octopuses had me giddy with ocean love.
This next stretch was the pinnacle of PCH sections: California’s Highway 1 from Monterey to Morro Rock, through Big Sur across the Bixby Bridge and further, into the Southern California palm tree sunsets. We stopped just south of Santa Barbara for our last night on the road.
And finally, we made it to San Diego where my sister was waiting to celebrate with Old Town beers and tacos.
Check out a video compilation of our trip here.