(Editor’s note: During the month of July, the ClassicCars.com Journal is publishing a series of stories about summer road trips. Full-time RV travelers Taylor and Mike Palmer, founders of Roam Away From Home, share their PNW road trip route for a perfect summer adventure.
We’re eager to share your stories about summer road trips you’ve done, with family, in a classic car, perhaps in a classic car back when it was just the family cruiser. Please submit your stories and a few photos from your trip to email@example.com.)
We took our classic 1986 Chevrolet Telstar RV, nicknamed Cream Puff, on the road trip of a lifetime over the summer. Our main focus: the Pacific Northwest. The winding roads of Highway 101 and the slower pace of our vintage RV made for the most scenic, adventurous trip we’ve ever done (and that says a lot coming from 2 full-time travelers).
My husband Mike and I started full-time RV life during the crazy year that was 2020. We realized life is short, and there’s no reason to stay locked inside, missing out on making new memories when we could be out embracing all that life has to offer.
We both had traditional careers (attorney and financial analyst), but with the things we love like travel and live music on pause for the near future, we took a few weeks to brainstorm about what to do next. That’s how we ultimately landed on exploring the country full time in our RV with our two pups, Ziggy and Ditto.
The PNW is the perfect summer road trip. The sun doesn’t set until after 9 p.m., giving you more time to cruise while soaking up the ever-changing views. It only takes a few minutes to go from drastic cliff-lined beaches to sprawling dunes to dense green forests, all from the comfort of your car.
If you’re looking for the perfect route, we recommend starting in Cambria, California, where you’ll find a small seaside town perfect for whale watching and delicious seafood.
From there, take the 101 north, stopping at every waterfall and scenic viewpoint along the way. You’ll see elephant seals in San Simeon and be surrounded by giant redwoods as you continue north.
Towering redwoods Elephant seals in San Simeon
The sparkling blue waters only get better as you reach Oregon’s coastline. The drive from Gold Beach to Newport is one of the most spectacular we’ve ever seen. The blue waters are so bright they took us back to the Caribbean.
Each coastal town has something different to offer. Compare crab cakes at local eateries or kayak through crystal clear waters.
Of course, it’s not a PNW road trip without visiting some hot springs. Take a break from the coast and head toward Silver Falls State Park, where you can hike to 10 waterfalls in just one day. And after your hike, you can continue east to relax in the lesser-known Bigelow Springs for a dip in a clothing-optional natural hot spring on the way to Sisters, Oregon.
You’ll be greeted with the small-town vibes of Sisters, where you can enjoy the night at a local hotel (or, in our case, camp along the Deschutes River).
Continue heading north toward Mt. Hood. You’ll spot this towering snow-covered mountain from miles away. One of the most surprising things during our road trip was seeing people ski and snowboard in June at Timberline Lodge at the base of Mt. Hood.
As Arizonans, we were so excited to see snow! It was Ziggy and Ditto’s first time ever being in snow, and I can’t say that they were fans.
Your road trip will not be complete without taking a dip at Hood River. This unique riverside town is family and dog friendly with plenty of parking. You can kayak, windsurf, or enjoy beers at the local waterfront breweries.
The famous Gorge drive will take you through forests and waterfalls on your way to Portland, where you can enjoy unique eateries and all the local craft beer you could want. Make sure to stop by Salt & Straw to cool off with one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors.
Shoot back over to the coast where you’ll find Cannon Beach and Astoria — two of Oregon’s most popular coastal areas. From there, it’s only a couple hours to Olympic National Park in Washington, where even more hikes and scenic views await.
The best part about this summer road trip is that you can extend it by heading east to Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming or circle back through the PNW, hitting your favorite spots again while searching for new hidden gems.
The slower pace of a historic vehicle making its way through the winding coastal roads is the best way to experience this perfect summer road trip.
-Taylor and Mike Palmer