When it comes to dog friendly road trips, Washington State has some of the nation’s most well-known scenic drives.
Dog owners living in, or visiting, the state definitely should not miss driving at least one of these with their trusty four-legged sidekicks along for the ride.
Below are some of my favorite driving routes.
Great Road Trips for You and Your Dog in Washington State
The legendary Cascade Loop begins in Everett, not far from our home-base of Seattle, and stretches a grand total of 440 miles.
The beautiful thing about this monstrous loop is that it can be enjoyed in one adventurous day, completed in a weekend, or, if you love stopping at every hub and pull-off in site, stretched over the course of two weeks.
While passing through some of Washington’s most beautiful get-away destinations, there’s enough to see and do along the way to keep you more than occupied for the entirety of the trip.
Unforgettable views await your viewing pleasure around every corner, whether you’re just driving through, or enjoying the innumerable amount of hikes that await your discovery along the way.
In the fall, you can expect to see golden larch trees, red-vine maples, and orange hardwoods while weaving through the variety of terrains you’re bound to hit.
In the spring, the emerging vibrant greens and moody weather add a fresh but cozy feeling to the drive.
One important note for this loop is that Highway 20 is closed in winter after significant snow covers the road (it’s not plowed in winter) until early spring when the snow is finally cleared.
There are 3 distinct sections of this loop.
Everett to Wenatchee
You start the drive by heading north from Seattle to Everett.
Taking the drive counter clockwise, you’ll head over the Cascade mountains on Highway 2 to Wenatchee, passing through the famous Bavarian mountain town of Leavenworth along the way.
3 Key points along this section that I really like are:
- Deception Falls in Scenic, WA, just west of Stevens Pass – there is a waterfall not far off the highway and a half mile interpretive trail.
- Lake Wenatchee State Park (south side) – you can drive almost to the lake edge and the view is beautiful.
- Leavenworth, WA – a famous little mountain town with Bavarian charm and a nice trail along the river you can walk to from town.
Wenatchee to Winthrop
In Wenatchee, you head north on Highway 97 and then 153 to Winthrop.
The drive along the Columbia River is very pretty and you will see a lot of orchard fruit trees blooming in spring.
Winthrop to Sedro Woolley and Beyond
From Winthrop you head east back over the Cascades along Highway 20.
North Cascades Highway is perhaps one of the most notable and well known highways in Washington.
One of the most famous turquoise blue lakes in the state is visible from a pullout along the side of the highway.
If you do nothing else along this route, stop at the Washington Pass Lookout and the Diablo Lake Lookout. You absolutely will not be disappointed.
For more adventure, these shorter trails are a good place to give your dog a potty break and a chance to stretch their legs:
- The 2-mile Rainy Lake Trail near Washington Pass is paved, ADA accessible, and ends at a pretty little alpine lake.
- The relatively flat 7.6 mile (roundtrip) Diablo Lake hike or the steeper 3.6 mile to the Thunder Knob viewpoint.
You can then reconnect with I-5 in Sedro Woolley and drive back to Seattle.
To extend the road trip and see more of the state, you can take Highway 20 all of the way to Whidbey Island then head to the town of Clinton on the sough end of the island.
Here you will cross a ferry and take Highway 525 back to Everett, completing the loop.
Notes: The North Cascades Highway is closed during winter, generally from November through April or May. Be sure to check the road status before you go.; You can combine this route with the Lake Wenatchee Loop route below for an even longer trip.
Seattle-Leavenworth-Seattle I-90 Loop
This look can be done in one long day or can be a weekend trip if you stay in Roslyn or Leavenworth.
This approximately 700 mile loop can be done either direction but clockwise from Seattle is by far my favorite.
I think clockwise is the best direction to drive this route because you will be ascending to the top of Stevens Pass and I think the views are the best that direction.
Whether covered in snow or not, you will be blown away as Mount Baring suddenly appears, what looks like looming over the highway.
Take I-5 from Seattle to Everett, head east to Monroe and up to Stevens Pass to begin the trip.
From Stevens Pass, continue to head east along Highway 2, then through Tumwater Canyon (the same highway) into Leavenworth.
From there, keep heading east to connect with Highway 97 at Peshastin then turn south.
Eventually, you will arrive in Cle Elum, adjacent to the cute, historic town of Roslyn.
From there, you can hop on I-90 and head west over Snoqualmie Pass back to Seattle.
Highlights along this route are:
- The 5.5 mile Wallace Falls trail at Wallace Falls State Park.
- The historic town of Skykomish
- Leavenworth, WA – a German-themed tourist town in the mountains with several dog friendly restaurants
- The Wenatchee Crest Snowshoe on the top of Blewett Pass (winter) or the drive up Forest Service road 9716 to see golden western larch (fall)
- Historic Roslyn, WA – eat at The Brick, the oldest bar in Washington, and see the interesting and impressive famous cemetery.
- Gold Creek Pond just east of Stevens Pass – you can hike the 1-mile loop trail or simply take in the best view by walking 1/4 mile along an ADA accessible paved trail.
This drive is Washington’s quaint version of Big Sur along the California coast.
While less dramatic in height, this 21 mile drive is no less grand as you weave along the rocky shoreline of the Puget Sound, forest on one side and the San Juan Islands on the other.
This winding (and narrow) road runs north from Burlington to Bellingham, and is known for its outstanding sunsets, migratory birds, and sequestered beaches.
Dog Friendly highlights of this drive include:
- The Oyster Dome trail (from Chuckanut Drive or the Samish Lookout)
- Tide pools that are teeming with life at Larrabee State Park
- Fossil viewing in the Chuckanut Formation sandstone (you may want to leave your dog in the car for this one due to the narrow road shoulder).
If you’re a sucker for a cozy German town, and all of the breathtaking views surrounding it, driving the approximately 50-mile Wenatchee Loop may be just what you need in your life.
For starters, you’ll head out through Leavenworth along Highway 2 through the Tumwater Canyon.
You’ll be awed by jagged peaks, tumbling rapids and, if you are there during or after a heavy rain, waterfalls cascading off of the cliffs.
When you reach Highway 207 at the Cole’s Corner gas station, you’ll turn north toward Lake Wenatchee and continue around the lake to the furthest northern point. Here you have two options.
If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and a map, and the road is not closed due to snow or water damage, you can continue along the Little Wenatchee River Road to Forest Service Road 6700/Smithbrook Road.
This road eventually reconnects with Highway 2 just east of Steven’s Pass. You can then take Highway 2 east back to the Tumwater Canyon and Leavenworth.
The other option is to turn around at the north end of Lake Wenatchee.
You will return south along the road you drove in on turn west along Highway 209 before you reach Cole’s Corner.
You’ll drive through the tiny town of Plain, up and over the windy Chumstick Highway, and land back in Leavenworth.
No mater which way you choose to go, the views are spectacular.
Dog-friendly points of interest along this driving route are:
- Lake Wenatchee State Park viewpoints
- The Icicle Canyon Road – a beautiful out-and back road to extend your fall viewing pleasure at the west end of Leavenworth
- The 2.4 mile Pipeline Trail in Tumwater Canyon
- The Munchen Haus Barvarian Grill in Leavenworth.
This is a lowland drive that, except in very rare circumstances, is snow-free and accessible all year round.
The Quinault Rainforest is located in the Olympic National Rainforest, North America’s only temperate rainforest, and is known as the Valley of the Rain Forest Giants.
If you’re mesmerized by giant trees, this area of Washington is home to some of Mother Nature’s most impressive displays, including the world’s largest Cedar and Sitka Spruce.
Pretty awesome that Washington is home to two of the world’s largest trees, and I recommend everyone take the time to check them out!
This drive will make you feel like you took a step back in time to Prehistoric ages due to all of the moss and ferns.
The Lake Quinalt Loop is 31 miles roundtrip, and offers views of the lake and waterfalls while also getting you in close proximity to prime elk and eagle habitat.
In general, the Olympic Rainforest is not dog friendly because it’s inside of a National Park but, lucky for us, the south shore Quinalt road lies in the Colonial Bob Wilderness of the Olympic National Forest which does allow dogs.
This drive is for the more adventurous as half of the loop is along unpaved roads not suitable for RVs and Trailers.
The closest major town to where this loop begins is Aberdeen Washington, about 2.5 hours from Seattle.
From Aberdeen you will head north along Highway 101.
In about 44 miles you will reach the turnoff for the south shore Quinault road.
You can turn here to complete the 31-mile loop counter clockwise or pass the turnoff and take the one for the north shore Quinault road.
Either way you will cross the Upper Quinault River Bridge and return on the road you didn’t take to get there.
Dog friendly points of interest include:
- The historic Lake Quinault Lodge (dog-friendly accommodation built in 1926)
- The 1/2-mile Rainforest Loop Interpretive Trail
- Merriman Falls (visible from the south shore road).
When is The Best Time to Take a Road Trip with Your Dog Around Washington?
Any season can be a good time to take a road trip with your dog.
I especially like to turn to road trips for adventures in the fall when rain is dumping from the sky in buckets.
Hiking is no fun when it’s really wet out but we can stay dry and comfortable while checking out vibrant beauty Washington has to offer.
It’s a bonus when we do catch a break in the rain and can check out some of the points of interest along the way.
Fall is also a great time to see the beautiful, golden larch trees.
If you aren’t able to go on any of the dog friendly larch hikes, rest assured that you can see them along a couple of these driving routes.
But fall isn’t the only great time to take a road trip with your dog to sightsee around Washington State.
Spring and Summer are good times too.
Winter can be especially beautiful when show blankets the trees and mountains and turns the areas into a winter wonderland.
However, winter driving over Washington’s mountain passes can be treacherous and they frequently close for hours at a time in the winter (so be sure to check the road reports before you go!)
One important note, which I pointed out in the section about it but want to mention again, is that Highway 20 over Washington Pass is closed each year after significant snowfall.
You will only be able to complete part of the Cascade Loop as an out-and-back trip.
Washington State scenery is some of the best in the country.
The terrain so varied, our mountains are rugged and spectacular, and Seattle is one of the most dog friendly cities.
These 5 dog friendly road trips will take you through some of the best scenery there is.
The shorter drives can easily be done in a day from Seattle but you can turn the longer ones into great weekend vacations if you take your time to hike, take in the sights, and stay along the way.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.