If you think the Pacific Northwest is all hiking, coffee and craft beer...

you'd be absolutely correct. But it's some of the best hiking, coffee and craft beer in North America. Encompassing Washington, Oregon and parts of Canada's British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest is known for its impressive glacier-laced mountain ranges, rugged coastlines, perpetually green forests and quirky cities. While the region does have a bit of a rainy reputation, you'll never be far from a hot cup of coffee; Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks, after all. PNW locals cherish their outdoor activities, so lace up your hiking boots and grab your reusable mug... it's time to explore the best of the "Upper Left."

Our Pacific Northwest tours

11 Days From 4865

From Seattle to San Francisco, this 11-day tour packs in all the highlights

10 Days From 3895

Admire the scenery of the Canadian Rockies on an adventure through Whistler, Sun Peaks,...

6 Days From 3730

Explore the high alpine ridges, glaciated volcanoes, dramatic waterfalls, wildlife, and...

5 Days From 3160

Strap on snowshoes and take in the winter beauty of Mount Rainier National Park on a 5...

6 Days From 2510

From Pike Place Market to Mt Rainier, this 6-day tour of the Pacific Northwest packs in...

Tailor-Made trips

Take four or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary

6 Days From 2510

Explore the USA’s West Coast on a six-day small group tour which includes Portland,...

12 Days From 1955

Break in your hiking boots on this adventure-filled tour on Canada’s west coast, taking...

3 Days From 1930

Experience the very best of the Olympic Peninsula with a perfect balance of challenge...

Pacific Northwest highlights

The iconic "Public Market Center" sign looms high above Seattle's Pike Place Market

See Seattle's famous market

Pike Place Market (the oldest farmers market in the US) is a rambling collection of local farmers, merchants and vendors selling their daily wares at an iconic waterfront location. You can wander stall to stall sampling smoked salmon, ogling at the mountains of fresh produce or chatting up those famously friendly fish-throwers. If you need a break from the chaos, the market has several quiet seating areas to enjoy a strong cup of coffee and some of the best views in the city.

A view of Seattle's skyline with Mount Rainier towering in the background

Play "I spy" with Mount Rainier

"Is the mountain out?" is arguably Washington's most-asked question. Mount Rainier is the highest volcanic peak in the contiguous US and has become the PNW's most recognisable icon. But, sightings can be unpredictable at best. The visibility of 'The Mountain" has become a cheekily reliable source of weather information for locals, so if you hear "is the mountain out?" followed by a yes... it's pretty much scientifically proven that it'll be a great day.

A sign that says "Portland Oregon" is silhouetted against a glowing orange sunset

Embrace Portland's weirdness

Since 2003, the affectionate motto "Keep Portland Weird" has encouraged visitors to embrace the city's grittiness and support local businesses. Portland has a number of soulful neighbourhoods that are home to a thriving food culture, so hop on a bike (the locals' preferred method of transport) and explore the quirky food cart scene. You can sample everything from funky-flavoured doughnuts to hand-pulled noodles and Korean-style tacos. Don't forget to wash it all down with a craft beer or two!

The cobalt blue waters of Oregon's crater Lake

Count colors at Crater Lake

Over 7000 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption in Oregon created an impressively deep caldera that would later become Crater Lake. Crater Lake is America's deepest, with pristine waters exclusively fed by rain and snowmelt, giving the lake a striking cobalt-blue appearance. Standing on the caldera's tall cliffs is an awe-inspiring experience; watch how the lake changes from sapphire to indigo to navy as you hike to different viewpoints around the lake.

Pacific Northwest tour reviews

Pacific Northwest FAQs

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

Affectionately referred to as the "Upper Left" of North America, the Pacific Northwest encompasses the northwesternmost states in the United States: Washington and Oregon. Depending on who you ask, the PNW can also extend to Idaho, parts of Northern California and British Columbia.

Flying into the Pacific Northwest is easy, with three centralised international airports to choose from: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Portland International Airport (PDX) in the US, and Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Canada. Exploring the region in a car is your best bet; From Seattle, both Portland and Vancouver are a quick 3-hour drive (or 1-hour flight).

Each of the PNW's major cities has many different options for public transportation. In Seattle, locals can travel on land, rail and sea, by utilising public buses, streetcars, a light rail and a robust ferry system. Portland has public buses and streetcars but also has been rated one of America's most bike-friendly cities, offering protected bike lanes and numerous biking trails, so renting a bike is a great option. 

If you're looking to get into the great outdoors and explore the region's National Parks, you'll need to rent a car, as public transportation doesn't reach these areas. From Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are both a 3-hour drive. From Portland, Crater Lake National Park is a 4-hour drive.

Although the region has a reputation for being gloomy and rainy, the PNW actually has mild, temperate weather overall. In fact, Seattle and Portland don't even rank in the top 10 rainiest cities in the US! Seattle couldn't live up to its nickname "the Emerald City" without a little rain, however, and the winter months (December to March) tend to be drizzly and damp, leaving the surrounding forests green year-round. By June, the Pacific Northwest enters its dry season, with bright blue skies and long sunny days that last until September.

What to pack for the Pacific Northwest depends on what time of year you're travelling and what you're planning on doing. Comfortable walking shoes are a must for all destinations, and layers are always a good idea (even in the summertime) as the weather can change quickly in all seasons.

Hiking trips require proper trekking gear: a mixture of lightweight, quick-drying clothing, properly fitting hiking boots and sun protection. To avoid buying plastic, a water bottle or bladder/hose system to refill along the way is a must.

Before travelling, it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the ‘Packing’ section of the Essential Trip Information for the tour you’re interested in, especially if you're joining a walking, hiking or trekking trip.

Read more about Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List

We're committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them toward the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

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