The long journey from the hot Sonoran desert in Northwest America can be made by plane, but you will miss some of the most beautiful roads and views on the west coast.

The 1,500 mile journey from Phoenix to Seattle takes about 24 hours as you travel through Arizona, through California and into Oregon. Take the time to explore Los Angeles, San Francisco, the wine regions and the red forest areas.

To help you prepare for this big company, here is a guide on what to do before you start this prize trip.

How far is Seattle from Phoenix and how long does it take to get there?

When it comes to routes, a few options appear when you do a quick Google search, but you seriously miss something when you blindly follow the quick search that leads through hundreds of miles of desert across Nevada.

Whichever route you choose, you’ll spend over 1,000 miles on the road. So you can choose the one that is most to do and see, with an extra hour of total driving time.

The route I propose is about 1,500 miles and will take about 24 hours. This doesn’t even include the meal breaks, the toilet breaks and the numerous tank stops.

If you have a taste for adventure and want to take the Pacific Coast Highway to the coast of California instead of the faster long-distance routes, your total distance will be 1,750 miles and 34 hours before you count all the stops.

The Bixby Creek Bridge along Highway 1 is part of the Pacific Coast Highway that runs through Big Sur, California.
The Pacific Coast Highway may be slower, but sites like the Bixby Creek Bridge are worth it!

canadastock/shutterstock.com

The fastest and most direct route is the shortest, 1,415 miles, which takes about 21 hours and 30 minutes by road.

Whatever the urgency of your trip, you should travel at least 3 days from Phoenix to Seattle, but to make the most of this great trip and make sure you don’t miss anything, you should try to travel at least 5 days.

Best route from Phoenix to Seattle

Some routes will be faster than those proposed here, but they will all be long and, unlike the more scenic route, won’t take more than an hour.

Journey time does not include stopovers – allows a few days driving.
Route Distance Driving time
Direct route (fast)
(via US-93 and I-84)
1,415 miles 21 hours 30 minutes
California Highway
(via I-10 and I-5)
1,510 miles. 24 hours
Pacific Coast Highway
(via SA-1 and US-101)
1,750 miles. 34 hours

You can also explore the spectacular west coast of the United States by taking a walk along the coast.

Along the way you can stop in several towns and villages and experience nature in some of the many national parks and forests along the way. This trip really has everything to please!

Directions from Phoenix to Seattle

Instead of following the GPS directions that tell you to go north, take the I-10 from Phoenix and head west towards the California coast.

Follow the Interstate Highway through Sonoran and then the Mojave Desert, past Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, across Colorado and to Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs.

Stay close to Los Angeles on the I-210, through the San Bernardino and Angeles National Forests, until you reach Pasadena.

Here you have the choice, depending on the time you have and the number of landscapes you want on the road.

The I-5 goes directly north of Hollywood, via Sacramento, Eugene and Portland to Seattle. The route will be a bit boring until you pass Redding in Northern California, where the views of the mountains and forests begin to change as you approach Oregon.

Those who have the time and desire for more adventure can cross Beverly Hills towards Santa Monica and follow the coast to Washington State.

The Pacific Coast Highway will make its way along a rugged coastline from Malibu, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo to Big Sur, San Francisco, Point Reyes, Guala and the wine regions of Sonoma and Mendocino, California.

Stay on the coast and you’ll pass Redwood National Park, home to the world’s tallest trees, the iconic Oregon coastline with picturesque towns like Newport and the famous Cannon Beach, then head inland from Westport towards Seattle, with Olympic National Park on your left and Mount Rainier on your right.

Cannon Beach and Indian Beach in Oregon, Oregon, with water rising on the rocks off the coast.
Cannon Beach in Oregon may be a small detour if you take the quickest route, but it’s worth it!

Marisa Esteville/Shutterstock.de

Best ports of call between Phoenix and Seattle

If you’re traveling through 4 states, you won’t run out of accommodation and lodging on your way to Seattle. Here are some options you might want to consider.

Pamper yourself and explore Yeshua Tree National Park in Palm Springs

You approach Palm Springs after a few hours in the desert and immediately notice the total absurdity of this perfect green oasis.

You’ll find pristine green lawns, palm trees, water features, golf courses and endless swimming pools in the middle of the Coachella Valley, on the edge of one of the hottest deserts in the world – Mojave.

If you’re spoilt for choice, L’Horizon Resort & Spa is as luxurious and relaxing as Palm Springs and my favourite.

At the gateway to Yeshua Tree National Park you can take a walk through the wilderness, then take the Palm Springs Airtram to Mount San Jacinto in the morning and enjoy a relaxing massage in the afternoon, followed by a cocktail by the pool.

Mount San Jacinto National Park stretches out in the distance, with forest and blue fog.
Mount San Jacinto National Park lies just outside Palm Springs, but the tree-lined mountains give the impression of a different world from the desert below.

oystkris/Shutterstock.com

Temporary delay at Big Sur

Take the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco and pass the famous Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

This emblematic stretch of coast south of Carmel Bee Tea-Sea is perfect for those who like to ride on winding roads with breathtaking views where the wind is blowing in their hair.

Before reaching the famous Bixby Creek Bridge, relax and stay away from the hustle and bustle of the big city for a day or two at the Ventana Inn & Spa.

From the pool, restaurant and bar you have a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Breathtaking hiking trails surround you and you can use the hotel as a base from which to explore the beautiful Californian coast.

View of the Big Sur mountains from a balcony with hammock at Ventana Big Sur.
At Ventana Big Sur you will feel relaxed and a million miles from the busy streets of the city.

Ventana Big Sur

Exploring San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge, the Fishermen’s Wharf, the San Francisco Presidio, the famous Alcatraz… …what’s not to see in San Francisco?

The Drisco Hotel in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights district is ideal for those who want to pamper themselves. It may be expensive, but it is a super luxury in the heart of the city and especially for the traffic, parking outside the hotel is super easy.

During the day you can’t park your car, but the hotel staff will provide free parking – just what you need after a long drive through Big Sur!

During your stay in San Francisco, visit the city’s waterfront and spend a few hours at the Bay Aquarium.

Stop at the ferry building if you are hungry and enjoy a meal prepared by one of the many traders.

If you want the best view of the city, climb to Twin Peaks, which is 922 feet away. From here you have an incredible view of the bay and a great opportunity to take pictures.

For more information, check out our full guide to the best things to do in San Francisco.

San Francisco's Lombard Street, with its pointed hairpins, unfolds on a steep hill surrounded by flowerbeds.
The Lombard Street Studs are a good excuse to stop and explore the steep hills of San Francisco.

Andrei Zarivny / Shutterstock.com

Sightseeing on a road trip from Phoenix to Seattle

On such a long journey there is no shortage of time to stop and see how to travel. It is not possible to give a complete list of everything you can check, but here are a few things to keep in mind during your trip.

  1. Yeshua Tree National Park: If you want to feel isolated, Joshua Tree National Park is the perfect place to do so. The rugged landscapes of the Colorado and Mojave deserts, spotted by Yeshua trees, are attractions you will not forget.
  2. Palm springs: This popular resort is a great place to stay if you want to get up and pamper yourself during your long trip. Spend the night (or two!) and enjoy a luxurious life.
  3. San Bernardino National Forest: West of Mount San Antonio lies the National Forest of San Bernardino. Enjoy hiking or camping in this 823,816-acre park.
  4. Los Angeles: You’ll come by anyway, so why don’t you stay in Los Angeles? Visit some of the historic sights, including Hollywood Plate, Venetian Beach and Rodeo Drive.
  5. Los Padres National Forest: Take a walk through this national coastal forest and enjoy the spectacular mountain views that Los Padres National Forest offers.
  6. San Francisco: This city has it all: beautiful architecture, parks and breathtaking nature on your doorstep. Make sure you add a stop if you can.
  7. Sacramento: Stop in Sacramento on your way to California and visit museums like the Capitol Museum of California and Fort State Sutter Historic Park.
  8. Wine growing regions of California: Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and an infinite number of small wine regions that produce perhaps the greatest wines in America.
  9. Redwood National Park: Admire the world’s tallest trees in this breathtaking park that stretches along the coast of Northern California.
  10. Umpkva National Forest: If you leave California and enter Oregon, you’ll pass through dense forests. Spend some time in the Umpqua National Forest, walk along the northern Umpqua River and stop to admire beautiful waterfalls.
  11. Williamet National Forest: The Willamette National Forest, an area of more than 380,000 hectares with breathtaking river views and 7 large mountain peaks.
  12. Salem, Oregon: Visit the capital of Oregon and discover the impressive vineyards and fields that surround this capital. If you want to visit the coast during your stay, the sea is only an hour away.
  13. Hood Mountain National Forest: For the breathtaking mountain scenery you should definitely take a look in this national forest. Walk Columbia River Gorge and take some pictures of the incredible Mount Hood.
  14. Cannon Beach: A world famous landmark with the beautiful Heistek rock and other monoliths that stand on the waterfront off the coast of Oregon.
  15. National Olympic Park: To the west of Seattle lies the Olympic National Park, which covers almost a million hectares. Visit the breathtaking olympic mountain range and the olympic national forest and olympic hot springs.

The sun rises through the red trees in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California.
You can’t travel from Phoenix to Seattle without seeing giant redwoods with the world’s largest trees in Redwood National Park (photo).

Stephen Moel/Shutterstock.com

Best time to travel from Phoenix to Seattle

From the hot Arizona desert to the northern part of the country you will travel through all kinds of landscapes and weather conditions. From arid desert areas to rainy wooded mountains, you will discover everything.

The best time to travel from Phoenix to Seattle depends on the kind of weather you can bring.

You should avoid travelling in the middle of winter, as it can be cold even in Arizona and California, especially at high altitudes. Winters in and around Seattle will be even colder and darker, which is not convenient for visiting attractions.

If you decide to drive in the summer months of June through August, be careful when driving through Arizona and Southern California. Temperatures can rise and fall above 100°F, and even 10 minutes outside it will feel very warm, not to mention any attempt to walk.

You need to make sure that the air conditioning of your car is the best and that you have brought enough water for your trip.

Summer is also the high season, and wherever you are on this trip, you will be faced with a large crowd.

If you want milder weather and less crowds, spring or autumn is the best choice. However, please note that if you travel in the spring, you will enter the northern United States during the rainy season.

This is definitely the best time to travel – September after Labor Day – the weather is still very nice all the way from Phoenix to Seattle, the crowds are gone and hotel rates are suddenly much lower.

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