A road trip from San Francisco to Portland is an amazing adventure that covers over 600 miles of beautiful scenery.
Starting from San Francisco, you’ll see stunning ocean views and towering redwood trees as you drive along the Pacific Coast Highway.
As you cross into Oregon, you’ll have the chance to visit Crater Lake National Park, the deepest lake in the United States. In addition, there are beautiful waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge.
Finally, you’ll reach Portland, a city with great food and drink, cool neighborhoods, and beautiful parks.
This road trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers a diverse range of experiences and some of the most stunning natural scenery in the country.
This page will serve as your comprehensive road trip guide from San Francisco to Portland.
I’ll tell you how many days you’ll need to accomplish the journey, which routes you should take, and what significant stops/attractions you should see along the way.
Activities Around San Francisco
San Francisco is a vibrant city with plenty of fun and interesting activities. Here are some of the most exciting options:
- Explore Fisherman’s Wharf: a popular tourist destination with plenty of seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, and attractions like the San Francisco Aquarium and the famous sea lions at Pier 39.
- Take a cable car ride: one of the most iconic ways to see the city, a ride on a San Francisco cable car takes you up and down the city’s steep hills with breathtaking bay views.
- Visit Alcatraz Island: home to the infamous former federal prison, now a national park and popular tourist attraction. You can take a ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf to visit the island and explore its history.
- Walk through Golden Gate Park: a massive urban park that spans over 1,000 acres and includes gardens, lakes, museums, and even a bison paddock.
- Tour the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: a world-class museum with a renowned modern and contemporary art collection.
- Take a stroll through Chinatown: the oldest and largest Chinatown in North America, filled with colorful shops, restaurants, and cultural landmarks.
- Go wine tasting in nearby Napa or Sonoma Valley: just a short drive from San Francisco, these regions are famous for their beautiful vineyards and world-class wines.
Overall, San Francisco offers a wide range of activities and attractions that will appeal to various interests and tastes.
How Far Apart Are San Francisco & Portland?
Portland and San Francisco are approximately 600 miles (965 kilometers) apart.
The exact distance may vary depending on the route taken and any detours or stops made along the way.
The journey by car typically takes around 10 hours, although this can vary based on traffic and weather conditions.
Transportation options like flying or taking a train may also be available for those traveling between these two cities.
What Is The Best Route From San Francisco To Portland?
Several routes can reach San Francisco to Portland, but Interstate 5 South may be the most popular. With no breaks and the grace of the traffic gods, you could finish the journey in a little over ten hours.
While I don’t advocate traveling I-5 all the way (you’d miss all the excellent things! ), you may use it as a starting point for exploring one or more regional routes.
For example, from Portland, you can take US-26 and US-97 S for a time before rejoining I-5 S. This route takes little more than 11 hours and covers 656 miles. This path will take you via Crater Lake National Park, among other places.
Bend, Oregon, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Burney Falls, and the Redwoods are all worth a visit.
Another option is to use US Route 26, Sunset Highway, to Highway 101 S, then merge onto I-5 S.
You’ll travel down the stunning Oregon Coast, passing through many charming settlements and the vibrant metropolis of Eugene.
When it approaches California, the highway goes through some of the state’s most appealing natural features, including beaches and wine country. This travel takes around 12 hours.
San Francisco To Portland: 9 Best Places To Stop In 2023
Many beautiful places to stop and explore during a road trip from San Francisco to Portland. Here are some of the best places to consider:
- Mendocino – is a picturesque coastal town with stunning ocean views and towering cliffs.
- Avenue of the Giants – a scenic drive through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, home to some of the tallest trees on earth.
- Ashland – a charming town known for its Shakespeare Festival and beautiful scenery.
- Crater Lake National Park – features a massive caldera filled with crystal-clear water and surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
- Bend is a vibrant city in Central Oregon’s heart, known for its outdoor activities and stunning mountain views.
- Columbia River Gorge – a dramatic canyon with numerous waterfalls, including the famous Multnomah Falls.
- Cannon Beach – a quaint coastal town with beautiful beaches and picturesque views of Haystack Rock.
- Tillamook – home to the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory, where you can take a tour and sample delicious cheese.
- Mount Hood – a stunning mountain with hiking trails and skiing opportunities in the winter.
Overall, a road trip from San Francisco to Portland offers a diverse range of experiences and some of the most stunning natural scenery in the country. With so many beautiful places to stop and explore, it’s a journey that’s sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.
What Is The Best Time To Travel From San Francisco To Portland?
The best time to go on a road trip from San Francisco to Portland depends on your preferences and what you want to see and do along the way.
Generally, the best time to go is during the summer, from June to September, when the weather is warm and dry and outdoor activities are in full swing.
This is also the peak tourist season so popular attractions can be crowded, and accommodations may be more expensive.
If you prefer cooler temperatures and quieter roads, spring (April and May) and fall (October and November) can be great times to go. You can also see beautiful fall foliage in some areas during these seasons.
Winter (December to March) can be challenging for a road trip due to the potential for snow and ice on the roads, especially in mountainous areas.
However, if you are comfortable driving in winter conditions, you can also experience beautiful winter landscapes and enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding.
Overall, the best time to go on a road trip from San Francisco to Portland depends on your preferences and what you want to see and do along the way.
Consider the weather, seasonal events, and travel style when planning your trip.
What Is The Worst Time To Travel From San Francisco To Portland In 2023?
The worst time to go on a road trip from San Francisco to Portland would be during the winter months of December through February.
During this time, snow and ice can make driving conditions hazardous, especially in mountainous areas such as the Siskiyou Pass and the Cascade Mountains.
In addition, many attractions and outdoor activities may be closed or limited during winter.
This can make it difficult to fully experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Another time to avoid would be the rainy season from November through April.
While the rain is necessary for the lush greenery and beautiful forests of the region, it can also make driving conditions challenging, and some areas may be more prone to flooding and landslides.
Overall, while there is no bad time to visit the San Francisco to Portland region, it’s important to consider the weather and seasonal conditions when planning your trip to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Roadside Attractions Between San Francisco To Portland
The drive from San Francisco to Portland has breathtaking scenery and unique roadside attractions. Here are some of the top attractions to check out along the way:
- Glass Beach, Fort Bragg: A beach once a dumpsite now known for the colorful glass pieces that have been smoothed and polished by the ocean.
- Trees of Mystery, Klamath: A roadside attraction with towering redwood trees, gondola rides, and a museum showcasing local Native American culture.
- Confusion Hill, Piercy: A gravity-defying roadside attraction where water flows uphill, visitors can walk through a house built at a 45-degree angle.
- Mount Shasta: A snow-capped mountain and an active volcano with stunning views and hiking trails.
- Lava Beds National Monument: A unique geological site with volcanic caves and rock formations, offering opportunities for hiking, spelunking, and stargazing.
- Oregon Vortex, Gold Hill: A mysterious area where the laws of physics seem distorted, causing objects to appear to roll uphill and people to appear to change height.
- Powell’s City of Books, Portland: The largest independent bookstore in the world, with over one million books in stock and nine color-coded rooms to explore.
These are just a few roadside attractions on the San Francisco to Portland road trip. Whether you’re interested in nature, history, or just some quirky fun, there’s something for everyone on this scenic drive.
Typical Rainfall And Temperatures In Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon, has a temperate climate with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Here’s a breakdown of typical rainfall and temperatures in Portland throughout the year:
- Winter (December-February): Rain is common during winter, with average temperatures ranging from the low 40s to mid-50s Fahrenheit (5-12 degrees Celsius).
- Spring (March-May): Rain continues in the spring, but temperatures begin to warm up, with averages ranging from the mid-50s to low 70s Fahrenheit (12-22 degrees Celsius).
- Summer (June-August): Summer is generally dry and warm, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (23-28 degrees Celsius).
- Fall (September-November): Fall brings cooler temperatures and increasing rainfall, with averages ranging from the mid-50s to mid-60s Fahrenheit (12-18 degrees Celsius).
Generally, Portland has pleasant temps all year, making it an excellent spot to visit no matter the season. Nonetheless, rain is prevalent throughout the year, so be prepared.
Adventures At Portland
Portland, Oregon, is a city full of adventure, offering visitors a wide range of activities. One of the most popular adventures in Portland is exploring the great outdoors, and Forest Park is a great place to start.
With over 80 miles of hiking trails, visitors can choose from easy strolls to challenging hikes that wind through the lush forest.
For those who love to cycle, the Eastbank Esplanade is a must-visit, offering stunning views of the Willamette River and downtown Portland.
Adventurers who enjoy water-based activities can rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards and explore the Willamette River.
Another adventure to be had in Portland is experiencing local culture. The Portland Saturday Market is an open-air market featuring over 200 local artisans selling handmade crafts, jewelry, and artwork.
With live music and food vendors, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon soaking up the local scene.
And no visit to Portland would be complete without sampling some of the city’s famous food and drink, from artisanal coffee to craft beer and farm-to-table cuisine.
Overall, Portland, Oregon, is a city that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, or someone who loves to immerse yourself in local culture, this vibrant city has no shortage of adventures.
The road trip from San Francisco to Portland perfectly combines natural beauty, cultural diversity, and adventure. From the stunning coastline to the towering redwoods and the trendy neighborhoods of San Francisco to the charming towns of Oregon, this trip offers something for every type of traveler. Whether you prefer hiking or simply enjoying the scenery, this road trip is a lifetime journey.