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United States, Los Angeles, Seattle

Pacific West Coast (LA to Seattle) or Route 66 road trip in January?

Hi there, 

We are planning a 2 week road trip to US, its around January (winter season). I'm choosing between pacific coast way from LA to Seattle or Route 66/or southwest? Would like to hear some of your thoughts? We would like to go where there are more accessible things to do during winter. i.e. white river rafting 


10 Answers

top answer by
Robert Glenn from Manhattan Beach

I am inclined to agree with Alana, especially this year. There is ALOT of weather pouring into the Northwest and I would go south to the deserts, I think you will have more good days. Do you hike ? Zion National ParkBryce Canyon National ParkEscalanteCapitol Reef National Park Visitor CenterArches National ParkDead Horse Point State ParkCanyonlands National Park ESPECIALLY the lesser visited southern section, Monument Valley, and Grand Canyon National Park are one of the most remarkable hike/drive circuits you will find anywhere in the world. Any of these parks might get snow or rain, so go prepared, but the varied terrain of these parks is unmatched and other-worldly. You need NOT try to do all of these, you can shorten the loop in many ways. Also, Lake Powell is in the middle of all of this if you are inclined rent a boat and go out on the lake for the day, or overnight. Nearby are the famous tribal land slot canyons that you could tour as well.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Zion National Park (park)
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park (park)
  3. Escalante (attraction)
  4. Capitol Reef National Park Visitor Center (attraction)
  5. Arches National Park (park)
  6. Dead Horse Point State Park (attraction)
  7. Canyonlands National Park (park)
  8. Monument Valley (region)
  9. Grand Canyon National Park (park)
  10. Lake Powell (attraction)
3 thanks

answered first by
Eric from Rocklin

I don't think you can go wrong going from LA to Seattle.  All the way along the route, you have access to some of the best cities in the country (Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle) and you also are near to plenty of winter activities.  Some of the finest skiing in the country is in the Lake Tahoe area.  The great thing about California, especially, is the easy access to both the ocean and the mountains.  While we are mired in a long drought, you should expect lots of rain and snow during that period -- on the west coast, the winter is basically when we get all of our precipitation.

3 thanks

answered by
Joel from Declo, Idaho

Between those two choices, I'd recommend the Coast.  You're guaranteed to avoid rough driving in snow.  There aren't any guarantees that route 66 won't have snow storms along your route.  The wind will be cold along the coast, but you'll see some amazing views along the route.  I've done the pacific coast highway a couple of times, and really enjoyed the route.  Lots of places to stay and things to see.  

La Jolla Cove - Great beaches, natural arch, birds, seals, and great food 

Fisherman's Wharf - Go explore San Francisco

Sea Lion Caves - Visit seals on their terms

Astoria - Where Goonies was filmed. Go to Cannon Beach and Seaside.

Deception Pass - Nature at it's best.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. La Jolla Cove (attraction)
  2. Fisherman's Wharf (attraction)
  3. Sea Lion Caves (attraction)
  4. Astoria (city)
  5. Deception Pass (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Wendy from Gig Harbor, Washington

Pacific Coast... As far as Oregon goes, you could see a Shakespearean play in Ashland (lots of good restaurants in this cute town as well).  The Oregon coast is particularly amazing, even in the winter (take the spectacular drive right along the coast).  You can stay at a cozy seaside resort while watching the stormy ocean.  Try Cannon Beach Schooner's Cove Inn -- right on the beach.  Astoria is a fun stop as well as Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington.  Portland and Seattle are fun any time of year.  I don't know California as well, but am sure the weather would be even better down there.  Have fun!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Oregon (attraction)
  2. Ashland (attraction)
  3. Cannon Beach (attraction)
  4. Schooner's Cove Inn (hotel)
  5. Astoria (city)
  6. Cape Disappointment State Park (attraction)
  7. Washington (attraction)
  8. Portland (city)
  9. Seattle (city)
2 thanks

answered by
Abbi from Northeast

LA to Seattle is your best bet - so much to do and amazing scenery. The Redwoods at Sequoia National Forest alone are worth the trip! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Sequoia National Forest (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Michael from Tacoma

Route 66 was decertified years ago, supplanted by the US Interstate Highway System. Some states have taken steps to publicize surviving sights and highway sections. I-40, which parallels old Route 66 through New Mexico and Northern Arizona, passes through Flagstaff AZ, elevation 7000 feet. As a result, travel in January could be cold and clear or snowy.

LA - Seattle travel should be warmer and wetter, for the most part. There are several travel options: the Coast Highway passes through Santa Barbara, skirts Solvang,  and San Luis Obispo before reaching Hearst Castle. Scenic Big Sur hugs the ocean from San Simeon to Carmel and Pebble Beach Resorts. Occasionally, winter mud slides close the Big Sur route north of San Simeon during the winter. The Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row are well-worth seeing. San Francisco is about a two-hour drive north of Monterey. Take the Golden Gate Bridge if you wish to continue to follow the coast. The Bay Bridge (I-80) will be your choice if you decide to head inland to meet I-5, the quickest route to Seattle, about 850 miles north of San Francisco, weather permitting. I-5 passes north of Redding and into southern Oregon reach up to about 4300'. The Siskyous passes in southern Oregon sometimes close during the winter. An alternate route along the coast highways through northern California and southern Oregon are more likely to be wet than icy.

I'm running out of time and energy now, so I'll leave a description of Oregon and Seattle Highlights for other respondents. You should find many suggestions for Portland and Seattle throughout the Trippy site. Have a safe and smooth trip.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Santa Barbara (city)
  2. Solvang (city)
  3. San Luis Obispo (city)
  4. Hearst Castle (attraction)
  5. Big Sur (city)
  6. Pebble Beach Resorts (hotel)
  7. Monterey Bay Aquarium (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Alana from Spokane

At that time of year I think the Southwest would be your best bet. Salt River Canyon Wilderness in Arizona has fantastic white river rafting if you're looking for a starting off point.  

Save the Pacific West Coast for the spring, summer, or fall!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Salt River Canyon Wilderness (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Tye from Seattle, Washington

Pacific Coast Highway is the most scenic, so if you think you'll enjoy the west coast cultures then definitely do this instead of 66. 

answered by
joel from Manchester (Connecticut)


I see lots of answers swaying you to do the coast. I lived on the Olympic Peninsula for 15 years.  

In light of this, January from Northern CA to the northern tip of the peninsula can be very damp, foggy and grey.  

If your a die hard outdoors type, then go for the coast. 

I have hiked the Grand Canyon 3 times with the 4th coming in a couple months. Nothing like the high desert with snow. Very surreal. Can be real cold at 7000 feet above seal level. But cold. 

I would do the route 66 in January and save the coast trip for summer days.

answered by
Tracy from Portland, Oregon

In January, you'll definitely want to stay south; January is one of the coldest months of the year in Oregon and Washington 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Oregon (attraction)
  2. Washington (attraction)

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