The Northwest’s Coast Road: US-101 by 8 Ball Brian

Virtually everyone has heard of Route 66, or Highway 101 in California.  They are both great and legendary roads, don’t get me wrong.  But let me tell you about the other end of the “101”.


When you start off on US-101 here in Washington state, to head south to the other end in California, you have to head north for nearly a hundred miles.  Pinched between the Olympic Mountains and Hood Canal; US-101 twists, and snakes through forests and across numerous scenic river deltas.  Then it rises up in sweeping “S” curves through dense forest before crossing over Walker Pass and dropping back down close to sea level again.

As the road nears Sequim (that’s pronounced “Skwim”…one of the myriad of Indian place names in the NW), it turns towards the west.  Hugging the northern slopes of the Olympics as it snakes its way through forests and along deep and beautiful Crescent Lake.  Then it finally turns south again about a dozen or so miles north of Forks.  Yes, it is the same Forks as in the Twilight books and movies; and both they, and La Push are racking in the tourist dough on account of it.

After you ride through Forks the road passes through a series of temperate rain forests.  So even if the weather looks good, don’t be surprised if you run into rain.  It rains about ten to eleven feet worth of water every year along this stretch.  So you will be crossing over several scenic rivers along through here.  After a too short time along the coast the road swings back east towards the Olympics again.

Dropping out of the foothills of the Olympic Mountains the road swings east around Grays Harbor, before heading south again.  Then flowing along the shoreline of Willipa Bay before heading south towards the Columbia River and the bridge to Astoria.

From Astoria to Crescent City, California is about 370 miles of twisting Oceanside roadway.  This stretch of road is littered with scenic pull-offs, lighthouses, shipwrecks, and too many road side attractions to count.  So I won’t try.  US-101 clings pretty tightly to the coast virtually the entire length of Oregon, and this stretch in itself is a wonderful ride.  If you ever get the chance to enjoy it, don’t pass up the opportunity.  I know of many people who have ridden US-101 from Santa Monica to Sausalito and thought they had seen the best.  Take my word for it, they hadn’t.  The best is still up north.  Better yet, DON’T take my word…find out for yourself.  Come check out the northwest’s coast road, and enjoy what most of the rest of the country doesn’t even know exists.


Catch ya on the road sometime…

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