The Complete Guide To Driving From Seattle To Phoenix

Looking to make the epic road trip drive from Seattle to Phoenix? Driving the 1,600+ miles from the Emerald City to the Valley of the Sun is an unforgettable way to see the beautiful western United States. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide everything you need to know to drive from Seattle to Phoenix and make the most of your cross-country road trip.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The fastest route from Seattle to Phoenix is to take I-90 E to I-82 E, then continue on I-84 E until you reach I-5 S to continue the rest of the way to Phoenix. This route takes around 23 hours of nonstop driving.

In the sections below, we’ll go over optimal routes from Seattle, recommend must-see stops and attractions along the way, give tips for saving time and money on gas, and provide essential packing and planning advice for your road trip. Let’s hit the open road and start this epic Seattle to Phoenix drive!

Choosing the Best Route from Seattle to Phoenix

Planning a road trip from Seattle to Phoenix? One of the first things you’ll need to decide is the best route to take. Here are a few options to consider:

I-90 E to I-82 E

If you’re looking for the most direct route, taking I-90 E to I-82 E is your best bet. This route will take you through the beautiful state of Washington and into the heart of the Columbia Basin. You’ll pass through cities like Yakima and Ellensburg, and enjoy stunning views of the Cascade Mountains along the way.

Plus, with plenty of gas stations, rest areas, and dining options along the route, you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable journey.

I-5 S the Whole Way

Another popular option is to take I-5 S the entire way from Seattle to Phoenix. This route will take you through the states of Washington, Oregon, and California, offering a diverse range of landscapes and attractions.

From the lush green forests of Washington to the towering redwoods of California, you’ll experience the best of the West Coast on this route. Just be prepared for heavy traffic, especially during peak travel times, as this is a major highway.

Adding a Stop in Portland

If you have some extra time to spare, consider adding a stop in Portland, Oregon to your road trip itinerary. Known for its vibrant food scene, quirky neighborhoods, and beautiful parks, Portland is a great place to explore.

Spend a day or two in the city, visit the famous Powell’s City of Books, indulge in some delicious local cuisine, and then continue your journey down to Phoenix. It’s a slight detour from the direct route, but well worth it if you have the time.

Scenic Alternatives like US-101 S

If you’re in the mood for a more scenic drive, consider taking US-101 S instead of the major highways. This route will take you along the stunning Pacific coastline, offering breathtaking views of the ocean, rugged cliffs, and picturesque beach towns.

While it may take a bit longer to reach Phoenix, the journey itself will be an unforgettable experience. Just make sure to plan your stops and accommodations in advance, as there may be fewer options along this less-traveled route.

Ultimately, the best route from Seattle to Phoenix will depend on your preferences and the amount of time you have available. Whether you choose the most direct route or opt for a scenic adventure, this road trip is sure to be one for the books.

Must-See Stops and Attractions Along the Way

Mount Rainier National Park

As you embark on your road trip from Seattle to Phoenix, make sure to include a visit to Mount Rainier National Park. Located just a short drive from Seattle, this majestic national park offers breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano.

With over 260 miles of hiking trails, visitors can explore the park’s diverse landscapes, including alpine meadows, glaciers, and old-growth forests. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning vistas and abundant wildlife that call this park home.

For more information, visit the official website of Mount Rainier National Park.

Columbia River Gorge

Continuing your journey south, a stop at the Columbia River Gorge is a must. Stretching over 80 miles along the border of Oregon and Washington, this scenic area offers breathtaking views of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and the mighty Columbia River.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and even windsurfing. Be sure to visit popular attractions such as Multnomah Falls, the second-highest year-round waterfall in the United States, and the Historic Columbia River Highway, a scenic drive that offers panoramic views of the gorge.

For more information, visit the official website of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Bend, Oregon

As you make your way through Oregon, consider stopping in the charming city of Bend. Known for its outdoor recreation, breweries, and stunning mountain views, Bend offers something for everyone. Take a hike along the Deschutes River Trail, enjoy a leisurely bike ride through the city, or sample local craft beers at one of the many breweries.

If you’re visiting during the winter months, don’t miss the opportunity to hit the slopes at Mount Bachelor, a popular ski resort located just outside of Bend.

For more information, visit the official website of Visit Bend.

Crater Lake National Park

Before reaching your final destination in Phoenix, make sure to visit Crater Lake National Park. Known for its deep blue waters and stunning panoramic views, Crater Lake is a must-see natural wonder. Formed over 7,000 years ago by the collapse of a volcano, the lake is the deepest in the United States and offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, and even boat tours.

Don’t forget to hike up to Watchman Peak for a breathtaking view of the lake and surrounding landscapes.

For more information, visit the official website of Crater Lake National Park.

These are just a few of the must-see stops and attractions along the way from Seattle to Phoenix. Remember to plan your trip accordingly, allowing for enough time to explore these incredible destinations and create lifelong memories.

Saving Time and Money on Your Road Trip

Tips for Getting Good Gas Mileage

When embarking on a road trip from Seattle to Phoenix, it’s important to consider ways to maximize your gas mileage. One simple tip is to maintain a steady speed and avoid rapid acceleration and braking. By doing so, you can improve fuel efficiency and save money on gas.

Another helpful suggestion is to keep your tires properly inflated, as underinflated tires can decrease your gas mileage. Additionally, removing unnecessary weight from your vehicle can also contribute to better fuel economy.

By following these tips, you can stretch your gas budget and make the most of your road trip.

Finding the Cheapest Gas Prices

As you travel from Seattle to Phoenix, it’s essential to find the cheapest gas prices along the way. One useful resource for finding affordable fuel is GasBuddy, a website and mobile app that provides real-time gas prices at various locations.

GasBuddy allows you to search for gas stations based on your current location or a specific route, making it easy to plan your stops and find the best deals. Additionally, many gas stations offer loyalty programs or discounts for using certain credit cards, so be sure to take advantage of these opportunities to save even more money on your journey.

Scheduling an Efficient Itinerary

Creating an efficient itinerary is crucial to saving time and money on your road trip from Seattle to Phoenix. One strategy is to plan your route in advance and identify points of interest or attractions that you would like to visit along the way.

By doing so, you can optimize your time and ensure that you make the most of your journey. Another tip is to take advantage of technology by using navigation apps such as Google Maps or Waze. These apps can provide real-time traffic updates and suggest alternative routes to avoid congestion, helping you save time and reduce fuel consumption.

Additionally, consider scheduling your driving hours to avoid peak traffic times, which can significantly impact travel time. By following these tips, you can create an efficient itinerary that maximizes your time and minimizes unnecessary expenses during your road trip.

Packing Tips and Planning Advice

Road Trip Packing Checklist

Before embarking on a road trip from Seattle to Phoenix, it’s essential to have a well-prepared packing checklist. This will ensure that you have all the necessary items for a comfortable and enjoyable journey. Some of the must-have items include:

  • Valid driver’s license and car registration documents
  • Emergency roadside kit including jumper cables, flashlight, and spare tire
  • Comfortable clothing and shoes for driving and exploring various destinations
  • Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect against the sun
  • Snacks and drinks for the road
  • Maps or a GPS device for navigation
  • Entertainment options such as books, podcasts, or music for long stretches

By following a comprehensive checklist, you can ensure that you’re fully prepared for any situation that may arise during your journey.

Booking Accommodations in Advance

When planning a road trip, it’s always a good idea to book accommodations in advance, especially if you have specific preferences or requirements. Whether you prefer hotels, motels, or Airbnb rentals, booking ahead of time will guarantee you have a place to stay each night along your route.

There are several websites available where you can find and book accommodations in different cities along the way. Websites like and Airbnb provide a wide range of options to suit every budget and preference.

By booking in advance, you can also take advantage of any deals or discounts available, saving you money in the long run.

Having Your Car Serviced First

Prior to embarking on a long road trip, it’s important to have your car serviced to ensure it’s in optimal condition for the journey. Taking your vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a thorough inspection will help identify any potential issues that could arise during the trip.

Regular maintenance tasks such as oil changes, tire rotations, and checking fluid levels should be done before hitting the road. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have your mechanic check the brakes, battery, and electrical system to ensure everything is in proper working order.

Having your car serviced beforehand will give you peace of mind and minimize the chances of unexpected breakdowns or delays along the way. It’s always better to be proactive and address any potential issues before they become major problems.

Entertainment and Activities for the Drive

Podcast and Audiobook Recommendations

Long drives can be made much more enjoyable with the right entertainment. If you’re a fan of podcasts or audiobooks, this is the perfect opportunity to catch up on your favorite shows or listen to that novel you’ve been meaning to read.

Some popular podcast genres include true crime, comedy, and personal development. For audiobooks, you can choose from a wide variety of genres such as mystery, romance, or fantasy. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

  • Serial: A gripping true crime podcast that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
  • The Joe Rogan Experience: A long-form conversation podcast hosted by comedian Joe Rogan, featuring a wide range of guests.
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama: The former First Lady’s memoir, narrated by herself.

These are just a few examples, but there are countless podcasts and audiobooks to choose from. Find something that suits your interests and enjoy the ride!

Road Trip Games and Activities

Another way to make the drive more fun is by playing road trip games and engaging in activities that involve everyone in the car. Here are a few classic road trip games to try:

  • I Spy: Take turns describing objects you see along the way and have others guess what you’re looking at.
  • 20 Questions: Think of an object, person, or place, and let others ask up to 20 yes-or-no questions to try and guess what it is.
  • License Plate Game: Keep track of the different license plates you spot from different states and see who can find the most.

Aside from games, you can also plan some activities such as creating a collaborative playlist with everyone’s favorite songs or taking turns sharing interesting facts or stories about the places you’re passing through.

These activities will not only keep you entertained but also help create lasting memories.

Apps to Enhance Your Drive

In this digital age, there are numerous apps available that can enhance your road trip experience. Some apps can help you find the best places to eat or stay along the way, while others provide real-time traffic updates and navigation assistance.

Here are a few apps that can make your drive from Seattle to Phoenix even better:

App Description
TripIt Organizes all your travel plans, including flight details, hotel reservations, and car rentals, in one place.
GasBuddy Helps you find the cheapest gas prices along your route, saving you money at the pump.
Roadtrippers Allows you to plan your trip, discover interesting sights along the way, and create custom itineraries.

These are just a few examples, and there are many more apps available depending on your specific needs and preferences. Don’t forget to download them before you hit the road to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.


With thorough planning and preparation, the drive from Seattle to Phoenix can be an unforgettable multi-day adventure on the open road. Follow the optimal routes, make strategic stops, save money on gas, pack properly, and plan fun drive entertainment. This guide will get you from Seattle to Phoenix efficiently and enjoyably. Hit the road for the Pacific Northwest to the Southwest U.S. road trip of a lifetime!

Similar Posts