Auto Tour

Willapa Loop

Olympic Peninsula hand-drawn map

Map by John King (Click to Enlarge)

Explore Southwest Washington’s Hills, Rivers, Farms and More

By John King

The name Willapa appears on a variety of features in Southwest Washington, including a range of hills, a river, a bay and a village. It derives from Ah-whil-la-pah, a band of Chinook peoples who lived along the river that now bears their name.

Our Willapa Loop Auto Tour explores this corner of the Evergreen State, a well-watered region of rolling green hills, steady-flowing rivers, century-old farms and lumber towns whose bustle depends on the vicissitudes of the forest products industry. Fishing towns are scattered along the Columbia River’s lower reaches and the oyster industry remains important on Willapa Bay.

The auto tour begins on Interstate 5 at Centralia and follows a counterclockwise itinerary west to the Pacific Ocean, then south along the coast returning eastward along the Columbia River. Roads are two-laned (except for 41 miles of interstate between Kelso and Centralia) and paved. The route comprises approximately 230 miles and takes about five hours to complete. Including stops, this route makes a good day trip from Seattle or Portland, Oregon.

Rainfall is plentiful in Southwest Washington, especially in the coastal counties. Snow is relatively rare at these low elevations, although icy roads are a wintertime possibility. The drier summer months from late June through September offer the best weather — morning coastal fog frequently yields to afternoon sunshine.

Because of COVID-19, please take recommended safety precautions if you are planning a future trip. Check before you go for amenities and capacity restrictions.

Aberdeen and Chehalis River

Start Here: Centralia to Raymond

Find historic stops on the Chehalis and Willapa rivers as well as the Highway to Willapa Bay.
Tourist at Cape Disappointment

South Bend to the Columbia River

Visit the Oyster Capital of the World on your way to Cape Disappointment.
SR 4 Naselle Road

Ilwaco to Longview

Explore Lewis and Clark sites and more attractions along the Columbia River.

Winlock egg

Longview to Centralia

Most-visit small towns including Winlock, which hosts the World’s largest egg. Plus a side trip to Mount St. Helen.

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