Destination: Pacific Northwest | Motorcycle Travel

Traveling Pacific Northwest via Motorcycles

The thought of a rainforest often takes your mind to the Amazon or the Congo Basin, where a warm mist permeates and green is the dominant color. Tucked up in the northwest corner of the United States (and southwest corner of Canada) is an American rainforest, with all the green you would expect, and the only thing lacking is tropical temperatures.

Locales surrounding Seattle get as much as five feet of rain in a typical season, and the lush forests reflect the ample moisture. Coastal roads and the ferries of Puget Sound add a unique flavor to the area.

However, as one explores beyond the coastal zones, while there is still widespread flora, the Rocky Mountains dominate to the east. There, incredible, lightly traveled roads await motorcyclists on any type of touring bike.

Sitting on the border between Alberta and British Columbia, Jasper National Park is the largest of Canada’s National Park system, taking in 4200 square miles. Widely prevalent wildlife, including caribou, grizzlies, bighorns and other exotics make Jasper their home, and the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Along with the expected rain, temperatures at altitude and high latitudes will be cool, even in summer, so proper warm and waterproof apparel is a must.

Long considered the gold standard of motorcycle touring companies, Edelweiss offers a nearly two-week trip through Washington, British Columbia and Alberta.  The variety of stops is impressive, as the Canada West Tour takes in the cosmopolitan cities of Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria, as well as the rugged outposts of Jasper, and iconic roads such as the Trans-Canada Highway and Pan-American Highway.

Jasper and Banff National Parks, plus Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness area ensure a healthy dose of nature. Mountain passes are a daily rite of passage, including Sherman Pass (5575 feet above sea level) and Monashee Pass (at 3953 feet), and the Edelweiss Canada West Tour packs in anywhere from 140 to 330 miles each day.

The roads can be taken at a leisurely pace on any one of three touring Harley-Davidsons (Electra Glide, Road King, or Heritage Softail) offered by Edelweiss, or you can go a bit sportier with your choice of three BMWs (R 1200 RT, R 1200 GS, or F 650 GS). Any of the six will work well on these high-quality, scenery-dominated roads, including the Continental-Divide hugging Icefields Parkway in Jasper.