high steel bridge washington 09

7 Reasons to Visit High Steel Bridge Over Vance Creek Bridge

While Vance Creek Bridge is one of the most popular spots to explore in Washington State, the fact that it’s illegal to go there is one of the reasons why I don’t recommend it. But don’t worry because there happens to be another, better bridge close by that’s actually legal to access and it’s called High Steel Bridge. 

Quick info on High Steel Bridge Washington:

  • Name: High Steel Bridge.
  • Location: Olympic National Forest, 15 minutes away from Vance Creek Bridge.
  • Height: 300+ feet high.
  • What is it? An even taller bridge than Vance Creek Bridge that you can drive over.
  • Is it legal to go there? Yes!
  • Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • Recommended? Yes! Every negative there is to checking out Vance Creek Bridge, High Steel Bridge makes up for and I’ll show you all of that in a moment.

Here’s what High Steel Bridge looks:

high steel bridge vs vance creek bridge in washington 02

I had to go far to get that shot! But overall, as you can see, it’s not that different in terms of looks and the surrounding area is amazing. In fact, some people might even think that’s Vance Creek Bridge if you show them that photo.

In hindsight I am very surprised at the lack of advertising High Steel Bridge gets, considering how massive and nearly identical to Vance Creek Bridge it is. I’ll tell you how I found it shortly, but it wasn’t exactly easy to do.

7 reasons High Steel Bridge is better than Vance Creek Bridge:

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  1. It’s legal to go there (Vance Creek Bridge is not).
  2. It’s taller than Vance Creek Bridge.
  3. The views are better in my opinion. 
  4. High Steel Bridge is actually not broken like Vance Creek Bridge.
  5. High Steel Bridge is a road bridge, Vance Creek Bridge is an old trestle.
  6. It’s actually close to Vance Creek Bridge (About 30 minutes from it).
  7. There’s no hike required to get there.

If nothing else, these are the most important things to know about why visiting High Steel Bridge is a much better (and safer) option than Vance Creek Bridge. And if you’d like to know what else there is to see there, read on:

How I found out about High Steel Bridge Washington (It was a blessing in disguise):

I was traveling through Washington State on a major road trip across the Pacific Northwest and one of the spots I wanted to visit was Vance Creek Bridge. Yes I knew it was illegal to actually go there but I also knew there were tons of people who still took that risk, got the tickets and then posted the photos on Instagram. I considered being one of those people when I was headed there. Who knew, maybe I’d get lucky.

While I also knew that it was dangerous, I just wanted to see the area and not exactly enter the property (Vance Creek Bridge is apparently on private property). Once I was there, I figured only then I would make the decision on whether or not to actually go to the location itself (if there were people, and the conditions were safe, I would have considered it).

Then a snowstorm hit the night before:

And all of plans to visit Vance Creek Bridge fell apart as tons of snow covered most of the area in it, and the access to even get to the parking area of Vance Creek Bridge was also closed and from multiple locations too, so I was basically unable to even get close to it. However, this setback would end up being a blessing, because a Google search showed me an alternative bridge to check out: High Steel Bridge.

And with it only being 15 minutes away and actually being safer and legal to visit, I figured I had nothing to lose. And so I put the GPS on and let it take me to this spot (here is the location to High Steel Bridge):

vance creek bridge to high steel bridge map

While that area was also snowed in and at times it was rough to get there, it was very much worth it. Here are some things to note about this location and the difference between it and the other (illegal) spot:

4 things to know before you check out High Steel Bridge Washington:

1) Getting to High Steel Bridge is pretty safe. It’s on a one lane road though:

The other location is an abandoned railroad which you have to hike up to and while I don’t mind hiking and also like train bridges, such as the one I visited in Vancouver Island, and here’s a picture of it:

abandoned trestles like vance creek bridge and high steel bridge 01

The point is, because Vance Creek Bridge can be dangerous and illegal to get to is itself a reason not to go. There’s not just High Steel Bridge (the closest alternative) nearby and this one I just mentioned but a few others below that I’ll talk about which you can also explore.

2) You can easily drive over the High Steel Bridge and park your car near it.

Then you can exit and enjoy the views, while on the other spot, you will have to park far away, hike to the location, then climb it and risk injury or even death. I will say though that High Steel Bridge is not completely safe. When I was there, the metal barriers (rails) were SO small and basically were as high as my thighs. I was very scared the closer I got to the tip and because there was snow and ice, I didn’t risk getting too close, it just wasn’t worth it. So please be careful if you visit that spot. Some of the shots I took weren’t easy but they are beautiful so enjoy 🙂

3) The views are insanely beautiful, as beautiful as on Vance Creek Bridge if not better:

Both bridges do cross a river, but in my opinion, based on the images, and my experience, it’s more beautiful at High Steel Bridge because there’s also a waterfall that you can see off it (It is called Vincent Creek Falls):

waterfall by high steel bridge in olympic national forest 01

I won’t deny the allure of going to Vance Creek Bridge, for it’s popularity, and the fact that it’s illegal makes it even more attractive to hikers and risk takers, but people, I have to tell you, it’s stupid to risk going there and in my case, who knew how much more dangerous it would be if I did end up going, in the snow, on top of all the other dangers?

At the very least, you’ll get a hefty fine, and at the very worst, you may die, as that spot is NOT taken care off, and High Steel Bridge is as it’s an official road that’s being monitored and updated. I am honestly very surprised at all the things I read and saw that High Steel Bridge is not recommended by more people, across more forums.

I had to go through several sites and forums to actually see ONE person recommend it and being that I found this spot better, it’s a huge surprise to see that it’s not being advertised better. Now at least you have 2 sources (mine is that extra source). Hopefully this post gets out to more people, so they can stay safe and see great views in the Olympic National Forest area, which is where these bridges are located (it’s very close to Olympic National Park too).

4) If you go there during the winter, you need a 4 wheel drive and very warm clothes:

I say this because that’s what I had to do the first time I went here. There are a lot of icy and snowy roads in this region of Olympic National Forest and I’m glad I had a 4 wheel drive when I was there. I also wore very protective gear that kept me dry and warm which was:

High Steel Bridge reviews: Are they also good?

The answer is yes and this is what I actually looked a lot (besides the photos) when I was first looking for Vance Creek Bridge alternatives to see. At the time (this was many years ago) the area didn’t have that many reviews but today, there’s around a 1,000 and nearly at 5 stars as a whole:

high steel bridge reviews 05
high steel bridge reviews

Here are more High Steel Bridge photos:

high steel bridge photos 01

Common questions about Vance Creek Bridge and High Steel Bridge Washington:

Can you still go to Vance Creek Bridge?

The land Vance Creek Bridge is on is still on private property and if you get caught, you will have to pay a fine. Then there’s also the natural dangers of being on it to consider.

How high is Vance Creek Bridge?

Vance Creek Bridge is about 350 feet high.

Where is High Steel Bridge located?

On the south eastern end of Olympic National Park and only about 30 minutes north of Vance Creek Bridge.

Related: 5 more options that like the Steel Bridge in Washington!

places like high steel bridge washington

1) The Goldstream Trestle in Vancouver Island (that I mentioned above) is one of the best options. You can’t drive under it but you can hike over it.

2) New River Gorge National Park which is located in West Virginia has a gigantic road bridge you can cross, and a beautiful park to explore underneath it. I’ve been to this area and will include a link for things to do there soon. So with this option, you can hike and drive over it.

3) Big Sur in California has an equally amazing spot called Bixby Bridge that you can drive over and get great photos off. You can’t hike underneath this place though, but you can still get amazing experiences driving on it.

4) Russian Gulch State Park in California also has an iconic giant bridge you can drive over and under and there are beautiful places nearby to explore too (like Glass Beach California).

5) Deception Pass State Park on the Washington Coast also has another amazing bridge that you can hike under.

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4 Comments

  1. I had not heard of either of these bridges before I read your article. The pictures you shared a beautiful. On our trip trip from central California to BC, we will try to stop by to see High Steel Bridge. I must admit that I am no longer adventuresome enough to visit a place that is both unsafe and illegal to visit.  Thanks for the great travel tip.

    1. Seeing High Steel Bridge involves seeing the eastern end of Washington and having passed by it before, I would recommend seeing the coast instead (western side). I know you said you are going to BC but if you have the extra few days, do the western side of WA and see the Washington Coast. You will also be able to see more of Olympic National Park as well.

      If you are driving an RV, there are many accessible spots there and on the eastern side, particularly High Steel Bridge, it might be too difficult to enter that area.

  2. That looks like a really amazing place to visit! I used to drive 18-wheelers years ago, so I had a chance to visit pretty much every corner of the country. However, I didn’t often get a chance to spend much time in any one place, so I never got to see stuff like this. 

    I keep telling myself that one of these days I’m going to take a really long vacation and just drive across the country, so I can finally spend some time in the really cool places I remember. Washington state was definitely one of them and I really loved it up there. I’ll be sure to look for the High Steel Bridge. Thanks for sharing!

    1. No problem Mark! Just make sure you drive a car across that bridge, it is not made for 18 wheelers 🙂

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