Road trip from Seattle to San Fransico

Old Feb 8th, 2010, 11:28 AM
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Road trip from Seattle to San Fransico


My fiance and I are thinking of hiring a car in Seattle and driving down the coast to San Fransisco. We have 15 days to do it in and as we are renting a car we are flexible as to where we go and what we see.

So far we have thought about staying in Portland for a couple of days and maybe heading to Mt Rainier. We had also hoped to visit some forest parks i.e. Crater Lake. We are willing to travel out of our way to something if it would be worth our while.

We enjoy photography and would be keen on getting some fantastic scenery in along the way. Any ideas on places to stay and things to do and see along the way would be greatly appreciated
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 12:16 PM
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This is a marvelous area to explore. You've obviously researched the area as noted in your points of interest. You didn't mention the time you'll be in the area. It is not uncommon for Crater Lake to be snowbound well into June. Coastal areas are cool in the summer and inland, even 20 miles, can be very HOT during summer months. Check at and go down a screen or two to "seasonal weather averages" for good detail of temperatures.

You might get some ideas of places to tour, with great scenery, at at routes B, C, E, and F.
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 02:56 PM
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What month of the year? That will influence the suggestions.
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 03:28 PM
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My routing would be Seattle, Mt. Rainier, Portland (Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood), Oregon Coast (with detour to Crater Lake if weather is good), Redwoods, Highway 1 on the California Coast, Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley: San Francisco.

I would also include the Olympic National Park, time permitting.

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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 06:24 PM
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I agree, time of year will make a difference on what to see and do. we did a lot of what HTTY mentions and it was one of our favorite trips ever. We just did Oregon and the Redwoods and that took us 13 days. If you really really want to experience it you might consider just Oregon or just Washington. Then again you might just hit each place for a 1/2 day or so. 16 days is a long time, but there is truly that much to see and do in the area, not to mention in San Fran and Seattle.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 11:19 AM
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Skip Crater Lake and add the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic Nat. Park and Mt. St. Helens.
If you want wine tasting/tours skip Napa Valley and focus on Mendocino and Sonoma particular Anderson Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley.
Don't miss spots for me are
Seattle & Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Oregon Coast, CA coast as far south as Mendocinom, wine county and San Franciso.
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 05:53 AM
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Thanks everyone for your replies! We're heading over in August so fingers crossed that should get rid of the snow issue!! We have about 8 days of travel between Seattle and San Fransico do you think this is an acceptable amount of time? Being from Ireland it's quite difficult for us to fathom how large America is and we want to be sure that we aren't cramming so much in that it isn't a holiday anymore!

Driving along the coast for part of the journey is quite important to us as we are both frequent visiotrs to beaches over here and want to experience the wonderful oregon and californian coasts! Also I read online about Glass beach, a beach made pretty much entirely of sea glass, a passion of mine, is it worth a visit?

Thank you again for all the ideas and names I will research them further!
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 08:25 AM
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If you drive through Fort Bragg, Glass Beach is only two blocks off Highway 1. Driving south, make a right at West Elm Street, which is the first left after you cross the bridge driving into town.
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 09:40 AM
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It might make sense to make the Redwood Trees the focus of your California portion of the trip. There is Redwoods National Park in the far north of the state along the coast. Another fantastic park is Humboldt Redwoods State Park a bit further south inland. Another favorite of mine is Navarro River Redwoods State Park. Route 128 intersects the grove of trees. Lovley Drive.

Don't miss Point Reyes National Seashore as you get closer to San Francisco. This could be done as a day trip from the city or you could plan to stop there on your way south.
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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 12:30 PM
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It sounds like you selected an ideal route especially if you’re into photography. When will you be traveling the coast?
I’m not too familiar with the Washington or Oregon coast, but California is a different story! There is nothing better than driving down the CA coast and stopping by beaches like Bodega Bay or driving through the costal towns like Peteluma or Santa Rosa. The rolling hills set against an infinite expanse of ocean are perfect for scenic shots.
Depending on how much time you have in San Francisco you might want to consider parking the car for a little bit and taking the train. Amtrak California has routes that travel to historical cites like Sacramento or Auburn or you can continue to hug the coast with a ride to San Jose. Either way you won’t have any trouble finding some great shots, good food, and fond memories.
Here’s a little ‘coupon’ if you decided to take Amtrak California while you’re down here:
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 04:21 PM
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Like others, I suggest you set aside a day for Point Reyes if you are interested in photography. It is often foggy during the summer, but if you encounter a clear day, you'll enjoy snapping some wonderful coastal views.
Point Reyes is home to dairy farms, a spectacular lighthouse (which you can visit), lagoons with birdlife, forests, pastures, an oyster farm, and many beautiful trails. On a clear day, I recommend a hike on the parks' Tomales Point Trail, which takes you through the Tule Elk Reserve. From the crest of the trail you can catch views of Tomales Bay on one side and the ocean on the other. By August, you still might have wildflowers on the hills.
There are some cute little towns near the park (hamlets, really), where you can lunch or dine, such as Inverness, Olema or Pt. Reyes Station.
Here's a link to the official website for the park. Lots of info., including great maps of the park and the surrounding area.
Lodging is scarce in the small towns near Pt. Reyes, and thus more pricey in these quaint areas, but you can easily find a more reasonably priced place to stay in the nearby towns of Petaluma or Novato. Novato is abour 30 to 45 minutes from Pt. Reyes. Novato is a town of about 60,000 that is right next to bustling Highway 101, with many restaurants, shopping malls, and motels (Marriott, Travelodge, etc.).
If you continue south along scenic Highway Route One from Point Reyes to San Francisco, you'll pass some lovely areas, such as Bolinas Lagoon (many birds, home to Audubon Canyon Ranch, see: ).
At the southern end of Bolinas Lagoon is Stinson Beach, a popular beach for locals on a sunnny day. From Stinson Beach town, you can take a short, 20-minute hike up the Dipsea Trail (just up to where the old bunkers are). The Dipsea Trail continues beyond this for many miles, but I don't think you'll have time to explore further and the best part, in my opinion, is this first stretch above Stinson. On a clear day, the views are truly breathtaking from here. There is a free place to park right at the base of the trail, where the road splits into two--on the the right, the road goes to Muir Beach and Muir Woods; on the left, the road climbs up to Mt. Tamalpais State Park. The two roads eventually converge above Mill Valley town, where you can easily get onto Highway 101 and drive until you reach the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Before you go over the bridge you should stop for a visit of Marin Headlands in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Their brochure pdf:
Great views of the city from here. The Marine Mammal Center is also based here and you can visit. They rescue and rehabilitate injured and ailing marine mammals, such as sea lions, elephant and harbor seals.
It should be noted that the GGNRA is a large park that ALSO encompasses natural areas and historic sites on the other, southern side of the Golden Gate Bridge (located in San Francisco proper). In the San Francisco section of GGNRA, be sure to stop by historic Fort Point. You can get some dramatic photos from here as it situated right below the Golden Gate Bridge.
For nature lovers and bird watchers, the inland areas of Marin County, specifically the wetlands along San Pablo Bay, also offer areas of interest.
The areas south of San Francisco, along Highway Route One south to Big Sur are also great, but maybe you've seen this area before.
By August, the humpback whales and blue whales will have returned to California. You might consider a whale watch trip into Monterey Bay or out to the Farallon Islands. See:
Sightings are not guaranteed, but if you should be lucky to see a blue whale, you will never forget it. I make this trip every year and I have never failed to see at least one whale, though not necessarily a blue whale. Humpbacks are generally present. I've seen as many as 25 on one trip. Usually, you see dolphins and porpoises as well, sometimes hundreds of them leaping through the air, and riding the bow waves of the boat. Plenty of seabirds, too, like Albatrosses, Puffins, and Guillemots. The ocean can be rough, though, so seasickness tablets are essential. The area around the Farallones themselves can be a little smelly as this is the largest seabird rookery in the contiguous United States. The islands are also a major hangout for sea lions, seals, and white sharks (though I have only ever seen one white shark here-- they generally stay below the surface). Even when inland areas of California are hot, the Pacific Ocean can be cold and foggy!
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