Road Trip - Seattle to Seattle in July

Old Dec 12th, 2016, 05:36 AM
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Road Trip - Seattle to Seattle in July

It is going to be a family road trip = 2 seniors; 4 adults; 2 teenagers. And we are doing this more for the seniors - they have always wanted to see the beauty of the Canadian Rockies with their kids and families. They can't walk much - so mostly driving and showing them the scenery.
We have bought the tickets flying in and out of Seattle ( amazing prices and for July 4th week) - fly into Seattle on the 1st, and fly back out on the 9th. Can you review and let me know your thoughts on the itinerary? Would love to get your perspective before we finalize accomodations.

July 1 - Arrive in Seattle around 10am. Drive to Kamloops. Spend night. ( 5hrs - 300 miles)
July 2 - Kamloops to Jasper AM: Drive to Jasper (4h37m, 274m) / PM: Jasper sightseeing
July 3 - Jasper Sightseeing
July 4- Jasper to Banff AM: Drive to Banff (3h37m, 179m) … PM: Banff sightseeing Banff
July 5- Banff sightseeing
July 6 - Banff to Coeur d'Alene, AM/PM: Drive to Couer d'Alene (6h16m, 331m) [BORDER CROSSING] Couer d'Alene
July 7- Coeur d'Alene - Leavenworth PM: Drive to Leavenworth (3h40m, 225m) Leavenworth
July 8 - Leavenworth - Seattle PM: Drive to Seattle (2h18m, 140m)
July 9 -DEP Seattle(-RDU)

Would you recommend switching any of these locations with others? Or other directions to drive? The parents are ok with driving, the main issue is with them walking. We want to get back to Seattle on the 9th, since flight out is at 11:30am.

Thank you so much for your thought and ideas.

desirees is offline  
Old Dec 12th, 2016, 07:37 AM
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While I think your plan is generally doable, I also think your time estimates are pretty low. Did you use something like Google maps for your times? If so, I would mentally add around a 20% contingency that would include things like border delays (holiday weekend in both countries on July 1-4) as well as traffic, road construction etc.

I don't know what sort of car arrangements you've made or are planning, but let me throw out an idea for you to consider.

Rental cars, especially minivans large enough to handle your party, are expensive in Seattle. By comparison, they're half the price in Spokane.

If your tickets to Seattle have already been bought, do some math about flying to Spokane (around $150 pp round trip from SEA) and getting a car from there. (I also looked at Calgary, where the car would be the same but the airfare from RDU or SEA would be too high.)

I suggest you do this thought experiment for three reasons. First, the drives across Washington and central BC are probably going to be longer and hotter than you plan. Doing a round trip from Spokane would eliminate those. Second, even with the additional airfare (for six) the savings on the car would offset them to a pretty major degree, and third, starting and ending your loop in Spokane would extend the time you actually have in the Rockies, and in fact you could add some interesting country in the time you do have.

Here's an imaginary loop - - which could be done in either direction.

It features a stop in beautiful Nelson BC and driving through the Kootenays north to Banff/Jasper, then back to Coeur d'Alene and Spokane.

Spokane to Nelson is a wonderful drive through the gorgeous Pend Orielle country, and Nelson is very pretty town, featured in movies (see "Roxanne" with Steve Martin from years back) and the Kootenays are relatively undiscovered by visitors from the US. The little towns north of Nelson - New Denver et al - are picturesque and the drive up to Revelstoke, including the cool (free) ferry across Arrow Lake, is nonstop scenic.

I'd also propose basing yourselves in Banff and day tripping up to the Icefields Parkway and Jasper, rather than breaking camp every other day. It will give you more time to see things rather than packing and schlepping all the time, and I think my plan gives you more actual sightseeing hours than the original.

1-Jul RDU-SEA-GEG - Nelson
2-Jul Nelson - Banff via Revelstoke
3-Jul Banff
4-Jul Banff
5-Jul Day trip Icefields
6-Jul Banff
7-Jul Banff - Cd'A
8-Jul Cd'A - GEG - SEA

Like I say, just a thought experiment.
Gardyloo is offline  
Old Dec 12th, 2016, 09:59 AM
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Thank you for the detailed advice. Will look into it.
desirees is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2016, 01:54 PM
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I would suggest something a bit different, though I agree that you are underestimating driving times.

July 1 is a holiday in Canada, so it will be VERY busy in the mountains. You need to book accommodation as soon as you can, especially for 8 people, and try to avoid travel on the holiday Friday and Monday.

If you want to see the Rockies, I would get to the Rockies quickly. To be honest, I'd pay the extra money and get tickets on to Calgary. Alaska Airlines has a hub in Seattle and may well offer good deals on to Calgary.

We generally suggest least 6-7 nights to scratch the surface of the Rockies, and going from Seattle or Spokane means 3-4 days outside the Rockies (there are other mountain ranges, but the Rockies are on the AB/BC border).

Otherwise do some solid driving and just do each way Seattle to Rockies with one night.

And get all the way to Jasper. The drive between Lake Louise and Jasper is one of the most scenic drives in the world - it would be silly to come this far and only do part of it. In fact, we always suggest that people do the drive twice - in case the weather is bad one way and to allow more time to see all the sights.

I would allow at least two nights in Jasper - will be hard to find accommodation there for less than two nights.

July 1 - Seattle to Salmon Arm
July 2 - Salmon Arm to Banff
July 3 - Banff
July 4 - Banff
July 5 - to Jasper
July 6 - Jasper
July 7 - to Revelstoke
July 8 - to Seattle
July 9 - home
kgsneds is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2016, 02:38 PM
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Good points by Gardyloo and kgsneds. If you are stuck with flying to SEA, you can get from Seattle King St. station to Spokane Either on an Amtrak bus or the Empire Builder.
The problem with the Empire Builder is that it gets to Spokane a little after midnight (leaves SEA at 4:40PM).
The "saver" fare is $45 per person times 8 people = $360.
You could also take the train as far as Whitefish MT and rent a vehicle there.
The US Rockies are just as beautiful as the Canadian Rockies IMO.
I've seen them both on the same trip getting off the ViaRail Canadian in Jasper and off the Empire Builder in Whitefish.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Dec 21st, 2016, 05:32 PM
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Oh that is a puzzler... on one hand, to be IN Canada on July 1 might bring for you some fireworks somewhere... (but everything else will be aggravation ).

I can't help thinking about the loop in the opposite direction.

What if you drove on that first day from Seattle to Leavenworth... had much of a long afternoon (gets dark at 9:30 or after) to explore Leavenworth a bit... and then the next day leave for Spokane/Coeur D'Alene.

THEN, in the MIDDLE of the holiday weekend, cross the border in a less-populated area, when fewer travelers are likely to BE border-crossing... and putting yourselves right there to maybe drive through Cranbrook and Invermere to reach Banff.

THEN you spend a night, and drive the Icefields Parkway going northwest, and decide among yourselves if to do it again, the opposite way might be of enough benefit to all.

Upon your return to the Banff area, you'd even afford yourself the option of going back to the states, and passing through Glacier NP, Montana, OR weaving your way around southern BC en route back to Seattle.

Night 1 - Leavenworth

Night 2 - Spokane/Coeur D'Alene

Night 3 - Banff area

Night 4 - Jasper area

Night 5 - possibly Calgary area (Lethbridge?)

Night 6 - Kamloops, or somewhere in the USA, depending

Nights 7 & 8 - for some time in the Seattle area???

You still have lots of variables... another night in Banff or Jasper??

It remains important that you secure lodging in busier areas on those nights of July 1, 2, and 3 as soon as you are ready to commit yourselves.

And no doubt the roads are going to be heavily traveled all over... but I sorta think that this path reduces the effects of (the two larger population bases) on the big weekend.

Oh, and don't dawdle getting out of Seattle... if you get everything together at NOON, and head out, there is hope... but waiting much longer puts you in traffic peril, particularly if going north on Interstate 5.

(this means resist the temptation to drive around central Seattle and see the Space Needle if it is 12:25pm on Friday July 1)

(and yes, I or many of those on this forum could do it at that time, and get back to business before it hurts us, but if one delay turns into 3, for you, you might be (ruined) )
NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 11:54 AM
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Would work but going to Calgary on Night 5 would be adding a detour if the next destination is Kamloops. You'd want to stay in Lake Louise or Banff, then head south/west. I'd also try to find somewhere more scenic than Kamloops.
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