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Dietger May 8th, 2017 10:32 AM

Best Bet Road (and Ferry) Travel across Puget Sound
We are right now planning the northernmost portion of our "northwest passage" through Oregon, Washington and the Vancouver/Victoria region. Hope someone can advise about the most efficient but also scenic route to take upon leaving Astoria and heading north toward the Olympic rain forest/park, Victoria, the Puget Sound islands and the Sea to Sky highway. We'll be in Astoria June 18-19, and will have ten days remaining at that point. From what I've read I'm leaning toward more or less skirting Vancouver, unless ...? After leaving Whistler we will drop our rental car in Seattle, spend one night near the airport, and fly home the next day.

I think I need the most help figuring out the huge number of ferries and their schedules, and trying to decide which Puget Sound islands to visit. Are there perhaps one, two or three "proven" paths to follow from Victoria across to one, two, or three of the "best" islands and then on to the Sea to Sky HIghway? Thanks a million for any advice!

happytrailstoyou May 8th, 2017 07:17 PM

The most efficient route between Astoria and the Hoh Rain Forest is not very scenic--it goes straight up 101 through Aberdeen. There are scenic spots along the way: Lake Quinault, Kalaoch, and Ruby Beach, for instance.

The scenic route goes through Shelton and up 101 along the west side of Hood Canal.

The two top destinations in the San Juan Islands are Orcas and San Juan. There are ferries that depart from Sidney BC (near Victoria) and that stop at Friday Harbor, the port on San Juan Island.

Friday Harbor is connected to the mainland by a ferry to Anacortes.

Book ferry reservations as soon as they are available for your dates.

There is no ferry between Vancouver and Seattle. Victoria is on an Island, connected to Vancouver by ferry.


Gardyloo May 9th, 2017 06:56 AM

Basically including Whistler means that given your overall route you can't avoid Vancouver city, and you really can't travel via the Puget Sound islands. By driving up the coast from Astoria to the rain forest valleys in Olympic NP, the easiest way to get to Whistler is to cross to Victoria from Port Angeles, then drive up Vancouver Island to Nanaimo and across to Horseshoe Bay on the BC mainland north of Vancouver. Horseshoe Bay is right on the Sea to Sky Hwy (BC 99) on which you'd head north to Whistler. Map -

Returning to the US you'd have to transit Vancouver city but you'd be on mainland roads over the border and down to Seattle.

Alternatively you could travel from Victoria to Vancouver via the ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen on the mainland near the US border, then north through Vancouver and up to Whistler, then back the same way. The ferry ride from Swartz Bay passes through the BC Gulf Islands which are just as beautiful as the San Juans in the US. However stopping on any of these islands becomes very complicated because most are served on local routes to/from either the mainland or from Vancouver Island, so you'd be "doubling back" at some point. Here's this route:

Sorry if this is a bit confusing, but the geography and two separate ferry systems leads to a pretty complex pattern.

Let me just talk about what you could consider as a big alternative, one that misses both Vancouver and Whistler.

Cross to Victoria from Port Angeles, but then return to the US via the Washington State ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Spend a day or two on San Juan, then take the ferry back to its main terminal on Anacortes. From Anacortes drive south over beautiful Deception Pass to Whidbey Island, then make your way south on Whidbey Island through the pretty waterfront towns of Coupeville and Langley to the ferry to Mukilteo back on the mainland.

From Mukilteo you can either drive half an hour to Seattle, or if you still have a couple of days, head east on US 2 over Stevens Pass to the "Bavarian" village of Leavenworth, set is beautiful mountain scenery. From Leavenworth, head south through orchard country and then lovely Blewett Pass on US 97 to Interstate 90 at Cle Elum, then back to Seattle on I-90, stopping at Snoqualmie Falls before reaching the city.

Here's this route: . It would give you great mountain scenery, Puget Sound islands to explore, and a much less congested and trafficky time of things, also shorter border waits. You don't get the Sea to Sky Hwy, but IMO the mountain and ocean routes you <i>do</i> get more than compensate.

Dietger May 9th, 2017 08:14 AM

My compliments, Gardyloo, you have once again given us a worthy alternate route to consider. I did not know about Leavenworth. Going there in addition to the other places we've scheduled would easily make this trip our most diverse ever in terms of contrasting climates, terrain, culture, mood and dress.

One more question: 1) How early in advance of our trip during the latter half of June should we make ferry reservations?

Thank you. You are a great resource of information>

Gardyloo May 9th, 2017 08:53 AM

<i>How early in advance of our trip during the latter half of June should we make ferry reservations?</i>

The sooner the better.

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