Cascades and olympic NP

May 7th, 2016, 02:38 PM
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Cascades and olympic NP

my husband and I are planning a vacation and we can't decide between Yellowstone and Olympic NP/cascades. We're flying from LA and have a week off.
Is it even possible to do Olympic and the cascades both in a week? We're in our mid 30s and are mostly interested in hiking and in the scenery (camping is out of the question).
If we pick Yellowstone, we'd have to fly in through Jackson and fly out of Cody. Can we plan our hikes around that?
I am leaning towards flying to Seattle since it's closer with a nonstop flight and from what I've seen on pictures, the cascades look different from everything we've seen with the glaciers and everything (we're brazilian)
lsumodjo is offline  
May 7th, 2016, 03:22 PM
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North Cascades National Park is basically a big wilderness area with one highway crossing it. While there's good scenery from a few places on the road, it's only when you're well off the highway that the scenery starts getting outstanding. There are next to no lodgings or facilities inside the national park, only on either end of the road.

With a week in the northwest, I'd visit Olympic NP and Mount Rainier NP. Mount Rainier is the tallest of the Cascade peaks, with its own glacier systems, alpine meadows full of wildflowers, etc. And while it also has very limited accommodations within the park itself, it's close enough to Seattle or Tacoma for a day trip. With North Cascades NP you really need a two day commitment to do the "loop" through the mountains and covering the distance between WA 20 (the road that cuts through the mountains) and US 2 or I-90 for the return to the Seattle area.

Olympic NP has several distinct regions within the park itself - alpine scenery at Hurricane Ridge, the magnificent rocky beaches on the park's Pacific coastal strip, and the amazing temperate rain forests in the Quinault and Hoh river valleys. But because ONP has no roads through the middle of the park, you have to drive around the periphery to see the main sites, requiring at least two days, preferably three or more, to see everything.

Here's a loop you might have a look at -

This would take you across to Olympic National Park via the Bainbridge Island ferry from Seattle. Visit Hurricane Ridge (alpine scenery, wildflowers) then around to the Hoh Valley rain forest, then down to Ruby Beach on the Pacific coastal strip of the national park, then to Lake Quinault and the Quinault Valley rain forest.

From there head east to Paradise on Mount Rainier, then via the beautiful Stevens Canyon Road to US 12, and east over White Pass and down past orchards and vineyards into the Yakima Valley.

Mt. Rainier from Stevens Canyon Rd. - and from White Pass -

From Yakima head north first through high desert then ranching and orchard country over Blewett Pass to Leavenworth, a faux Bavarian village in a superb setting, then west over Stevens Pass (more alpine scenery) on US 2, then back to Seattle. This will give you a terrific sampling of several different types of landscapes, and you won't be far from lodging options or tourist facilities. It's easily doable in a week without rushing. Obviously, the route is reversible, too.
Gardyloo is online now  
May 7th, 2016, 04:22 PM
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Do you want to be in a park with thousands of other people? If so, choose Yellowstone. If you want more of a wilderness experience, choose either Olympic National Park or the Cascades (via the North Cascades Highway) as per Gardyloo's suggestions. If it was me - and it isn't - I'd spend the whole week on the Olympic Peninsula.
Kathie is offline  
May 7th, 2016, 04:41 PM
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You don't mention when you plan to travel. July and August are the warmest and driest months in Western Washington.

I would do the North Cascade Loop counter-clockwise by driving east over Stevens Pass (Highway 2), north up 97 Alt (through Lake Chelan), and then west to Deception Pass and Whidbey Island on the North Cascade Highway (Highway 20).

I would then take the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend and visit Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, Ruby Beach, the Hoh Rain Forest, Lake Quinault, and as many other ONP attractions as time permits before ending with Mt. Rainier.

If you follow this path, make ferry reservation as so as your plans are firm.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
May 7th, 2016, 07:49 PM
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Garlyloo, thanks for the reply. I will check the suggested routes. I didn't mention I'm arriving mid Sep. Any remarks considering my arrival date?
lsumodjo is offline  
May 7th, 2016, 07:53 PM
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Kathie, I don't appreciate the crowds and would prefer the wilderness and a little solitude, however, I must say I'm a little insecure about the logistics around ONP. I'm arriving mid Sep.
lsumodjo is offline  
May 7th, 2016, 07:56 PM
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HTtY, could I find lodgind easily through that route? How much driving is that? How about hiking? How many miles in average?
I'd arrive mid Sep. Is that doable around that time of the year?
Sorry about all the questions
lsumodjo is offline  
May 7th, 2016, 08:45 PM
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The routing I gave is in response to your wish to decide between "Yellowstone" and "Olympic NP/cascades."

September is usually beautiful here, and lodging would be a good value. For instance, you would be able to get good rooms with water views in Port Angeles and Lake Chelan for about $150. Less expensive rooms are also abundant.

The loop I described is about 850 miles, without side trips and incidental driving.

My hiking days are behind me, but there is hiking all along this route.

If you want to do less driving and more hiking, consider this:

*Visit Mt. Rainier as a day trip or over-night from Seattle.
*Take the ferry from Anacortes to Orcas Island (see below).
*Return to Anacortes, drive through Deception Pass to the Coupeville ferry.
*Take the ferry to Port Townsend.
*Explore the ONP as far west as suits you.
*Return to Seattle on the ferry from Bainbridge for views of the Seattle skyline and surrounding mountains.

Orcas Island is a beautiful place with endless hikes and other outdoor activities. It is one of the great treasures of Washington State. The Chamber of Commerce publishes an excellent guide for tourists:

If you do the loop, you will want to come back for Orcas Island. If you go to Orcas Island, you will want to come back for the North Cascade Loop.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
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