Crater Lake to Seattle (Coastal Trip)

Old Nov 12th, 2022, 08:24 AM
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Crater Lake to Seattle (Coastal Trip)

Hi. Hoping you could help us plan an end of 2023 summer vacation. (late August into the Labor Day weekend) Want to visit Crater Lake, Bend and then drive the Oregon coast to Seattle, Ideally would do this over 9-10 days with 4-5 of those days in Seattle since we will be meeting up with family.

First, I hope that I have posted this in the Oregon Travel forum. I seem to have difficulty knowing how to post to the exact forum I wish, If I have not, please advise.

We are in our mid 60's and love mild hiking, great scenery, local food and beverage, and great scenery,

Our intention is to fly to the closest major airport near Crater Lake, rent a car, and return to Boston from Seattle SeaTac. I have already booked Crater Lake Lodge for the end of August for 3 nights just to be safe. Hoping to then visit Bend for 1 night and then drive the coast to Seattle with a stop over somewhere approx. 1/2 way.

Would greatly appreciate your advice and recommendations especially:

Where to fly into. The concern here is that the smaller airports that are closer to the destination don't have the schedule or airlines that we prefer. Our preference is Delta.
How many nights to stay at Crater Lake considering we will have to drive from the airport to Crater Lake upon arrival. Unless of course we are better off staying in Bend for
the first night.
Directions for the coastal trip to Seattle. We realize it will be a long drive but this is one of our main reasons for this vacation other than meeting up with family in Seattle.
Where to stay for the stop over on the coastal trip along the Oregon coast. Prefer on the water.

The above schedule is based on my research. Your expertise and recommendations would be greatly appreciated, I wish we did have more time to enjoy the coast but unfortunately we don't. Not sure if it would be better to stay 2 nights at Crater Lake, 2 nights in Bend, 1 1/2 way along the coast to Seattle, and the remainder in Seattle.

Thanks, Warren.

Last edited by WarrenWST; Nov 12th, 2022 at 08:30 AM. Reason: My thanks didn't appear
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Old Nov 12th, 2022, 09:12 AM
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Medford, Eugene, Bend, Portland are all airport possibilities in Oregon. Sorry not familiar with Delta to be more specific than that. You may find doing SeaTac round-trip and making the drive down to OR to be easier and/or more cost effective.

Cannon Beach, Yachats, are nice on the Oregon coast. Are you then going to cut over and drive I-5 the rest of the way north to Seattle. Or you are trying to drive along the WA coast also?
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Old Nov 12th, 2022, 09:31 AM
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You are looking for a unicorn there are no 'major' airports near Crater Lake. IMO it makes no sense to fly into Portland, south and east to CL, up to Bend, then all the way out to the coast and back northeast again to seattle. And IMO / IME three nights at CL Lodge is overkill. By at least one night.

plus you are talking 3 nights at CL, 1 night in Bend, and it looks like only one night for coast before returning to Seattle. Frankly this whole plan needs rethinking
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Old Nov 12th, 2022, 09:47 AM
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First, there is no "Oregon forum," everything goes into the US forum. You can tag a post with the name of a state, but that just helps people searching for posts about that state.

The most scenic part of the Oregon coast (in my view but shared by many) is the southernmost 60 - 70 miles, from the California state line north to around Bandon. By starting with Crater Lake and Bend, including that part of the coast in your drive is going to involve a rather lengthy backtrack. Certainly doable, but it would depend on how much time you have for the trip.

If you wanted to see that part (which I'd highly recommend) then one option would be to start in California, with the nearest airports being either Eureka/Arcata (ACV) or Medford (MFR).

From ACV (which is served by United and American, but not Delta) you'd simply drive north through the redwoods (magnificent) to the state line, then north to, say, Bandon, then head inland through the Coast Range and then the Cascades to Crater Lake. You could then visit Bend and ideally spend a few hours at nearby Smith Rock State Park (breathtaking) before returning to the central Oregon coast at Florence, from which you could continue north. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/WgvadLbjxHmrQ8DKA

From Medford airport (which Delta serves) you'd drive south on US 199 to Crescent City CA (through the wonderful Jedediah Smith redwoods) then start the drive north, same as above. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/HFoNCBQrMkzWsGpm6 .

As you can see, both of these options involve several hours of zigzagging through mountainous terrain, so you'd need to decide how worthwhile seeing the south coast would be. I'd urge you to so some research - google things like "Bandon Beach," and the Samuel Boardman scenic corridor, things like that.

Now, if you want to forego that part of the Oregon coast, then I'd start at the Redmond/Bend airport - RDM - which is served by Delta (also American, United and Alaska) then head south to Crater Lake, west to the coast, then north all the way to Cape Disappointment at the (awesome) mouth of the Columbia River, then into Seattle. This map - https://goo.gl/maps/RzxHmbKSqHTE67sf8 - shows a possible route that ends up with taking a ferry into Seattle, by far the most attractive route.

Now a couple of caveats and cautions. First, you'll be traveling at the height of the fire season, in areas which are very prone to devastating fires. In recent years this has been a serious concern throughout the Pacific Northwest. You'll need to keep a "Plan B" in your pocket

Second, one-way rental car costs have skyrocketed in previous years, so booking a car from some regional airport to Seattle is going to come at a punishing price. IF IT WAS ME, and not knowing anything about your time availability or budget, what I'd do is this: Fly into Portland and get a car, then drive east through the Columbia River Gorge (stunning) to Hood River, then south past Mount Hood to Bend, on to Crater Lake, then out to the coast - either the south coast or the central coast depending on time. Drive north up the coast to Cannon Beach or Astoria, then return to Portland airport and drop the car. Since your main goal in visiting Seattle is to see family, why not take the train - several trains daily, very pleasant and affordable) from Portland to Seattle? This will probably save hundreds of dollars on the car rental and will save you hours on the road. Here's the skeleton of an imaginary map - https://goo.gl/maps/pNRutTvCF2qjHUX27 .

I hope this isn't too confusing.
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Old Nov 12th, 2022, 10:12 AM
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Gadyloo's post hits all the 'must see's' and all the practicalities. However if the OP is accurate, you are only traveling for 9 or 10 days and want to spend three nights at crater lake and 4 or 5 nights in Seattle. That's why is said it needs a re-think. Either SEVERAL additional days, or change your wish list.
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Old Nov 12th, 2022, 04:28 PM
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Since Seattle is a must, you really ought to fly into Portland and then drive to the coast and then up to Seattle. I don't understand including Crater Lake in your plans. There are plenty of places to explore near Seattle. How about Olympic National Park?
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 01:32 PM
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Thank you all so much. Gardyloo has me thinking! I love the idea of driving through California to the Oregon coast to Crater to Bend to coast to Seattle.
We have been to Seattle several times and have visited ONP as well as many other areas. We have also been to the Columbia River Gorge and Mt Hood.

We may be trying to do too much. That is not unlike me to start but then with the great help you all provide we find the right balance. Yes, Seattle is a must but 4 nights may do. I understand you only need 1 night at Crater Lake. I also hear that Bend Oregon is beautiful.

If Gardyloo's option from ACV doesn't provide enough time then we have to start thinking about skipping some points of interest and maybe do another time, e.g., either bypass Crater Lake or Bend this time around.

I realize the rental car will be high but we are okay with that, I don't want to drive 5 hours every day so I will need to keep that in consideration as well. The train is an interesting concept as well. Does it offer nice scenery? We don't need a car in Seattle. Wee just need to get there. I'd be open to rent a car at the airport and return it where the train picks up as long as we are not foregoing beautiful coastal scenery.

As mentioned, we are open for changes.

Thanks.
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Old Nov 14th, 2022, 08:03 AM
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I have to state my bias, so take that into account. I personally have been a little underwhelmed by Crater Lake on the times I've been there. (That includes twice when it was so cloudy at the rim that we could barely see the lake at all.) Now that's not to say it isn't beautiful - it IS. But seeing that beauty comes at a cost: Crater Lake is a long way from anywhere and it's not a destination that's suited for a high-speed tour of the Northwest that includes time on the coast. Sure, one can get there from the coast and back, but there are basically two mountain ranges between Crater Lake and the Pacific, and not that many roads through them (and none that are especially fast.) Accommodation at the lake is limited, and accommodations in towns in the region is also limited and not all that conveniently located.

But the main thing - again, just my view - is that Crater Lake is one highlight destination among so many destinations that are equally worthy of your time that you end up eliminating options by choosing Crater Lake. The days it takes to get to Crater Lake and back could be spent visiting other places, maybe more than one, with more time AT those locations rather than sitting in a car getting to them. In your case these alternative destinations could be on the coast, or they could be in the redwoods or the Columbia River Gorge...

So a couple of questions for you. First, have you seen the redwoods? Because if you haven't, and if you were willing to forego Crater Lake and eastern Oregon for this trip, then with the time you have available you could do a quite marvelous one-way drive between San Francisco and Portland or Seattle. Here's a map showing a route that I've driven more times than I can remember. https://goo.gl/maps/LSoNRrEJUwx1W6dK6

This includes the wonderful Avenue of the Giants through the Humboldt redwoods, a stop in picturesque Victorian Ferndale, then more redwoods to the Oregon state line, then along the scenic southern Oregon coast to Bandon, IMO the nicest town on the south coast. You'd follow Oregon Hwy 38 through the coast range - it runs alongside the lower Umpqua River through a pretty canyon - then north on I-5 to Portland, and on to Seattle if you want.

This drive is incredibly scenic and can easily be done in four or five driving days. You should have terrific weather (hopefully any fires will be distant and minor) and somewhat less competition for accommodations.

Second, you could limit yourselves to a "figure 8" loop out of Portland, or a one-way drive that ends in Seattle, which includes the tremendous variety of landscapes available in remarkably close proximity to one another. Here's another map - https://goo.gl/maps/p5zbetV2UA7QaFDs8

This includes traveling through the "waterfall zone" of the Columbia River Gorge (timed entry along the "historic" highway, no problem securing a time) then a possible visit to the fun Maryhill Museum of Art. Stay in or near Hood River and maybe spend a day driving the "fruit loop," past orchards and vineyards in harvest mode, then up to Timberline Lodge on the side of Mount Hood. From there you'd head out to Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park on the north coast, followed by historic Astoria and over the (awesome) mouth of the Columbia to Cape Disappointment, with its Lewis and Clark interpretive center, lighthouses above the waves crashing into the rocks - spectacular. From Cape Disappointment it's around 2 1/2 hours back to Portland, or around 3 1/2 to Seattle. (Note, Google's maps tend to be rather optimistic, so mentally add 20% - 30% to their drive times.)

My bet (and it's just me, remember) is that you'd get a kick out of either of these options, with less time behind the wheel and more time with feet on the ground (or in the sand.) Just a suggestion, anyway.
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Old Nov 14th, 2022, 09:03 AM
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Sorry -- but Crater Lake really does muck up the options . . .

It simply doesn't fit with exploring the coast (any coast (CA, OR, or WA) and any tine at all in Seattle.
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Old Nov 14th, 2022, 09:54 AM
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I certainly understand your preference for Delta over American or United. On the west coast they have a limited network with Delta Connection linking to regional airports (small jets).

So you can probably book Delta into Eugene which has an Amtrak stop if you want to avoid the punishing one way car rentals. Flights using SLC do tend to sell out pretty early.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 04:49 PM
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Yeah, I'm thinking more and more of skipping Crater Lake. We have been to San Francisco and Muir Woods but don't honestly recall traveling through the Avenue of the Giants.
We have been to Portland, Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood,
Curious on your thoughts of continuing along the Oregon Coast after Bandon as opposed to I5.
Also, I noticed nobody has commented on Bend. Is it worth visiting and spending a night?
Thanks, Warren.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 08:21 PM
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You could easily spend a week in the Bend area and not see it all. You could stay in Bend or Sunriver Resort which is not far. There is hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, and of course golf. Sunriver has several restaurants on the premises, great walking and biking paths. You can rent a house or a condo. You can take a gondola to the top of Mt. Bachelor for dinner or the the views, explore volcanic areas- I live in Oregon and Sunriver is one of my favorite spots. I think spending only 1 night barely scratches the surface of what there is to do.
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Old Nov 16th, 2022, 04:50 AM
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Thanks everybody. Sounds like we need multiple trips to Oregon which isn't a problem since we go to Seattle often.
Based on all the wonderful feedback I'll work on a couple of options.
1. Road trip from Northern California along the entire coast of Oregon to Seattle. I really like this idea. I recently picked up a book on best drives in the Pacific Northwest and as expected Rt 101 from Bookings to Astoria was one of them. This sounds like exactly what I am looking for.
2. Visit Bend and Crater Lake on a separate trip. Maybe this one since I already have the room booked since they are hard to come by. However, based on your feedback and my followup research 2 nights max would be plenty there. Agree we could spend much more time then at Bend. From there drive directly to Seattle.

Thanks again for your wonderful feedback which is helping me more than you know. Please provide any additional comments you think would help.
Warren.
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Old Nov 16th, 2022, 09:36 AM
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Both of your (separate) trip ideas are great options. I agree that this time, since you already have Crater Lake reservations -- do the CL/Bend/other bits of central Oregon this time.

And then the next time you head out to Seattle, fly into SFO or SMF and drive the full length of the northern CA/OR coast. Muir Woods is a poor step child to the magnificent redwood parks farther north. BTW most of the best redwoods are in the CA state parks not in the national park (though all are in the same general areas). The State parks were established first so nabbed the best of the old growth stands. En route you could visit Mendocino, the Avenue of the Giants, Ferndale, any of several Redwood parks, the great southern Oregon coast and then meander on up towards WA/Seattle. You'd want around 8 to10 days to drive the full way.
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Old Nov 16th, 2022, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by WarrenWST View Post
1. Road trip from Northern California along the entire coast of Oregon to Seattle. I really like this idea. I recently picked up a book on best drives in the Pacific Northwest and as expected Rt 101 from Bookings to Astoria was one of them. This sounds like exactly what I am looking for.

2. Visit Bend and Crater Lake on a separate trip. Maybe this one since I already have the room booked since they are hard to come by. However, based on your feedback and my followup research 2 nights max would be plenty there. Agree we could spend much more time then at Bend. From there drive directly to Seattle.
Re Option 1. This is totally doable but note that several places along the coast it's commonplace that lodgings require minimum stays - 2 or 3 nights - during peak periods. This is especially the case on the central and north coast - say from Newport to Cannon Beach - so if you go with the "whole coast" plan, it would be wise to pin down some accommodations earlier rather than later. I'd especially suggest visiting Cape Disappointment on the northern side of the mouth of the Columbia River - remarkable, and the Lewis and Clark connections are very interesting. The little fishing town of Ilwaco can be a nice alternative to the more touristy towns on the Oregon side. Google the places on this map - https://goo.gl/maps/oQUabvSjKkFt2GqT9

Re Option 2. You could do a terrific loop through central and eastern Oregon - late spring would be ideal (before fire season) that also includes some of the Columbia Gorge waterfalls, as well as the spectacular (and somewhat under the tourism radar) Wallowa mountains in the northeastern corner of Oregon. This is spectacularly beautiful country, and Joseph, one of the main towns, is incredibly picturesque and artsy. Again, google the places: https://goo.gl/maps/u9ZrcbYERn1EKaBH8

Some pictures (not mine) -









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Old Nov 16th, 2022, 12:30 PM
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If you are going to do Crater Lake, there are many waterfall hikes along Hwy. 138. Some of them are really just short walks and quite easy, others a little longer. My favorites are Watson Falls and Susan Falls. I hiked several in one day.
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Old Nov 16th, 2022, 01:02 PM
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There is a publication “highway 101 Mile by Mile Guide”. There is also an online version. It is published by Oregon Coast magazine. You might find it helpful in planning.
one of the prettiest parts of the coast is between Florence and Newport. Yachats is a nice little town to stay in. Three waterfront lodging in a row- Fireside, Adobe and Overleaf. Overleaf is the most high end of the them. Adobe has a restaurant. Easy path between the 3.
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Old Nov 17th, 2022, 05:08 PM
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This is amazing information. Well, I have alot to think about. The decision of which option will most likely come down to availability and min number of night requirements. Hopefully this forum will remain open long enough for either more questions or more importantly a summary of what we did,

Thanks again and I will keep you posted. It's more research time!

Warren.
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 09:40 AM
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I'm guessing that you live somewhere in southern California. Check on flights from Burbank on Avelo Airlines. They fly to Medford and Redmond each one day per week. Rent a car at either (MFD or RDM) and make a loop that includes Crater Lake, Bend, Seattle and the Oregon coast. One night at Crater Lake Lodge should be enough. I prefer driving US 101 southbound in Oregon. If the northern Oregon coast is enough for you, take OR Rt 38 east from Reedsport and stop at the elk viewing area about 5 miles east of Reedsport. When you reach the east end of Elkton, take OR 138 south/east to get back to I-5. The eastern section of OR 138 from Roseburg is a great way to get to the north entrance of Crater Lake NP.
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 04:38 PM
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Hi Tom. Actually from Boston. The most difficult part of planning either option 1 or 2 is where to fly into without having to make more than 1 stop.
We travel to the Pacific Northwest often and each time try and do something different. But we always visit Seattle while there since it is our opportunity to visit family. We typically travel in April, and either August or September. We have been very fortunate escaping the hazards of the fires. We visited last September and everything was fine.
My thought was originally to do Crater and then the Oregon coast but after all the great feedback and my own personal research it makes more sense to see that part of the country on multiple trips.
Agree that we have to have a plan B and that right now is to jsut simply cancel. I never book places that require more than a 3 day notice. And I never worry about the airline because we would always use the credit within the year.
So, it's to the drawing board for me. Flying into Santa Rosa is possible and then driving straight to Medicino. From there I'll continue my planing. This is of course if we do Option 1.
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