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Help with a 10-day Washington / Oregon itinerary

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May 10th, 2012, 03:37 AM
  #1
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Help with a 10-day Washington / Oregon itinerary

I'm new to these forums, and am posting because everyone seems so helpful and I'm so stuck! My husband and I are planning a 10-day trip in mid-August to Washington and Oregon around a business trip of his to Portland (flying in and out of Portland). I've come up with endless itineraries, but I can't seem to put one together which includes everything we want to do without being completely unrealistic and exhausting!

We like short walks (say 2hrs max), wineries and good food, varied scenery and wildlife. Not so keen on towns and cities (we live in London and want to get away from it all!), and we don't want to drive for more than three hours a day if possible.

I've been trying to squeeze in the Willamette Valley, Columbia River Valley, Mt Hood, somewhere on the Oregon Coast like Cannon Beach, some of Olympic NP, Mt Rainier, and Mt St Helens, but I can't make it all fit! I've also been thinking about the North Cascades. I want to get the best of both mountains and coast, but despite lots of looking, I can't work out which bits are much the same as each other and which are different enough to be worth extra time.

Any feedback much appreciated on how to put an itinerary together. Thanks in advance
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May 10th, 2012, 04:33 AM
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While I normally like to cover a lot of ground during one's first/survey type trip - you have outlined not only a big area, but also one that takes a link-up of over half a day.

What I mean is that if you do an Oregon Loop - or a Olympic NP loop - getting from one to the other will take the better part of a day.

While I love Washington - since you are based in Portland (be sure to see the Rose Garden, Japanese Tea Garden and the Portland Zoo in Washington Park http://www.washingtonparkpdx.org/ ) - it might be better to concentrate on Oregon this trip - and if toward the end - you still feel the unquenchable wanderlust to get to the Olympic Peninsula - you could do that the last few days if you had the energy, etc.

I would consider a loop - heading out the Gorge/I-84 along the mighty Columbia River and having coffee/a snack in the dining room at the Multnomah Falls resort - where you can look through the glass ceiling at the Falls. http://www.multnomahfallslodge.com/

From there - you could stay at a B & B in the Hood River area (if the wind is blowing - look for the wind surfers on the Columbia - at what some consider the wind surfing capital of the world), or turn inland/south and stay at a winery in the Hood River Valley - or continue on another hour or so from Hood River to the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood - a classic favorite of ours. http://www.timberlinelodge.com/

After a day or two there - hiking/exploring/wine tasting/enjoying the incredible view down the cinder coned Cascade mountain range - you can decide to head back toward the Willamette Valley - (going the "back" way and down over toward I-5 is great - (south from Sandy) - and there are wineries as you make your way down toward Salem/Eugene) - or head down the middle of the state on 97 toward Bend and see some beautiful lakes around there - http://www.visitbend.com/Bend_Oregon...n/Sightseeing/ including one of the wonders of the world - Crater Lake. http://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm

From the Eugene or Roseburg area - or even the cute college town of Ashland - http://www.osfashland.org/ where they have a wonderful Shakespeare festival at a fragrant outdoor theater - where there are also numerous wineries - http://oregonwine.org/Experience_Win...amette_Valley/ you can make your way over to the Coast and then decide where you want to stay/spend some more time, whatnot.

There are other discussions in here under Oregon about the Oregon Coast - and if you ask more specific questions - you will receive more information here.

Ok - that's a start. Also - if you want to see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Ranier - you can do that loop from Portland in a day - but to get over/around to the beautiful Olympic Peninsula takes the better part of a day to get there and another to return. There are also some discussions on the Olympic Peninsula in here under Washington if you want to read more about that.
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May 10th, 2012, 07:17 AM
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I like Tomsd's suggestions. Skip the Olympic Peninsula for this trip. Save it for another trip when you fly to Seattle.
After you see the waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia, go over the bridge at Hood River and head west on WA 14 to the little town of Carson. Take the NF 23 road north which goes by the east side of Mt St. Helens. There is a spur road which goes out to Windy Ridge Viewpoint. The 23 road eventually comes out at Randle. Take US 12 east to Packwood. Packwood has several nice lodging places. The next day take US 12 and WA 123 into Mt Rainier NP. From Mt. Rainier head east into Yakima and then south on US 97 to Bend Oregon.
Complete the Oregon loop including Crater Lake.
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May 10th, 2012, 07:47 AM
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In answering your question, it would help to know:

*How many nights will you be traveling?
*When does the first day begin and the last day end?
*Are any of the nights on days your husband is attending to business?

HTTY
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May 10th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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Thanks so much for all your help so far.

Tomsd and tomfuller, it sounds like your itineraries are similar apart from the addition of Rainier in tomfuller's.

tomfuller, am I right that this is about what your trip might look like?
http://g.co/maps/cvene
If so, I think I might be missing the coastal stuff. Also, the drive from Yakima to Bend is really long - is there somewhere interesting we could stay overnight on the way?

And Tomsd, is this what yours would look like?
http://g.co/maps/nafyh
If so, do we still get the mountain scenery, or would we be missing out by losing Rainier / St Helens?

happytrailstoyou, in answer to the questions: We will be spending the first night (a Thursday) in Portland. Day 2 (Friday) is the first travelling day, and we'll be able to leave Portland at about noon. We will need to be at Portland airport by about 10.30am on the 12th day (a Monday). So that's 10 nights. And my husband doesn't need to do any work while we're out there.

One of the main reasons why I wanted to do Olympic NP was the orca whale-watching. I found a place that offers whale-watching in Depoe Bay, but sightings seem much rarer. Is there anything else we can do to avoid missing out on this aspect of the trip?
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May 10th, 2012, 08:55 AM
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Last Friday I drove from Mt. Rainier over the White Pass got gas in Wapato and drove home-50 miles south of Bend.
I left Mt. Rainier at 2 PM and was in Bend at 7:30.
At 2PM there was a snow squall for a few miles at White Pass on US 12.
You can read my first trip report. The title is La Wis Wis Campground Packwood WA.
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May 10th, 2012, 09:05 AM
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Thanks, tomfuller. The issue with the long drive is that I don't drive, and my husband doesn't like to be behind the wheel for more than 3 hours a day - fine in the UK but obviously more difficult in the US given the huge distances involved in any kind of US travel! I know that limits us, but it's worked out well for us in a variety of different places, so I really don't want to go much over that length of time.
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May 10th, 2012, 09:20 AM
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LonA: You could go that way you had outlined on the page - but my idea was to travel from Mt. Hood down hiway 97 - almost due south from Mt. Hood to get to Bend, and then see Crater Lake and then over to the Coast.

As an alternative - you could come back from Mt. Hood via hiway 26 - toward Portland - and then turn southwest around Sandy - on 211 to Eagle Creek and on down to Estacada - and wander through some backcountry/wineries area - on the way toward Bend.

Zoom in on this map and play around. http://tinyurl.com/76zwxw7

And you could also do a day trip as TomF suggests - from Mt.Hood up by Mt. Adams over to Mt. Ranier and on toward/into Seattle and from there - try to make connections to wherever you think is the best way to see Orcas.

We were fortunate that on a car ferry back from Vancouver Island to the Pugent Sound/Seattle area - we went through the San Juans (Islands) - and a nice pod of Killer Whales/Orcas swam alongside the big car ferry for about 15 minutes - and then - poof - they were gone.

If you did that - you could still zip back from Seattle down I-5 to say Eugene (5 hours or so?) - and get over to the Oregon Coast - sampling some wineries in that area. Eugene is also a very cute University town if you want to stay there for a night. We like King Estate, Sweet Cheeks and Hinman among others. http://www.theeugeneguide.com/articledetail-95.php

It all comes down to how energetic you feel and how much you want to drive - see various beautiful places in the Northwest.
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May 10th, 2012, 09:25 AM
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To clarify - I meant you take 26 south from Mt. Hood - and then hook up with 97 on down to Bend and on to the turnoff for Crater Lake. You can in on the map you provided to check that route.

From Crater Lake - you can also drive out/along the very scenic Umpqua river (look for fly fishermen trying to hookup with Steelhead - or their freshwater cousins - Rainbow Trout) - over to the Roseburg area (there are also wineries also around there and Southerlin) and then on over to the Oregon Coast and up the Coast toward Portland - from there.
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May 10th, 2012, 09:55 AM
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Ah, I see what you mean - like this:
http://g.co/maps/e5ccx
(I added a night in the Willamette Valley before the airport)
Thank you - I hadn't realised I could go all the way down from Mt Hood to Sisters / Bend without going inland again. Very interesting.

It looks like the Oregon-only itinerary is the preference so far, but any feedback on itineraries which go north instead and fit in some of Washington would also be very welcome.
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May 10th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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There is at least 1 possibly 2 motels in Biggs at the intersection of I-84 and US 97. From there you have the choice of going back to Portland or about 3 hours south to Redmond or Bend.
You can make it from Bend or Redmond to Crater Lake Lodge in 3 hours. I hope you can get a reservation there. Otherwise it will have to be at Diamond Lake Lodge off Rt. 138.
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May 10th, 2012, 10:27 AM
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I've taken quite a few old pals (and, sadly, getting older ) from the UK around the Pacific Northwest, and while of course people are different, I'd recommend a route like this to touch places that were universally praised as the "highlights" for those who hadn't been here before.

With just ten days and your aversion to long days behind the wheel, here are some thoughts.

A lot of folks tend to pigeonhole the Pacific Northwest for mountains, forest and seacoast, and rightly so - we have all of the above in gorgeous abundance. However, many miss the fact that just east of those volcanoes and forests lies some spectacular "old west" country - red rocks, sagebrush - real "cowboy" country that is stunningly different from the bits west of the mountains (i.e. "the wet side.")

So not knowing what else you've experienced in North America, I'd suggest the following.

Head east from Portland through the Columbia Gorge (stopping at the various waterfalls and vista points along the "historic" Gorge Highway, and aim for the town of The Dalles. As you travel through the Gorge you'll note the pine and "wet" forest on the riverbanks starts thinning out, until it's basically gone and replaced with sagebrush and cottonwoods near the rivers, with the slopes of the hills now rocks instead of trees. Overnight in The Dalles, where there are affordable hotels, B&Bs, etc.

Before turning in, though, head just past The Dalles on the Washington side to the small community of Maryhill, with a decent winery or two and the remarkable Maryhill Museum - www.maryhillmuseum.org - on the cliff overlooking the river. Nearby is a "replica" of Stonehenge - or what the builder (a fascinating character) thought Stonehenge would have looked like a couple thousand years ago. The museum (with an eclectic collection including some amazing Rodin sculpture) is a fun stop.

The next morning, turn south on US 97 and proceed to the town of Bend (or nearby Sisters) for the next night. You will pass through a lot of this "old west" scenery as you do, with views of the "Three Sisters" mountains and a lot of big sky. The Dalles to Bend is also around three hours' drive.

From Bend, you'll head back across the Cascades to western Oregon, but do so via Crater Lake National Park. In August you'll experience the best weather at Crater Lake, and while it's not a glaciated mountain like Mount Hood or Mount Rainier, it's well worthy of its national park distinction; it's quite an experience. I would spend that night around Crater Lake (accommodation is not plentiful in the National Park, so you might need to look on the periphery.)

The next day, continue west to Grants Pass, then take US 199 southwest into California. Just before the junction with US 101, you'll start passing through some groves of coastal redwoods. After joining US 101, continue south into and through Redwood National Park and some of the California State Parks in the region.

In every case that I've taken visitors from the UK on our tours, the northern California redwoods have been - by acclimation - the most stunning experience of their visits. There's really nothing like them in the UK or Europe for that matter, and IMO any trip to the Pacific Northwest in which the redwoods are an option should include them.

Anyway, overnight somewhere around Crescent City (no beauty contest winner but functional) then the next day start back north along the Oregon coast. The southern coast is (in my view) the best part, say from the California line to Bandon, then again from Florence up to around Lincoln City (which itself is dire.) You could take two or three days to cover that distance, with plenty of time for beach walks, walks through the amazing sand dunes around Florence, whatever.

At Lincoln City head back inland to the Willamette Valley and the vineyards of Clackamas and other counties. http://www.oregonwines.com/

From there it's an easy drive back into Portland and off you go.

It's a doable but quite full ten days, but ought to give you a sense of the incredible diversity the region offers. Chances are you'll be planning your return trip a couple of days into this one.
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May 10th, 2012, 10:28 AM
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I realize that I'm repeating a number of other posts' contents. More diversity, eh?
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May 10th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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Gardyloo, that's about exactly the route we took last September (only in reverse). It is a wonderful route.

One of the highlights was a visit to the lava tube just south of Bend (Newberry). LondonAlicat - the hike would be about the length you are looking for, check it out. There is also the Obsidian Fields close by. All in all, Bend was quite a surprisingly fun stop. http://www.visitbend.com// We stayed at McMenamins Old St. Francis School, very different and also lots of fun. http://www.mcmenamins.com/421-old-st...is-school-home

My other favorite was Redwood National Park and the adjoining Jedidiah Smith state park, as you suggested. And then of course the coast is splendiferous.
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May 10th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Your latest map looks great. If you wanted to minimize your daily "moving" - and were it moi - I would spend two nights at Timberline Lodge - see if you could get in the Crater Lake Lodge - or perhaps stay around one of the beautiful lakes (albeit - "rustic" accommodations - at Pauline east of Sun River/south of Bend - or Diamond Lake by Crater Lake http://www.diamondlake.net/ ) and then decide if you want to stay at some place on the Coast for a couple nights so you could make daily exploration trips.

Some people think the prettiest section of the Oregon Coast is from Lincoln for about 90 miles south. see: http://tinyurl.com/7t8nhe4 And don't forget to try the great Saltwater Taffy.

Another option - if you are up for a "thrill" is to drive down to Gold beach (passing by the World Class links courses at Bandon (Bandon Dunes, http://www.bandondunesgolf.com/ ) and take a Jet Boat up the fabled Rogue River, made famous by Old West writer - Zane Gray. http://wildrogue.com/oregon-family-vacations.htm

Or if you are golf aficionados - stop at Bandon Dunes and chase the ball around the links.

And as for Redwoods - you can see beautiful,big Redwoods south of Crater Lake - along 97 - toward my hometown of Klamath Falls, Oregon - specificlly in and around the Chiloquin area. But the biggest Redwoods - the Giant Coastal Redwoods - are yes - over on the Coast - where they get more moisture from the Marine layer/fog.

There are actually some big Coastal Redwoods outside of Grants Pass - on the road southwest toward Crescent City - on the northern California Coast. If you want more info on that = let me/us know.
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May 10th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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And yes, as Sludick notes, the mountain of obsidian/volcanic glass - toward Pauline Lake/Newberry Crater (east of Bend) is very interdsting. You can see why the Native Americans treasured these - as they made great arrowheads for hunting.
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May 10th, 2012, 12:49 PM
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And Crater Lake is not just a National Park. It's rated in some classifications as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
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May 10th, 2012, 02:42 PM
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Wow - just logged in tonight and found all these really helpful responses - thanks so, so much.

Gardyloo, your post's really helped flesh out the bones of the trip. Only thing is, we visited California a couple of years ago, including Muir Woods, so I'm not sure if prioritising the redwoods is right for us, especially on such a short trip. What do you think?

Sludick, the lava tube sounds awesome - I'll definitely find the time for it.

And Tomsd, thanks for the continuing help. I'm very excited by the jetboating - we did that in New Zealand a few years ago and LOVED it! Some more info on the Grants Pass redwood would be great, especially if we don't push as far south as Gardyloo suggests.

Keep the comments coming - the more, the merrier!
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May 10th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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You can see some fine groves of redwoods on US 199 just before the coast. If you don't want to go farther south, just turn north on US 101 and you'll be on the Southern Oregon coast in half an hour or less.
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May 10th, 2012, 03:08 PM
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If Crater Lake was not a National Park, the Newberry Caldera certainly would be. http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/...framework.html
The picture was taken from the top of Paulina Peak which is the highest point you can drive to in Oregon with a 2WD car.
The road is paved as far as East Lake.
When you get off US 97 to go into the Lava Lands Visitor Center, you can ask for a parking pass to go up to the rim of Lava Butte and the fire tower up there. Leaving the visitor center you drive past the entrance to the lava tube. You rejoin US 97 at the Cottonwood exit (151).
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