Help With Trip to Washington and Oregon

Old Jun 12th, 2010, 10:08 AM
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Help With Trip to Washington and Oregon

I will be flying to Seattle for 10 days in July with my wife and daughters (21 and 19). We plan to spend a day in Seattle, visit Olympic, Rainier, and Cascades National Parks, visit Mt. St Helens, and we would like to spend time on the coast. We also plan to spend one day in Oregon (either Portland or the coast or ???) and a day in Vancouver.

I am having trouble deciding how much time we need in each of the parks. Do I need 2 days to see the main tourist highlights and take some hikes (up to 4 hours) or will 1 day be enough to open up time for other attractions. I think a half day at Mt St Helens will be fine - am I correct? It is hard to judge driving times since I don't know if the roads are winding and slow.

Also, we would like to go on a whale watching tour. Where is the best place? Are the Washington beaches similar to the northern Oregon beaches? If not, which should we visit?
beau is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2010, 12:12 PM
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It would help to know how much of this trip you're planning on doing as day trips from Seattle, or if you're planning to overnight nearby each of the parks...

Also, are you flying in and out of Seattle?
azzure is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2010, 12:35 PM
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I think you would have a much happier time with your family if your itinerary were less ambitious.

Mt. Rainier can be visited as a day trip from Seattle.

Argosy does whale "search" cruises from Seattle.

The North Cascade Loop is best done sleeping over one night. Winthrop would be a good choice for that.

I suggest two nights on the Olympic Peninsula--one at Lake Crescent Lodge and one at Lake Quinault Lodge.

There is a good beach at Ocean Shores, WA, but my preference is the beaches in OR at Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Newport, and Bandon.

You may get some ideas here:
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 06:54 AM
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Thank you for the feedback. We are flying in and out of Seattle, but we plan to change hotels frequently rather than do day trips, so we will be staying near the parks.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 07:47 AM
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We did a somewhat similar trip with our children several years ago. We flew into Seattle and headed immediately for Mount Rainier (about 2 hours and 15 minutes). We stayed at Paradise Lodge for two nights--not fancy, but a great setting. Paradise Trail is a beautiful hike.

We then drove to Mount St. Helens (2 1/2 hours)--very interesting for a half day. We stayed in Vancouver, WA that night. The next day we drove to the Columbia River Gorge (45 minutes). My children were fascinated by the wind surfers. Then we headed down to Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood for two nights. We loved this hotel. Great hike here up Tom, Dick and Harry Mt.

Next we drove to Crater Lake (4 1/2 hours), staying at Crater Lake Lodge for 2 nights. The lake is incredible! Our last day we spent the morning at the lake and then started driving to the Olympic Peninsula, driving about 4 hours. The next day we drove to Lake Quinault Lodge where we spent 2 nights. The coast of Olympic National Park is gorgeous!

Hope this is a little bit helpful even though we didn't do your exact itinerary.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 08:00 AM
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There is rafting on the Rouge River.

We liked Ocean Shores Washington. We would go there every year and dig for razor back clams.

Be sure to visit Ivars in Seattle.

Mt Hood is a neat place to visit.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 03:39 PM
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Here is the itinerary I would suggest.
Day one: Overnight in Seattle
Day two: Take Hwy 410 to Enumclaw about 2 hours from Seattle and continue into Mt Rainier NP on Hwy 410, the Chinook Scenic Byway. Visit Sunrise along the way to Paradise. Stay overnight at Paradise Lodge or National Park Inn inside the park.
Day three: Many hikes available in this area, so you might want to spend two nights in the park. From the Park, exit on the Steven's Canyon Road to Packwood. From here you have two options to visit Mt. St. Helens. One is to see it from the East side, the more natural less crowded area, where you see more blown down timber, Spirit Lake and get within 4 miles of the crater.. You access this from Randle on Hwy 12 and go on Forest Service Road 25(it is a good road) to the FS 99 road. Then stay the night in Morton.. (a moderate but nice motel) OR.. continue on Hwy 12 (the White Pass Scenic Byway) west to I-5 and then take that south to Exit 49 at Castle Rock.. where you can drive the Mt. St. Helens Memorial Hwy to Johnston Ridge.. there are 3 world class Visitor Centers there, but no lodging.... Lodging would either be in Castle Rock or Longview/Kelso area..
OR you can catch that on the way back from Portland.
Day four: Portland /Vancouver area.
Day five.. Take I-5 and head north to the Olympic National Park. Depending on the amount of time, you can stay in Olympia, the state capital. Good places to stay at the beach on the Olympic Peninsula are the Kalaloch Lodge or Quinault Lodge (on the lake) one night and then continue around the "loop" to Port Angeles.. two nights are needed on the Olympic Peninsula. Then back to Seattle to spend a day at Pike Place Market or the Space Needle.
It is a very aggressive schedule.. so any place you can spend an extra day is fine..It is going to be hard to make reservations in advance with so much driving ahead of you.. I don't think reservations are going to be too much of a problem, except near Mt. Rainier or at the Olympic NP at Kalaloch or Lake Quinault.. You might make those ahead and then make the other driving fit those days.. Best of Luck.. This is the best of what Washington State has to offer..
You can plot your Mt. Rainier itineray and find links to all the lodging near the Mt. Rainier area at
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 09:18 AM
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You definitely want to allow two days for Olympic National Park. There are a variety of hiking trails leading to mountain peaks, ocean beaches, rain forests and waterfalls. We own the Five SeaSuns B&B here in Port Angeles and our guests that only allow a day, always regret it. Two days won't allow enough time to see it all, but will convince that you'll need to return for more... Enjoy your visit to Washington.
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 11:02 AM
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The biggest attractions at Olympic are pretty spread out so you definitely need at least a couple days there. I would also take a couple days for North Cascades--the North Cascades Highway is the most scenic in the state, and it'll take a couple days to properly do the loop. I agree that a night in the Methow Vally (Winthrop or Mazama) is great. You could head down Hwy 97 from Winthrop to the east side of Mt Rainier after that--that's a mostly scenic drive. I would overnight at Rainier in one of the lodges as another poster suggested--it's so nice to be there in the evening and early morning before the tour buses, etc. Keep in mind 2 days at each park is still only going to give you a taste.

In July your only real chance of seeing whales is in the San Juan Islands. Since you aren't going out to the islands, you'll want to get a tour out of Anacortes. That's not a long detour from the way to the North Cascades, so that should fit in nicely. In fact Hwy 20, which is the North Cascades Hwy, dead ends at the west in Anacortes.
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