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Is Spring A Good Time For Pacific Coastal Trip

Is Spring A Good Time For Pacific Coastal Trip

Old Oct 13th, 2021, 08:23 AM
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Is Spring A Good Time For Pacific Coastal Trip

So Hubby and I are starting to plan a coastal drive from SFO to SEA for 2022. Probably will spend 10 to 14 days but the first decision is when to go. We want to do beach combing, whale watching, and photography. I was thinking of a spring timeframe, like April or May. Would that be a good time for sunny weather, whales, and wildflowers? Would we have a problem finding places to stay, eat, or shop along 1 or 101?

We’re retired so the timing is flexible but we’d like to avoid the summer crowds.

Thanks!
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 08:59 AM
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I would advise reservations, at least for some of the more popular places such as the Monterey peninsular and Mendocino, especially on weekends; the same would apply to the better known places along the Oregon coast.
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 09:28 AM
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Weather patterns have changed so much its hard to predict what next year will bring. Usually April and May are cool and rainy along the Oregon Coast- mixed with some nice days.
I stayed in Lincoln City a few weeks ago- a first for me as I usually stay in Newport or Yachats. A nice place to stay is the Adobe or the Fireside Motels in Yachats- both waterfront with a nice walking trail. Not a great beach there- but the waves crash on the rocks and lull you to sleep at night. In Lincoln City we stayed at the Looking Glass Inn. It is across the street from Siletz Bay where lots of people come to fish and crab. The hotel has a crab cleaning and cooking station so we were envious of those with big catches of crab to dine on. Saw a big flock of pelicans and a lot of seals. You can walk the beach along the bay but as you turn the corner, you are at the ocean and a very expansive beach with lots of driftwood. We thought it was a fun place.
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 10:31 AM
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Yeah, predicting the weather is pretty much off the table these days. It's expected that this is going to be another La Niña winter, meaning (usually) cooler and wetter weather (and more snow) in the Pacific Northwest. That being the case, I would imagine that planning for later in the spring rather than earlier might be an advantage, but it will still be changeable and you're likely to encounter wet conditions at least for part of the drive.

Of course, some places, like the redwoods in northern California, are arguably more beautiful (atmospheric) in misty or drippy weather. And if you take the time to head inland to the Columbia River Gorge (east of Portland) in the spring the many waterfalls on the Oregon side of the river are at their most spectacular then. Or, you could head all the way up the coast to Olympic National Park and experience the wild beaches and amazing rain forest valleys along the Olympic coast - probably wet but definitely glorious then.

As for whales, there are migrating whales off the northern California and Oregon coasts usually until May, or there are whale watching opportunities in the Salish Sea (Puget Sound and southern BC inland waters) through much of that time. (But note some of the orca pods in the inland waters are endangered and whale watching might well be curtailed accordingly.)

I'm going to post a couple of maps for you to look at; google the places shown. The first follows US 101 as far as the Oregon central coast, then heads inland to Portland, the Columbia Gorge, and the beautiful Hood River Valley below Mount Hood. But following the Gorge the route continues east and into the Washington Palouse, a wheat-growing area that becomes astonishingly beautiful in the spring. From the Palouse you'd head over the Cascades and into Seattle. The second is an all-coastal route that includes the entirety of the Oregon coast, followed by Olympic National Park and back to Seattle via Puget Sound. Note neither of these maps includes the CA 1 coast north of SF; this could be included of course, but reservations are absolutely necessary, especially in places like Bodega Bay or Mendocino, which are very popular escape destinations from the Bay area. I would also book ahead if you plan to stay on the northern Oregon coast, particularly around Cannon Beach. (Bandon is my favorite town on the Oregon coast - google "sunset Bandon Beach" to see why.)

Both of these would need the full 14 days, maybe more depending on your travel style. But trust me, it would be time well spent, regardless of the options taken.

Map 1 - coast + inland: https://goo.gl/maps/1f5UdyUHUWZgFx3PA
Map 2 - all coast: https://goo.gl/maps/kfXPi9wLJZs7Cd4F7

FYI, if you're not familiar with the Palouse in the spring, here are a couple of photos. Note the reality is better.

Palouse Falls


View from Steptoe Butte


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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 08:56 PM
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May would likely be much better weather than April, especially later in the month.

Do realize you can't make a "coastal drive" the entire way between San Francisco and Seattle (for example Seattle is on the Puget Sound not out on the coast )
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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post

Do realize you can't make a "coastal drive" the entire way between San Francisco and Seattle (for example Seattle is on the Puget Sound not out on the coast )
Yes, we have family in Seattle and have been there many times, so we know exactly where it is. Our plan for the WA part of the trip is to drive along the coast and explore the Olympic peninsula - the Hoh Rainforest, Hurricane Ridge, etc. Depending in my mood, the weather, and the tides I might even try to find the glass beach in Port Townsend. Will end up in Seattle to spend a couple of days with family before returning home. But thanks for trying to warn me that my plan seemed undoable.
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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 08:20 AM
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I suggest mid to late May starting and ending in SEA (or PDX). I always like driving southbound on US101. You do not want to rent a car at SFO and turn it in anywhere else (drop fees).
Drive the coastal route going over the GG bridge into San Francisco. If you have the time you could also drive as far south as Monterey.
When you have gone as far south as you want, cross over to the east and visit Yosemite and maybe Crater Lake on your way back to Seattle.
Be aware that gas prices in California are among the highest in the US (some topping $5/gal).
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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 10:53 AM
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But thanks for trying to warn me that my plan seemed undoable.

Sorry that was certainly not my intent to be negative. Or say the plane was "undoable". It's just that lots of people post thinking they can drive a true coastal route from Los Angeles to Seattle... being along the coast the entire way.

I had no idea you'd been to Seattle or have family here. Again my apologies for wording that was not helpful.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post

I had no idea you'd been to Seattle or have family here. Again my apologies for wording that was not helpful.
No apologies needed! I figured you were being helpful and I never have a problem with that! I actually thought Seattle was on the Pacific coast until I married a guy with family there and went for a visit. I was very surprised at how far it was to the coast from there. I didn't put many details in my original post because we don't have a lot of it ironed out yet. We just know we want to go in the spring and we want to drive mainly along the coast with a couple of inland trips. We know the rental car drop off fees will be high and unless we decide it's worth the extra drive to go back to SFO then we'll just consider that as part of the trip cost.

It does sound like we'll need reservations for lodging, which is a shame. We love to just drive at our own pace and stop wherever we are ready to stop. But we don't want to risk not having a place to stay either.

Thanks for all the responses! I'm sure I'll need more advice as the planning progresses!
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 12:37 PM
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Oh thanks for that reply. I felt like I had somehow offended you
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