May Roadtrip -- best places to go?

Old May 2nd, 2006, 08:02 PM
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May Roadtrip -- best places to go?

I am looking for advice on places that are in their prime in May. I will be traveling with my husband and 16 month old son -- driving from Reno and spending 10-14 days in Wahsington and maybe part of the time around OR. Yes, we might be crazy!

Our plan so far is to spend 3 days on the Northern OP, then a night or 2 in PT, ferry to Victoria for a day, spend a few nights on Whidbey, ferry/drive to Seattle for the day (PP Market and maybe Aquarium), then head out somewhere....? We would like to camp as much as possible but will probably go for a hotel room or B&B every third night or so, and in bad weather.

At first I was attracted to the Cascade Loop, but what's that like in May? We live in the Sierra Nevada, and we won't be hiking here much higher up until July. I assume the Cascades are similar with regards to hiking, and we love to hike! If it just means driving through pretty mountains, we might be inclined to skip it this trip and wait until the Fall. Also, the little one sometimes loses his lunch on the curvy roads.....not fun.

So that leaves the whole rest of the state! I've heard the Walla Walla area is nice in spring. Any recommendations? How far a drive is it from Seattle? It looks far! What about the Islands? Beaches? Mt. St. Helen? Rainer? Any advice and ideas for May with a toddler are appreciated!
Thank you !
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 08:52 AM
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It's the same as the Sierras-actually, worse, since we're further north and get more snow (especially this year). No hiking until mid-July at least. Many mountain roads will be closed until Memorial Day. St. Helens would still be a worthwhile stop, since they plow the road to the main visitors center. The road to Paradise at Mt. Rainier will be plowed, but there will be 20 feet of wet snow there-no opportunities for hiking, or anything else. If mountains are your main goal, and you have the choice to put the trip off until September, that would be a better choice.

Or, you could do some of the other things you mentioned-Whidbey, Seattle, PT, San Juan Islands. It's a good time of year to visit those places, as spring break is over but the main summer season hasn't begun. FYI The Seattle aquarium is being massively remodeled right now.
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Old May 3rd, 2006, 10:05 AM
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I also meant to add: it's a bit chilly for camping in May-it's still in the mid-40s at night even down here at sea level (of course if you are a "warm sleeper" that's not a big deal). A lot of campgrounds don't open until Memorial Day weekend, though some of the more popular ones, in state parks for example, are open year round.
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Old May 4th, 2006, 10:35 AM
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Thanks Christy1,
I've been thinking more about the camping and the cold and will probably look for hotels instead. Where do you recommend staying (towns and/or specific children-friendly hotels) for visiting the ONP? Our budget is in the $50-100 range. What do you think about just winging it, ie, showing up to a town and looking for a room? Is that challenging anytime of year, or is May kind of "off-season" so we might be OK?

Also, when driving in from OR on I-5 , what makes the most sense for approaching the OP (i.e., Olympia and up 101 via PT or via 12 thru Hoquiam then up 101 the West coast?) My husband really doesn't deal well with traffic, so to me the West coast route makes more sense, but I'd love your input.

Also we've decided to skip the Cascades and Mt. Rainer until warmer months. Instead we'll visit Victoria, Whibdey, a stay longer in Seattle (bummer about the aquarium), visit Mt. St. Helens. I feel like the San Juan's are a vacation in themselves that I wouldn't want to sell short by just spending a few days. Do you agree? We may instead spend more time in OR and Portland, the Columbia RG, maybe visit the OR coast.....this is overwhelming! Looking forward to more great advice....
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Old May 4th, 2006, 01:29 PM
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ONP: I don't have specific lodging recs, sorry-I usually camp (in the summer). I think that people here have recommended motels in Forks and Port Angeles if you search. Unfortunately these towns aren't very scenic or exciting. I know people that love to stay in the cabins on the ocean at La Push but I haven't stayed there, so I can't recommend it firsthand. In May you should be allright just winging it but hopefully others can chime in on this (it might be a good idea to plan ahead if you're there on a weekend). Port Townsend is by far the nicest town on the OP but it's a little further from the park, so it could make a good stop to and from the park, but not a good base.

You shouldn't have problems with traffic no matter which way you approach the OP. The eastern route is more scenic. It just depends on where on the OP you want to end up-pick your destinations, then mapquest for fastest routes.

You said you like hiking-don't miss the easy 3 mile hike from Lake Ozette to Cape Alava. Even though the trails will be snowy I'd still go up to Hurricane Ridge.

A few days in the San Juans is great-I don't think that's too little time. There aren't big "sights"-just hiking, kayaking, whale watching and relaxing. Just try to avoid the weekend if you are going up there, are you will want to have a reservation. You could make a big loop-Victoria to the San Juan Islands on the ferry (from Sydney), back to the mainland (ferry again) and down Whidbey Island.
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