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My itinerary to Portland, MRNP, Seattle, ONP, NCNP, Vancouver

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Apr 20th, 2017, 03:07 PM
  #1
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My itinerary to Portland, MRNP, Seattle, ONP, NCNP, Vancouver

Here is an itinerary I have planned out for my upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest. I have booked the flights so the start and end dates can't change, but I haven't booked any hotels yet so I could make other changes.

Please let me know if you think I should change the order of places to make driving easier, or if anything seems unreasonable in terms of trying to fit too much into a day. I'm open to any other recommendations on what to see/do too. Thanks for reading!

Thu June 29: Fly to Portland, arrive at 11am. After renting car and eating lunch, will have all afternoon to explore downtown.

Fri June 30: Go to Columbia River Gorge.

Sat July 1: Go to the farmer's market and/or Saturday market - these are supposedly must sees. Then at 5pm attend my cousin's wedding.

Sun July 2: Hang out with relatives in the morning, then later in the afternoon or evening drive 3 hours to Mt. Rainier National Park.

Mon July 3: Do the Skyline Trail (4.5 hours) and Lakes Loop (4 hours?) hikes.

Tue July 4: Visit Grove of the Patriarchs, then drive to the Sunrise area and do the Burroughs Mountain (2.5 hours) and Glacier Basin (4 hours) hikes.

Wed July 5: Have time for maybe one more thing at Mt. Rainier, and then drive 2.5 hours to Seattle. Maybe some time in the afternoon to do something in Seattle.

Thu July 6: Olympic Structure Park, Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square

Fri July 7: Drive through Whidbey Island on my way to Port Angeles and Olympic National Park.

Sat July 8: Go to Hurricane Ridge and do the Hurricane Hill and Klahhane Ridge hikes.

Sun July 9: Go to Sol Duc in the morning, do a little hiking, then check out Lake Crescent, and in the afternoon go to the coast and check out the beaches.

Mon July 10: Go to Hoh River Rainforest. Then drive 4 hours (via Bainbridge Island?) to Rockport? and North Cascades National Park.

Tue July 11 to Thu July 13: This part I'm not too clear about. I'd like to do the Cascade Pass/Sahale hikes one day. I'd like to take the ferry to Stehekin another day. And I'd like to drive along the Cascades Loop and do some hiking. Then I want to take the 9pm train on Thursday from Bellingham to Vancouver. Maybe I'll have to skip the southern part of the loop from Everett to Wenatchee if there's not enough time.

Fri July 14: Vancouver Lookout, Stanley Park, Granville Island Public Market

Sat July 15: Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain

Sun July 16: Go to Victoria and back to Vancouver. Then take 11pm flight home.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 03:42 PM
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Rent the car downtown on June 30 before going to see the Gorge including Multnomah Falls. There are several good hikes in the Gorge area on the Oregon side.
Where are you flying home from?
I encourage people not to take rental cars into Canada.
The best option to go to Vancouver is the Amtrak train or bus from Seattle.
If you don't want a drop fee on your Oregon rental car, also take a Cascades train from Portland to Seattle and then rent in downtown Seattle.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 04:28 PM
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I'm flying home from Vancouver. I was planning on dropping the car off in Bellingham and taking Amtrak to Vancouver. Approximately how much would the fee be to drop the car off in another state?
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Apr 21st, 2017, 06:45 AM
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I think this very hiking-intensive trip needs something of a reality check, and I would be doing some research and some thinking about alternatives to parts (or more) of your plans.

This has been an extraordinarily snowy winter in the mountains, and the snowpack is so deep in places that some areas might be relatively inaccessible in early July. Most years, for example, the road to Sunrise doesn't open until around the first of July, and nobody will be surprised if it's even later this year.

The State of Washington is talking about opening the North Cascades Highway (SR 20) as late as June this year, up to 30-45 days later than usual. The trails into the interior of NCNP are likely to be snow-covered much later this year than most.

The same goes for some/many of the trails in MRNP. There's still typically 4-6 feet (or more) of snow on the ground around Paradise on July 1; while some of the trails will be open, the odds this year are that things will be muddy if open, and certainly the wildflowers and other beautiful things that draw people to Mt. Rainier will be considerably delayed.

So if it was me, I'd be looking hard at alternatives to many of the hikes you're planning, and therefore possibly your whole itinerary. Lowland hikes will be okay, but anything at alpine elevations is likely to be problematic at best, and maybe downright infeasible. How would you reprogram things if that was the case?

You're going to get clobbered with a one-way charge on a rental car no matter where you pick it up and drop it off. I don't think you're going to save anything by returning a car at Bellingham; the likely only drop-off point would be Bellingham airport, and BLI is a long way and an expensive cab ride from the Amtrak station in Fairhaven; you might find any "savings" are extinguished in the process.

In terms of "strategic" alternatives if the hiking/Cascades agenda is a no-go, I'd look at a couple of possibilities:

- Look at the Mt. Adams wilderness area, accessed from the Columbia Gorge area (Hood River/Trout Lake.) Because this is farther east (hence drier) you might be in more summery conditions there than in MRNP or NCNP.

- Focus more on Olympic NP and less on Mt. Rainier or North Cascades. Include more time in lowland areas - rain forests, beaches - if the upland areas are still too wintry. (But Hurricane Ridge is lower than Paradise or Sunrise and tends to be snow-free earlier.) PS - Sol Duc is a huge disappointment to most people who go there. Your timetable for visits to the various parts of Olympic NP is, by the way, pretty unrealistic. You can't accomplish many of the things you want to do in the time you've allocated, e.g. July 9-10 is flat out impossible.

- Head up to Whistler, where there are many hiking alternatives, accommodation is cheaper (built for winter ski crowds thus oversupplied for summer) and fabulous scenery everywhere.

- Do the numbers on round-trip car rentals plus trains vs. a long one-way car rental. In other words, rent a car in Portland for the Oregon bits, then return it and take the train to Vancouver for the Washington/BC bits, returning the car to the rental location in both cases. My hunch is that the savings will more than pay for the train ride.
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Apr 21st, 2017, 09:17 AM
  #5
 
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On Whidby Island, a restaurant recommendation would be Joe's Wood Fired Pizza, off 525 in Langley (really the outskirts) and the town of Langley. Several nice restaurants there.
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Apr 21st, 2017, 10:02 AM
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OK logistics - Rent a car in downtown Portland when you are ready to go see the waterfalls. Return the car in Portland.
Take the Amtrak Cascades to Seattle. Rent a car in Seattle and go to see Mt. Rainier if there is not too much snow.
If there is too much snow go to see Olympic NP.
Return the car in Seattle and take the train or bus to Vancouver. You do not need a rental car in Vancouver.
If you decide to go to Victoria from Port Angeles just leave the rental car in PA and go on the ferry as walk on. Stay overnight in Victoria and return on the ferry to Port Angeles.
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Apr 21st, 2017, 10:16 AM
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Thank you all for the replies. What makes this tough is that I've heard the hotels near these national parks tend to book fast, so I was going to try to book all the hotels in the next week. But then I won't really know how much snow there will be in the parks until right before I go. That is a problem.

I will look into whether it's cheaper to rent and return cars in the same city and take the trains.
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Apr 21st, 2017, 10:27 AM
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The roads should all be open in July.
https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/road-status.htm
Parking can be a problem in Portland and Seattle. Just rent when you need a car and don't take a rental car into Canada.
Be aware that July 1 is Canada Day (150 years).
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Apr 21st, 2017, 11:01 AM
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The roads at Mt. Rainier and North Cascades always open well before much off-road hiking is feasible. Here's a picture taken in late May a few years back of Chinook Pass - http://gardyloo.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/053as.jpg - and again, this year is likely to be atypical.

I guess what I'm saying is that your timetable is already pretty rushed; by trimming the "marginal" days in places that could be snowbound, you'd have more time to visit the places you want to see that are less likely to be affected so much.

Mount Rainier is a couple of hours' drive from Seattle or Tacoma, so with long daylight hours when you're planning to visit, you really don't have to stay in or adjacent to the national park to have enough time to do the walks or visits that you want, so I wouldn't get clutched about accommodations being shut out. On the Olympic Peninsula, accommodations are very limited on the west side of the peninsula, so staying in PA or Forks is just about your only options anyway.
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