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Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip - 2 weeks, camping?

Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip - 2 weeks, camping?

Mar 21st, 2014, 04:54 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 5
Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip - 2 weeks, camping?

My wife and I love hiking and national parks. For our next trip (if we can afford it) we would love to fly to Seattle, rent a car, and drive down the PCH eventually arriving at LA and flying home from LAX.

Nothing is concrete yet but we are thinking of taking two weeks in mid July this year. For the most part we want to stay close to the coast, but we definitely want to venture inland for Crater Lake.

Besides looking at maps, neither one of us are all that familiar with the geography. I do realize it is a very long drive, hence why we are taking two weeks.

To save money, we are considering camping as much as we can. I have read there are a myriad of camping spots along the coast. I am curious if anyone has taken a similar trip and has any advice - where to camp, eat, sight see, hotels, places off the beaten trail...etc. Also we definitely want a couple days in San Fran, LA, Olympic National Park, and possibly Portland.

Also, I imagine this is probably the busiest time of year to do this trip, but does it make a big difference? Are crowds a factor?

Thank you very much for any of your tips and advice!

thejadeforest is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
Also arrange a detour to the Columbia River Gorge--one of Oregon's great beauty spots with great views and loads of waterfalls.

Warning: There are people who police this forum to correct the names posters give to the highway that goes down the west coast close to the ocean. In Oregon it is Highway 101 and in much of California it is Highway 1. Only a specific stretch these pedantics claim may be correctly referred to as the Pacific Coast Highway. There are other parts of Highway 1 that are designated Coast Highway, Shoreline Highway, or Cabrillo Highway. Highway 1 and Highway 101 do not seem to attract comments from the "I got you" folks.
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 07:07 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,329
There are many Oregon State Parks along US 101 that have yurts.
If it happens to rain during the night or in the morning it is much less of a hassle than having a wet tent to pack up.
About 50 miles south of San Francisco, think about staying at the HI hostel at Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
There is also a HI hostel in Monterey.
tomfuller is online now  
Mar 21st, 2014, 07:10 AM
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Posts: 10,329
Forgot to mention the campgrounds at Crater Lake NP.
tomfuller is online now  
Mar 21st, 2014, 07:37 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
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OK, you say, "I imagine this is probably the busiest time of year [July] to do this trip, but does it make a big difference?" Yes, it does.

September (after Labor Day) is the absolute best time to visit the west coast - kids are back in school, everything less crowded, and the weather is splendid (until October when it can start raining in the Pacific NW).

AS for your route, I'll throw some stuff out there - you won't have time for all of it, but pick through it and use what you can:

Starting in Seattle: take the Edmonds ferry to Kingston and then highway 101 through Port Angeles, then Forks, then Lake Quinault traversing the Olympic Peninsula and National Park. From Lake Quinault regain interstate 5 and south into Portland (3-4 days).

From Portland, east up interstate 84 through the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area to the wind surfing town of Hood River, then south on hwy 35 over Mt Hood, hwy 26 to hwy 97 and into Bend. Follow 97 south to Crater Lake, then 97 into California at Weed. 3-5 days)

I-5 to Redding and head west on 299 to the Pacific coast at Arcata, then south on hwy 101 into San Francisco. (3 - 6 days)

After San Francisco continue on hwy 1 (now called the Pacific Coast Highway)into Los Angeles. (2 - 5 days)

ALTERNATES: Instead of heading south from Hood River to Bend, continue eastward on I-84 out of Portland to The Dalles and take hwy 197 south to tiny Maupin where you can whitewater raft down the Deschutes River (couple hour tour or multi-day trips). Then continue on to hwy 97 into Bend. (short stop in Maupin, add a day for this)

You could do the Cascade Loop out of Seattle as a side trip taking hwy 20 through North Cascades National Park to touristy but fun Winthrop on the east-side of the Cascade Mountains. From there south along the Columbia River to Wenatchee (maybe detouring to Lake Chelan) and returning to Seattle on hwy 2 through Leavenworth and Stevens Pass. Lots of mountains, forests and rivers on this route. (2 - 3 days)
CascadeBob is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 07:38 AM
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Posts: 1,940
We enjoyed camping at Malibu State Park, where there's a trail that takes you down to the ocean.
jayne1973 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 08:43 AM
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First of all -- I'd suggest flying into Portland instead. Cutting out Seattle/Washington will make the drive a little more doable.

Second -- IF you can I'd do the trip in September. The weather will be much nicer on the coast. Summer is often cool to downright cold and foggy at least part of most days. In September - the weather is warm and absolutely glorious.
janisj is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 10:08 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,989
It is safer to make reservations for camping in California State Parks; or count on arriving at the campground no later that 2 to find an empty spot.

There are National Forest and other agency campgrounds that are minimal in amenities (a camp site with a table and a fire pit, usually a spigot on the campground for fresh water, and outhouses) which are cheaper than state park campgrounds, but even those, if in a popular area, might require reservations.

You can browse through these photos to find what some of the campgrounds are like: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7624514508361/
Michael is offline  
Mar 21st, 2014, 12:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 12,846
I agree that Portland to LA will make a better trip than Seattle to LA, with the time you have. This is definitely a long distance and the entire route is packed with great stuff.

September is a better month to do this, definitely. But July is doable - you'll just have to make more reservations ahead of time.
november_moon is offline  
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