Pacific Northwest, May

Feb 27th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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Pacific Northwest, May

My husband has just announced that the only time he can have off this year is early May, for a maximum of three weeks.
He would like to visit Washington and Oregon, he usually leaves even the destination to me so he must really want to visit! We would fly into Seattle from Amsterdam and hire a car there.
I shall do further research in to what we want to see once I have an answer to my first question - is it a good time to visit? Or is there still too much snow/rain/whatever about?
Having been snowed on in Arizona last May I'm hoping to avoid the white stuff on my next holiday.
hetismij is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 01:03 PM
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There will be no snow in Seattle in May but probably rain. The climate of the Pacific Northwest varies. East of the Cascade Mountains the climate is more extreme, although I wouldn't expect big snow storms east of the mountains by May. West of the Cascades (including Seattle, Portland, and the Pacific Coast) would be still rainy, perhaps, on average. The mountains themselves may still be full of snow from the winter. If the parks near, say, Mt. St. Helens are open by then, they may just have opened.
Andrew is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 04:02 PM
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Our summer starts in July. In May the average high is 65 F. and the average rainfall is 2 inches.

The North Cascade Highway should be open, and most mountains passes should be free of snow.
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 04:54 PM
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Well, we live north of Seattle, about halfway to Vancouver, B.C., and had thought winter was gone. Buds on trees were starting to swell and I was actually thinking of working on the garden. Then Wednesday it started to snow. It is still on the ground, but should be gone by tomorrow.

Actually, by May the weather should be fine. You will have missed our annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival as it only runs until the end of April. Knowing where you live, it probably is for the best -- you might just laugh.

Happy is probably right about the North Cascades Highway being open; depends on the snow pack. This year it six weeks work to get it open for May 1st.

There is some talk about canceling the Ferry between Anacortes and Victoria, B.C. this year for budgetary reasons, so if you plan to go to Victoria you should check alternatives in your planning.

When your plans develop more, please feel free to ask for information. Lots of Fodorites live in the area.
nukesafe is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 08:52 PM
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the further south you go, the drier and warmer it will be.
bbqboy is offline  
Feb 27th, 2009, 09:50 PM
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Our weather is a maritime climate, similar to yours, only we have brighter summer skies in general. We have year round snow (and glaciers) in the mountains and some of the higher elevations, like Mt. Rainier, will not be completely accessible, but there will be plenty of places to go and things to do.
Orcas is offline  
Feb 28th, 2009, 12:54 AM
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Thankyou everyone. Sounds like I'd better get planning
hetismij is offline  
Feb 28th, 2009, 08:20 AM
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We usually get some lovely weather in May (I think of June as the rainy month). Hopefully that will coincide with your visit.

The mountains east of Seattle will still be snowy, so I suggest you head west and north---to the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Islands. These are in the "rain shadow" and enjoy much better weather than Seattle itself.

I especially like the town of Port Townsend:

Lots to see and do, including kayaking and boat tours for wildlife and whale watching.
enzian is offline  
Feb 28th, 2009, 10:40 AM
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Come and eat salmon! It is very different from Atlantic Salmon and far better, IMHO! I suggest you try to include Vancouver in your trip. It's an easy 3 hour drive across the border and worth the trip. SOme might also recommend Victoria which is also lovely but I prefer the big city of Vancouver. It's very "international" with some of the best East Indian (Vij's) and some of the best Chinese food(I like the dim sum at most of the Kirins) to be had. BTW~check out and click on"boards" you will get lots of info on where to eat in the Pacifc NW.
PamSF is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 08:06 AM
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here in Seattle we say
" If you cant see Mt. Rainier it is raining.
if you can see it, it is gonna rain."

You probably will see no snow in the cities. Our mountains stay snowcapped most of the year. You can choose to visit it or not.

This is a beautiful area. I recommend the San Juan Islands.
I like Orcas Island.

Consider visiting wineries. There are 100's in the NW.

Northwest/KLM Airlines has nonstop AMS to SEA. I have taken the flight several times. Flight 33 or 34...
it is 9 hours and 45 minutes.

I hope you like coffee too...
Im a single tall vanilla. What are you?
jetsetj is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 09:33 AM
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jetsetj, I'm a short set espresso

We have ordered a couple of guide books, and are looking around the net at the moment. I don't mind rain, or looking at snow which has fallen, I just don't want to end up in a snowstorm again.
You are all so helpful thank you. I shall be back with more questions in the next week or so no doubt!
hetismij is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 10:15 AM
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I live in Vancouver, won't have to worry aboutt snow in me! Definitely spend a few days enjoying Seattle..some options from there are to drive up to Vancouver...or head down to the Oregon Coast...we especially love Cannon Beach.
enjoy your holidays,
CaptCanuck is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 04:12 PM
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You might want to consider visiting both sides of the Cascade mountain range in May. While the side west of the Cascades- Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Olympic Peninsula etc. - may be wet (similar weather to Holland at that time of year, truth be told,) conditions on the east side of the mountains will be warm, with rivers full of snow melt, apple orchards in bloom above red rock canyons and the Columbia Gorge... an impressive contrast to the greens of the west side. The Palouse region of SE Washington is gorgeous, Palouse Falls ( is remote and impressive (as are all the waterfalls on both sides of the mountains in May.)

If the rain doesn't put you off, it's also an excellent time to visit the rain forest valleys of Olympic National Park, out on the Pacific coast. By May the Roosevelt Elk that browse the forest understory have headed back to the high country, leaving a remarkable landscape - moss and a low carpet, giant tree trunks rising into the mist with moss hanging from their branches, see for example

My point being, the Pacific NW has such amazing diversity that three weeks will be easily filled, with much remaining unseen. However it will still be here for your next visit, which I predict will be in the planning phase before you get home.
Gardyloo is online now  
Mar 1st, 2009, 05:56 PM
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A great place to stay on the Olympic Pennisula is the Resort At Port Ludlow.
On the Puget Sound just over Hood Canal Bridge. Easy day trips to Port Townsend, Olympic NAtional Park.
A Nice itinerary might be:
1st Day Travel to Seattle p/u rental car, check into hotel (I prefer Inn at HArbor Steps a Four Sisters Inn close to Pike Place or if you want to do your cooking from purchases at the Pike MArket Residence Inn LAke Union)
2-3 days Seatle
Travel by Ferry to Bainbride Is
3-4 days Olympic Pennisula (Stay at Port Ludlow Resort)
Travel by car ferry to Victoria, VAncouver IS from Port Angeles
2 Days Victoria (we have stayed at Delta Hotels and loved it)
Travel by Ferry to VAncouver, Canada
2-3 DAys VAncouver
You can fly home from VAncouver or drive back to Seattle 4-5 hours depending on Border crossing. You will need your PAssport for travel to Canada which if coming from Ammsterdam sounds like you will have
Be sure to check by internet that all the ferrys are running and if possible make reservations in advance. Be sure too that the rental car can be taken into Canada..some can not.
You can of course extens teh trip another week easy by drieving another 5 hours to Portland Oregon and seeing Portland coast. (rec highly The Stephanie Inn in Cannon Bch: be sure to book an ocean front room.)
1JAR is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2009, 07:38 AM
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I love the suggestions for Cannon Beach and the Stephanie Inn, don't miss Ecola State Park, take the drive back to Indian Beach here. Even if you don't stay at the Stephanie Inn, try to have a meal there, it's amazing! ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 12:51 AM
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Thankyou for all the great suggestions.
We are now considering flying into Portland instead of Seattle - we found out KLM/NW have direct flight to PDX too, and hopefully immigration queues will be a bit shorter there. An open jaw for some reason will be a lot more expensive .

I now have to pin down my husband on exactly when we can travel so I can get booking.
I'll be back with more questions no doubt
hetismij is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 08:23 AM
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You are so lucky! Three weeks is a good amt of time! I'd hit the Oregon Coast, down to Crater Lake and up to Bend, (first one wk) then on through the Columbia River Gorge up to Mt. Rainier, Seattle and Olympic Peninsula (second wk), Victoria, Vancouver and back down - maybe San Juan or Gulf Island en route (third wk).

Be sure to go to the coast, mountains and cities. This is a beautiful part of the world. You are making a great choice.
Orcas is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 08:24 AM
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Oops, but May may be early for the higher elevations. We'll help you plan. Some of the roads will be closed in the national parks.
Orcas is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 08:35 AM
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Good suggestions from Orcas. but in May, I would skip Crater Lake and Bend, and add time to the Oregon coast, the Olympic Peninsula, and the San Juans/Whidbey Island.

After visiting the Oregon coast and Portland, they could make a loop thru Washington/Vancouver, driving up I-5 (seeing Mt. St. Helens, Rainier, Seattle, then Whidbey & the San Juans, up to Vancouver and/or Victoria, and back to the Olympic Peninsula from Victoria on the Coho ferry. Spend time seeing the Olympic Peninsula, then drive down the Washington coast to return to Portland.

As far as roads in the Washington national parks---Johnston Ridge observatory at Mt. St. Helens is scheduled to open in mid_may, "depending on weather", but it most likely will be open. As for Mt. Rainier, the road up to Paradise is kept open all year, and the visitor center there is open on the weekends. In May, there will be a lot of snow at Paradise, but not in the parking lot. It's a beautiful sight on a nice day, but skippable if cloudy.

As for the weather here in May---my birthday is in mid-May and we always have sunshine on that day!
enzian is offline  
Mar 4th, 2009, 10:26 AM
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enzian, that is funny about your birthday. My daughter's birthday is Feb 10 and it is always sunny then, as well. We used to be able to have the kids go outdoors and play for her parties! I have observed the beginning of Feb is when the clouds begin to break up. I think of our seasons as: Nov thru Jan, the grey season. Feb thru mid Jul, days of intermittent showers and sunshine. Mid Jul to mid Oct, crytal clear. (with plenty of exceptions of course!)
Orcas is offline  

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