Pacific NW Itinerary

Old Jun 8th, 2021, 05:20 PM
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Suze please give any sage advice I know nothing about this area I just want to see and experience beautiful nature.

What do I know? I'm a city girl -haha. But the one thing I can share from reading internet travel forums (here and the WA forum at Trip Advisor) is newbies almost always vastly underestimate how BIG it is here. How long it takes to get from place to place. They don't know there's still snow where they want to go hiking at altitude. That there aren't a bunch of "charming towns" out on the Olympic Peninsula. That ferries take time. Stuff like that. I am smiling but unfortunately not joking!

My best advice is to at least look at one guidebook and one paper road map. Get a feel for how big things are. Use google to plot road time and add a margin to that for reality. And lastly... listen to Gardyloo. He is the one with sage advice!!
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Old Jun 8th, 2021, 06:04 PM
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If you do make it to Crater Lake- HWY 138 has many easy waterfall hikes. You can spend a whole day seeing multiple falls. Watson Falls is a favorite but some of the others are easier. Susan Falls is another favorite. Some of the falls are just a few yards from the parking lot. Since you like easy hiking, this is an opportunity to see some spectacular scenery without too much effort.
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Old Jun 10th, 2021, 06:06 AM
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I haven't spent time on the Olympic Peninsula but quite liked Tacoma so would definitely visit it when in that area. I might have liked it as much as Portland, where I can't imagine spending a week or more in. Portland has a lot of issues, is relatively expensive, and also is harder to get in/out of seems to me (not bad for a city, of course). I don't know why you'd want to base in Portland for mostly doing stuff outside the city. I don't think I did anything in the city proper but the main art museum and that rose garden. Outside it along the Columbia Gorge, etc, sure, but not in Portland itself. So I could see several days in the area towards Tacoma and Mt Rainier, perhaps. Maybe a couple days in Portand, 3 at most (presuming some of that time is outside the city).

Tacoma has several nice museums, for one thing (glass, WA state history, art, and a new one I haven't been to on classic cars--I always like those). But just outside the main city is Pt Defiance Park which is really nice for hiking/5 mile drive. There is Ft Nisqually there to see, also.
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Old Jun 13th, 2021, 01:25 AM
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If you have time, please see the St. Mt. Helen's visitor center. It's not a short drive from the freeway but the views and history of the area should definitely be experienced.

Also, for a nice stop to have a picnic or take an hour to do an easy but beautiful stroll, consider Tumwater Falls Park just south of Olympia. It's literally next to the freeway and always beautiful to see due to its waterfalls and fauna.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2021, 04:10 PM
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Old Jul 2nd, 2021, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Sorry I was posting when you wrote this.

I tend to be something of a broken record on this, so take it for just one person's opinion, but given the above, if it was me (ha ha, it isn't) I'd fly into Portland and spend most of the time along the Columbia River and some nearby side trips. I'd probably base in Hood River, which is roughly an hour east of the airport, because it can be a terrific base for the kind of exploring and activities you seem to be seeking. There are numerous destinations and activities that are easily reached as day outings from Hood River, with tremendous variety. I'll list some.

Hood River itself is the (self proclaimed) windsurfing capital of the country. This also includes kite boarding and parasailing, but it's also a great place to sit on a riverside beach while enjoying the sun. The town is east of the Cascade crest, so the weather is drier and warmer than the west side of the mountains, but not nearly as hot and dry as farther east - it's right on the cusp more or less.

The Hood River Valley extends south from the town, with the road through it (OR 35) eventually climbing onto the slopes of Mount Hood. The valley is full of orchards and vineyards, and is home to the terrific "Hood River fruit loop" - Hood River Fruit Loop, Hood River, Oregon - which features "U-pick" farms, numerous wineries, and other places to enjoy the region's bounty. For wine lovers, it's a terrific location, as are other wine areas to the west and east of Hood River. Here's a view of the valley and mountain from Panorama Point park in Hood River -

Mount Hood, with iconic Timberline Lodge (used in The Shining) on its side, is an hour from Hood River. You can take a chairlift up to the permanent ice fields on the side of the big volcano, where there's usually summer skiing. There are also several lovely lakes with views of Mount Hood, such as Lake Trillium -

In White Salmon, across the Columbia from Hood River, there's white water rafting (all classes from kid-friendly to OMG) and farther north lies the pretty village of Trout Lake (WA) which gives access to the Mount Adams wilderness, with more views of another of the Northwest's iconic volcanoes.

An hour east of Hood River on the Washington side of the Columbia is the Maryhill Museum of Art, a remarkable little museum with some world-class exhibits, sitting on the clifftops above the great river. A mile or so farther east is a fascinating "replica" of Stonehenge, built as a World War I memorial. A note that stargazing at night from this site is extraordinary.

And of course, to the west of Hood River is the main part of the Columbia River Gorge's waterfall belt, with numerous beautiful falls like Multnomah Falls and Latourell Falls. The area has mainly recovered from devastating forest fires a few years ago, and while some trails are still closed, the Gorge's many hikes and vista points will still take your breath away.

As for accommodations, there are various options in the area. Our preference is for the Hood River Inn, located right on the banks of the Columbia. There are some higher-end properties in the area as well, such as the Columbia Gorge Hotel or the Skamania Lodge on the Washington side of the river. There are also B&Bs, historic hotels, or, in Troutdale, between the airport and Hood River, the wonderful Edgefield, a spa/resort/golf/brewery/winery/distillery/movie.... place run by McMenamin's, It's quite a hoot.
We just booked the Hood River Inn for 3 nights because they only had 3 consecutive nights in the room with a river view that has a balcony. But we can switch rooms to extend our stay. Do you think we should extend to have more than 3 nights?
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