road trip from san diego to Van BC

Sep 22nd, 2015, 08:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2015
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road trip from san diego to Van BC

Planning a road trip from San Diego to Vancouver BC. Will be hauling a small single axle camper and have 2 kids(7 &10). Hoping to do majority camping but not apposed to hotel/motel every 4th or 5th night. Wondering which route we should take and where we should camp and stop? Any suggestions would be very helpful. Time line would be 3-4 weeks. We are most interested in Oregon, Washington and BC.
kbrew is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2015, 09:15 AM
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In California I would stick to the coast.

In Oregon it's a choice between coastal route or inland route. The same goes for Washington. On the other hand, if this is a round trip, go along the coast one way and return inland the other (Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Carter Lake, Lassen, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, etc.).

Cheapest camping is in National Forests and BLM lands. National and State parks have more amenities like showers, and stores in the National Parks.

Depending on the month of travel, reservations may be necessary or plan on an arrival at the camp ground by 2 p.m. for a better chance at obtaining a last minute site. We try not to look for a new campground on Fridays and Saturdays because campgrounds are more crowded on weekends.
Michael is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2015, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Are you returning to SD? Not really doable if you only have 3 weeks. That is nearly 1700 miles each way -- so say 3400 miles up and back. Pulling a trailer a lot of that will be at 40-50 mph. Nearly 80 hours just car time so 2 full weeks. If you do have 4 weeks - then easier -- but still nearly half of your time will be spent sitting in the car and by necessity a lot of one night stands.

Would you consider a less ambitious trip - not going quite so far north? OR flying up to Seattle or Vancouver and renting a car to drive back to San Diego. Then 4 weeks would be a great trip. Camping would still be possible either by taking your own equipment, buying cheap gear at Walmart or Target, or renting.
janisj is online now  
Sep 23rd, 2015, 11:27 AM
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Nearly 80 hours just car time so 2 full weeks. If you do have 4 weeks - then easier -- but still nearly half of your time will be spent sitting in the car and by necessity a lot of one night stands.

It's very doable. This summer we traveled to the Southwest for a little more than 3 weeks, camping most of the time. However, we did spend three straight days driving back to the Bay Area from Colorado.

Years ago, when we were not taking European vacations, we did several extended trips camping trips within similar periods of time. One was to Yellowstone and Glacier, starting and returning to the SF Bay area.

We did a similar trip to Vancouver and then Banff and back. Admittedly there were some long days of driving, usually on the way back.

We also did the trip up the coast and down inland all the way to the tip of the Olympic peninsular. In all instances the trip was shorter in that we started in the SF Bay area rather than San Diego.

Generally our trips were no longer than three weeks because that was what we had as vacation time. An extension to 4 weeks would make the OP's trip very feasible.
Michael is online now  
Sep 24th, 2015, 11:35 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 510
Sounds like a great, very do-able road trip.

Question: what time of year are you planning to go? This fall? winter? next spring or summer? My recommendations would vary tremendously based on that. In November the northwest experiences its heaviest rainfall, and the mountains are getting their first snow. My answer below presumes you may be doing the complete trip during October or next spring/summer. My recommendations for Nov. or winter would be much different.

Are you from the San Diego area so planning a circle trip? My recommendations below presume that you may be .... in which case I suspect you are familiar enough with Southern and Central Calif. from many trips that you're not too interested in that area. If my guess is wrong, my recommendations would change.

You should use the driving time recommendations of Google Maps ... you probably know whether you tend to drive slower or faster and how much you tend to stop on the way. My recommendations below would be based on google maps 5 to 6 hr driving time each day at most (if it were me, I drive faster than google maps and would drive 7 to 8 hr each day) ... so take all that into account when planning.

And since you are A-framing it and camping, I'm guessing you may prefer the natural environment to cities (with exceptions noted below).

And since you seem not to be interested in camping in one spot for a week (that's a great experience), I'm assuming you are more interested in a road trip to experience a swath of countryside rather concentrate in depth on a few areas.

And importantly, what do your kids like and what do they get bored with? Do they like to be active in the outdoors? Mountain hiking? Swimming in lake? Playing at the beach? Does the excitement of cities turn them on?

And how comfortable are you pulling your small railer? Do you prefer only paved highways, or are you OK with some well-maintained gravel roads? And how are you about driving mountain highwys with curves and drop-offs? And how is your vehicle at pulling up grades and your brakes about descending them? Depending on those, there are tons of options.

I personally vary my travels a lot. I can easily spend 2 weeks in one spot in the mountains or in one city ... or I can easily take lengthy road trips. I like them all. A few years ago I did a road trip down the coast from Seattle to San Diego and back up the Seattle on the east side of the mountains in 2 weeks ... and enjoyed it and was satisfied with it. (and saw lots of places that I'd come back on another trip to spend a week at.)

First, in general, I would do a circle trip. If is Oct. I'd start going up the east side of the Sierras & Cascades (winter comes early) and go back along the coast. If in spring, I'd reverse that.

I-5 is a bore and I'd avoid that unless you get pinched for time, in which case it is a godsend (except in traffic).

The highlights of such a trip for me would be as follows:
(Given the above assumptions I'd rush through S. Calif to get to the following
* some of the lakes along the east slope if the Sierras,
* Crater Lake and lakes in the mountains and high country near Bend Oregon,
* the Mt. Hood / Columbia Gorge area,
* the mountains of SW British Columbia
* potentially the Whistler area
* definitely Vancouver BC ... a fantastic city ... but ... there are only one or two campgrounds within 30 minutes of it ... that would take planning and reservations
* maybe a place along Puget Sound or the Olympic Peninsula (but that wouldn't he high on my personal priorities .. I'd rather spend the time in some of the places I've mentioned ... others would disagree
* definitely the Oregon coast south of Lincoln City to the California border
* The redwoods and North California coast.
Then given the above assumptions I'd rush home to San Diego.

I'd also plan the trip with many one-nite stops in campgrounds, but with many 2 or more night stops interspersed.

I know many on here will say in 3 or 4 weeks the above can't be done. From personal experience at doing it, if one likes a road trip, I know it's quite doable.

If I knew more about your style and goals and interests I could lay out some much more specific thoughts for you to consider.
elbegewa is offline  
Sep 24th, 2015, 12:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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>>My recommendations below would be based on google maps 5 to 6 hr driving time each day at most (if it were me, I drive faster than google maps and would drive 7 to 8 hr each day<<

With 2 young children stuck in the back seat??

My post was NOT based on the distance alone -- I have a roadster and LOVE long road trips. Just last Friday I drove from Ferndale across 299 and up to Mt Shasta and then down to Sacramento -- about 500 top down miles in all. But would I have done that w/ a car load, pulling a trailer, and little kids. Not on your life. They need some down time, running around time, fun time -- not just stuck in the back seat counting out-of-state license plates.

There is a hecka difference between a 'road trip' and a family vacation . . .
janisj is online now  
Sep 24th, 2015, 02:52 PM
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Undoubtedly there is a difference between a couple traveling around and a family with children. It's up to the parents to decide if the children travel well. But there are many out-of-state plates in the national parks, and the voice of many children in the campgrounds. I do not think that they represent absolutely different statistical groups.
Michael is online now  
Sep 24th, 2015, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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>>But there are many out-of-state plates in the national parks, and the voice of many children in the campgrounds.<<

Yep -- Of course. But driving from SD to BC and back in 3 weeks (other than simply dashing up I-5 and back) won't leave much time for setting up camp, enjoying the campgrounds, or much of anything else.

4 weeks could make it slightly less onerous and slightly more doable/enjoyable.
janisj is online now  
Sep 24th, 2015, 04:12 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,304
Where are some of these numbers coming from?

Google maps has the shortest route from San Diego to Vancouver as 1397 miles. Double that and you have 2800 miles, not 3400.

Why would a trailer be going '40 to 50 mph a lot of the time'?? They are designed to go freeway speed, there is simply no reason they would be going that slow for that long. On certain stretches of road, yes. But 'a lot of the time'? No.

2800 miles averaging 60 mph is 47 hours of driving.

Since the OP is mainly interested in Oregon, Washington and BC, let's get them to Ashland, OR in 2 days. 800 miles in 14-15 hours is very doable over two days. Ashland is slightly more than halfway to Vancouver - so now when we double everything, they have 4 days from San Diego to Ashland and back, and the remaining 17 - 24 days to go from Ashland to Vancouver and back. That is a distance of 1400 miles roundtrip and averages less than 100 miles a day.

What is the problem here? This trip is very doable if you use reasonable numbers for mileage and driving speed.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Sep 25th, 2015, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
North of San Francisco I would take 101 through the redwoods and up the Oregon Coast as far as Cannon Beach.

From there I would go to the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Rainier, and Olympic National Park.

From ONP I would go to Victoria BC on the ferry. After visiting Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, I would go to Vancouver and, perhaps, Whistler. (However, I don't know what is involved in traveling by ferry while pulling a camper.)

British Columbia is huge, and neighboring Alberta is rich in scenic beauty. I have only suggested places you might reasonably visit in the time you have.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
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