Seattle > Mt Rainier > North Cascades > ONP

Old Apr 11th, 2021, 11:55 AM
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Seattle > Mt Rainier > North Cascades > ONP

I would love your advice! My family of four (mom, dad, 2 teenage sons) are planning a trip for late August to PNW for 2 weeks. We are coming from the Boston area and enjoy hiking.

My original plan was Seattle > Mt. Rainier > Port Angeles Area > Forks > Seattle. My husband wants to add North Cascades to this. I really want to go to Hoh Rainforest and see some of the beaches and Kalaloch.

At the moment I'm thinking:
  1. Travel Boston > Seattle
  2. Seattle - explore, maybe Bainbridge Island
  3. Seattle - explore, Underground Tour
  4. Drive to Mt Rainier (some hiking when we arrive?)
  5. Mt Rainier NP
  6. Mt Rainier NP
  7. Drive to Northern Cascades (likely a full travel day, right? And where to stay?)
  8. Northern Cascades NP
  9. Northern Cascades NP
  10. Travel (Deception Pass, then Keystone ferry to Port Townsend), stay in Port Angeles area for 1 night
  11. Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, Sol Duc River and Ancient Groves, drive to Forks
  12. Hoh Rainforest, stay in Forks
  13. Rialto Beach/Ruby Beach/Kalaloch, stay in Forks
  14. Drive to Seattle
How does this look? Are we able getting enough time in each location, considering the time constraints? What about the backtracking....what is the best order to do this? Adding North Cascades to this trip feels like we are taking on too much....thoughts?

Thanks in advance.
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Old Apr 11th, 2021, 01:06 PM
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The fact that you are coming from SO far away... suggests that yes, to add the North Cascades highway, IS a good move... (far less likely to get back here again, than if you lived two states away)


A vibe about the big picture is that I'd like there to be more for "2 teenage boys" in your itinerary...


Also... I think that a random tourist does not need 2 nights in each of Mount Rainier, and the North Cascades...

so potentially a bit more time in Seattle or surrounds... or something for the teens?

So lets SAY you were spending ONE night at Mt. Rainier... at Paradise, just for kicks (stay wherever you want, I'm just thinking in print)

create a calendar day where you tie-up loose ends in the Seattle area fairly early... (check-out, get moving, etc.) (MAYbe you even wrapped-up a Seattle day at a ballgame, or whatEVER... and then drove south for strategic locale to begin the day in question)


Then drive an hour or two to Mt. Rainier... go to either Sunrise or Paradise first... maybe some hiking of your determination... spend a night somewhere... then cover something else early-ish the next day.

Then drive toward Yakima, WA for a meal ("Miner's Burgers" if wanting to live like the locals) and then GTFO of town.

MY personal tip is to take highway #821 along the Yakima River between Yakima and Ellensburg (RATHER THAN Interstate #82 there, which consists of steep hills... and trucks... going first UP... then DOWN... then UP... then DOWN... over barren land) (the ONLY exit up there (for 25-ish miles) is to a MILITARY FIRING RANGE)

(this compares two paths... each of 25-30 miles duration, both ending at the same spot... and neither offering a way to get significantly LOST)

*** THOUGH IF passing through the area at NIGHT... once endures the boring hills and the boring trucks and the boring landscape to stop at the Manastash Ridge rest area /viewpoint (not far from the Ellensburg end of I-82) for awesome STAR GAZING with almost zero lights anywhere around... and an altitude of... 2500-ish feet.


In a perfect world you will have eaten at Yakima... and then driven to Ellensburg... with still plenty enough LIGHT to drive over Blewett Pass (Hwy #97) toward Leavenworth, for a night there... (in between Mount Rainier and the North Cascades)

The next day you would get up and drive to Winthrop, and get a good dose of that, before your trek through the North Cascades.


Just my initial thoughts on what you've written.

(obviously others will add much more detail shortly)
NorthwestMale is offline  
Old Apr 11th, 2021, 01:13 PM
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The issue with North Cascades NP is that there are basically no facilities in the national park itself, so one has to stay on the periphery unless you want to camp. The highway (WA SR 20) bisects the park but aside from a couple of (stunning) viewpoints, the park is basically inaccessible by car - you need to hike into it.

If it was me (and it's not) I'd scrub the North Cascades, add Mount St. Helens into the mix, and do a clockwise loop of the Olympic Peninsula, something like on this map.

This would include following the north shore of the Columbia River downstream to its awesome mouth at Cape Disappointment, which I'd highly recommend.



See what you think.

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Old Apr 11th, 2021, 02:44 PM
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If you wanted to add a loop to Gardyloo's excellent map, try for US 2 east from Everett through the mountains to the small town of Leavenworth. The town makes an effort to resemble a town in Bavaria.
Continue east from Leavenworth to US 97 south to Cle Elum to head west back to the mapped route.
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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 01:01 PM
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Thanks for your input. The family definitely wants to do North Cascades! The present thinking is below and I'd love your thoughts.

All input welcome but some specific questions:
- Those familiar with NCNP, are there any locations for showers within the park or in Winthrop? 3 nights with no showering is stressing me out.
- @NorthwestMale, loved the recommendation for Miners Diner but that route appears to be much longer than going on Routes 405/5....is that correct? We'd like minimize the driving since we'll be doing so much regardless.
- Is this too much time in Mt Rainier NP?

1 Travel Boston > Seattle
2 Seattle - explore, maybe Bainbridge Island
3 Seattle - Underground Tour, Pike Place, etc.
4 Drive to Forks - possibly stop at Hurricane Ridge on the way
5 Hoh Rainforest
6 Rialto Beach/Ruby Beach/Kalaloch
7 Drive to Northern Cascades via Keystone Ferry to Port Townsend, see Hurricane Ridge/Lake Crescent/Ancient Groves on the way. CAMP AT NEWHALEM
8 Northern Cascades NP - CAMP AT NEWHALEM
9 Northern Cascades NP - CAMP AT NEWHALEM
10 Drive to Mt Rainier, stay in Ashford
11 Mt. Rainier hiking, stay in Ashford
12 Mt. Rainier hiking, stay in Ashford
13 Mt. Rainier hiking, stay in Ashford
14 Drive to Seattle
15 Boeing / Univ of Washington / Maybe take Red Eye home

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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 03:50 PM
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Also, now I am looking more carefully at the comments about tedious driving between Burlington and Diablo Lake. Even if we went through Arlington to Rockport, this would be an extremely long day. Is there an alternate "order of operations", or should we plan a night in La Conner (or other) area? I'm also reconsidering the camping and would prefer to find lodging in Winthrop, if I can convince my husband....
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Old Apr 16th, 2021, 05:04 PM
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Things aren't that great in Seattle yet. Especially in the downtown area. Just now beginning to improve from pandemic closures, protests, vandalism, etc. Also everyone wears masks pretty much 100% in public. Not sure I'd want to be doing The Underground Tour either a bunch of people crowded together under the streets -haha.

Sure you can see the Pike Place Market, Space Needle, and other things you mention, just wondering that your time might be more enjoyably spent outside the city for the most part.

I'm usually a big cheerleader for Seattle but things are still a little touch and go at the moment.
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Old Apr 17th, 2021, 05:15 AM
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If you didn't want to camp at Newhalem, you could stay in Marblemount which is only about 15 minutes away. It is not a destination by any means, but there are a few places to stay. You will not find showers at the campgrounds in the NC that I am aware of. Yes, there are showers in Winthrop though, and that is definitely a town aimed at tourists, many of which are camping in the general area. If you are wanting a town, that is a better option than Marblemount. If you don't want a long day, then yes staying in La Conner would break it up nicely. Winthrop is fine, but if you are aiming for hiking along highway 20 it is definitely further than if you were camping, FWIW. We do a lot of backpacking in this corridor so are quite familiar with this.

I would not try and go though Yakima. Miner's is good if it is along the way, but just my opinion it is not worth it alone to reroute. In high school that was the big draw to go there before the movies as the burgers are literally the size of a dinner plate. We went through there again last summer and we stopped as my husband had never been there, and yes it was good, but I wouldn't reroute for it. Now, if you DO go through there, make it a twofer and stop just a few blocks away at Los Hernandez for tamales.

Do not miss Hurricane Ridge. That is where the quintessential views of the Olympics are spotted from.

Just an FYI for hiking at Rainier. Arrive early, very early. No later than 6 am is my suggestion and you will won't be anywhere near the first people on any trails. If you wait, you will list likely be waiting in a line just to enter the park. I am not saying that to deter you, but so that you get the best experience there.



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Old Apr 18th, 2021, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by stephhirshberg3077 View Post
Thanks for your input. The family definitely wants to do North Cascades! The present thinking is below and I'd love your thoughts.

- @NorthwestMale, loved the recommendation for Miners Diner but that route appears to be much longer than going on Routes 405/5....is that correct? We'd like minimize the driving since we'll be doing so much regardless.
- Is this too much time in Mt Rainier NP?

1 Travel Boston > Seattle
2 Seattle - explore, maybe Bainbridge Island
3 Seattle - Underground Tour, Pike Place, etc.
4 Drive to Forks - possibly stop at Hurricane Ridge on the way
5 Hoh Rainforest
6 Rialto Beach/Ruby Beach/Kalaloch
7 Drive to Northern Cascades via Keystone Ferry to Port Townsend, see Hurricane Ridge/Lake Crescent/Ancient Groves on the way. CAMP AT NEWHALEM
8 Northern Cascades NP - CAMP AT NEWHALEM
9 Northern Cascades NP - CAMP AT NEWHALEM
10 Drive to Mt Rainier, stay in Ashford
11 Mt. Rainier hiking, stay in Ashford
12 Mt. Rainier hiking, stay in Ashford
13 Mt. Rainier hiking, stay in Ashford
14 Drive to Seattle
15 Boeing / Univ of Washington / Maybe take Red Eye home

I am... unsure what you're trying to clarify.


Originally you had North Cascades hwy and Mount Rainier consecutive on your itinerary.


Your revised version still has them consecutive, but in the opposite order.

As you spoke of so much time in Mt. Rainier National Park, I was assuming that you intend to get (literally) around the mountain...

SO, I merely leapt at the idea of driving from Mount Rainier to Winthrop on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range vs. returning to the western side.


As I can't get "Sunrise", Mount Rainier to work on my online mapping site, I used instead the town of "Morton, WA" to represent you at Mount Rainier.


From there, the mapping site offers two path alternatives, neither of which employ Interstate #405 or Interstate #5. And the two alternatives are 13 minutes in difference... so I say that with that, (the user gets to pick, regardless of 13 extra minutes)


Also, when I referenced Miner's Burgers... it was more to give Yakima, WA a seeming highlight, while at the same time suggesting that you NOT waste much time there beyond that.

After all, Yakima is a city that cannot correctly spell its own name.


If you had talked of one side trip to The North Cascades Hwy, and then a visit to Portland, or Canada, or the Pacific Ocean before mention of Mount Rainier... well then of course my idea wouldn't make sense.

But again, as you are from so far away, it makes a lot of sense to cover "new area" on your path from Rainier-Winthrop... rather than return to the population center for more traffic and absurdity when another route is more ideal.


Allowing for the chance that you used maybe "Enumclaw, WA" as a "point" to represent Mount Rainier... it still doesn't mention I-5 or I-405 when asked to go from there to Winthrop, WA


I'm just suggesting that because Mount Rainier is in your sites, and because you are affording it enough time to surely circle it... you can somehow optimize your traipsing around it, such that you can exit the area via highway #410 over Chinook Pass toward the east. It is with that in mind that Yakima for no more than a meal break and some sort of amusement makes sense.


(* If you get to Miner's... with two adults and two teenagers... you could just about order Three standard meals (burgers, fries, shake) and have enough for FOUR people to share.

The assortment there is impressive, and nothing in that area is more indicative of trendy local life than that. (some of the street visions you'll see are surely more indicative of mere local life, but its OK) ) .

*** IF you find yourself leaving Yakima in broad daylight, and heading toward Ellensburg... do NOT forget to take the path along the Yakima River vs. the boring highway up above. (you CAN'T get lost on either path... as there are no 'exits' that would draw you anywhere)

(*if you left Yakima more than eleven hours earlier, you might check to see whether you're wandering around Ellensburg (or Canada)... but what I mean is, you can't get lost between Yakima and Ellensburg on either path, cuz there is nowhere else to go...)


I hope this is more clear?



PS - oh, wait, I see your town "Ashford"... (which still doesn't require I-5 or I-405)... and it's fine if you SLEEP there...

(but everything I said is contingent upon your doing enough things IN Mt. Rainier NP to allow that you'd time the last such thing so as to afford an easy exit to the east, on highway #410 over Chinook Pass, which is very pretty)
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