Seattle, San Juan Island and ONP advice

Old Oct 28th, 2018, 11:04 AM
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Seattle, San Juan Island and ONP advice

My Wife, 10 yr girl and I are in the planning stages of a trip to Seattle, ONP, San Juan island.
Maybe end of may or mid to end of June.
We would have have 11 vacation days
Fly into Seattle and explore.
Spend 2 nights.
Rent a car on day 2 so we can leave early the next day.
Drive to ONP stay at a rental at Crescent Lake for 3 nights or 1 night in a hotel at Port Angeles and 2 nights at a rental at Lake Quinault.
While visting Hurricane ridge and Hoh rain forest and the beaches for tide pooling.
3 nights for ONP.
Then drive to Anacortes very early with a reserved spot on the ferry to San Juan Island and spend 2 nights. Exploring and whale watching while possibly taking a whale watching tour while there. I'm looking at a place rental with views for Haro Strait.
Where to go from here for 1 night? Victoria, Drive to Vancouver, or driving hwy 20 loop northern Cascades?
Or even a day trip to Rainier? Spend the last night back in Seattle or close by for flight on the next day
We Could flip the ONP and San Juan island portion of the trip.
We've never been to Washington so was hoping some of you that live in the area or have done some traveling here could help us get this trip organized.
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Old Oct 28th, 2018, 12:11 PM
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You will have a lot of driving to visit both ONP and San Juan - don't even think of adding in another destination unless it is on the way back to Seattle (like Whidbey Island). I think I'd opt for three nights on San Juan.
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Old Oct 29th, 2018, 06:59 AM
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Some weather-related realities. In late May and early June you're likely to encounter snow on the ground at Hurricane Ridge. It can also be very cloudy, making the whole drive up there kind of pointless. Mount Rainier is out for the same reasons, but much worse. There will still be ten feet of snow on the ground on June 1 at the Paradise visitor area, not to mention rain, fog, or snow obstructing the view.

I won't say Lake Quinault to Anacortes in one day is impossible, but it's sure uncomfortable. Frankly I would just drop Lake Quinault altogether and keep your focus on the northern part of the Olympic Peninsula - PA over to Forks, from which visits to the Hoh rain forest or the beaches at La Push are more easily accomplished.

To include the San Juans, simply do a loop like this - https://goo.gl/maps/1CJrBqiHEvM2 . Visit the northern part of Olympic NP from Seattle, then take the Coho ferry from Port Angeles over to Victoria BC, then the Washington State ferry from Sidney BC (north of Victoria) to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, then back to Seattle. Or frankly, I'd probably do this trip in reverse to give the weather time to improve at higher elevations in the Olympics.
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Old Oct 29th, 2018, 10:35 AM
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We did a similar trip last year - loved Friday Harbor. We used a company called Maya's Legacy for Whale Watching, and they were excellent. We stayed at a place called Friday Harbor House that was great. Also stayed at Lake Crescent Lodge - very pretty, and the food was good, very sleepy at night, lake is gorgeous. Make sure you make reservations for dinner. We didn't for our first night, an they were out of space. Also really enjoyed Hurricane Ridge - they have free guided hikes at certain times of day led by park rangers.

We did Victoria on a separate trip and absolutely loved it - had tea at The Empress and went to Butchart Gardens.

In Seattle, we did the Space Needle and Chihuly Gardens and Glass. Also did a fun food tour of Pike Place Market.
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Old Oct 29th, 2018, 04:47 PM
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Don't add anything! You have enough for your time frame as it is. Don't underestimate the distances or the time it takes to move place to place when ferries, islands, bridges are involved.

If you want to add Mt Rainier, North Cascades, or Canada, you'd need to cut something else.
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 06:12 AM
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First let me thank you for taking time to respond and give us some great tips and advice.
After doing further study I think our best route after be leaving Seattle

2 nights San Juan Island
1 Victoria
3 nights ONP

After finding out about the construction on Crescent lake we may stay 1 night in a hotel at Port Angeles and the 2 nights at a rental on Lake Quinault.
I guess its best for us to rent a car and carry the whole time.
We'd about have to rent to get to Anacortes and we'd need to get around on San Juan island and especially ONP.

Looking at taking the ferry From San Juan Island to Sidney and driving on to Victoria.
We would probably book the ferry and room thru the ferry service at Victoria.
We're considering mid June as well.
Is there a big difference in crowds from late May or mid June?
That's some ruff plans because I don't have the ferry times for next spring/summer.



Thanks again for the tips so far. It's been very helpful!!!
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawgmsu25 View Post
First let me thank you for taking time to respond and give us some great tips and advice.
After doing further study I think our best route after be leaving Seattle

2 nights San Juan Island
1 Victoria
3 nights ONP

After finding out about the construction on Crescent lake we may stay 1 night in a hotel at Port Angeles and the 2 nights at a rental on Lake Quinault.
I guess its best for us to rent a car and carry the whole time.
We'd about have to rent to get to Anacortes and we'd need to get around on San Juan island and especially ONP.

Looking at taking the ferry From San Juan Island to Sidney and driving on to Victoria.
We would probably book the ferry and room thru the ferry service at Victoria.
We're considering mid June as well.
Is there a big difference in crowds from late May or mid June?
That's some ruff plans because I don't have the ferry times for next spring/summer.
This is a better plan, but I still would pass on Lake Quinault. Travel to the southwestern part of Olympic NP is boring and tedious; your time will be better spent in the northern part of the peninsula - Hoh rain forest, La Push beaches etc. Travel around the edge of Olympic National Park is slow and dismal - nothing but forest on both sides of flat roads. The good stuff is always a long drive away from US 101, with the exception of Lake Crescent, Ruby Beach and Lake Quinault, but the La Push beaches (Rialto, First Beach etc.) can easily substitute for Ruby Beach, and the Hoh rain forest is an easier choice than the Quinault rain forest. By adding Lake Quinault you're simply adding several hours of car time that you won't get back. Plus, the drive from Lake Quinault back to Seattle via Hoquiam is seriously depressing.

The spring ferry schedules won't be out for some time, but you can find archived versions of this summer's timetable; the sailing times seldom vary at all, more than adequate for planning.

Between late May and mid-June the big difference in these areas are the numbers of people, and the difference can be quite dramatic. The weather won't be much different, except for there being less snow at Hurricane Ridge the longer you wait. You're more likely to see Roosevelt elk around the Hoh visitor center in May - they loom in the mist like dinosaurs - before they head up into the hills for summer. Personally I'd go with the earlier dates.

Yes, get a car and keep it. Be sure to tell the car company you're taking it into Canada, and don'f forget your passports.
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 06:55 AM
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Honestly, I don't think the Lake Crescent road construction is a big deal. We head over to ONP pretty often since we live in the area and they keep it to 30 minutes or less, each direction, so the only time it would take an hour is if you got to the area right as they closed it each time. Our personal experience was different of course, and remember, that people who live over there are used to the roads not being crowded at all, so even a bit of construction is more noticeable to them.

That said, if you stay in PA, definitely opt for the Olympic Lodge. That's been our go to spot for many years, except for one stay at the Red Lion which I would never recommend to anyone. To say it is a pit is putting it lightly.

Anyway, then at Lake Quinault, have you considered staying at the lodge there? We love it and it is so unique. Just thought I would throw that out there.

Yes, there will definitely be more visitors in June than in May. Kids here do not get out of school until mid June so that is part of the reason, but also Hurricane Ridge which is a must see, is still buried in snow in May. You can get up to HR, but for any hiking it will be in snow. We did Hurricane Hill one year the weekend after Memorial Day and still had to park at the lodge and walk through snow to the trailhead and then up. Not quite enough for snowshoes, but close, to give you an idea. They get so much snow there. Two years ago in March we were snowshoeing there and the snow was so high that for street signs you could only see the very top part of the signs.

If you head to Victoria, take a look at the Chateau Victoria for a hotel. It is a block from the Empress and very nice. I stayed there several times this summer. The ferry over is very easy, but do make reservations (if you take your vehicle). If for some reason the website says no more reservations are available for the day/time you want, call them. They can open up more on the spot and you can reserve then. I did that this summer as well.
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 08:36 AM
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The only reason I was thinking about moving to June is the La Push beaches low looks to be better during that time period.
is there a big difference in +1 and-1 as far as seeing cool ride pools?
We've seen and hiked in mountains from the Tetons/Yellowstone and along the San Juan loop in Colorado the last couple years.
So driving up to Hurricane Ridge and getting out for some views should be plenty.
More interested in hiking the beaches and Hoh.
We liked the views from a rental in Amanda park at Lake Quinalt.
But could easily book all 3 ONP nights at a rental on Crescent Lake though. The construction spooked us on booking there.
The Lake Quinalt lodging would give us an opportunity to take a day trip to Rainier if the weather is good before heading back to Seattle for the night. Of course leaving early.
I realize we couldn't do hiking but to drive up to see its beauty might be worth it on a clear day?
Only reason considering it is we may not ever be this this area again.
Thanks for the help so far!
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by jdawgmsu25 View Post
The Lake Quinalt lodging would give us an opportunity to take a day trip to Rainier if the weather is good before heading back to Seattle for the night. Of course leaving early.
I realize we couldn't do hiking but to drive up to see its beauty might be worth it on a clear day?
Lake Quinault to Mt. Rainier is a very long ride. Once again I'm compelled to say that if you're using something like Google Maps for your time estimates, stop.

You'd be far better off doing Rainier as a day trip from Seattle - if you can see the mountain from the city, take off. If you can't, don't bother. The odds are poor at that time of year.

Will you be traveling around Memorial Day? Watch out for ferry delays.
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 10:14 AM
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We didn't think the construction was a big deal, but it may have changed since we were there. If you stay at Lake Crescent, be aware the rooms IN the lodge have shared bathrooms. We stayed in a unit that had its own and were happy we did that. Lots of deer about and a pretty waterfall hike. You can rent kayaks/canoes at the lake.
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 11:18 AM
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Gardyloo, I have wondered why we get so many questions here about the Pacific NW in which people think they can see everything in such a short time. I had forgotten that there must be places where the google maps' time estimates bear some resemblance to reality so there are people who take their drive time estimates seriously. When I read they wanted to get up early and drive from Lake Quinault to Rainier I just shook my head. Thanks for helping me understand how people come up with these ideas!

To the OP - you will find that less is more - fewer destinations gives you more time to explore, less time in long, boring drives or stuck in traffic.
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Lake Quinault to Mt. Rainier is a very long ride. Once again I'm compelled to say that if you're using something like Google Maps for your time estimates, stop.

You'd be far better off doing Rainier as a day trip from Seattle - if you can see the mountain from the city, take off. If you can't, don't bother. The odds are poor at that time of year.

Will you be traveling around Memorial Day? Watch out for ferry delays.
For a non-Google Maps take on that trip to Mount Rainier, here is a website that may be helpful. They state:

"It takes 4 hours, 58 minutes to travel from Lake Quinault to Mount Rainier National Park. Approximate driving distance between Lake Quinault and Mount Rainier National Park is 249 kms or 154.7 miles or 134.5 nautical miles . Travel time refers to the time taken if the distance is covered by a car."

Link:
Distance between Lake Quinault and Mount Rainier National Park
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Old Oct 30th, 2018, 03:01 PM
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Thanks for the help. Google maps is very accurate in other vacations weve been on. If you've never been to an area it makes it easier to figure out driving times.
We'll book a rental on Crescent lake for the ONP
part of the trip
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Old Oct 31st, 2018, 08:56 PM
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You've gotten a lot of good advice already so I won't add a lot. I would go later in June and accept the tradeoff of more people with less likelihood of heavy snow.

If you consider doing a day trip to Rainier, for sure do it from Seattle. Then if the weather is bad and you can't go to Rainier, you aren't locked in. And, you have many other options in/near the city, including Snoqualmie Falls if you want to do nature. Or do one day in the city, Chihuly Glass Museum, Pike Place Market, even the Woodland Park Zoo (highlights include: gorillas, komodo dragons).
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Old Nov 1st, 2018, 06:25 AM
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I agree about Mt Rainier in that it would be much more feasible to go from Seattle than from Lake Quinault. However, do not assume that if you can't see the mountain from Seattle that it isn't worth going to. Conditions can be very different right on the mountain. We are hikers and that has been our experience. Even a month or so ago on another board, people were saying to avoid Rainier over a couple of days because you couldn't see anything, yet we were there on the trails and except for one day, it was glorious. What you need to do is check their webcam for the most accurate information.
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