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Seattle/Vancouver areas in late July

Old Feb 14th, 2010, 12:36 PM
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Seattle/Vancouver areas in late July

Just in early planning stages of a 7 - 10 trip to the Pacific Northwest in July/August time frame. Myself (47), wife (42), daughter (17) and son (14) - going as a celebration of wife and I's 20th anniversarry. Wife and I spent a 3 day weekend in Seattle 15 years ago, and walked city, kayaked, Pike's Market, Mt. Ranier one day and loved our visit, and this is our first chance to return with kids. Planning on flying in and out of Seattle, but wife really wants to get up and see Vancouver area as well. Probably want to only spend 1 - 2 days in each of Seattle & Vancouver themselves, but truly want to maximize opportunities for scenery of region. Love hiking, waterfalls, rain forest, kayaking, climbing - outdoor activities (zip lining, white water rafting possibly). I know there is so much to choose from. What is best circular route between Seattle and Vancouver to take in sites and activities, plus any "must do's?"
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 04:46 PM
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You'll just have to come up and see the San Juan Islands!
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Old Feb 15th, 2010, 11:16 AM
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Bluepacifica - are you saying the San Juan Islands offer everything I'm looking for or they are part of a good circular route?
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Old Feb 15th, 2010, 11:59 AM
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San Juans would be part of a circular route that includes Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Some of the best sea kayaking around is up in the San Juans, and I believe July is when you might see Orcas around there.

If you do that, you could return from Victoria to the mainland by ferry to Horseshoe Bay, north of Vancouver, and take a sidetrip up to Whistler. They have a zipline and other "adventure" activities there, and lots of family-friendly lodging (condos) which are quite affordable in summer. There's great mountain biking there too, as well as hiking (although each time we've gone for hiking Whistler Mountain was closed due to bears!).
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Old Feb 15th, 2010, 12:19 PM
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As you say, you'll have to make some tough choices and decide what to leave out.

One of hundreds of possibilities with 10 days:

1. Arrive SEA, drive to Port Angeles via Bainbridge ferry.

2. Drive to Hoh rainforest, Ruby/Rialto beach, ret. to PA.

3. (Alt. 1) visit Hurricane Ridge (Olympic NP) + rafting on Elwha River (near PA) hiking etc.; alternative 2, take day trip to Victoria BC (no car.) Return to PA.

4. PA to Port Townsend, ferry to Whidbey Island, north to Vancouver via Deception Pass, Chuckanut Drive. Overnight Vancouver.

5. Vancouver

6. Vancouver - possible day trip to Whistler.

7. Vancouver - Seattle

8. Seattle

9. Seattle - possible day trip to Mt. Rainier

10. Home.

If you wanted even more scenic diversity, cut one of the Seattle or Vancouver days and use it to go on SR 20 from Whidby Island over the North Cascades Hwy through N. Cascades NP to US 97, then north on US 97 to Osoyoos BC, then west on BC 3 to the TCH and into Vancouver from the east. Great alpine scenery in NCNP, some fine "old west" scenery around Omak, then back across the mountains on BC 3, a lovely road.
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Old Feb 15th, 2010, 01:05 PM
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Enzian and Gardyloo - thank you so much for your input! Gardyloo - if not too much trouble - do you have a "travel time" estimate for each leg of your suggested itinerary? just want to get an idea of how much time I would be in transit from one location to the next, and how much time would be allowed for actual activities.

Thanks again!

Russ
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Old Feb 15th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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No problem. Really only one big push, everything else is predicated on day trips.

Airport to Port Angeles via Bainbridge ferry: Airport to ferry dock (downtown Seattle) around 30 min., then wait for ferry (up to 40 min, could be 0 min.) then ferry (40 min) then drive to PA from Bainbridge dock, say 90 min, so ~3 to 4 hours.

PA to Hoh Rainforest and beaches on ONP coast - say 2 hrs each way; PA to Hurricane Ridge (Olympic NP) say 45 min, PA to Elwha (rafting) ~15 - 20 min.

PA to Victoria via foot ferry, 45 min. each way.

PA to Port Townsend, 30 min.; Port Townsend - Keystone ferry, 20 min. plus ferry wait; Keystone dock to I-5 at Burlington, say 30 min; Burlington - Omak via N. Cascades Hwy, allow 4 hours, so call it 6 hrs +/- all in. Pretty much nonstop scenery, though - ocean to islands to mountains to red rocks.

Omak - Osoyoos - Vancouver, about 5 hours.

Vancouver - Seattle via I-5, 3 hours plus border.

Days are still pretty long in late July/August. Where are you coming from? Reason for asking is that from the east coast most flights arrive mid-morning or late in the evening, departing to the east coast is either early morning or redeye, due to time change. Midwest or west coast is less an issue. Overseas flights arrive early afternoon, depart late afternoon as a rule.
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Old Feb 15th, 2010, 04:43 PM
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I like Gardyloo's first suggestion better for a family with active teens who want to hike, kayak, raft, etc. The trip over the mountains on Highway 20 to Osoyoos is very scenic, but doesn't offer a lot of time in the day for adventure along the way.

You might look at places to find the different activities you want to do. This rafting outfitter's website give an overview of the whitewater trips they offer--you'll see that July is getting late for some rivers, depending on the kind of year we have:

http://www.alpineadventures.com/wenatchee.html

On the other hand, this outfitter on the Olympic Peninsula offers both rafting and kayaking, including inflatables on the Hoh River (where you will also find the rainforest):

http://www.raftandkayak.com/

Other places for sea kayaking would be Port Townsend and the San Juan Islands.

Hiking---to me, it doesn't get any better than Mt. Rainier, but Hurricane Ridge in ONP is also great. The high areas at Mt. Rainier (Paradise and Sunrise) can be still partially under snow at mid- July, but should be fine later, so you might want to put this at the end of your trip. The wildflowers are at their peak---as in incredible---shortly after the snow goes.

Hurricane Ridge offers everthing from short level meadow strolls to a 5/15 loop from Heart o'the Hills (that's shorthand for a 15 mile hike with 5,000 feet of elevation gain and loss). On a clear day, the views up there are amazing.

On the ocean side of ONP there are some great beach hikes, including at least one with fixed ropes for assist over the headlands when the tide is too high to go around.

There are also some very scenic moderate hikes up near Rainy Pass on Highway 20 (the North Cascades Highway).

ziplines: The only zipline I know worthy of the name is up at Whistler. Canadians seem to be less risk-averse than we are when it comes to this sort of thing. Here is a description from an article in our local newspaper:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...ziptrek06.html

Climbing---do yo mean actual rock climbing in the mountains, or the indoor variety? For the latter, there is a fun little pinnacle at the REI Flagship store in downtown Seattle. You can reserve a time and they provide the gear (shoes, etc.) and someone to belay. I believe there is a climbing wall at Whistler as well.

I'm willing to bet that with adventurous kids like yours, you son would love to try mountain biking at Whistler. You can rent bikes and get instruction if he has not done it before. I used to take my son up there every summer, and now that he is grown and on his own he still goes every Labor Day. There are miles of bike paths up there for a tamer ride.

I'm assuming since you plan to include Vancouver that you have passports for all of you.
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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 06:00 AM
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Fantastic information - thank you to both of you very much! This site has never let me down when trying to plan trips and my wife always gives ME so much credit! This gives me a great starting point to narrow my planning and sounds very much what we are looking for. We will be coming in from Kansas City, so I think we should be able to arrive before noon on our first day. My wife and I have our passports and we are in the process of getting the kids ordered. My wife and I have done outdoor rock climbing (with guides) but the kids have only done indoor climbing. I would love to be able to fit in some rock climbing while there, but you really have to allocate a day to do just that.

Looks like the recommendation is to make Port Angeles home base for first 3 days or so. Any recommendations for accomodations there - typically we don't need "high end" - and have usually stayed at Marriott properties just to accrue points - but this trip I thought I would try to be more open to other options. With two teens - would like to have properties giving us a little more space.

Sorry - one more question - I know you offer a day trip to Whistler as an option from Vancouver. Just in watching the Olympic coverage, it appears Grouse Mountain is closer and I thought I saw they had zip lining there as well. Is Whistler just a better overall experience and worth the extra drive?

Thanks again for all your help!
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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 07:10 AM
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Grouse Mountain is more or less right across the inlet from downtown Vancouver and requires much less travel time.

Whistler is another matter - enormous area, lots of variety, lodging options etc. But it's a couple hours' drive from Vancouver, and while the drive is spectacular, if it's mainly the ziplining or similar activities you want, rather than that plus a scenic drive, then maybe it's not the best way to spend those hours.

Port Angeles is a medium sized town with a range of accommodation options. Nothing high-end at all if memory serves.

You might also look at Lake Crescent Lodge - it's 20 min. or so west of PA, but in a lovely setting and convenient enough that going into PA (for ferries, meals etc.) is not very hard. Plus there might be some activities right at the lake that would appeal. You'll need to book ASAP as your time frame is peak of peaks.
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Old Feb 16th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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Hello:
To your original question, the Cascade Loop is a circular route that can easily take you through great recreation terrain and lots of diversity. You could do the North Cascades Hwy 20 portion though the National Park and end up in the Methow Valley. Or, you could do the Southern portion and hike/climb in the Enchantments...plan ahead though because this is a permitted part that requires a permit for overnight camping but not for day hikes.

If you'd like a free travel guide that will give you lots of info on what to see and do along this 440 mile self-drive byway, visit www.CascadeLoop.com and go to their free travel guide request form. We're a non-profit with the sole purpose of providing information to visitors to help them plan their vacations. Wherever you land in Washington...it's a spectacular part of the world and you'll not be disappointed! Best,
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 02:21 PM
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Gardyloo - I've started to book my air and hotel, and it looks like your suggested itinerary is working out well. I am scheduled to fly in on July 27th, arriving at 11:30 am local time, and am planning on making leasurely drive over to Port Angeles via the Bainbridge Ferry. We will be departing Seattle on Aug. 4th at 12:05 pm - so this gives us 7 full days, plus the 2 travel days to work in our options.

In Port Angeles - does anyone have any feedback on whether I should choose the Olympic Lodge or the Red Lion Inn? I liked the idea of the Red Lion off of the water front and sounds like it is nicely situated in downtown PA. Olympic Lodge looked like a real nice property, and we will be spending two days in Olympic National Park, so it appeared to be a great location for that, although it didn't look like it would be much of a drive from the Red Lion to get to the park as well. I went ahead and booked reservations at both for very comparable rates - the only bonus was the Red Lion included breakfast buffet each morning - about a $30 value daily for each of the 3 days.

On Day 4, we will be heading up to Vancouver for 3 days - I booked a room at the Blue Horizon Hotel based off some feedback on Trip Advisor - again, would appreciate any feedback on this hotel - got it at around $209 per night.

Still piecing together the full itinerary. I'm torn about whether I want to add a trip up to Whistler while up in Vancouver - looks beautiful, but not sure if the additional 4.5 hours of drive time is worth it for a day trip. Last two days of the trip we are heading back to Seattle, and figured we would spend one of those days visiting Mt. Ranier
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Old Feb 19th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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"I went ahead and booked reservations at both for very comparable rates - the only bonus was the Red Lion included breakfast buffet each morning"

Of course, i intend to cancel one of the two reservations once I make up my mind!
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Old Feb 21st, 2010, 10:48 AM
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I've added reservations at L'Hemritage Hotel in Vancouver - a 1 Bedroom "superior" suite, with a King along with a Queen fold out bed for basically the same rate I got the double Queen at the Blue Velvet - so any input regarding these two hotels in Vancouver would also be welcomed, along with the choice between the Red Lion and the Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles.
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