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RonFX Dec 27th, 2009 11:41 AM

Washington, Oregon California 3,000 plus Mile Road Trip??
We are planning a trip in July to Washington State, Oregon and possibly California. We are thinking of flying into Seattle then the following (1) San Juan Island (Best one?), (2) Victoria, (3) Olympic NP, (4) Mt. Rainier, (5) Mt St. Helens, (6) Oregon Coast - Astoria through Reedsport, (7) Crater Lake NP (8a) Columbia River Gorge Area, and (9a) Fly home from Portland; or to continue south into California: (8b) Redwood NF (9b) Lassen NP and (10) fly home from some airport in California.

We are unsure of the amount of time needed at some particular stops. It appears that at least 3 nights are needed at Olympic NP, perhaps three nights on a San Juan Island (best one??) and two nights at Victoria. How much time is appropriate for Mt. Rainier, Mt St. Helens and Crater Lake? Regarding the Oregon Coast what would be the recommended overnight stops? If we head north to the Columbia River what would be the recommended overnight stops? If we head into California, where should we stop and stay? We would appreciate hotel recommendations.

Our time frame is about 17 nights. Thank you.

spirobulldog Dec 27th, 2009 12:07 PM

We did just Oregon this past summer.
Started out in Portland. Portland is just awesome. Very good food, DO NOT MISS Powells Bookstore, and the Rose Garden. We took a day and headed to Mt St Helens. Two days in Columbia Gorge and Mount Hood. Stayed one night at Timerberling Lodge at Mount Hood

Then we head down to Crater Lake and spent one night there. One day is really enough here. From there we spent the night at Oregon Cave at the Chateau. We are really into the park historic lodges. Timberline and the Cave Chateau were great. We also did a Jet Boat Tour not far from the cave. Then we headed for a day into The Redwoods. Drove the Stout Grove and saw Stout Tree. Then we headed back up the coast and saw the Sand Dunes(rented 4 wheelers there), Light houses, Tilamook Cheese Factory and other stop. Just spent one night along the coast. We did not make it all the way back up the coast, so we missed Cannon Beach. We then flew out of Portland. We did this in 12 days. We did take a full day out to do some waterfall rappelling. Pics or Portland and Oregon Pics of Serious Waterfall/hike/rappell

I would think you would need 4 weeks to really do it right

spirobulldog Dec 27th, 2009 12:27 PM

How much hiking to you like to do? how adventurous are you? is this a family trip? are you retired seniors?

What month are you going?

My first thought would be to reverse this and start out south and work your way north. This might work out better weather wise. Sometimes it is the 2nd week in July before the road opens in Crater Lake. Crater Lake is somewhat like the Grand Canyon if you have seen that. It is totally wow, but you can do it in a day. Mt St Helens is doable in a day, but I wish we would have two days as I would have liked to have driven to the other side and have done Ape Cave and hikes in that area as well. Columbia Gorge has endless hiking options. We did 12 mile eagle creek trail--outstanding.

spirobulldog Dec 27th, 2009 12:30 PM

I think I remember you, How was Moab/Utah last year??

beachbum Dec 27th, 2009 12:38 PM

Taking your questions in the order asked....

What are your plans for ONP that you feel you need three nights? Seems like a lot of time to allot in your jam-packed itinerary.

I'd agree with San Juan Island, as it's the only one directly on the ferry line between Anacortes and Sidney. You'd want one full day to see the island, but I there here again, three nights is one too many.

Mt. Rainier is often done as a day trip from Seattle, but I'm wondering what you're expecting to see/do there. With everything else you've scheduled, consider axing Rainier. Nice, but nothing particularly unique about it.

St Helens, Crater Lake, and Columbia River Gorge.... All are the kinds of places where you can have a memorable experience in a half of a day, or even less. Best overnight of the three would be Crater Lake Lodge.

Lots of options for overnight stops along the Oregon coast. Usual suspects are Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Newport, Yachats, Bandon, Gold Beach.... kinda depends on what you want to do: beach time, dune buggy rides, sightseeing nature walks, jetboats? And you could easily allot anywhere from three nights to a week.

I'd suggest continuing on down the coast to Crescent City, CA to see some redwoods, then reversing direction back into Oregon, making the visit to Crater Lake on the northbound drive. Unless you have a particular reason for Lassen NP, skip it too.

Once you've firmed up the itinerary a bit, we can be of better help with lodging recommendations.

RonFX Dec 27th, 2009 02:09 PM

Thanks for your input. Here are some thoughts for our revised plans based on your comments and the cost of available flights and car rentals. We will be traveling August. We now are thinking about flying into Portland. Once we land we plan to travel to Crater Lake—Crater Lake, most likely stay over night. The next day to Crescent City, California to see the Redwoods—then up the Oregon Coast to Olympic National Park and then to Victoria—then San Juan Islands- then to Seattle- Mount St. Helen- Columbia River Gorge and fly home from Portland. We plan to spend time hiking (moderate), beaching, and touring.
Any advice on our revised plans? Any thoughts about the drive to Crescent City to see the Redwoods from Crater Lake? Where would you recommend us to stay on the Oregon Coast after seeing the Redwoods? Where would you recommend we stay along the Oregon Coast for the next four nights as we head up to Olympia National Park? Any specific nice hotels that would not break our budget? When we get to Olympia National Park, we plan to see the Rainforest, Hurricane Ridge, and the beaches and Lake Crescent. How many nights to see that? Any recommendations for lodging in Victoria and the San Juan islands (3 nights total)? Any recommendations for lodging in Seattle and Columbia Gorge? Thanks again.

Spirobulldog, you are correct, we did a Moab Utah last year. That trip ended up as fabulous trip!! Moab – Canyonlands – Arches - Deadhorse State Park; Ouray CO, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon and Salt Lake City.

roguemckenzie Dec 27th, 2009 03:39 PM

I live in Grants Pass, OR, about half way between Crater Lake and Crescent City. You might be rushing it a bit doing Portland, Crater Lake and Redwoods all in two days. I can tell you the drive through the Redwoods (Stout Grove watch for the turn off) is beautiful and is best seen slowly on foot. Then you plan four nights on the Oregon coast, that is probably two too many. I would just drive up the coast and stop when you felt you were ready for a rest. Rooms are pretty easy to find and I can't really recommend one town more than another. Coast is nice, but not really a lot to see and do, but a nice drive. I think you will really enjoy the rainforest and the Olympic National Park, it is beautiful!

spirobulldog Dec 27th, 2009 04:41 PM

I did like the coast but I would agree with mckenzie that the coast was my least favorite.

Crater Lake--- Hike Crescent Wildflower trail-allow an hour
I would for sure take the boat that goes to Wizard Island and have a picnic lunch and hike there.

Grants Pass is where the jet boat tour was and it is very good. I would for sure give up a day on the coast for jet boat and Oregon Cave. There are four very nice trails there, plus the cave and chateau.

Redwoods- Stout Grove Drive-this is on easy easy dirt road. Park at the trailhead and hike the area, take a picnic lunch. If at all possible see Fern Canyon in the Redwoods. There are other groves that are spectacular as well, but we didn't make it to them-Tall Tree Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Grove.

Coast-There are hundreds of state parks along the way. It seemed there was a different state park every 2 miles. It is all scenic, but starts to look alike after you see it all day. We stopped at many places along the way.

I haven't been to Olympic, but I have looked at it a lot and I think 3 or 4 days is what I would want to spend.

Mount St. Helens- You would want to do the visitor center and this is one place that you for sure want to watch the movie. The ending will Blow You Away. it will really creep you out. The better hiking seemed to be on the other areas, away from the visitor center, to me.

Columbia River Gorge- super super super good hiking to be had here

I am pretty sure it is Olympic not Olympia, btw.

Somewhere along the way, go Tidepooling. You need to figure out Low Tide ahead of time. Probably best in Olympic.

I haven't seen Rainier either, but it looks great.

One other thing, you can work in the "fruit loop" drive outside of Portland when you do Columbia Gorge. Stop at one of the stands and buy some cherries and whatever else the have.

Powells Bookstore and Stumpground Roasters in Portland are great. Take a look at Voodoo Doughnuts as well.

roguemckenzie Dec 27th, 2009 04:58 PM

I also strongly second Spirobulldog on taking the time to do the Oregon Caves! (spiro, enjoyed your waterfall rappling pics)

spirobulldog Dec 27th, 2009 05:28 PM

Thanks, Rogue

The area is a few miles from Detroit Lake(really the middle of nowhere). The guy I was with discovered this place about 4 years ago. He has been down it about 6 times, usually with 3 or 4 people. He thinks that this is probably the only times anyone has ever been down it. The falls and creek aren't on any maps. it was truly spectacular, but a little scary. I don't think I would do it again, but my daughter would in a heartbeat. The guide does canyoneering in Moab and I met him a few years ago. Both of the guys that we were with are professional guides/rescue. The owner is the only authorized guide in Arches NP and the other guide is more certified than him and is a premier rock climber as well. They only do this trip about 2 weeks out of the year and the rest of the time they are in Moab. The owner likes to hunt for places like this. He has spent hours trying to find other places. He found this place on his very first effort, but hasn't found anything since.

RonFX Dec 28th, 2009 04:33 AM

Everyone, great input! Your comments are really helping us to fine tune our itinerary. We were not aware of Oregon Cave, but now it’s on our agenda as well as spending more time hiking within the redwoods. We where very unsure about the Oregon coast, but thanks to your comments we will refine that section. If there were one or two special spots on the Oregon coast, what would you recommend?

spirobulldog Dec 28th, 2009 05:13 AM

Sea Lion Caves, Sand Dunes, lighthouses, Tilamook cheese factory

We stopped at this place in South Beach, Oregon to eat. Just a little shack on the side of the road- very good fish and chips and they had a crab pot boiling in a huge pot out front.
I think the name was South Beach Fish Market and Diner. Good chowder also

NWWanderer Dec 28th, 2009 07:33 AM

A couple thoughts: depending on how long your flight is and what time you'll be getting in to Portland, it may make sense to spend the night or do your Portland sightseeing at the beginning of your trip, as it's a good 5 hour drive from Portland to Crater Lake.

I would recommend the village of Trinidad as your base for the redwoods over Crescent City. The Lost Whale Inn there is great.

The Overleaf Lodge in Yachats at about the mid-point of the Oregon coast is one of the best places to stay on the coast and not expensive for what you get.

Cannon Beach is another good place to stop and a good place to break up the trip from the Oregon Coast to the Olympic Peninsula.

I'd divide your time on the Peninsula between Lake Quinault Lodge (1 night) and the Lk Crescent/Port Angeles area (2 nights). If you like nice B&Bs, Colette's outside of Port Angeles is excellent. Otherwise, Lk Crescent Lodge is a good option, although the location/setting is much nicer than the rooms themselves.

I would go with the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria and Roche Harbor Resort on San Juan Island (both offer less expensive and more expensive accommodation options). I personally think 3 nights on SJI is preferable as you won't get in until late on the first night on the ferry from Victoria, and that just gives you 2 full days to enjoy the island. But it depends on what you like to do--if whale watching, sea kayaking and hiking/walking appeal, then you can easily fill up 2 days. In planning your itinerary, you want to avoid leaving the island for Seattle on a Sunday due to extra long lines that day of the week (unless WA state ferries ends up instituting the reservations system they've been talking about).

There are a number of hotels in Seattle to recommend--what's your budget and what type of hotel do you tend to prefer?

happytrailstoyou Dec 28th, 2009 08:10 AM

This is probably too much for seventeen nights.

Were I making this trip, I would eliminate the San Juan Island for many reasons, including long waits for ferries. I would also not include Lassen on this trip.

You can visit Victoria as a day trip from Port Angeles.

It might also be too much to include the Redwoods. However, the drive to Eureka is beautiful, and, if you go that far south, you can access Crater Lake via Highways 199 and 62.

From Crater Lake, you can drive to Hood River on the Columbia River Gorge via Bend, OR, stopping at Timberline Lodge (Mt. Hood) on your way.

Gardyloo Dec 28th, 2009 10:27 AM

Here's what I'd do with 16 or 17 nights…

Day 1: Arrive PDX, overnight Portland

Day 2: Day "loop" trip to Mount Hood and Columbia Gorge, overnight Portland

Day 3: Portland to Crater Lake - several routes available, 5 to 8 hours. Overnight CLNP or ?

Day 4: Crater Lake to Crescent City via US 199, Oregon Caves. Overnight Crescent City vic.

Day 5: Explore redwood country. Overnight Crescent City vic.

Day 6: Crescent City - Yachats via US 101, around 5 hours (plus stops.) Overnight Yachats

Day 7: Yachats - Lake Quinault WA, around 6-7 hours plus stops. Overnight near Lake Quinault.

Day 8: Lake Quinault - Crescent Lake/Port Angeles. Explore Olympic NP coastal area - Quinault, Hoh Valley, beaches. Overnight Crescent Lake or Port Angeles.

Day 9: Explore N. Coast, Olympic Peninsula - Hurricane Ridge, Dungeness Spit, even Port Townsend. Overnight Crescent Lake/PA.

Day 10: PA - Victoria. Overnight Victoria.

Day 11: Victoria - Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) via WA State ferry. Overnight Friday Harbor or Roche Harbor.

Day 12: Explore San Juan Island. Overnight Friday Harbor/Roche Harbor.

Day 13: Friday Harbor - Seattle via ferry to Anacortes, Deception Pass, Whidbey Island, Mukilteo ferry. Overnight Seattle.

Day 14: Explore Seattle. Overnight Seattle.

Day 15: Explore Seattle, day trip to Mount Rainier NP. Overnight Seattle.

Day 16: Seattle - Portland via Mount St. Helens. Overnight Portland.

Day 17: Explore Portland. Overnight Portland/fly home.

Day 18: Depart PDX.

It's quite a full agenda, but with a couple of 2-night stays (Portland initially, Crescent City, PA/Crescent Lake, San Juan Island, Seattle, etc.) you won't feel like you're on a forced march.

Accommodations can be tricky, especially on the coastal section of Olympic NP, so get on it soon, and try if possible to arrange non-weekend stays on the Olympic NP coast or on San Juan Island.

I'd recommend the Fireside Motel in Yachats,, Lake Quinault Lodge at Lake Quinault -, Lake Crescent Lodge at Lake Crescent -, Roche Harbor Resort on San Juan Island -, and especially McMenamin's Edgefield in Troutdale, outside of Portland - - one of McMenamins' fun, affordable, funky, and unique places.

As for accommodations in Crater Lake and Crescent City, don't know. CLNP is not my favorite national park (by a long shot) and Crescent City is not exactly party central. You might look at Klamath or Trinidad CA, or even Brookings OR for accommodations in that area.

Also note the WA ferry from Sidney BC to Friday Harbor takes - and needs - advance bookings.

spirobulldog Dec 28th, 2009 10:38 AM

Crater Lake isn't my favorite park either, as far as things to do, but it is one spectacular sight. We spent an entire day @ Columbia River Gorge and an entire day @ Mt. Hood. It just depends on if you want to see it through your windshield or if you want to get out of your car and experieince it. I see a lot of things, but I don't rush them. The lodge in Crater Lake is nice, and it was totally reconstructed about 10 years ago, so it is more modern than most Historic lodges. When I say reconstructed- They basically took it down and rebuilt the entire thing. The stones around the fireplaces were all numbered and put exactly back in the same place.

Ron, how many days did you plan on for this trip?

GP Dec 29th, 2009 01:42 PM

Hi RonFX
Two suggestions for the Redwoods part of this trip.
If you have the time The Boy Scout Tree trail is an outstanding 10 mile round trip hike in some BIG TREES.
In the context of this trip I would stay in Brookings at the beachfront Best Western or Trinidad. However Trinidad adds 60 miles which is an hour and a half on 101. The upside is that 60 miles has 3 rivers, numerous beaches, 400 foot drop offs to the sea, 4 lagoons, and the tallest trees in the world.

Have Fun

beachbum Dec 29th, 2009 02:28 PM

Gardyloo has laid out a great itinerary. Other than adjusting nights here and there depending on your interests, my only comment would be to consider doing it in reverse. The usual advice is to drive the coast north to south, particularly in high season, so you don't have to cross traffic pulling in and out of the many roadside parks/vistas/beaches.

As for Oregon coast overnights, I'm especially fond of Yachats and Cannon Beach, but at that time of year many north and central coast lodgings have minimum stay requirements, which might put a hitch in your plans. On the other hand, I'm betting you'd appreciate a relaxing day at the beach somewhere along the line.

If a jetboat trip is high on your list, know that Gold Beach's (southern Oregon coast) summer economy thrives because of them. And, regarding dune buggy rides..... Unless you've done it before, I'd plan on hiring a driver. Waayyy more thrilling and fun that way.

bbqboy Dec 31st, 2009 01:00 PM

At the least, I would reverse this trip and head to the coast first so you are heading down the coast on the ocean side of 101.
I always have to plug a night in Ashland, and starting out for Crater Lake in the morning as much more fun.

suze Dec 31st, 2009 04:11 PM

I'm no expert on road trips but I do live here (Seattle). I would skip the idea of adding anything in California. 2-1/2 weeks you could do a nice job with the western parts of both Oregon and Washington state. Flying into Seattle and out of Portland or vis versa.

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