Washington / Oregon two week trip in August

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Jul 15th, 2017, 10:45 AM
  #1
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Washington / Oregon two week trip in August

Hi, we (family of 4 with two teenagers aged 18 and 15) plan to fly to Seattle for a two week holiday in the US northwest in early August.
We like nature and would like to do some moderate hiking. I was thinking of the following places to start with:
Seattle (2 days)
Olympic national park (2 or 3 days)
Mt. Rainier (2 days?)
Columbia River Gorge (2 days?)

Which still leaves a few extra days. I would appreciate any recommendations on what to visit in Washington and Oregon states.

And some specific questions:
- What is a good route connecting those places (or others).
- Which areas of the WA or OR coast to visit and where to stay
- Where to stay for Mt. Rainier visit.
- Is it worth visiting the North Cascades National Park (besides Olympic and Mt. Rainier)? or does it start to be too much driving distance

Thanks!
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Jul 15th, 2017, 05:24 PM
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A few thoughts off the bat:

Hopefully Gardyloo will advise you as to hike choices and will likely weigh in on your North Cascades question. (You can also do some advanced google search of this website to find prior threads.)

If I were to add an outlier farther away, it would be Crater Lake in Southern Oregon. Remains one of my family's favorites ever--hike down from rim to lakeside, take the official boat to Wizard Island, hike to the top, also dive in the lake if you dare (COLD water) and boat back, hike up to the rim.

Or, have you considered white water rafting? Rafting is quite scenic on both the Deschutes (near Mt Hood), or the Rogue in Southern Oregon. Another option is windsurfing lessons in Hood River (the Gorge).

Other options for any remaining days: Mt. St. Helens (part of a day to 1 day). A day or two in Portland.

As to the Coast--the Oregon Coast is generally considered nicer than Washington's. I like the North and Central coast, but many people here prefer the Southern Coast.

It would be helpful to know...
Does your itinerary of two weeks mean you have 14 full days of sightseeing, or is it really 12 days of sightseeing and two days of airport?

What length of hikes were you thinking?

Are you flying in and out of Seattle?
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Jul 16th, 2017, 05:31 AM
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Looks like your first post on Fodor's; welcome!

With thanks to 5Alive, I haven't been much of a hiker for a long time (old knees.)

Just my views...

North Cascades NP is basically a wilderness area with a single road bisecting it. While there are a couple of places along the highway that offer stunning views, it's not as "dense" an area of attractions (if I can use that term) as other places such as Olympic NP or the Columbia Gorge/Mt. Hood areas, and it's a long distance from your other targets. So I'd probably drop NCNP and use those hours and miles elsewhere.

Regarding the Pacific coast, the beaches that are in the Olympic National Park's coastal strip (Ruby Beach, plus beaches around La Push like Rialto Beach) are IMO without peers in Oregon. But they're wilderness beaches, while most of the famous Oregon beaches are much closer to population and services, so a straight comparison is not especially valid.

If you want to take time for hiking, then my first reaction is that you need to add at least a day to your Olympic NP plans in order to allow hikes around Hurricane Ridge, in the Hoh Valley rain forest, and along one or more of the beaches. Distances between these attractions in Olympic NP are great, and lodging is very limited. (In fact, for your entire itinerary, you're coming at the peak of peaks for lodging demand; if you don't have places booked right now it's job one.)

Here's one possibility for a loop itinerary - https://goo.gl/maps/QsHJfBU2PQB2

This includes traveling down the coast from Olympic NP to Cape Disappointment (scenic and very historic) then farther to the central coast around Newport or Yachats, then back inland to Mt. Hood and the Hood River Valley/Columbia Gorge area, then finally back to Seattle via Mt. St. Helens. In this scenario I'd suggest visiting Mt. Rainier as a day trip from Seattle, or possibly in conjunction with the return drive to Seattle, possibly in lieu of Mt. St. Helens.

Here's a different one that doesn't include the Oregon coast but which includes Mt. Rainier as part of a loop that includes terrific "old west" country east of the Cascade mountains: https://goo.gl/maps/mFkXHV3StjJ2

In this case you'd loop the Olympic peninsula, then head east to Mount Rainier (hikes at Paradise, Grove of the Patriarchs, etc.) then continue east over White Pass and down into the Yakima Valley (orchard and vineyard country.) You'd then head south through the Yakama Indian reservation to the Columbia River at Maryhill (fab "old west" scenery along US 97, e.g. https://goo.gl/maps/uywPcnatFYU2 .)

Visit the fun Maryhill Museum (Rodin in the sagebrush) and the adjacent Stonehenge replica (terrific at night) then head west toward Hood River, Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge.

I actually prefer the second option; I'd use the unallocated days to extend the time in Olympic NP and in the Hood River/Mt. Hood area, where there are so many things to occupy your days (especially with your kids) that - to me - it's a no-brainer. Windsurfing or kite surfing at Hood River, hikes in the Hood National Forest, take the chairlift up to the permanent icefields on Mt. Hood, hikes into various waterfalls in the Gorge (google "Oneonta Gorge") U-pick farms and wineries along the Hood River "fruit loop," visit Herman the Sturgeon at the Bonneville hatchery... lots of activities at all levels of intensity from veg to extreme.

But like I said earlier, booking accommodation is a top priority at this stage, and you might have to stay some distance from the key sights (e.g. national park highlights) and "commute."

Good luck and again, welcome!
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Jul 16th, 2017, 08:46 AM
  #4
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5alive and Gardiloo, thanks a lot for your advice and your welcome. This is really helpful.

I do like the 2nd route that Gardiloo suggested and indeed, I still need to book accommodation so I'll see what I can find and may need to adjust based on that.

5 alive, yes, we'll be flying in and out of Seattle and we have 12 full days plus the airport days, although the first day we arrive early so we should still have time for sightseeing in Seattle.
For the hikes, I was thinking up to 3-4 hours.

Thanks again!!
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Jul 16th, 2017, 02:41 PM
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Great maps, Gardyloo.

I suppose I should clarify--the OP stated they were going to Olympic National Park. For me, it was a given they were going to the coast in the park.

I meant the rest of the Washington State coast--ie Aberdeen, Long Beach, etc would not be as interesting as the coastline in Oregon. Good point, that you could just pass on any more beaches for this trip and follow the second itinerary.
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Jul 16th, 2017, 08:38 PM
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Shall we assume that you are aware enough to be gone (at least from Oregon) by the week of the Eclipse??

It could be any sort of bedlam there, beginning a few days prior to August 21. (of course it would be OK if you want to be there for the eclipse, but your presence probably shouldn't be unplanned ).

Though it is rather surprising that nobody seems to have started any Eclipse travel threads here this year.
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Jul 17th, 2017, 06:18 AM
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You might want to start the trip in Oregon flying to PDX.
See what you want of Oregon before things get crazy for the eclipse. Return the Oregon rental car and take the train (Amtrak Cascades) from Portland to Seattle and then see what you intended in Washington with a car you rent in downtown Seattle.
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Jul 17th, 2017, 10:55 AM
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Yes, we'll fly back before the week of the eclipse. Actually, I didn't know that was happening until after I booked, but a friend who is an amateur astronomer told me about it.
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