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hdrider Mar 21st, 2018 06:11 AM

Waterton Lakes National Park to Port Towsend WA
This will be my first time in the Pacific Northwest, Im seeking suggestions to fill in a leg of a motorcycle trip that I have set up for the 2nd week of this coming July. I will fast forward to my questions.
I will be leaving Waterton Lakes National Park on Friday morning the13th and need to be in Port Towsend WA on Sunday the 15th late afternoon / early evening. I was thinking of using part of the Cascade Loop Scenic Hwy to get to Port Towsend, maybe running it counterclockwise . I will have 2 1/2 days to arrive at my B&B. I enjoy scenic drives, hiking and historic towns.
What would be a scenic route with some not to miss stops along the route? Also some lodging suggestions?
Thanks In advance!

Gardyloo Mar 21st, 2018 06:26 AM

Welcome to Fodor's!

Here's a route I'd investigate - . This goes through the wonderful Kootenay country and lovely Nelson, BC, then through "old west" scenery to the orchards along US 97 on the east slopes of the Cascades. It then crosses the Cascades through North Cascades National Park, then on to Port Townsend via scenic WA 20 past Deception Pass and down Whidbey Island to the ferry to Port Townsend.

I would make Nelson and Winthrop (an "old west" themed town) my overnight stops, and I'd get an early start on the 15th in order to have enough time on the last day to see the many sights on that last day's route.

hdrider Mar 21st, 2018 11:10 AM

Thanks Gardyloo! The two towns will work perfectly for this trip!!

tomfuller Mar 21st, 2018 01:37 PM

The mostly US route would be over the Going to the Sun Road from St. Mary to West Glacier and US Rt. 2 to US 95 into Coeur d' Alene ID. The other stop on Rt. 2 is Leavenworth Washington

elbegewa Apr 28th, 2018 10:49 PM

Gardyloo's suggesting is bang on *if* what he means is not quite what the map he linked to shows. His map shows you going from Winthrop down US 97 to I-90 thence to Seattle. Google has the horrible habit of specifically not showing a route that is closed, so Gardyloo likely couldn't force it to show going from Winthrop westward on Highway 20 and crossing the Cascades there (its closed in winter into late spring) It's by far the more scenic way, with some hiking at various locations while crossing the Cascades. It's the way I'd go ... 2.5 days is pretty minimal, you could take a week or two. That route is one of my favorites.

On highway 3 near the Alberta/BC border you'll go through a lot of small towns that collectively are the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass - its an old coal mining area and is the site of a major mountain collapse that covered the town in 1903 (The Frank Slide) killing 60 or 70 inhabitants. Just west of the municipality there's a nice roadside lake to stop at for a picnic if your timing works out.

Both Nelson and Winthrop are historic towns, as are lots of the other old mining towns on the route.
To get to Nelson, from Creston you can use Hwy 3 to Salmo thence Hwt 6 to Nelson, as Gardyloo's map shows. Personally from Creston I'd take highway 3A along Kootenay Lake to the (free, I think, at least it used to be free) ferry at Kootenay Bay thence continue along 3A to Nelson. The choice is vours: the mountain pass from Creston to Salmo is one of the highest in BC and would be nice motorcycle riding, but the Kootenay Lake route is beautiful along the lake and also nice riding.

Nelson is a very historic town (lots of substantial Victorian-era buildings). It has many long-haired ski bums and urbane-backcountry people who've found a better life there than in the city, and it has some great bars and old hotels that are now semi-luxury. See It's a great place (but alas, has been discovered, so now it is lots more expensive than it was 10 or 20 years ago.)

Along the way there are so many hikes *if* you have time for any.(There's enough to see en-route that you may not do much hiking ) For hiking take a look at the Washington Trails Association's map of trails and its trail descriptions at

elbegewa Apr 28th, 2018 11:05 PM

PS: The route from Waterton to Nelson, via Salmo, is shown by Google Maps as taking 5:40 wheels turning, and via the Kootenay Ferry is shown as 6:45, so that may affect which route you choose. In either case, it will be a long ride without much time for lengthy stops. Luckily, going westward you gain a hour because the the time zone.change

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