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Help with sketch of itinerary

Florida
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Help with sketch of itinerary

I am just starting to look into a July trip to Pacific Northwest for our family's customary week-long summer vacation (probably fly in to Seattle on a Saturday afternoon, depart from Seattle following Sat night or Sunday). Sadly my knowledge of the geography of the Pacific Northwest is almost nil but I have at least zeroed in on what looks interesting to us for a first trip. Can we meaningfully fit in the following stops in a driving tour of 7 days or so: Seattle proper; San Juan Islands; Mt. Ranier or Olympic NP; Cannon Beach; and Columbia River/Gorge? Incidentally we are accustomed to zooming around somewhat on our trips. Thanks for any replies!

Green Valley...
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1. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

There must be a better word for "zoooming". Nope, won't work, the geography here is daunting to cover that much territory in a week w/o a helicopter. IMO

Kids with you? Ages? Knowing this will help us to respond better.

I'd suggest: Seattle, two days (which means a lot of activities, see "Things to Do", left hand column, plus items listed below); Mt. Rainier NP; Mt. St. Helens; Whidbey Island to get a taste of the San Juans (though it's arguably not technically a San Juan Island); perhaps squeeze in the Columbia R. Gorge...

I think that, unless you have at least two very full days, and are hikers, ONP won't work. You'll spend much time driving; let's see what Kaleberg and others have to say.

You could drive to Port Angeles and see the Hurricane Ridge part of ONP, then on to Port Townsend, then ferry (with reservations) to Whidbey Island from where you'll go north across the Deception Pass (State Park) bridge and return to Seattle.

Suggest that you work some of these ideas into Google Maps to note the miles and time between major points.

Re: Cannon Beach and the Columbia R. Gorge - I'd save that for a trip to Portland, OR, and down the OR coast (which itself deserves at least 3 days), top to bottom plus the Redwoods in N. California.

Options for self drive itineraries in the Seattle region, with websites.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60878-c112037/Seattl…

WA State Ferries (Beautiful views, ride at least one, perhaps Bainbridge Island).

For routes, schedules, fares and more - http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

Pike Place Market (Definitely worth seeing this complex, multi-level Seattle icon.)

www.pikeplacemarket.org/frameset.asp…

Snoqualmie Falls is east of Seattle less than one hour, scenic. If you go, consider also driving the pastoral Snoqualmie River Valley (Rte. 203) and then on to Woodinville for wine tasting.

http://www.snoqualmiefalls.com/

http://www.woodinvillewinecountry.com/

Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/

http://www.nps.gov/olym/

Ballard/Chittenden Locks Uniquely Seattle

www.nws.usace.army.mil/PublicMenu/Menu.cfm…

Museum of Flight A world class museum, for all ages.

http://www.museumofflight.org/

Whidbey Island (Great day or more getaway with many features of the Pacific NW; includes key websites, tours, maps.)

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58824-s2/Whidbey-Isl…

http://tinyurl.com/3e8fwcj

Ebey’s Landing State Park, on Whidbey Island – Dramatic, easy, short trail, farmland to the east, Puget Sound and the Olympics to the west.

http://tinyurl.com/3c8zrnc

I throw the following in should you decide to go to the SJIs: San Juan Islands (Information on the several major islands, with key websites.)

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju…

Whale Watching Information

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/

Mount Rainier National Park

http://www.nps.gov/mora/

Edited: 04 January 2012, 21:57
Washington
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2. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

Ditto. Not worth it.

Travel distances between areas are significant. As an example, it's 4+/- hours to Cannon Beach. To the San Juan Islands, it's 90 minutes to the Anacortes ferry, then you have to be in line hours ahead of time during the summer months, then the crossing, etc.

Best to figure out those places you really want to see then design a loop trip, if possible. Or, pick one or two locations and plan day trips to key destinations.

Tell us more about the family, what you like to do on vacation. Budget? Type of accommodations? Do you want a different hotel every day?

Florida
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3. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

Thank you for your detailed reply. We will have our two boys with us, both in their teens. Would it be foolish to dispense with Mt Ranier AND Olympic NP (I "only" intended one or the other) in hopes of visiting Cannon Beach and Columbia River Gorge in addition to some of the other sites you mentions?

Florida
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4. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

Also, we like hiking (nothing too extreme, for instance at Acadia we hiked the Beehive but not the Precipice), whitewater rafting and kayaking (again, nothing extreme though). As far as lodging, we do not do any camping, and $200 per night is about our limit. When I know we are going to be driving around a lot, we usually spend two night in one spot, and then it's a new hotel/motel for the other nights.

Oregon
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5. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

If you could drop San Juans and much time in Seattle you might be able to do the Gorge, Cannon Beach, Rainier, loop in Olympics.

San Juans with ferry rides is really more than a day.

Seattle to Portland 3 hours or so depending when you do it. not in rush hour.

But really agree Portland and nearbys should be another trip. Cannon Beach is not the best of Oregon coast

Edited: 04 January 2012, 23:50
highlands ranch, co
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6. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

Have you thought about flying into Portland and home from Seattle. It won't increase your price but it will save you some driving time.

We are doing (perhaps foolishly) an itinerary similar to what you originally posted. Here is how I figured it out (once again, might be foolish). Instead of flying into Seattle, we are flying into Portland (on Tues night). Quickly grabbing a hotel room for the night. First thing Wed morning heading out to the Gorge to see some waterfalls. We are traveling with my parents (and teens) so we won't be doing any hiking. Just seeing the beauty from the road or ones that are close to the road. Turning back at or before the bridge of the Gods (not going clear to the wine country). Turn back west and head straight over to the coast hitting around Tillamook. Drive the Three Capes Loop and then up the coast. We will stop at Longview for the night (on main highway heading up to Seattle).

This is 6 hours of driving not including stops. I know it is a lot. I don't think our stops will be really long, just getting out and ohhhing and ahhhing here and there. We will watch fireworks in Longview that night (guess what night that is). Thurs we will get up and head to Mt St Helens. Enjoy as much or little of that as we want and head up to Mt Rainier. Drive up to Paradise admiring the waterfalls and views along the way. Stopping to stretch our legs but not hike. Then finally head to Seattle that night. This is another 6 hour day of driving. I know that this is a tight itinerary but it is an add on to our trip and we wouldn't be able to see these things at all if we don't do it like this. Also, our week slows way down after this. We are going to spend the next 2 (2 1/2) days in Seattle then drive up to Anacortes and catch the ferry over to San Juan island on Sunday. We are spending 4 nights on the island with a house that has a deck overlooking the water. We are planning to just relax, do a little whale watching and maybe head to Victoria (Butchart Gardens) for the day.

We travel a lot and there are so many places in the world I want to see that I have learned to see everything I want to see on the trips I take. That way if I don't make it back, I have no regrets. If I do, then all the better.

Anyway, hope this helps......I may be just as insane as you, but like you, we go, go, go on vacation.

Does anyone have any critiques of my plan? Anything I am not thinking of....besides that I am crazy.....that is a well known fact.

highlands ranch, co
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7. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

I saw above that you said you had to be in line for the ferry early. Could you advise how early please. This is for July 7th (I hope I am not highjacking this thread, I am just assuming the OP would be interested in this information also). Also, can you or should you make reservations on the ferries in the summer. Thanks.

Green Valley...
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8. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

Where to begin???

The Gorge drive can take about 3 - 4 hours on the old highway which is the scenic route. And is very busy in summer.

I won't call you crazy, but you are missing things best taken more slowly. Why turn west toward Tillamook? It's inland and, truly, you'll be missing some of the best parts of this spectacular coast. I suggest that you take I-5 south to Eugene and turn west to Florence and the Dunes. Then, head north along the coast (or reverse the route, perhaps starting at Cannon Beach, head south, turn east at Florence and drive madly north on I-5 to Longview (unless you decide elsewhere). Work Google Maps, decide where you'll turn east back toward WA/Longview.

I'd skip the 3 capes drive; not the best road, you have to hike to see some of the cape views, and it adds driving time which is better used seeing the beautiful scenery right on the main road.

Be aware that summer traffic on the coast road, think arterial speeds at times, might slow you down considerably and, I must say, that you are not smelling the roses... the OR coast is spectacular, not stopping at viewpoints and such places as Cape Perpetua would be a loss.

Ferry question: yes, you should make reservations for the Anacortes to Friday Harbor ferry, and still be at the terminal early. Ditto, FH to Sidney for your visit to Victoria (and return).

Four nights on SJI, my preference as a base, much to do/see, and it gives you time to take the ferry to Lopez and Orcas Islands as well. Here's an article I wrote plus an official website:

San Juan Islands (Information on the several major islands, with key websites.)

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju…

An official and very helpful guide to the islands.

http://www.visitsanjuans.com/

Re: the coast OR coast, just two examples: Newport, OR

http://discovernewport.com/

www.aquarium.org

Yachats/Cape Perpetua

fs.fed.us/r6/…

You probably have seen these sites:

Columbia River Gorge

http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia/

http://www.spectacularoregon.com/

Mt. St. H and Mt. RNP in one day? Ouch. I'd pick one. The former can take a couple of hours to the top (plus viewing and return) and then the drive to the latter and that time required. You really need to Google Map this carefully. I think you are seriously underestimating the time involved and its a hellishly lot of driving in a short time.

For routes, schedules, fares and more - http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

For specific ferry terminal current information -http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/vesselwatch/Terminals.aspx?CFID=46160971&CFTOKEN=50149771

Edited: 05 January 2012, 02:58
Green Valley...
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9. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

@ jennat... why don't you consolidate your post and post it on the OR forum, see what my friends there have to say? But please, carefully use GM to plan your route and add time to that suggested, GM can be quite conservative at times. Note the location, BTW, of Longview relative to Mt. St. Helens... doubling back might not be worthwhile.

western WA
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10. Re: Help with sketch of itinerary

I don't see where the six hours comes in on your Oregon day, Jenna.

I really advise against your current plan. I would skip either the Gorge or the coast and not double back. Pure torture the way you're doing it now.

From Portland, where you had better blindfold the kids since you are making them go see scenery instead of this very cool city, go out 26 to Cannon Beach, then Seaside and Astoria. Spend the second night in Astoria or possibly Longview but don't plan on getting to Longview until quite late. For fun, take the Cathlamet / Wahkiakum ferry across the Columbia.