Pacific Northwest nature sightseeing in July
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jan 22, 2012 2:44 PM Last Post By: blindmice
Jan 1, 2012 8:56 PM
Pacific Northwest nature sightseeing in JulyWe are traveling to Oregon/Washington this July for about 2 weeks.
We are very interested in 'natural sightseeing' and have planned to visit Mts. St Helens, Rainier, and Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Bend, OR; Crater Lake; Newport/OR Coast
My travel partners are very into expansive views as well as farming/gardening. Regarding the latter, I think they may like the ''fruit loop' and some of that beautiful Oregon sod (what's a good place for this?). Portland Rose Garden also, maybe?
We're Easterners and don't get out West very much. So to maximize our sightseeing, we'll probably remain in a rental vehicle for a good 4-6 hour sightseeing tour many days, with occasional 15-20 min stops for photography, leg-stretching, and picnics.
Are our destinations appropriate for our interests? Are there any other ones we should consider?
Jan 1, 2012 9:49 PM
1My main comment is that there's a lot of miles from north to south with this itinerary - Crater Lake to Mt. Rainier is a pretty long stretch, and if Mts. St. Helens and Rainier are your only targets in Washington, you might consider dropping Rainier. Mt. St. Helens is easily visited from a base near Portland, Rainier not so much (Seattle/Tacoma more convenient.)
Conversely, you could drop the Bend/Crater Lake spurs, and continue past Rainier over to Olympic National Park, then have a look at the Olympic NP coastal strip including the Hoh and Quinault rain forests, before hitting the Oregon coast and ending back up in Portland. (In other words, try to make the route a bit more circular than zigzagging and doubling-back.) On the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula, the expansive views from Hurricane Ridge are quite something.
Or, drop Rainier and add the southern Oregon coast and the Redwoods just over the California line - spectacular and unique. From Crater Lake you could head to Grants Pass then out to the coast on US 199, then back up US 101 all the way to the Columbia. Plenty to see along that route.
Jan 1, 2012 11:17 PM
2If you really want to do a "Through-The-Windshield" tour over a two week period, I'd suggest dropping Mount Rainier from your trip plans and doing a 14 day/13 night loop trip along these lines, beginning and ending in Portland:
Day 1) Arrive Portland
Day 2) Visit Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center, overnight in Portland.
Day 3) Drive to Mount Hood, stay at Timberline Lodge.
Day 4) Drive to Bend, stay 2 nights.
Day 5) Explore the volcanic area around Bend, and the nature center.
Day 6) Drive to Crater Lake National Park, stay 2 nights.
Day 7) Explore Crater Lake National Park. Take the boat tour.
Day 8) Drive to Oregon Caves National Monument, take late afternoon tour (when most people have left the monument), stay overnight at the Chateau in the monument.
Day 9) Drive to Coos Bay.
Day 10) Drive to Yachats.
Day 11) Drive to Astoria.
Day 12) Explore the Astoria area. (It has a nice maritime museum).
Day 13) Return to Portland.
Day 14) Depart Portland for home.
Having visited Oregon many times, I'd recommend reducing the number of stops, and staying longer in each, rather than doing this "death march" tour. Portland is a great city for tourists. If you like wine, Oregon makes some great ones, and there are several wineries in and near the Willamette Valley (which you'll cross, but not spend any time there, if you follow this foregoing itinerary).
If you have not made reservations to stay at Crater Lake, it is essential that you do so now. Rooms sell out well in advance (particularly at the lodge on the rim of the crater) since the tourist season is quite short, from about the 3rd week in May to mid-October. (However, sometimes the road around the west and north end of the rim doesn't open until July 4th).
Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood and the Chateau at Oregon Caves are both historic buildings. You'll want to stay there rather than in the nearby towns. Accommodations will be limited and in high demand, so book your stay there as soon as possible, too.
Have a great trip. Just don't forget to bring a sweater and a rain jacket. I've experienced both hot summer and cold winter weather in Oregon (even in the interior) in July.
Jan 2, 2012 1:48 AM
I think if you're looking at more of a driving/sightseeing trip and are happy as you say to spend 4-6 hours driving each day I don't think covering both Washington and Oregon in two weeks is out of the question. To give you an idea from Seattle to Crescent City (northern tip of California) along the coast would only be two days driving - about 5 hours each day and a convenient overnight stop is Newport which you mention wanting to see.
It all depends how active you want the trip to be. If you're not so much looking to do trails and the like then your time at each place doesn't need to be lengthy.
Having said that here's what I'd suggest. I'm not sure where you're starting, but let's assume Seattle for the sake of this exercise. I would suggest zigzagging inland west to east through both states (starting north of Seattle in the Cascades - great views) and then at the end heading back up the coast (Hwy 101) to Seattle. That way you could hit everything you want to hit including some places you haven't mentioned, such as the Cascades and, as gardyloo2 recommends, the Olympic NP area.
I say go for it!
Jan 2, 2012 11:10 AM
4You could also look into berry picking on Sauvie Island, just outside downtown Portland but it feels a world away.
I'd also drop Rainier. For me, Olympic is also too far out of the way.
I'd also add the southern Oregon and far northern California coasts - this is my favorite section of the Pacific coast, and the redwoods are truly unique and spectacular.
Maybe something like:
1 - Seattle
2 - Drive to Portland via Mt St Helens
3 - Portland
4 - Portland (w/ berry picking on Sauvie Island?)
5 - Gorge
6 - Gorge
7- Drive to Bend via Mt. Hood/Fruit Loop
8- Bend area
9- Drive to Crater Lake
10- Visit Crater Lake and drive to Bandon, OR (on coast)
11- Drive Bandon to Crescent City, CA via many Oregon state parks en route
12- Visit Redwood parks
13- visit Redwood parks
14- Drive back to Seattle for flight home
For me this is still a bit rushed but it sounds like that's what you want.
If you have been to/don't care to see the redwoods, then you could add Rainier or Olympic, or just take more time enjoying the other places. But I'd pick Redwood over Olympic or Rainier since it's so unique.
Jan 2, 2012 11:12 AM
Jan 22, 2012 2:44 PM
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