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Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

Marcellus, New York
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Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

We have dates, finally!! I recently purchased airfare and train tickets and we now have a definite window for travel out west. There will be four of us (two adults, two kids 9 and 11) traveling next July and August. We plan to depart Idaho Falls, ID around July 12th (some flexibility there, +/- 1 day) and would like to be back in IF by about August 9th (again, +/- 1 day). That allows for sufficient time before and after the driving loop to visit family, so we have about four weeks for the road trip portion of our version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. :)

I am hoping to squeeze in Seattle, Mt, Ranier, Mt. St. Helens, Columbia River area, Cannon Beach, Crater Lake, Redwood NP/Jed Smith SP, San Francisco, Yosemite, LA area (maybe Sea World and/or Universal but probably taking a pass on Disneyland), San Diego (perhaps Coronado Beach area for the kids), Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Page/Lake Powell.

I've started to look into hotel and realize that if I don't get my backside in gear we won't be staying in Yosemite or GCNP, so any help with a feasible itinerary would be great. We don't mind long driving days (8+ hours) but would like to avoid back-to-back ones, if possible.

One last thing to note - we won't be visiting Yellowstone or any of the the Utah National Parks on this trip (okay, disclaimer for the sake of total honesty - if we go through Moab we WILL detour to Arches. My willpower simply isn't sufficient to drive by the entrance to that park).

Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

You will just have to do Yellowstone, Tetons, Cody and Black Hills another trip.

If you don't stay at Crater Lake then stay in Grants Pass, Oregon. We really enjoyed our time in this town on the way from the Redwoods to Crater Lake.

In the Columbia River area be sure and stay in Hood River at the Best Western. The hotel and restaurant there are excellent. Make your reservations early as they were fully booked the days we were there in July.

Mt. St. Helens is a long drive from the interstate and not much in the way of food so take a picnic lunch or stop near the interstate but it is a very interesting area. The video presentation and museum plus the ranger talks are very good.

If you drive thru Moab you will be right at Arches NP. It has breathtaking scenery!!

Good luck with your planning.

Marcellus, New York
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2. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

Thanks Peachbelle! I was just looking at your trip report prior to asking about a possible itinerary. I will definitely be revisiting it for additional ideas once we have some clue where we might be on which days.

For this trip, I was going to try for lodging within Crater Lake NP as we hope to do the boat ride (assuming they still do it) and it sounds like, from what I am reading, you have to be there early and be willing to stick around to get out on one. We are also considering camping, but I am reading some *ahem* interesting things about mosquitoes and snow. Makes me think the lodge or hotel might be best.

I will definitely look into the BW you mentioned (saw that in your trip report too as one of your favorites!). And Mt. St. Helens - yup, desolate, from what I remember when last I visited many moons ago. Thankfully we always travel with a cooler (try to do breakfast and lunch out of it most days), so we will definitely be equipped for the lack of services.

And Moab - I can't even imagine driving by that sign without turning! I had no IDEA Arches would be so close to Moab until we visited last year! As far as Yellowstone and the Tetons, we were actually there earlier this year and we'll be in Yellowstone again over the Christmas holiday (there is nothing quite like that park in winter, it is magic!!), and we did the Black Hills and SD last summer. Loved them, but there are too many other places we've never been that we'd still like to see, so revisiting them will have to wait a while! I have Glacier and Banff in my sights for some future trip, for starters. And don't even get me started on Alaska! Too many places to visit, too little time (and too few $!!).

Edited: 12 October 2013, 03:43
Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

Oh Gracie I know what you mean about time and money!! Glacier is beautiful- you will love it if you like the Tetons.

We were in Yellowstone and the Tetons in mid September and had a wonderful trip except for the fact that the Colorado part of our trip had to be cancelled because of flooding and road closures in Colorado Springs and the RMNP.

Just go back from a road trip thru Mississippi- Jackson, Vicksburg, Natchez, Louisiana and on to Texas and then back along the Mississippi gulf coast.

Still have Yosemite on my bucket list plus would love to go back and spend some time in Boston area and New York City and husband wants to do the Outer Banks.

Good luck with all your planning. I know you and your family will have a wonderful trip.

Oregon Coast
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4. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

For each of the states, I would suggest you post in the individual state as well. That way, you can get the benefit of both those of us who live in those states, plus those who have visited :-)

For example, there are a variety of places to stay around Crater Lake. Inside the park itself, there is only the $$$$ CL Lodge and the *rustic* Mazama motel but there are other options fairly close by. Food inside the park is also $$$$, by the way. Here are some lodging options:

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i23338-Crater_L…

Crater Lake (mosquitoville) is not the place to camp, IMO. You will have many opportunities in more pleasant surroundings than there. You'll find hundreds of nice campgrounds in Oregon, California and other states.

Things to do in Las Vegas that are family friendly:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g45963-s410/Las-Vegas…

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g45963-s403/Las-Vegas…

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g45963-c5253/Las-Vega…

Page - be sure to take the smooth water raft trip (well worth it) and also don't miss Antelope Canyon.

Atlanta, Georgia
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5. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

I agree with half-brit. The people on the state forums are very knowledgeable and I could not plan our road trips without their help.

Marcellus, New York
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6. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

So here goes - taking a swing at an itinerary...

July 12 - Idaho Falls to Sawtooths, stay in Stanley, ID area

July 13 - Redfish Lake, drive to Boise

July 14 - Boise to Hood River, OR

July 15 - Columbia River Gorge, Cannon Beach (?), hotel in Portland (?)

July 16 - Mt. St. Helens, hotel in Portland (?)

July 17 - Portland, then drive to Crater Lake, hotel near CL

July 18 - Crater Lake boat ride, drive to Redwoods/Crescent City area along coast if possible - camp in Jed Smith SP

July 19 - Redwoods, camp again

July 20 - drive to SF

July 21 - SF, Alcatraz, GG Bridge, etc.

July 22 - drive to Yosemite

July 23, 24 - Yosemite

July 25, 26 - PCH (staying somewhere south of Monterey)

July 27 - LA area - them park, maybe?

July 28 - LA area - them park, maybe?

July 29 - San Diego (zoo, perhaps)

July 30, 31 - Coronado

August 1 - to Las Vegas

August 2 - LV, Calico Canyon, Red Rock Canyon, maybe Valley of Fire

August 3, 4, 5 - Grand Canyon

August 6, 7 - Page, Lake Powell

August 8 - drive to Idaho Falls (maybe an overnight in SLC)

Insane? Do-able? Not enough time in some places? Too much time in others? Do we just plain need to cut out some stuff?! Eep - overwhelmed!

Washington State
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7. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

Of course this is your trip so you get to decide what is "worth it" and what doesn't need as much time.

I'd spend more time along the Oregon Coast and less time at the Grand Canyon.

Oregon Coast
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8. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

>> drive to Redwoods/Crescent City area along coast if possible <<

Unless you go north on I-5 a bit, to go directly from Crater Lake to Crescent City you won't be going along the coast. Driving directly there from CL area it takes about 4 hours to CC.

>>Columbia River Gorge, Cannon Beach (?), hotel in Portland (?)<<

Whew, that's far too long a day IMO! From Hood River, allow about 3 hours, which will give you time to stop and enjoy the waterfalls and viewpoints. Downtown Portland to Cannon Beach is about 2 hours, including a short stop at Camp 18. So 5 hours just to get to Cannon Beach, 2 back to the city = no time at the coast!

Marcellus, New York
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9. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

Thank you half-brit - I realize that going to the coast from Crater Lake isn't anywhere near a direct route, but my plan was to backtrack and head there via the coastal highway (from Bandon south). I realize it is a lot of extra miles, but it is something I'd really like to see again, so the time would be well spent. Since we will have long days at that time of year, I wonder if it is do-able. Hmm....

As far as the Cannon Beach part, I am actually trying for a hotel there but the only one I contacted so far had a three night minimum, and we aren't going to be in the area that long so I am keeping our options open. Ideally I'd like one night right near the beach so we could hopefully enjoy a sunset and night there. I am wondering if Columbia River Gorge and Mt. St. Helens would both be possible in one long day. Then a day in Portland with lodging at Cannon Beach that night. The other thing I was pondering is if we would have time to do some sightseeing along the Columbia River Gorge on our driving day from Boise. Maybe we don't stop part way, just plow on to Portland that day?

I know we are trying to cram in a ton, but it will likely be our only trip to the area....if we have to cut things, what do you suggest? And what are we missing that shouldn't be missed? This part of trip planning is so stressful, trying to figure out hotels for parks that are just too difficult to get. :(

Edited: 13 October 2013, 23:55
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10. Re: Solid dates, now we need an itinerary - west coast US

What are your plans for the 3 days at GCNP? Hiking or burros down into the canyon? It will be hot then ( LOTS of water & sun protection!) Or just rim stuff? For just rim stuff, you might be able to cut a night there.

Where/when are you fitting in the train ride? Somehow I am missing that piece....

Edited: 14 October 2013, 01:02