We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

Den Haag
Level Contributor
20 posts
10 reviews
Save Topic
Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

Hi all,

I have consulted this forum before on this trip, and got some very useful feedback. Now that my travel schedule is coming together, I would like to ask you once again if you can help me.

I will post below the schedule that I have set up for now. My questions to you are:

- What do you think of the trip all together?

- Do you have any suggestions on the stops between Olympic NP-Yellowstone & between Glacier-Seattle?

- I have 1 day left to use somewhere. Where would you recommend adding this? (I am quite fixed to the nights in Yellowstone, since these are the last available slots at lodging inside the park during our period there).

23-08: arrive in Seattle around noon

24-08: Seattle

25-08: Activities around Seattle

26-08: ferry to Olympic NP - stay in Sequim

27-08: Olympic NP - stay in Sequim

28-08: Olympic NP - stay in Pacific Beach

29-08: Drive to Yellowstone - overnight in Boise, ID

30-08: Drive to Yellowstone - stay inside park

31-08: Yellowstone

01-09: Yellowstone

02-09: Yellowstone

03-09: Yellowstone

04-09: Drive to Glacier NP

05-09: Glacier NP

06-09: Glacier NP

07-09: Drive to Coeur D'Alene

08-09: Drive US 20 through North Cascades - Stay in Cascades / at the coast north of Seattle?

09-09: ?? --> Maybe visit San Juan Island and go whale watching? Or where should I add this day?

10-09: Drive to Seattle + visit Boeing Factory

11-09: Seattle

12-09: Depart from Seattle

I would love to hear from you all what you think of this schedule, and where we could improve!

Thanks a lot for your help!

Kind regards,

Mark

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
28,132 posts
418 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

On 30-08 I would drive from Boise, ID to Jackson Hole, WY and spend the night and then drive up thru the Tetons to my Yellowstone lodging. That way you could also see the Grand Tetons NP on this trip. The mountain views are stunning and not to be missed imo.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

For your visit to Olympic I'd stay Port Angeles and Forks/Lake Quinault but from Forks to Boise it's a too long trip for one day unless you want to spend 12-13 hours in the car and never make stops in Columbia River Gorge. With one extra day I'd spend a night at the Gorge.

Depending on where you stay in Yellowstone driving to Glacier (east) in one day also makes a long trip. 20 to North Cascades all 2 lanes and you won't make it in one day to the coast. What you can do is to follow I90 to Ellensburg, drive to Leavenworth (Bavarian village) and take 2 (old Cascades hw) to north of Seattle. From Ellensburg that's a very scenic drive. For Boeing we stayed Mukilteo very close to Boeing factory and the ferry to Whidbey island. App 45 minutes north of Seattle and 1 hour to SeaTac. (unless you get stuck in traffic on I5) You know you are visiting Yellowstone in the Labor Day weekend do you?

Tet

Den Haag
Level Contributor
20 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

@Peachbelle8288: Thanks for the suggestion! I was wondering if the Grand Tetons would really add something different than what we will see in Glacier / North Cascades. But based on your comment I guess it does! :)

@Tet14: I have tried to find lodging in Forks, but could only find 1 (very expensive) hotel. Is there more affordable lodging at Lake Quinault? Columbia River Gorge sounds nice, I will look into that.

I did not realize it is labor day weekend when we visit Yellowstone. Is that a problem you think? According to some posts I read it shouldn't be too busy. But what do you think?

Thank you both for your replies!

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

I certainly make reservations in Yellowstone those days.

There are several places you can stay in Forks:

tripadvisor.nl/Hotels-g58476-Forks_Washingto…

We never stayed at Lake Quinault and I've heard the lodge is expensive

We have seen this place and even stopped but decided to drive on but it didnot look bad and has a porch overlooking the river.

http://www.quinaultriverinn.com/

EDW
Warrington, England
Level Contributor
249 posts
91 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

Lake Quinault Lodge is good, but not cheap. The experts on the Olympic National Park forum are very knowledgeable and helpful - if you ask about accommodation there I am sure that you will get some suggestions. Columbia River Gorge is lovely.

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
6,158 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

I would most definitely not go to Yellowstone via Boise, even if it means missing the Columbia Gorge. Instead, travel from Pacific Beach/Quinault back to Olympia and Tacoma, then SR 18 to its junction with I-90, and head east from there. Make your overnight stop Coeur d'Alene or Missoula. Going via Boise sends you much too far to the south, across very hot and (IMO) boring countryside.

I know many will disagree, but I think your overall itinerary is too ambitious, particularly the second half (after Yellowstone.) It's true Glacier NP is beautiful, but by adding those days you're compressing the end of the trip too much. You can't see the San Juan Islands in a day, any more than you can experience the Columbia Gorge in the middle of a 10-hour trek across Washington and Oregon.

I would do some "thought experiments" in which you drop Glacier NP and substitute it with more time in Western Oregon or Washington, or possibly Vancouver BC. What about Mount Rainier or Mount Hood? If you dropped Glacier you COULD visit the Columbia Gorge and Hood River Valley, or else spend a couple of nights on the San Juan Islands or Whidbey Island. Fewer hours in a car, more enjoying the places. Just a suggestion.

Den Haag
Level Contributor
20 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

Thank you all for your input on lodging in Olympic! I'll make sureto check out those options.

@ibgardyloo: we really want to avoid spending too much time in the car, so maybe we do need to reconsider some things. I just don't want to give up glacier.. Would you say it would be better if we go to Yellowstone via Coeur D'Alene instead of Boise + add 1 or 2 days to glacier instead of San Juan island etc?

Seattle, Olympic, Yellowstone and Glacier are the focus points of our trip. This should be feasible in 20 days right? (Without only being on the road)

Thanks a lot for your help!

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
6,158 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

Here's a quick draft of an alternative plan, which basically reverses your route, but keeping the same number of nights in the various places. (Overnight locations are listed, use the days for driving). Note one big issue is the Labor Day holiday, 1 September, before which most national parks and tourist areas will be inundated, and after which things become MUCH easier as the kids return to school that week.

23-Aug Arr SEA

24-Aug Seattle

25-Aug Seattle

26-Aug Missoula MT

27-Aug Glacier NP

28-Aug Glacier NP

29-Aug Glacier NP

30-Aug Yellowstone NP

31-Aug Yellowstone NP

1-Sep Yellowstone NP

2-Sep Yellowstone NP

3-Sep Yellowstone NP

4-Sep Coeur d'Alene ID

5-Sep Winthrop WA (for NCNP)

6-Sep Sequim/Port Angeles WA

7-Sep Sequim/Port Angeles WA

8-Sep Sequim/Port Angeles WA

9-Sep Seattle

10-Sep Mount Rainier day trip

11-Sep Boeing factory visit

12-Sep Dep. SEA

I've included the "old west" town of Winthrop for your overnight at North Cascades NP - there's nothing actually inside the national park. Travel there via WA Hwy 20, a scenic alternative to the I-90 freeway that you'll have taken eastbound.

Following Winthrop, take WA 20 through the North Cascades to Coupeville on Whidbey Island, then take the ferry over to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula for your nights there.

Return to Seattle and take two day trips - one to Mount Rainier, the other to the Boeing factory in Everett.

You don't have time for the San Juans, but this will give you a less frenzied itinerary at the end.

Den Haag
Level Contributor
20 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

Hi ibgardyloo,

Your suggested changes sound good to me. It keeps the main part of our trip as we want it.

However, can you elaborate on the reason why you propose us to reverse our route?

I would really prefer to start with some short drives to Olympic NP after we arrive in Seattle. But if you have a good reason for us to reconsider, please let us know!

Thanks again!

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
6,158 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: Road trip northwest USA - suggestions?

I suggested the changes for a couple of reasons. First, here are the respective maps -

Your route - http://goo.gl/maps/nOzCO

My changes - http://goo.gl/maps/Tn5g4

First is that mine covers over 400 fewer miles and the better part of a full day's drive on the road, with no repeated miles. (Note I've changed the overnight point returning from Coeur d'Alene to either Bonners Ferry or Sandpoint in the scenic Idaho "panhandle.")

Second is that (my opinion) mine is more scenic, as it avoids the boring part of I-5 in southern Washington, and the boring parts of I-84 across eastern Oregon and southern Idaho. By taking US 2 and SR 20 across Idaho and Washington you're seeing some terrific landscape variety - the Pend Oreille "pothole" country, the Colville Indian reservation.. real "old west" stuff.

Third, by putting the Olympic peninsula and Olympic NP to the end, you travel to that area AFTER Labor Day, but still when the weather will be good for visiting the beaches and Hoh rainforest (which I have as one or more day trips from Port Angeles.) On your original schedule, you'd be on the peninsula before the holiday weekend, meaning you'd encounter potential crowding in the national park, accommodation shortages and higher prices, and possibly long waits for ferries. By putting it at the end of your trip you'll avoid all of that. In addition, by approaching the Olympic Peninsula via SR 20, you'll be able to stop at Deception Pass at the north end of Whidbey Island, a stunning little state park.

You could also include a visit to the Boeing factory on your return to Seattle from the Olympic Peninsula. Simply take the same ferry you'll have taken (from Coupeville on Whidbey Island to Port Townsend on the Peninsula) back to Whidbey, drive down Whidbey (stopping at the cute little town of Langley) to the Mukilteo ferry, then back to the mainland. The Boeing plant is 10 minutes from the Mukilteo ferry dock. www.futureofflight.org That would save part of yet another day at the end of the trip.

Of course these are all just suggestions - you're free to include or reject any/all. Happy planning!

Edited: 24 April 2014, 20:01