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Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Indianapolis...
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Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

My husband and I would like to spend our 1 year anniversary (September 15, 2014) at Olympic National Park! I would like to start planning now so I'm not rushing last minute. I want to make sure I have plenty of time to reserve anything if needed. Plus I need something to look forward to! ONP looks amazing! We would be staying for a week and we would fly into Seatac. I've done some research and I just can't figure out what would be best for what we'd want to do. We love hiking and being outdoors. And I like taking pictures with my super fancy camera :) I wouldn't mind seeing some wildlife, too. We would also split our time up so we could see and do as much as possible in our weeks time. I want to see the rain forests...Hoh looks amazing! We would want to visit a beach (they all look awesome!), Hurricane Ridge and anything else that is suggested. I just don't know if it's better to rent a small RV and camp...or rent a car and stay at a Bed and Breakfast or some other sort of lodging. Options seem limited. But if we rented a small RV, would getting to certain places be a problem? Can anyone point me in the right directions? We really want to get the most out of this trip. It seems like there are some really helpful people on this forum so I'm hoping to get some good advice!

Port Angeles, WA
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1. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Do not rent an RV. Some people really enjoy the RV life. To them, I say, come out and enjoy ONP. To everyone else I say: RVs cannot be used on certain roads within the park, most notably Hurricane Hill Road. They also can be a nerve wracking nuisance on some of the twistier roads here, and they cost a fortune in gas. If you are coming for a week, stay in a vacation rental or a vacation rental combined with a B&B or park lodge. VRBO has listings. For B&Bs I recommend Colette's near Port Angeles, Domaine Madeleine, and the George Washington Inn. For park lodges I recommend Lake Crescent Lodge.

If you bring an RV you will not be able to hike Hurricane Hill Trail, which would be a crime. You also would not be able to drive up Whiskey Bend Road to the Elwha trails up there, Obstruction Point Road to the breathtaking Lillian Ridge Road, or Deer Park Road.

The real weakness of ONP is food. Once you get west of Port Angeles, finding a decent, let alone good, meal can become a challenge. This is why I suggest renting or staying in a park lodge, all of which have restaurants. The latter range from acceptable to very good.

As to itinerary, you would want to hike in each of the park's ecosystems: alpine, marine, and rain forest. Just for starters, I'd suggest the River Trail at the Hoh Rain Forest, the Marymere Falls Trail at Lake Crescent, Hurricane Hill at Hurricane Ridge, Lillian Ridge at Hurricane Ridge (an Obstruction Point Road hike), Rialto Beach, Second Beach, and either Cape Alava or Shi Shi Beach. These trails are all in the northern half of the park, and there are many more. I would also suggest kayaking in Lake Crescent and perhaps sea kayaking in Freshwater Bay. Check out my website, www.kaleberg.com, for detailed descriptions of day hikes in the park, as well as tide tables and pictures.

Indianapolis...
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2. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Thank you so much for the info! RV idea is OUT!

Poulsbo, Washington
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3. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

I agree forget the RV. Camping in mid September can be wonderful. This year our Autumn Summer came late. I have spent the last 3 nights at a wonderfull rental in the Quinault Valley. The weather has been spectacular. We had a herd of elk in the field behind the house this morning. Two bulls were jousting. Just got back from a great hike. Last time I did this hike in May I came upon a pair of bear cubs.

Obviously camping depends on your comfort level, budget and whether or not you want to rent or haul your own gear. I would start by deciding how much you want to spend for acommadations. Then we can make suggestions. If it does rain a comfortable place to stay sure makes a big difference. Places like Lake Crescent and Lake Quinault Lodges are great places to hang out. Even if it does rain there are some great walks close to the Lodges.

My suggestion would be two nights around Port Angeles (Lake Crescent Lodge would be my pick), one night around Forks for the Hoh and the Ocean Beaches, and two nights at Lake Quinault. Google Forks Chamber of Commerce and Quinault Rainforest. I can give you feedback on places to stay and hikes. Knowing your price range per night will help. If you want the experience of camping out the whole time or part of the time I can help with that too.

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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4. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Not all RVs are large and cumbersome! Class B motorhomes are oversized vans that get about 15-18 MPG and can go just about anywhere a large pickup can go.

There are also the very basic campervans that are minivans outfitted with a bed and some storage. I call them "glorified tents" because they do not have toilet shower or kichen, but they do have an ice box or small fridge to keep food in and a bed, not cots (or on the floor) in a tent. You also don't have to fold them up each morning, LOL. These get around 22 MPG and are smaller than many SUVs and pickups.

Just a couple of other ideas for you :-)

Port Angeles, WA
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5. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Yes, but RVs are simply not allowed on several important ONP roads. What is the OP going to do if she wants to hike Hurricane Hill, Lillian Ridge, the Deer Park Road trails, or Whiskey Bend? RVs in ONP are great for non-hikers or for those willing to hitch up a car behind the RV. If those two criteria do not apply, they are a bad choice for ONP.

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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6. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Why would a vehicle no larger than a pickup truck not be allowed? I'm referring to *small* camping vehicles, not larger Class C or Class A motorhomes. Are there gates with guards? Just asking since I've never been there.

Here's a photo camperworld.com.au/traveller_campervan.html

Probably not as large as a crew cab pickup with full size bed.

Port Angeles, WA
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7. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

I live at the foot of Hurricane Ridge, and I also own a house inside the park on Lake Crescent, so I do know the territory. RVs are prohibited from driving past the signs at the entrance to Hurricane Hill Road and Obstruction Point Road. Since the rangers are right there in the parking lot, it would not be a good idea to break the rules by driving past the No RV signs. RVs are not explicitly prohibited on Whiskey Bend Road, but it would be a very bad idea for an inexperienced driver to attempt that unpaved, one lane, steep, and twisty road with its many blind curves in an RV, or really in any large vehicle. Two cars cannot pass at the same time, and I have personally witnessed two incidents in which drivers of over sized vehicles got stuck in a ditch because they could neither pass nor back up when they met another car.

In general, RVs are fine for ONP if you are either willing to skip some trails or willing to tow a passenger vehicle. Inexperienced RV drivers should stick to the highways in and through the park, but they will miss the best alpine scenery if they do.

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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8. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Okay. So no full size pickups are allowed either? Good to know! Tnx.

Camp Sherman, Oregon
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9. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Hey guys,

I can't find the information you are stating about RV's not being allowed on certain roads.

All I can find is this: nps.gov/olym/…current-road-conditions.htm

Can you point us to where this info is?

Normally the park page will be pretty specific about this so you know before you arirve at the park.

Doesn't really affect me as i camp with a trailer but am interested for those wanting a RV and actual size limitations.

Thanks!

Edited: 27 October 2013, 01:25
Indianapolis...
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10. Re: Trip planning for September 2014. Don't know where to start!

Kaleberg- your info is so helpful. I looked on a map and it seems that Port Angeles and Lake Cresent are near each other. Would it be better to stay farther apart when we split the trip up? George Washington bed and breakfast looks amazing and the Lake Cresent Lodge looks right up our alley...but I want to make sure I get the most out of out trip. If these are the best areas to stay in, those options look perfect. I'd like to keep it under $275 a night. We would do 3 nights one place 3 nights the next place and probably our last night somewhere near the airport...so our last full day would be spent in the park and then we'd head back to the city and stay at a hotel. I like to take early flights home.