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Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

NYC
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Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

Hi all,

This is going to be my first family road trip. My current plan is to head to Washington Coast from Olympia by highway 8. Take 101 cross Columbia River to Astoria, continue down and stay overnight at one of the coastal town. (which one is good?)

Then, we can either continue to drive 101 down to San Francisco, or we can cut back to I-5 through highway 38, then take 138 to Crater Lake, come back out South of it and take 62 back to I-5 and then take I-5 all the way down to San Francisco.

What's the time difference? Can we make it to San Francisco in 2 days if we go coastal all the way? (We'll leave Seattle around noon.)

Also, on our way back, I think we'll just take I-5 all the way back up. So may be we can save Crater Lake for the trip back. One question though, the road to Crater Lake from 138 says "closed in winter", is it still open now?

Thanks for all your suggestions.

Nick

oregon city
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1. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

Hi Nick

I'll leave the coast to others that have much more information...

as far as Crater Lake- highway 38/138 is beautiful-make sure you stop at Tokatee Falls-just off the road and a short walk. When are you going? This road to crater Lake is closed in winter...it is still open, but I'd say by the end of October it will probably be closed- you will have to watch the road reports(www.tripcheck.com). Hwy 62 is open year-round so that may be an option-iit might be backtracking but it is an option. If the crater rim-drive is closed-there wont be alot of services and things do up there, except see the views and maybe hike around the lodge. That said- Crater Lake, in my opinion, is worth the drive any time. Of course it will look bluer if the sky is clear and blue.

I'm assuming that the 'coastal route' is driving from Seattle to SF alll on 101. If this is what you mean- my opinion is you probably can't make it in 2 days. 101 on the OR coast is mostly 2 lane and curvy with not many places for passing. I'd say minimum drive time from Astoria to Brookings is probably 10-12hrs-without much stopping.

Good luck- If you've got more questions let us know...

Oregon
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2. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

My advice regarding the coast---I would beat feet south of Olympia on I-5 (the interstate) and head to the Oregon coast (rather than the Washington Coast). It is more scenic and accessible...and the California coast is spectacular, too.

You could make it in two days down the Oregon and California coast to San Francisco but it wouldn't leave you a lot of time to stop and enjoy the scenery but you would get a lot of oohs and aaahs out the car windows.

What types of things do you enjoy?..that would give us some ideas on town recommendations.

Oregon
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3. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

I forgot to add a bit about Crater Lake--we were there last year in mid-October; the roads were all open but there were no restaurants open at the rim, so take a snack or bag lunch. There is a ranger station below the rim where we were able to buy some candy bars, but, not much else.

There was a bit of snow on the ground (it must have snowed before we were there) but nothing that impacted travel. I would check right before going there, though, as the weather can change in a blink up there.

Crater Lake is beautiful.

Green Valley...
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4. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

If this is a planned family road trip as you say, it would help to know ages of family members. Also, I agree with others about two days to SF. I think you need to pick highlights for your trip and not try to do everything in one fell swoop. Listen to the posters, plan to see highlights, be prepared to skip a lot of territory, and enjoy the trip. And if any family member is subject to car sickness, be warned about the coastal route in CA.

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5. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

Highway 8 to the coast sounds good, then you can drive over the Astoria bridge, and drive out on Long Beach. Not as scenic as the Oregon Coast, but so much better than I-5 in that stretch between Olympia and Portland that I think it's worth it.

Most people in this forum will tell you Cannon Beach is their favorite place to stop on the North Oregon Coast, but you do mention that you're taking a family trip, so consider that there are a lot more kid things to do in places like Long Beach, Seaside, and Newport than in Cannon Beach.

I'd take 101 all the way South to California Highway 1 to SF, then back up 101 through Sonoma Valley and the Redwoods, cut up the Redwood Highway to Grants Pass, then jet up I-5 the rest of the way home. 101 in California North of SF is much, much nicer than I-5 and not that much slower. You could then take a rather lengthy side trip from I-5 over to Crater Lake if you really wanted to.

Yes, the pass is still open and bare as of now. It was 90 degrees down there this week.

2 days isn't much for a drive to SF from Olympia - it's about a 12 hour drive to SF if you jet straight down I-5, so add a few hours for the coast, and many hours to actually see anything. You'll be a lot better off taking a 4-day weekend and having some time to enjoy the places along the way.

Green Valley...
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6. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

I agree about the driving time and the Oregon communities and rationale discussed by johann&sandra.

Given the limitied time available, however, you might find yourself pushing awfully hard in those two days, and your kids, (?) and you might not benefit from a more liesurely pace as there is so much beautiful scenery and possibly wildlife So, I'd opt for I-5 south, cut west toward Astoria, skip Long Beach, and head south for the Oregon Coast. Again, routes 101 and especially 1 are, in places, very winding roads. They don't just cut your time, they can be uncomfortable for passengers, especially if rushed. One of my sons escaped the twisty road and its hairpin turns by sleeping through much of this part of the trip. On another trip, my SO just gritted her teeth, held it down and, when we broke free, had lots of California wine. :) Sure, many parts are beautiful, but you can afford to hit highlights in only two days.

Oregon
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7. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

Another idea: I agree with an earlier poster that I-5 from Olympia south is pretty ho-hum, but, a good "break" is a stop at the Mt. St. Helen's visitor's center that is about 5-10 miles off of I-5.

That can be a quick stretch-your-legs and use the restroom stop (with a peek at MSH) or can be extended to include a tromp through the visitors center (which I think is worth it...a recent visitor from Germany thought it was wonderful).

NYC
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8. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

:P Thanks all, we actually head out at 1:30pm on Saturday, took I-5 down to Olympia, 8 to 101, down to Astoria. There wasn't much to see in Washington and Long Beach, WA was pretty sad too. We reached Astoria at around 6, had dinner there and went down to Seaside to stay overnight. Unfortunately, we were too late and missed sunset at seaside.

Next morning, we checked out both Seaside beach and Canon beach, then we stopped at Tillamook's cheese factory :P (Hey! Just for the fresh ice cream alone was worth it.) Bought some cheese and jerky for the road ahead. Continue down 101, had lunch at Lincoln City, (can't remember the time, as I was asleep and my Dad drove.) Next, we stopped at Cap Foulweather for a spectacular view 500 ft. above the coast. Next, the Sea Lion Cave. We were advised to see Florence old town, but we completely missed it and didn't want to drive back. Kept driving (fast), stopped somewhere to take a picture of sunset along a long beach before Brookings.

Had dinner at Crescent City, CA. Passed the Redwoods National park at night, (such a waste!) and stayed overnight at Klamath. (Motel Ravenwood, it was newly renovated, very nice!)

Today, we left at 8:30, continue down 101, luckily, there is the Prarie Creek Redwoods State Park along side 101, we drove through it, took some pics of the woods, saw some elk... then we kept driving down, had lunch at Ukiah, reached San Francisco at around 4:20.

All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with our trip down. Thanks for all your help! :)

Los Angeles
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9. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

Does anyone know of some good places to camp out on the way to Vancouver from LA, via the 5 or 101 through Oregon? Thanks!

Oregon/Washington
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for Portland, Sunriver
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10. Re: Seattle to San Francisco, Road Trip itinerary help

In Oregon, just outside of Salem (which is right at I-5) is Silver Falls State Park. Beautiful area to hike around as well.