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12 Nights in Washington - August

Los Angeles...
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12 Nights in Washington - August

I'm planning a 12 night trip to Washington in early August and need some guidance and expert tips. We plan on camping, cabins and hotels and there's two adults a 5 year old and 3 year old.

I know the state is big and distances between things are vast but we really want to get a taste of all 3 National Parks and Seattle itself.

Right now I've come up with this:

1. Portland, OR to Mt. Rainer - Not sure how many days needed here or where to stay in a hotel or camp?

2. Seattle for a couple days of sightseeing

2. Olympic National Park - We'd like to see the beaches, rainforest and Hurrican Ridge so I allotted about 3 days. Tips for an itinerary and/or campgrounds/lodges would be helpful here!

3. A day or two exploring the San Juan Islands. Is this worth it or are there better things to see? I saw nice looking primitive cabins on Camano Island.

4. Drive and camping in the Cascades (Route 20). I figure 3 days here is good. Campsite/lodges/cabins and ideas are welcomed on this section!

5. Make our way to Leavenworth for a night then head home through Bend, OR.

If we are anywhere near a Marriott we usually stay there since we have employee discount but we prefer camping and cabins when possible.

Thanks for the help and tips!

Port Angeles, WA
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1. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

Way too much. You say that you understand the state is big, but you really don't. It's not just that distances are vast. Washington is cut up into separate regions divided by mountains and bodies of water. Ferries, bridges, and limited road choices can become transportation bottlenecks, especially during August, which is the height of the tourist season. You need to drop two destinations. Bend, Leavenworth, ONP, Portland, Seattle, the North Cascades, and ONP are way, way too much for 12 days, especially with very young children.

At least with respect to Olympic National Park, the children are a bit too young. ONP is a very big, sprawling park, and in order to see much of it you need to spend a lot of time driving. Once you get to a place like Hurricane Ridge or the Hoh Rain Forest, you need to do some hiking to enjoy it. The kids are definitely too young to hike any of the Hurricane Ridge trails, and the 3 year old is too young for the hike to Second Beach. Rialto Beach would work, as would the very short Hall of Mosses Trail at the Hoh RF and some of the short trails at Lake Quinault, but you would be traveling a long way in order to hike for a very short time. ONP, unlike other national parks, has only a few scenic drives. Most of the time you travel on a two lane highway that runs outside the park through managed forest. You get little sense of the mountains and no sense at all of the ocean until you are right on top of it.

Frankly, I think that you would have a better trip if you completely reworked your lans and stayed in the San Juans, a good place for families with young children, and perhaps one or two child friendly areas such as Leavenworth and one of the cities.

Seattle, Wa
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2. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

I agree it's too much and I hesitate to give advice until I know what's getting cut. :) If you keep the San Juans, arrange it so you aren't there on a weekend, and do at least an overnight--more is better since even on weekdays in August, you'll have to line up for the ferry. I think you're probably looking at the Cama Beach Cabins on Camano. Camano/Cama Beach is nice for a day, but it's not the same caliber as the San Juans, and you don't have any tourist infrastructure there (few restaurants, no whale watch trips, little public land besides Cama Beach and Camano State Park, etc).

The only place you'll find a Marriott in any of those places in Seattle.

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3. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

Thanks for the advice. I'll have to reconfigure some of the trip to come up with a better itinerary. We aren't really doing anything in Portland or Bend just staying the night with friends and the 12 days started from Mt. Rainier and ended in Leavenworth.

I have to do some thorough research on the San Juan Islands since I have no clue what is going on there except that everyone recommends being there.

Washington State
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4. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

My kids thoroughly enjoyed car camping in the mountains when they were young. Keep Mt Rainier NP in your itinerary, but realize that you'll be surrounded by other folks also enjoying the best month for camping. There are other great campgrounds in the Cascade mountains that might give you a good "Washington experience."

What kinds of activities do you imagine doing with your kids? Mine were backpacking at that age, but some kids don't walk very much at all. Some could spend hours throwing sticks into water. Some just want to run around & play with other kids.

Port Angeles, WA
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5. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

I have never seen a 3 year old backpacking, but I have seen them being carried on their parents' backs, especially on the Hurricane Ridge trails.

Washington State
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6. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

We didn't go far when the kids were little, and we only carried the younger child on some hikes back to the truck. He hiked with enthusiasm on the way to the destination!

There is a father of 7 who takes his young kids backpacking in Idaho. It's amazing to read about his adventures. (Our treks were much easier with only 2.) There is even a subforum on the Backpacking magazine forum just about Backpacking with Kids.

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7. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

We have been taking our kids car camping since they were both less than a year old. My 5 year old is a strong hiker for 2-3 miles and my little one is great at being carried. He used to hike some then travel in the backpack but he recently out grew it.

We usually do a short hike around 2 miles then explore a forest, lake or river while eating lunch. They like being in the wild and drawing pictures and things. At camp they like to play around big trees or splash in lakes. They are extremely imaginative and have a good time no matter what.

I looked up the San Juan Islands and the lodging prices seem pretty extreme for what you get. Is there anything that is similar that is somewhat cheaper?

Poulsbo, Washington
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8. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

www.co.san-juan.wa.us/Parks/sanjuan.aspx

We camped here in July. Nice campground for kids. Book now and stay durring the week. I was the first person to spot the aproach of about 60 whales early one morning from the bluff last July. When you decide on where you want to stay in Olympic write me.

San Juan Island...
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9. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

Each of the 3 major ferry serviced islands (San Juan, Orcas and Lopez) in the San Juans have numerous sights of interest to people interested in the outdoors and activities such as hiking, kayaking, taking whale watch boat tours and biking. San Juan island was named #1 island tourist destination for 2013 in the USA by on Tripadvisor and #4 in the whole world. The WA state ferry ride out to the San Juan’s is beautiful and you pass right by many rural, heavily wooded islands on the way. Here is information in detail about the Anacortes ferry terminal and how to get to the ferry landing in Anacortes if you have a car as well as webcams showing you the current car holding lot …wa.gov/ferries/…

Here is a detailed general article on the Islands tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju… and also you can find out a lot about the islands including all there is to do here at the many parks and check for lodging vacancies on the dates you will be coming at the San Juan Visitor Bureau web site: http://www.visitsanjuans.com/ And here is a calendar of events for San Juan: http://www.sanjuancalendar.com/

For info on the camping sites see visitsanjuans.com/accommodations/san-juan-is… The most popular place to camp here on San Juan island is the County Park on the far west side. See all their information at the San Juan County Parks Camping page at http://www.sanjuanco.com/Parks/sanjuan.aspx

As for budget lodging on San Juan island there are two lower cost places to stay at on San Juan island (or you can camp at the County Parks)...The lowest cost hotel on SJ is Orca Inn (online at http://www.orcainnwa.com ) which is basic with small rooms but near town. The Orca Inn has a little bit of interesting history itself: once upon a time it was cheap housing for Alaskan cannery workers. Ten plus years ago it was shipped to Friday Harbor on barges to be transformed into its current status as a lower cost motel. It's the cheapest overnight motel stay on the island ($60/night web site said for a queen bed in the Spring, summer the rates are $70), the rooms are spartan (bed, desk, TV, private bathroom) but clean I’ve heard.

The Wayfarer Hostel is also a budget choice here. They are online at http://hostelssanjuan.com/ Also there are reviews here on TA at tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g60957-d672320-… I've spoken to tourists who stayed there and they were full of praise for it and how homey, peaceful and clean it was with a community kitchen and I believe family rooms, so I have heard good things about them.

10. Re: 12 Nights in Washington - August

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