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Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

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Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

My sister and I are planning a trip in early September to take our 89yr old mother back to see the places where she grew up. My sister and I have never been to the area and we would love some advice. Mom wants to see Yakima, Yakima valley, Mt. Rainier (not to hike, just to see), and Portland. She wants to take the Oregon side of the Columbia River to get from Yakima to Portland. That road looks beautiful - but it looks like a scary, lengthy drive. Some questions - would you recommend flying into Spokane to drive to Yakima - or flying into Portland to drive to Yakima? We'll be staying probably 2 nights in Yakima. We will fly home out of Portland for sure - how long and scary would the drive be to get to Portland from Yakima if we take that historic Columbia River highway on the Oregon side? Our total trip will be 6-7 nights. Any advice about any portion of the trip would be appreciated! We won't have too much time for tourist sites since most of what mom wants to visit are places she remembers from growing up there. We're mainly looking for route and travel advice.

Oregon/Washington
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for Portland, Sunriver
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1. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

It is not a scary drive at all. I have made the drive between Yakima and Portland more times than I care to count;) Drive time is about 3 1/2 hours, without stops, but there are so many great places to stop along the way so be sure to allow several more hours.

I would suggest flying into Portland. Driving east along the gorge has the best views, IMO. I would do Portland to Yakima to Mt Rainier, then down I-5 back to Portland. Doing this, you could add Mt St Helens on your way back to Portland.

If she grew up in the Yakima area, she may want to stop at Miner's Drive Inn in Union Gap. It's been around since about the 40's, and is always a hit with the locals.

Mukilteo, Washington
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2. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

The route between Yakima and Portland scary? Hardly. It's on an interstate highway and goes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the west.

An easy round-trip route would be:

Arrive Portland and rent a car. Drive east up interstate highway 84, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River and through the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. There are waterfalls tumbling off of basalt cliffs and mountains clothed in green forests. Eventually, the forests give way to open sage lands as you enter the dry "east side" of Oregon and Washington.

When you reach a junction with highway 97, take it across the Columbia river and up into the bare mountains towards Goldendale. You'll enter a beautiful highland area with views of Mts Hood and Adams before crossing Status Pass descending the other side into Topponish near Yakima. Once in Toppenish follow the signs to Yakima.

From Yakima, follow highway 12 west, up and over White Pass with spectacular views of Mt Rainier and then back into the forests at Packwood. Stay on highway 12 to tiny Randle where you could take a drive up to Mt St Helens if you wish. If not continue westward passing the Johnson Point view point of Mt St Helens and eventually meeting up with I-5. Take I-5 south into Portland.

Tacoma, Washington
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3. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

Fly in/out of Portland and do a loop trip.

The drive thru Columbia gorge is not scary. you are not driving along a cliff...you are driving at the base of the valley along the Colmbia river with the gorge walls hanging above. On the Washington side there are parts that you are riding the top of the ridge higher up over the water.

You would drive Portland to Yakima thru the gorge. Then after a stay in Yakima, you would take US 12 to Packwood for lodging and visit Mt Rainier. You also could stop and visit St Helens. before returning to Portland You could also include a visit by the ocean at Canoin Beach/Seaside/Astoria before returning to Portland.

Vancouver...
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4. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

You said "it looks scary"? Have you been on it or what have you seen to make you think "scary", because, as previously said, not scary at all. Chuck.

Issaquah, Washington
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5. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

I'm not sure where you got the idea that driving along the Columbia Gorge is scary. It's not. Why were you including Spokane? Yakima is actually closer to Seattle than Spokane so you could fly into Seattle and out of Portland if you'd like. That would probably be more expensive with a rental car, however, so it would work to fly in and out of Portland.

Spokane, Washington
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6. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

Oh boy do I disagree with the former posters...

First of all Spokane is closer to Yakima not Seattle or Portland. To get there you have mountains, traffic and it's much more expensive from those cities, you'd do much better renting a car in Spokane. The people that are giving you that advice don't live even close.

It's so easy to get from Spokane to Yakima and down to the gorge. Where as Seattle and Portland have so much traffic that it can be scary, I know I've driven over there many many times.

Why does she want to go to Portland that's rather out of the way. You don't have to go to Portland or stay there to see the sights along the gorge.

Either fly into Seattle and out of Spokane or the other way around,

or just Seattle but to tell the truth driving in Seattle is scary.

How about Mt St Helens instead of Mt Rainer besides lots of times it's shrouded in clouds so she will not be able to see alot anyway.

She must have memories of other things she might want to see that wouldn't cause stress if so just let us know.

Collie

Oregon/Washington
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for Portland, Sunriver
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7. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

Colliegirl--I have lived in Yakima and that area several times, so know it quite well, FWIW.

Spokane, Washington
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8. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

Then I'm sure you know all about the traffic and confusion it can cause for a visitor. As compared to the Spokane area no comparison.

Collie

Oregon/Washington
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9. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

Colliegirl--I am just trying to help this poster, as we all are. I have a different opinion of things here than you do, and that is fine. No reason to get combative.

Spokane, Washington
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10. Re: Route advice needed for Yakima - Portland or Spokane

MT I wasn't, just giving information, I'm sorry you took it that way.

As I'm an older person and taking into consideration that the poster has fears about the area I'm trying to make it easier for her.

Collie