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.

11 nights in WA/OR

Cortlandt Manor...
Level Contributor
81 posts
4 reviews
Save Topic
11 nights in WA/OR

My wife and I are planning a 10 day / 11 night trip to Washington/Oregon in September. The purpose of the trip is photography and relaxation. We are in the autumn of our years, and we prefer to base ourselves in 2 or 3 nice places and take a relaxed easy pace.

I do have a list to pick from, but have no clue where we can base ourselves or based on the trip length how to allocate time or if we are trying to do too much. Maybe just a day each in Seattle and Portland and more on the scenic stuff like waterfalls and away from crowds or long ferry waits. We can only do short easy hikes of upto 2 miles on level ground or minimal climbs due to health limitations and weight of photographic equipment. It seems like we have too many stops.

We arrive from NY for Seattle on Saturday Sep 6th and leave on Thursday Sep 18th. The route I was thinking about was to go from

1.Seattle (2 nights?) to ONP (spend 2 nights in ONP?)

2. drive down the coast to not sure which town (Canon Beach ?)

3. Portland and Columbia River Gorge (2 nights?)

4. Mt Rainier

5. and back to Seattle (last night).

Or another possibility is to do the North Cascade loop.

I have browsing these columns, but as you can see, I do need help.

Thank you.

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
9,104 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

First, do you know how to use online trip planners like GoogleMaps? They will empower you. With these online tools, you can get a good estimate of how long it takes to get from one destination to another.

Second, what do you mean when you say Olympic National Park? ONP is many things, not one thing. Unlike other national parks, ONP is dispersed into many different sites spread out across a huge geographic area. What sites do you want to see? I must warn you that waterfalls are at low flow in late September. They are at their best in June. Also, you don't drive down the coast from ONP to Oregon. Unfortunately, the road south runs inland.

What you need to do is to get a good guidebook to the PNW, and a large paper map. Then practice setting up some itineraries and get an estimate of travel times using GoogleMaps. At that point, write back to TripAdvisor for detailed guidance, which the Destination Experts will be happy to provide.

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
Level Contributor
18,001 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

Your itinerary is quite good but, as suggested, do study up if necessary on ONP and its different "zones". Plan on two very full days, i.e., early rises, for ONP since that is all the time you'll have for it. From the west side of the Peninsula, you'll go south across the Megler Bridge into Astoria (Google). Then, Cannon Beach for two nights. There, walk the town, explore. See Ecola State Park just north of CB and, southbound, Arcadia, Hug Point, Oswald West State Parks. I'd stop (and still do) at every viewpoint. From the bluffs, look down for Sea Lions even, maybe further out, whales. Return to Portland as planned. Definitely visit spectacular Mt. Rainier NP; if time were available, Mt. St. Helens is worth a visit.

Re: the North Cascade loop; nowhere near as diverse/interesting as your proposed itinerary.

Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/ http://www.nps.gov/olym/

Mount Rainier National Park http://www.nps.gov/mora/

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/

While in Seattle, you might wish to do the loop drive described herein: Whidbey Island is a great day or more getaway with many features of the Pacific NW; this article includes key websites, tours, maps. tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58824-s2/Whidbey-Isl…

Lots to see in Seattle, including iconic sites. Much can be seen in two full days. If you need help with any of the above or this last comment, please post again.

Edited: 16 June 2014, 03:49
Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
8,452 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

Since you like waterfalls and short hikes I would consider Lake Quinault. Although the falls are not huge, there are several that you can visit that will be flowing in September surrounded by rainforest and some of the biggest trees in the NW.

The problem with driving to Cannon Beach, is the drive for the most part is not very scenic and you do not have enough time to really enjoy the Oregon Coast with all you have on your list. You do not have to deal with ferries if you limit yourself to the SW Corner of the Peninsula. If you spent three nights at Lake Quinault you could spend a day exploring the beaches 30 minutes North like Ruby Beach and Beach Four. The Quinault Rainforest and the beaches I have mentioned have countless opportunities for photography without a lot of walking.

With the time you have I would consider Quinault, Portland, the Gorge, Rainier and back to Seattle.

Tacoma, Washington
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
8,254 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

You said 11 days...but you said arrive 6th leave on the 18th....which is it?

Sat 9/6 fly into Seattle

Sun 9/7 Seatle

Mon 9/8 Mt Rainier for the day

Tue 9/9 drive to Olympic National Park and see Hurricane Ridge...night in Forks

Wed 9/10 Hoh Rain Forest in AM, Rialto beach for sunset...night in Forks

Thu 9/11 Kalaloch and Quinault Rain Forest...night in Cannon Beach/Astoria

Fri 9/12 Cannon Beach/Astoria...after sunset drive to Portland for night

Sat 9/13 Portland...night in Portland

Sun 9/14 Columbia Gorge/Mt hood....night in Portland

Mon 9/15 return to seattle with a stop at St Helens

There are other alternatives.

assume you arrive in the morning in Seattle...

Sat Seattle

sun drive to Astoria/Cannon Beach

Mon Portland

Tue Columbia Gorge then drvive to Yakima

Thu drive to Leavenworth, Chelan, Winthrop

Fri North cascades

Sat Mt Baker area

Sun Whidby Island

Mon Seattle

With this you could skip Portland and Columbia gorge and instead:

Sat Seattle

Sun Mt rainier..drive to Yakima

Mon drive to Leavenworth, Chelan, Winthrop

Tue North cascades

Wed Mt Baker area

Thu ferry to San Juan Islands for overnight

Fri San Juans

Sat return to Anacortes and then down Whidby Island to Port townsend

Sun Port Townsend

Mon Seattle

Cortlandt Manor...
Level Contributor
81 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

Thank you folks, this is incredibly helpful.

My apologies - arriving 6th and leaving 18th means I have 11 days and 12 nights. Thank you, Dan. we have one more day than I thought. Thank you so much for taking the time for making up optional itineraries. I will plot them out in google maps.

Glaciermeadows, I really like the Lake Quinalt idea, dropping Cannon beach and doing the Quinalt, Portland, Gorge, Rainier and Seattle route. Perfect, this is the route we will build on.

Voyaging, the links are much appreciated and I have bookmarked them to research further. Thanks for the advice to drop the North Cascade loop - clears up a big area of doubt. We will also plan to spend more time in Seattle doing the sights you have suggested. Now that we have a day more than I thought, and some extra time from dropping the drive to the coast, we can add Whidbey Island as you propose.

Once again, thank you folks. I have a stack of travel guides, and did a bit of research, but this is excellent advice. Have a great day!

Cortlandt Manor...
Level Contributor
81 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

Hello:

I checked out all the enticing information that you folks had suggested. I can see that my prior aversion to ferries was grossly misplaced, and it is something that should be one of the highlights of this trip. We also needed to include San Juan Islands, and that meant dropping the Columbia River Gorge. How does the following itinerary outline look?

SAT SEP 6TH

Flight NY to Seattle, arrive in the afternoon

Pick rental car, drive to Anacortes 2 hrs

Night: Anacortes

SUN SEP 7th

Ferry Anacortes to Friday Harbor, SJI

Night in San Juan Islands

MON SEP 8th

San Juan Islands

TUE SEP 9th

San Juan Islands

WED SEP 10th

Ferry to Whidbey Islands

Night in Port Angeles

THU SEP 11TH

Hurricane Ridge

Night in Port Angeles

FRI SEP 12th

Hoh Rain Forest

Night in Lake Quinalt

SAT SEP 13TH

Night in Lake Quinalt

SUN SEP 14th

Mount Rainier

Night in (Seattle possible?)

MON SEP 15th

Seattle

TUE SEP 16TH

Seattle

WED SEP 17th

Seattle

THU SEP 18th

Late morning flight back to New York

Any suggestions?

Thanks very much for all your help.

Best,

cortlander

7. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post has been removed at the author's request. The author may post again if desired.

Posts on the TripAdvisor forums may be edited for a short period of time. Once the edit period has expired, authors may update their posts by removing and reposting them.

To read more about editing your posts, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/help/how_to_edit_your_posts

Removed on: 19 June 2014, 02:24
Edited: 19 June 2014, 02:24
Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
Level Contributor
18,001 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

We are probably in the same age group and are headed, yet again, to San Juan Island this Sunday. You won't regret the visit there.

Great plan to lodge in Anacortes, avoids the driving thrash from Seattle. If you arrive Anacortes in the afternoon, its worth exploring; some galleries, dining, scenic viewpoints overlooking the large downtown marina (road up the hill).

We opt for a very early morning ferry for the San Juans, so arriving at the terminal an hour before departure is fine. For later sailings, I'd be there even two hours earlier. To while away your waiting time, there's birding around the terminal, rest rooms, a little cafe.

Ferry Terminal Vehicle Congestion Table

To help avoid long ferry waits, WSF added color-coded sailing schedules to its website that suggest both the least and the most congested sailing times for drive-on passengers. See the tab titled "Best Travel Times" on the right side of the Anacortes to Friday Harbor route schedule page.

Make San Juan Island reservations ASAP. We've been to all three major islands (more by sailboat), but prefer SJI, itself, and will day trip to Orcas Island via the interisland ferry. More to see/to do, several times, more ocean views/access on SJI, but I'd definitely visit Orcas. See article, below.

This should help: visitsanjuans.com/where-to-stay/san-juan-isl… Plug in your dates, upper right, once known.

Consider ferry reservations as soon as allowed by the WA state ferry website, from Coupeville to Port Angeles.

San Juan Islands This article provides specific information re: what to see and to do on the major islands, with key websites. The islands are best seen by basing on one and visiting the others as day trips. Recommend at least two nights. tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju…

Edited: 9:23 pm, today

Cortlandt Manor...
Level Contributor
81 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

Voyaging, once again thank you so much for all the great advice. As for San Juan Island, with such a strong recommendation, I think we could spend four night there instead of three (reducing Seattle from 4 to 3 nights)

Is September, when we shall be visiting, also a busy time for ferry from Anacortes to SJI and for hotel reservations? I had been considering holding off on reservations till early August, but we can do it now if we need to.

I had not realized that from SJI - Anacortes one could take a ferry from Coupeville to Port Angeles. I suppose that I should make reservations for afternoon to allow enough time for a ferry from SJI to Anacortes and then from Coupeville to Port Angeles. Thanks for recommending reservations for the latter.

You have been incredibly helpful.

Have a great day!

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
9,104 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: 11 nights in WA/OR

The ferry is not from Coupeville to PA but rather to Port Townsend, which is itself an interesting destination renowned for its beautifully preserved Victorian architecture. It is a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from the PT ferry dock to Port Angeles.

I have looked at your itinerary and wonder if you really are getting bang for your buck on the ONP portion. You will be doing a lot of driving, many hours of it, getting to Port Angeles, getting to Quinault, and getting from Quinault to Mt. Rainier. Some of the driving is decidedly non-scenic, and most of it is just bland and uninteresting. Also, since you don't want to hike more than 2 easy miles or so, what will you do with your time?

For example, you have all day Tuesday, Sept. 11, booked for Hurricane Ridge. There is wonderful hiking on and around Hurricane Ridge, but it requires climbing trails that range from fairly steep to quite steep, so you really won't be able to do much up there. Are you planning on driving Obstruction Point Road and taking pictures from your car? You will have many hours to fill that day, and the town of Port Angeles has little to hold a visitor's interests. It is a great place to live, but it's principal attraction to visitors is its proximity to Hurricane Ridge.

At the very least, I would suggest that after driving up to Hurricane Ridge, which takes 40 to 45 minutes from Port Angeles, you drive west of town and visit Lake Crescent. It is very beautiful and incredibly photogenic. I would suggest that you take the short Marymere Falls hike, but, unfortunately, you see nothing of the falls unless you climb up to them. The trail is well designed with switchbacks and steps, but it is steep.

You might consider driving a little past Lake Crescent to the Sol Duc Valley and driving the length of the road to the Sol Duc Falls Trail. The drive is very pretty as it parallels the sparkling Sol Duc River. The Sol Duc Falls trail is only .9 miles each way, with a 40 foot descent, and the falls are beautiful.

Rialto Beach, which is 1 hour and 15 minutes west of Port Angeles, is very accessible and spectacularly beautiful, once of the most photographed beaches in the park. You can drive right to the beach. many of the other, equally beautiful, beaches require a steep descent from a trail head.

I realize that you want relaxation and opportunities for photography. However, this trip, as you have planned it, may not be the best use of your time and energy. Much as I love ONP, I have to admit that it is not always a good choice for people with hiking limitations.