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Washington State National Parks

Clemson, South...
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Washington State National Parks

Planing a trip to WA state in May or early June. Want to visit Olympic, Mt. Rainier, and North Cascades National Parks. Plan to take 8 to 9 days. Is it possible/advisable to fly into Seattle and drive to the three parks in that time frame? Would early May or early June be best - weather wise? Places to stay near North Cascades? Best areas and places to stay near the other two? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Lee

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1. Re: Washington State National Parks

This is a lot to cover in 8 or 9 days but can be done. It all depends on how much time you want to spend on Olympic Pennisula and North Cascades. Here's my suggestion: Start out from Sea-Tac airport, go north on I-5 to Seattle to take Bainbridge Ferry to Bainbridge Island. Once on the island, go north to route 3 stopping at Poulsbo, cute little town, have something to eat. Head back north to 104 follow this to 101. This will get you on the Olympic Pennisula. Continue with 101 until you get to Port Angeles, you can either stop for a look around or continue to Hurricane Ridge (follow signs in Port Angeles), a beautiful site to see (you can have a picnic). If you are still interested continue on 101 to 112 to Neah Bay, Indian Reservations (not that pretty) but park car and walk to farthest north point of Washington State, an interesting walk and lovely lighthouse. Then decide if you want to go to the Hoy rain forest. Unfornuately, you don't have time to drive all away around, but not much else to see.

Go back the way you came, take 20 to Port Townsend, look around, then take ferry to Oak Harbor, drive north on 20 towards Burlington. This is the entrance to North Cascades. Here you can drive all the way around, will take a about 3 days. but you'll be able to meet up with Mt. Rainier (get yourself a map to see route). Once you get out of Mt. Rainier park, you'll be about 2 hours away from Sea-Tac airport. May or June, weather about the same. Places to stay, lots of little hotels off I-5, Port Angeles, Sequim, Port Townsend, Oak Harbor, Winthrop, Chelan, Wentchee, Yakima. Paradise on Mt. Rainier is closed for remodel, but there are a few small, rustic cabins just before you get into the park. One thing to remember, there are no roads to cross over in the middle of the Pennisula or North Cascades highway due to the mountain ranges. You either have to drive around or backtrack. Have a great time and I hope this helps.

somewhere out there
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2. Re: Washington State National Parks

Snow level in the higher elevations such as Mt Ranier and North Cascades will still be quite low and roads can be closed into the end of june.

Weather wise it can still snow heavily in may and early june.

Check with the parks themselves to see when estimated road opening dates are.

Clemson, South...
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3. Re: Washington State National Parks

Thanks for all the great advice. We are trying to get as many national parks under our belts as we can. So far doing pretty well averaging about 5 parks a year. Last year did Capital Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Acadia, and Congaree (here in SC). May not get that many in 2006 but if we can get another three in May and more later, may get atleast 5 in 2006.

Perhaps late May would be the best time to do this. Looking at the map, looks like it might be best to go to Olympic park first, as WAtraveler suggested, then to North Cascades, then backtrack a bit to get to Mt. Rainier rather than trying to go all the way around to get there. We want to be able to hike a couple of days in each park and that seems to be the best way. If anyone has a beter idea, please post same.

Thanks again to the traveler and the anemone (interesting name) for their advice.

Lee

Clemson, South...
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4. Re: Washington State National Parks

Thanks for all the great advice. We are trying to get as many national parks under our belts as we can. So far doing pretty well averaging about 5 parks a year. Last year did Capital Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Acadia, and Congaree (here in SC). May not get that many in 2006 but if we can get another three in May and more later, may get atleast 5 in 2006.

Perhaps late May would be the best time to do this. Looking at the map, looks like it might be best to go to Olympic park first, as WAtraveler suggested, then to North Cascades, then backtrack a bit to get to Mt. Rainier rather than trying to go all the way around to get there. We want to be able to hike a couple of days in each park and that seems to be the best way. If anyone has a beter idea, please post same.

Thanks again to the traveler and the anemone (interesting name) for their advice.

Lee

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5. Re: Washington State National Parks

An alternate to the above itinerary:

Sounds great to go through Poulsbo to get to Olympic National Park, however, it would be faster to go south through Tacoma then North up along Highway 16 through Gig Harbor.

Second Hurricane Ridge and the point. You DO want to go to the Hoh Rain Forest, though. It's really cool, and the trail can take you through the Quinault Rain Forest or up into the Park or up to Glacier Meadows on Mt. Olympus.

It's 2 1/2 hours from SeaTac to Port Angeles (the entrance to Olympic Park and Hurricane Ridge), then another hour and a half around the point to the Hoh Rain Forest. From here, it's a 5 hour drive to Mt. Rainier along the coast and then Highway 12 back east. To go back the other way to SeaTac it's 4 hours - for my money, I'd head to Mt. Rainier from there then up to the North Cascades and back to SeaTac.

You can stay at the Quinault Hot Springs lodge inside Olympic Park if you want - it's a nice place to stay for the night. Lake Crescent Lodge near Port Angeles is cute. There are motels in Forks as well.

Just food for thought.

nowhere
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6. Re: Washington State National Parks

August 2004, we did the trip you're talking about: 2 days in St. Helens/Mt. Ranier; 2 days in Olympic; 2 days in Seattle; 2 days in North Cascades. We decided to fly in and out of Portland (PDX) and make a circle tour. We find PDX easier to manuever than SEA; also, between cheaper flights and cheaper rental car, we saved over $400 using PDX and drove only slightly more.

As the other posters said, the mountains can be cold and snowy in May and June; you're always taking a weather risk traveling to the mountains that early in the summer. However, the parks can also be beautiful that time of year, and crowds are far less common than in August.

I'd recommend taking the boat up Lake Chelan and spending time in Stehekin; it's the best way I know of to experience North Cascades.

Kirkland, Washington
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7. Re: Washington State National Parks

You might want to check on when the North Cascade Pass reopens in the spring!

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: Washington State National Parks

I agree with others here. You may not get very far in North Cascades if you are going in late May/early June. So suggest you have a backup Plan B since we've already had a ton of snow this year and it will likely last a while. I suspect a number of trails in NC will still be covered with snow going into mid-late July or even August.

The Olympic Peninsula is a great place to go, especially if the Cascades are not easily accessible. And many folks do Olympics during winter months. As for lodging, if you are planning on staying near Port Angeles, there are some wonderful B&Bs (Domaine Madeleine and Colette's). Also, the Lake Crescent Lodge is lots of fun and right on the lake.

Trails on or about Rainier will likely be covered with snow that time of year, especially up by Paradise, but lots of options and great places to go see the Mtn and hike in lower elevations (many good guides out there). Staying at the Paradise Lodge is fun to do even if you don't get out to hike.

Seattle, Washington
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9. Re: Washington State National Parks

BTW, you can loop around and come at North Cascades from backside if the road is still closed. Take I2 east -> I97 north to Winthrop. Check out Sun Mountain Lodge if you have a chance. It is wonderful anytime of the year.

seattle
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10. Re: Washington State National Parks

I'd have to check the map but there is an extremely scenic route to Mt. Rainier by going up thru Yakima. That would make it real easy to come from Lk. Chelan and head towards Mt. Rainier without coming all the way back to Seattle. I'm a native and had never been on this hiway and it was beautiful.