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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    The Hague, The Netherlands
    Posts
    15

    Default Seattle - San Diego: is my plan doable/enjoyable?

    Hi there,

    Me and my girlfriend will be doing a month long road trip from Seattle to San Diego in July and August. We've figured out most of our trip already and pretty much booked most of the motels already. At first we wanted to have more freedom and don't do any advance booking, but since it's in the high season and our budget is somewhat limited we decided to book ahead in order to have a nice motel for a reasonable price. Anyway, I've been on a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco before (with a friend in January 2007) so I know a bit, but that was only 2,5 weeks and I want to take different roads know, so I was wondering if this schedule seems like it would be nice trip.

    Day 1: Seattle (we fly in from Amsterdam in the afternoon)
    Day 2: Seattle
    Day 3: Seattle
    Day 4: Seattle
    Day 5: Seattle - Olympic NP - we stay in Quinault/Amanda Park
    We'll do some hiking some in the NP during the day.
    Day 6: Quinault/Amanda Park - Olympia
    Day 7: Olympia - Mt. St. Helens - Portland
    Day 8: Portland
    Day 9: Portland
    Day 10: Portland
    Day 11: Portland - Crater Lake NP - we'll be staying in Prospect, OR
    Is this day doable in an enjoyable manner? Or is this rushing it a bit?
    Day 12: Prospect - Fortuna, CA/Redwoods Park
    Day 13: Fortuna/Redwoods Park - San Francisco
    Day 14: San Francisco
    Day 15: San Francisco
    Day 16: San Francisco - Big Sur
    Day 17: Big Sur - Santa Barbara
    Day 18: Santa Barbara - LA
    Day 19: LA
    Day 20: LA
    Day 21: LA - Death Valley
    Day 22: Death Valley - Las Vegas
    Day 23: Las Vegas - Zion NP
    Day 24: Zion (day trip to Bryce or Grand Canyon)
    Day 25: Zion - Idyllwild, CA
    We rented a really nice cabin to do some hiking and relaxing in this area.
    Day 26: Idyllwild
    Day 27: Idyllwild
    Day 28: Idyllwild - San Diego
    Day 29: San Diego
    Day 30: San Diego
    Day 31: fly home

    I've already been on the Oregon coast and it's really beautiful, but this time I wanted to see some inland Oregon and avoid the heavy coastal traffic in the process. I've checked Google Maps for driving times and the longest drive (according to GM) would be from Zion to Idyllwild (through Joshua Tree NP) which would take about 8 hours. But I'm experienced driver and have driven many 12+ hour drives in the past, so I'm not worried about it. Most driving days have between 3 and 5 hours of driving, so in theory at least we should have enough time to do some hikes and such.

    I've did a lot of searches on this forum and it seems like this schedule would work. Does it have any obvious "faults"? Although we've booked most accommodation already, most of those can still be cancelled. So I'd really appreciate any useful tips. Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Sounds good

    Sounds like a fantastic trip. I hope you come back afterwards and let us know how it went.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Just One Small Problem

    Welkomst! Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Looks like a great trip with just one glitch, that you alluded to yourself. The drive from Zion National Park to Idyllwild would be around 500 miles. That would be nearly a full day's drive on an Autoroute. On the smaller two lane roads that would be the bulk of this drive, and including the drive through Las Vegas, this would be closer to 9-10 hours of driving. While you could certainly do this, you really wouldn't have the time to enjoy Joshua Tree in the process. I think you'd be better off just getting to your cabin in Idyllwild, settling in, and hiking Joshua Tree during the next couple of days. Otherwise, it looks good!

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Well planned!

    It's always nice to see someone planning a leisurely trip. Too many times we want to cram too much in, me included.

    If you've read through threads here, you are probably aware that we are always very skeptical of the driving times online mapping programs like GoogleMaps suggest. We usually recommend that you figure that you will average 57mph in the western part of the US when you factor in very short stops for food/fuel/bio breaks, potential traffic congestion, etc.

    I see a few places where I think you are pushing it a bit.

    Seattle-Olympic NP (Amanda Park/Lake Quinault)
    Which route are you taking to get here? The quickest route would be to go south on I-5 and drive there via Hwy 8/12 and then north on 101. However, this will have you back-tracking when you head towards Portland and you will miss the best parts of the Olympic Peninsula. So I assume your're planning on taking the ferry across Puget Sound and driving around the northern part of the peninsula. You really need to if you want to get a real feel for the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula

    Of the ferry options, I suggest you take the one to Bainbridge Island/Winslow. This gives you a fantastic view of the Seattle skyline and waterfront and, if The Mountain's out, an amazing view of Mt. Rainier looking down on Seattle. Very picturesque and, in fact, a common view of Seattle in photos.

    While this is only 202 miles, by the time you line up about an hour before sailing/do the 30minute ferry ride/debark and then just drive to Amanda Park around the northern tip from there, you are looking at 6 hours or so. This leaves you little time to explore along the way. Places you'll definitely want to check out are:
    * Dungeness Spit in Sequim, WA
    * Hurricane Ridge, Port Angeles, WA
    * Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest, a few miles south of Forks, WA, you'll drive about 15 miles into the forest to the Hoh Visitor Center and the trail is nearby
    * Ruby Beach or the other beaches along the coast in the Kalaloch area

    There are other worthy stops as well but these are the most iconic and popular and give you the broadest exposure to the diversity of the area. I just don't see how you'll have time to do these unless you leave Seattle at the crack of down (I don't know what time the first ferry leaves) and don't plan to be in Amanda Park until evening. How you plan to have time for hiking is beyond me.

    Tip 1 - If you can't take the time for the Hall of Mosses, there is an interpretive trail at Lake Quinault that is almost as good. Take the North Shore Road and drive to the ranger station (I think about 7-8 miles from 101). Across from the ranger station is a short, interpretive trail, only about 1/2 mile long) with moss, nursery logs, ferns, and trees that make you feel like you've gone back in time to some primordial era.

    Tip 2 - There are some great trails all around Lake Quinault. Some wonderful ones are across from the Lake Quinault Lodge on the South Shore Road. You can do some quickies or some multi-day hikes from this parking area. There is also a ranger station next to the lodge for further info.

    Portland/Crater Lake NP
    Yes, I think you are rushing this portion. Unless you just get up early and zip down I-5 without stopping anywhere along the way, you will have virtually no time at Crater Lake. At the very least, I would suggest leaving Portland the afternoon before and driving at least as far as Eugene. However, there are several ways to get from Portland to Crater Lake that are far more scenic than going down I-5. Again, you would want to leave Portland a day earlier to take any of these options and have time to enjoy the sights along the way without being rushed.


    When you list several days in Seattle and Portland, are you spending all of those days in the cities themselves or are you planning some day trips? I have to admit that I'm not a big city tourist. I'm very familiar with Seattle, somewhat familiar with Portland, and I can't figure out what you are going to be doing for so long in either place. Of course, both have numerous museums and interesting neighborhoods to explore but I don't think you need all that much time in either place.

    Anyway, I live in this area....in fact, at one point you'll be going about 5 blocks from my house on your route. (Wave!) So I'll be glad to give you some further ideas if you're interested. Feel free to ask more questions.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    The Hague, The Netherlands
    Posts
    15

    Default

    Thank you so much for the quick replies! Glad to be on the forums AZBuck, and thanks for the tip on Joshua Tree.. and I'll definitely come back to this forum afterwards UKCraig.

    And Judy, thanks for the extensive reply. We are taking the ferry across Puget Sound and already I thought it was maybe stretching it, but your post has convinced me to think about adding another day for the Olympic NP. I've googled your tips there and they seem really worthwhile. So we'll probably leave Seattle a day earlier. Do you have any recommendation for a good place to stay the first night in the Olympic NP?

    As for the Portland/Crater Lake part, again your suggestion makes a lot of sense and we might leave Portland a day early to have an extra day. I really want to avoid I-5 this time around so we'll probably go through Madras and Bend and stay in some place like Crescent. That way we can get up early the next day and have a short drive to Crater Lake NP and spend the majority of the day around there before driving to Prospect, which is about 45 minutes south of there (we already booked a nice motel there).

    I do love Seattle and Portland though. I've spent four days in each city last year (in January) and I really enjoyed just walking around, getting some coffee, browsing interesting stores and basically just enjoying the atmosphere, especially around Hawthorne in Portland and Capitol Hill in Seattle. Plus, I'd really like to take a day in Portland to do a nice hike somewhere in the Colombia River Gorge.

    And indeed, I've read on this forum about the inaccuracy of Google Maps with regards to driving times, but except for the aforementioned days a couple hours more or less won't be too bad.

    But anyway, thanks again for your replies, I really appreciate it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    The Hague, The Netherlands
    Posts
    15

    Default

    Sorry, but I have just thought of one more question. Is it worth it to take Highway 1 instead of the 101 when going from Fortuna (Northern Cali) to San Francisco? It'll add at least 2 hours of driving, but since it'll be a "driving day" anyway I wonder if it's worth it. Of course, between SF and LA Highway 1 is the way to go, but couldn't really find any information on Highway 1 North of SF. Or is 101 an interesting drive as well?

  7. #7

    Default

    A consideration must be the fog.

    Route 1 north of San Francisco (and south for that matter) is in California's fog belt. Thick fog, particularly in summer, regularly hangs over the shoreline.

    But inland, even just a few miles, it is usually glorious sunshine.

    Have a plan B if you decide to do the coast route. An option would be to go partly along the route and if not to your liking cut back inland to the 101. It is a slow two track road - maybe an average speed of not much more than 20mph.

    A pleasant break on the 101 route is at the Fetzer Vineyard Hopland. Has a café, well kept grounds/gardens to wander around. As well as wine tasting of course.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    The Hague, The Netherlands
    Posts
    15

    Default

    Thanks for the fog warning, I wasn't really aware of that. And the Fetzer Vineyard Hopland seems like an excellent break choice, I really love California wines so it seems perfect. I'll be sure to add it to my travel document. :)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Here are some ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by Joeri View Post
    And Judy, thanks for the extensive reply. We are taking the ferry across Puget Sound and already I thought it was maybe stretching it, but your post has convinced me to think about adding another day for the Olympic NP. I've googled your tips there and they seem really worthwhile. So we'll probably leave Seattle a day earlier. Do you have any recommendation for a good place to stay the first night in the Olympic NP?
    You might consider taking the ferry over to Winslow on Bainbridge Island. It's a charming town to visit. Then head west to Poulsbo, one of my favorite towns with Scandinavian flavor. Port Gamble is interesting because it was a company town and the homes there still reflect that. Then head north to Port Townsend which is a beautiful town with a lot of Victorian homes and downtown buildings. In Victoria, you can enjoy renting a kayak/canoe. It's also a great place to take a short trip out into the Sound to look for the Orca pods and other sealife. After Port Townsend, head west to Sequim and visit Dungeness Spit, and then west to Port Angeles. If you get there early enough in the evening, you can visit Hurricane Ridge that evening and enjoy the views, do some short hikes, etc. Spend the night in Port Angeles.

    I'm not good at giving hotel recommendations as I'm not picky. Cheap and clean works for me. There are numerous hotels in Port Angeles. Unless you're there on a weekend where there's a holiday or a festival, you shouldn't have a problem finding lodging. They have several chain hotels that you could probably find easily enough on the web to book ahead to lock in a good price. There's also a nice KOA Kampground.

    While in Port Angeles, you might want to visit the waterfront area. They have a nice pier with shops and restaurants. There's a big hotel (Red Lion?) on the waterfront with a good restaurant that might be nice to eat breakfast in and have a view of the water. There is also a nice visitor center on the pier with information about the various water refuge areas in Washington state. From this pier, the ferries go between Port Angeles and Vancouver Island.

    Next day, head west and then south toward Forks. Right before Forks, you might want to head out to the coast to the Quileute Indian Nation village of LaPush. There are some great beach hikes from here that you might want to do a bit of. Then head to Forks. This is little town that was devestated by the restrictions of the timber industry. They have a nice, little museum at the south end of town devoted to the history of logging that is interesting. About 15 miles south of Forks is the Hoh Rainforest Road that will take you out to the Hall of Mosses.

    As you go south (can't remember how many miles), you'll see a sign about the "world's tallest cedar" or something like that. It's worth the drive about 10 minutes off the highway to go here. This is a new viewing place that we just discovered last summer. There is a nice boardwalk talking you through a wonderful grove of trees. If you drive a bit farther, there is an amazing tree with a viewing platform. Gosh, was it a cedar or something else? My tree ID skills are pretty poor. Anyway, worth seeing.

    Then head south on 101 to the Kalaloch area. All the beaches here are worth visiting but my favorite is Ruby Beach. Ruby Beach is the first beach you'll come to after cresting the hill and seeing the ocean from the highway. If you go past it, it's worth turning around for. Lots of tidepools, haystacks, etc. The rest of the beaches along the Kalaloch stretch are also lovely but none of them beat Ruby Beach.

    Also along this stretch is a sign to the Big Cedar Tree. It's a dead cedar but the stump is amazing. It's also a nice place for a short hike into beautiful forests with some old growth. We almost always stop here even though we've seen it many times.

    Then head south to Lake Quinault and the trails I've already mentioned, and your overnight stay in Amanda Park.

    The next day, on your way to Olympia, there are several options. If you're not in a rush to get to Olympia, let me suggest the following:

    Just south of Lake Quinault is the "blink and you'll miss it" town of Neilton. Just a couple miles south of that area is the Moclips Highway. Take this out to the coast. (I have seen a lot of wildlife along this road so watch for deer and elk, especially if it's early in the morning. I've heard of other people who have seen bears along here but I haven't been so lucky.) There is a fish hatchery along here that you might enjoying stopping at but I'm not clear what their visitor set-up is as it's been years since I've stopped there. When you get to the coast, if you have time, you might enjoy going north to Taholah, the main town of the Quinault Indian Nation. The setting is gorgeous. The Quinault River runs through the village and empties out into the Pacific. The beach here is amazing. (Be aware that all beaches from the Moclips Highway north to Taholah and in Taholah require a permit for non-Quinaults to go onto the beach. You can get them at the police station. So don't go onto any of these beaches without one.)

    If you decide to skip the trip up to Taholah, there is still plenty to see. Turn left when you get to the end of the Moclips highway and just start driving south. You'll go through several small coastal towns and drive along some remarkable stretches of beach with great views. Roosevelt Beach is a nice beach to stop at. After Ocean City, the highway will veer inland along the north shore of Grays Harbor.

    At this point, there is a road to take you out to Ocean Shores. I'm not sure if it's worth your time to go there with all you've seen so far and the fact that you want to get to Olympia but, if you decide to, be sure to visit Damon Point. Ocean Shores is really on a bit spit, and this is the southern portion of the spit with fantastic views into the harbor, out to the Ocean, and south across the harbor to Westport area. Also consider visiting the Weatherwax property that is an old-growth forest that is just being preserved.

    When you to east from the coast, you'll see a sign for Burrows Road. You might want to take this. It's only a short detour that will take you an extra 10 minutes or so. It goes along the harbor but, the more interesting thing, is the cranberry bogs you'll see along here. Grays Harbor is one of the biggest producers of cranberries in the US and the bogs are interesting to see. (Don't know if you have them near Amsterdam or not so this might not interest you if you're used to them.)

    In Hoquiam/Aberdeen, you might enjoy a stop at our Polson Museum or Aberdeen Museum. If the Lady Washington is in port, she's worth seeing. (It's a replica of one of the ships used by Capt. Robert Gray who discovered Grays Harbor, the Columbia River, and whose voyage gave the fledgling United States their claim to Washington or we might be Canadian right now.) The hill above Aberdeen (up Broadway) takes you through a neighborhood with some amazing, large homes built by timber barons in the past. If you're hungry at this point, a nice place to eat seafood is at Breakwater Seafoods. Then continue east on Hwy 12/8 to Olympia.

    If you don't opt to take the Moclips Highway out to the beach, you still might enjoy those stops in Hoquiam/Aberdeen.

    In Olympia, places to see include the State Capitol....the grounds are lovely but the dome inside in the capitol is absolutely breath-taking. Olympia has a nice downtown area with a nice waterfront to walk along. And a very nice farmer's market that is open every day. A great place to do some grocery shopping to refill your cooler, grab a bite to eat, etc.

    From Olympia, you'll go south on I-5 for about an hour to Castle Rock where you'll want to head east into the Mt. St. Helens area. Enjoy! This is a great and should be a highlight of your trip.

    This is getting long so I'll answer your other questions in another post.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default More ideas

    As for the Portland/Crater Lake part, again your suggestion makes a lot of sense and we might leave Portland a day early to have an extra day. I really want to avoid I-5 this time around so we'll probably go through Madras and Bend and stay in some place like Crescent. That way we can get up early the next day and have a short drive to Crater Lake NP and spend the majority of the day around there before driving to Prospect, which is about 45 minutes south of there (we already booked a nice motel there).
    Gosh, there are several good options here. It's hard to give you one "best" recommendation. Here are good options:

    * You can drive east from Portland along the Columbia River Gorge. This is a gorgeous drive. It's worth it to take the jog off of I-84 to the historic/scenic road along this stretch. This will take you past Crown Pointe Vista House....probably the most amazing visitor stop ever...and Multnomah Falls. The Cascade Locks are worth a stop. Hood River is lovely and it's fun to watch the wind-surfers here. From Hood River, head south through the Mt. Hood area. Beautiful drive up into a nice forest area and Mt. Hood is beautiful. Then head onto Warm Springs/Madras, etc. south to Crater Lake. You'll go through Bend which is a beautiful area with lots of recreational stuff to do. Sunriver, too. This way would probably be my first choice but the other options are lovely, too.

    * Go south from Portland to Eugene. Eugene is a nice, little city and is concerned one of the last bastions of the hippies. Go east from Eugene on 126. Lovely drive. I've had to stop here for sheep herds to cross the road. If 242 is open, take it. It goes past some amazing lava beds. It's not unusual for this road to stay snowed in until late June so it depends on when in the summer you're coming. The town of Sisters is absolutely lovely so plan some time to stop there and walk around. Then head south into Bend, etc.

    I've not stayed in Crescent but I did find a nice, cheap and clean, hotel near LaPine once. Sorry it's been too many years for me to remember the name.

    I do love Seattle and Portland though. I've spent four days in each city last year (in January) and I really enjoyed just walking around, getting some coffee, browsing interesting stores and basically just enjoying the atmosphere, especially around Hawthorne in Portland and Capitol Hill in Seattle. Plus, I'd really like to take a day in Portland to do a nice hike somewhere in the Colombia River Gorge.
    They are nice cities. In Portland, the downtown area and Riverfront Park is quite nice to walk around. There are boat tours that you might enjoy.

    This post has a bit more about things to see and do around Seattle and Portland. If you have more questions about these areas, let me know.

    Hope this all helps a bit!

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