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  1. Default road trip Seattle-Mt Rainier-Glacier Nal Park-Yellowstone

    Hi everyone!
    I am Hannah from PA and I am newly registered on the Forum. I have already printed out a lot of information from previous discussions! We are indeed planning a 3 week trip to Seattle-Washington State-Yellowstone this summer, and I found many advice in a 2007 discussion : it really helped me to plan the beginning of my trip (First 3 nights in Seattle, then take the ferry from Seattle to Brainbridge, then a night in Port Angeles, then 2 nights at Lake Quinault.)
    Now I would like to plan the rest of the trip to Mt St Helen-Mt Rainier before we head to MT. Ideally we would like to go to Glacier National Park, then we will finish our trip with 6 days in Yellowstone (already booked).
    Can we do Mt St Helen and Mt Rainier in one day, departing from Lake Quinault? or is it too much? We have 2 young kids (2 and 4), so we won't be hiking, just getting there, walking a bit and watching. But on the other hand we don't want to drive too much in one day, so I always try to keep a balance between road trip (approx. 300 miles a day max.) and fun for them!
    After Mt Rainier (1 night), I was thinking of making 2 stops on the road to Glacier National Park. What places would you recommend for a stop on the road ? Spokane ? Coeur d'Alene ? Then we would love to visit the Flathead Reserve, go to Glacier NAtional Park (3 days in total) and we will drive to Yellowstone to spend the end of our trip.
    Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer my message.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default You will be seeing some beautiful sights on this trip.

    Welcome to the Roadtrip America forums.

    First 3 nights in Seattle, then take the ferry from Seattle to Brainbridge, then a night in Port Angeles, then 2 nights at Lake Quinault.)
    This sounds great! Do you need any help with this portion of your trip? Where are you staying at Lake Quinault?

    Can we do Mt St Helen and Mt Rainier in one day, departing from Lake Quinault? or is it too much? We have 2 young kids (2 and 4), so we won't be hiking, just getting there, walking a bit and watching. But on the other hand we don't want to drive too much in one day, so I always try to keep a balance between road trip (approx. 300 miles a day max.) and fun for them!
    You could do it in one day if you're done with seeing everything at Lake Quinault and take off after breakfast. Here's the route you might take. It's about 250 miles. I would suggest at least one hour at the Mt. St. Helen's Visitor Center (Johnton Ridge VC). There's a very nice museum with exhibits, films, etc. but I would imagine your kids would get pretty wiggly there after a awhile. I don't recall if they have any kind of exhibits targeted more to kids or not. And, of course, you'll want some time to view the crater and surrounding devestation.

    I should tell you that I was a bit surprised at the route Google suggested from just south of Lake Quinault to Montesano. I expected it to keep you on the highway. This would take you down the brighter yellow road into Hoquiam, then Aberdeen, the east to Montesano. The route Google suggests is via some backroads. However, they are decent backroads and will take you through some nice farm country. If you decide to stay on the main road, it does add 5 miles but the travel time isn't going to be much different. Your choice.

    From Lake Quinault to Mt. St. Helen's, there are really only minor stops. It's pretty scenery but, unless you go out to the beach areas or want to do some hiking, there isn't that much to stop and see. If you decide to come through Aberdeen, there are a couple of nice, local museums but that's about it. So, unless you decide to make these stops, you could make the trip from Lake Quinault to Mt. St. Helens in about 3.5-4 hours. (It's about 135 miles).

    When you're driving up to Mt. St. Helens, watch the side of the road for evidence of The Blast. It's renewed a lot but you can still see evidence of it.

    From Mt. St. Helen's Johnston Ridge VC, it's roughly is only about 85 miles but expect it to take about 2-2.5 hours due to the slower, backroads you'll be driving. It is beautiful country. However, I have mixed feelings on the route Google suggests here as most of the roads between the MSH VC and Hwy 12 are definitely backroads. Not like farming road but even more remote. And, unless they've changed since I've been there, I believe most of it is gravel. I think I would talk to staff at the Johnston Ridge VC and see what they know about that road. I'm attaching another Google map for the route I would suggest if the staff at the visitor center discourage you from going this way. I think you would be fine but it may not be the type of driving you really want to be doing in the middle of a longer roadtrip like you're doing. Especially with small children. Still surprised Google even suggested it.

    Anyway, here's my suggested alternative. It's a beautiful drive taking you through some farm country and the Cascade foothills before taking you into the Mt. Rainier area. It's about 40 more miles (125) but the time-to-travel is about the same because you will be able to travel at normal speeds.

    Gosh, I hope this all makes sense. Googlemaps really surprised me on this route!

    Where are you sleeping while at Mt. Rainier? The map has you ending your day at Paradise. The two most popular places to visit Mt. Rainier are at Parade or Sunrise (Sunrise is on the other side of Mt. Rainier). There are motels and campgrounds in Elbe and Ashford on the way up to Paradise. Elbe and Asford are very cool little towns and worth exploring. They have some neat lodging options as well. If this interests you, let me know and I'll make some suggestions. And Northwest Trek, a very cool place to see various PNW animals in their natural habitat, is close to here and would be worth seeing. You would need a few hours for that.

    Just after entering Mt. Rainier NP (you'll be entering at the Nisqually Entrance if you take the route I recommend), is a place called Longmire. It's worth a stop with a very nice visitor center, museum, and the National Park Inn. At the website, it doesn't mention anything about the interpretive trail just across the road from the Longmire visitor center/museum. It was very cool. I haven't been up there since the flood a few years ago that destroyed some of this area so it may not exist anymore. You might want to ask about it at the visitor center because it is the perfect type of trail for your kids to run and play on and get the wiggles out, if it's there now.

    Just up the road from Longmire is the Cougar Rock campground. This is where we usually camp. Reservations are recommended. You could also stay at the wonderful lodge at Paradise (a bit pricey but beautiful, built in the 1930s by the WPA and recently updated - structural only, nothing that has detracted from its vintage charm.) It's not listed as being open yet but it says it will open May 2008. Hmmm....

    Paradise is gorgeous. The Jackson Visitor Center has some decent exhibits. In the past, there have been some interesting walks led by the park rangers that we've done. Even in summer, there should be piles of snow around there for your kids to play in.

    One of the things of interest about Mt. Rainier is that it has numerous glaciers. 25 to be exact. As a comparison, Glacier National Park presently has 26 glaciers. And, because of the higher elevation, the ones at Mt. Rainier are bigger. One of the biggest, Nisqually Glacier, is easy to see from the Paradise area.

    This is getting REALLY long. I'll answer more of your questions and give recommendations in another post.
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 07-15-2008 at 08:27 PM. Reason: added info. didn't mean to submit yet.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default Part 2

    Gosh, I hope I don't somehow get multiples of this post, too. That was bizarre. I wonder how I did that?

    After Mt Rainier (1 night), I was thinking of making 2 stops on the road to Glacier National Park. What places would you recommend for a stop on the road ? Spokane ? Coeur d'Alene ? Then we would love to visit the Flathead Reserve, go to Glacier NAtional Park (3 days in total) and we will drive to Yellowstone to spend the end of our trip.
    Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer my message.
    Either Spokane or Coeur d'Alene would make good stops. They're both nice cities with things to do there. Riverside Park in Spokane is really cool. Your kids would love this slide!



    If you go this route, you'll drive through some more beautiful parts of Mt. Rainier NP after leaving Paradise. Beautiful but windy drive. A good place for you to stretch your legs would be right before meeting up with Hwy 123, go just a tad north to the Grove of the Patriarchs trail. It's only 1.5 miles and is a great, easy trail through some old growth. So much flood damage was done up that way that I'm not sure of the current status of this trail. Check with staff at either the Longmire and/or Paradise visitor centers for information about things to see along this road, including the Patriarch's trail.

    When you get back onto Hwy 12, you'll be going over White Pass. My second favorite pass. Beautiful drive. It is steep and has some terrific views. Just enjoy the ride and stop at the various pull-outs to see the sights. If it's hot and you need a break, you might stop at Rimrock Lake.

    After hitting I_90 by Ellensburg, just a few miles east is the Gingko Petrified Forest (immediately before crossing the Columbia River). I think this is a cool park with some interesting things to see and will give your kids a chance to run around.

    After crossing over the bridge, there is a scenic lookout on the crest of the hill. Stop there to enjoy the fantastic view of the Columbia River.



    Also enjoy the very cool wild horses statues on the hill above. My photos doesn't do it justice.



    Moses Lake is another place where it might be fun to stretch your legs, if needed and if you have time. There are several city parks on the lake for the kids to take a dip.

    Most of this route is farmland or desert. Some of the farms are real good about putting up signs identifying the crops so it's fun to watch for them so you know what's growing.

    Hope this all helps a bit. Feel free to ask questions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,552

    Default Nice photos

    Nice shot of the grand slide and the shots in the Gorge.

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default Thanks!

    Sometimes this snapshooter gets lucky. :)

  6. Default

    Hi Judy!
    Thank you so much for your answer, I have just found it, I am going to print it out and read it in depth and come back to you if I have additional questions. I will take a careful look at the Google road suggestions as you mentionned it, thanks again! Oh, and the pics look great!!
    PS : we are staying at the Rainforest Resort Village at Lake Quinault.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default I know the owner!

    Quote Originally Posted by Hannah View Post
    Hi Judy!
    PS : we are staying at the Rainforest Resort Village at Lake Quinault.
    Nice people. I worked with the wife a long time ago and their daughter was in a few plays with my son.

    Make sure you visit the world's largest Sitka Spruce tree there. Just across the road are some great trails. Other short trails are found across the road from the Lake Quinault Lodge. Next to The Lodge is a nice ranger station with lots of helpful information for ya.

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