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  1. Default Relocation trip from San Francisco to Seattle (first week of April 2012)

    Hello experts,

    I am seeking advice about the routes to take and places to visit as I relocate from San Francisco to Seattle. I am moving up to Bellevue, WA soon in my 1998 Honda Civic that will be fully-loaded with personal posessions in the trunk and backseat. I want to take this opportunity to see the interesting and beautiful sights and cities/towns along the way.

    Details for this relocation trip:
    - The trip will happen in first week of April 2012
    - I have ~10 days to make the one-way driving journey northwards.
    - I dont need information on interesting sites in San Francisco or Seattle on this trip, since I have visited the former before (including Muir Woods and Point Reyes National Seashore), and will be setting up residence near the latter in the near future.
    - My interests include nature, landscape, national/state parks, towns/cities, monuments, culture, people etc.

    Additional information about myself:
    - I have done the famous Highway 1 (or Pacific Coastal Highway) journey before from San Francisco all the way to San Diego and yes, am extremely impressed by that especially the Big Sur and Malibu portions. With that being said, I am not sure how the Highway 1/Highway 101 (northwards of Point Reyes till OR and WA state) will match up to that? or are the coastal sights completely different and worth exploring? Please advice.
    - I am at preliminary stage of research and still quite clueless on what are the interesting sites at CA areas northwards of Point Reyes and also within Oregon state at this stage, except knowing that I will likely want to visit Eugene and Portland because they are supposed to be beautiful towns. Crater Lake NP was originally on my list, but I read that the Rim Drive is still close in April so I will sadly have to cut this off from my plan this time.

    In general, I am aware that there are 3 routes to get up there, Highway 1 (Coastal road), Highway 101, and Interstate 5, which are presented in decreasing amount of journey time to reach destination. I doubt I will want to take Highway 1 throughout, nor do I want to take Interstate 5 all the way too, which may be too boring?! However, unfortunately, I noticed they are for the most parts quite far from each other (ie. may be quite time-consuming and windy road journey to cut from one route to another), so I would want to know the best routes match/combo from people who have done it before.

    I welcome all sorts of information (routes to take, points to stop, places to stay etc.), many thanks in advance!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Here is a start.

    Hi Jo, and Welcome to the The Great American RoadTrip Forum.

    With ten days at your disposal you have quite a few options. It is a decade since I drove up that way, and I know at the time was quite ignorant of all things USA. However, I took my atlas and the maps (from AAA), and looked for roads marked scenic routes. These invariably went through or near State Parks and Forests, and many smaller towns.

    Besides Crater Lake, which as you said, it may be a bit too early, there is the Humboldt Redwoods SP and the Avenue of Giants, Cape Mendocino, the most westerly point of the 48 States, and route 299 from Redding to the coast is very scenic and goes near quite a few parks, although it is slow going and winding.

    East of Portland is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, with its myriad of natural sights. It is a nice drive to head east on I-84 and cross over the river at Hood River or The Dalles, and head back to I-5 on the northern side of the Columbia River. Then there is Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier, as well as the Olympic Peninsula.

    All of these places are marked on good maps and in the road atlas. I am sure as you do your research, you will find more attractions to your liking.

    Enjoy the planning.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I can't comment on CA-1 between the Bay Area and Leggett, but 101 north of there is absolutely beautiful. Lifey mentioned Humboldt Redwoods SP: excellent! Slightly off of US 101, on CA-36, is Grizzly Creek Redwoods SP, which is also beautiful. Redwoods National Park is north of Eureka, as is Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park near Crescent City.

    In Oregon, many speak highly of the beaches along US 101. There are so many viewpoints and state parks along that route, and of course, the re-creation of Fort Clatsop (Lewis and Clark) is on the north end of US 101 in Oregon.

    Up I-5 instead of US-101, there is Lake Shasta and then Mount Shasta, and if you went a little east, Lassen ... but you may have weather and road issues in April there. Oregon's I-5 has the Rogue River area around Grants Pass (Valley of the Rogue State Park) The Columbia River Gorge is worth an extra day, as Lifey mentioned. I'd also second the recommendation of either Mt St Helens or Mt Rainier, but at least living in Seattle, those can be weekend jaunts if you like.

    If it were me, I think I'd spend the time in Oregon.


  4. Default

    Thank you Lifey for your tips and advice!

    The more I read about Northern California (beyond Point Reyes), the more I realized many of the national parks or interesting sites off Interstate 5 are still quite far away - as in, the detour off I-5 to these places eg. Lassen Volcanic NP and Lava Tubes National Monument are quite time-consuming. Moreover, these two Parks I mentioned seem to be closed or less accessible in winter. Based on my initial impression, Lake Shasta area is probably the only place in this region that is worthy for a stop, if I-5 is taken.

    My follow-up queries for you ...

    1) Is the coastal road northbound from Point Reyes towards northern part of Oregon extremely winding and challenging to drive? How does it compared to the Pacific Coastal Highway from SF->SD? I have driven the southbound PCH from SF to SD before and was comfortable with it for the most parts, except I remembered at some points where the hairpin curves are more extreme and one has to manuevere more slowly.

    2) I have heard of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area - how many days would you allocate for that if I were to make the trip there (via I-84) and back (Route 14) and stop at sightseeing points eg. waterfall?
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-02-2012 at 11:52 AM. Reason: removed quote of entire previous post

  5. Default

    Hi Donna!

    Thank you so much for your advice!

    1) You and Lifey mentioned a lot of Redwood parks - are all these different parks similar to each other? What I mean is, will it be an overkill to visit all of them (ie. they will all blurred out to be the same in the end?). I have seen redwood trees before - they seem to be everywhere in the Bellevue/Redmond area and residential neighborhoods. But perhaps the redwood trees in SP and NP are much taller.

    If I were to pick only 2 of such parks to visit, does Avenue of the Giants and Redwood NP sound like the best choices?

    2) Where do I go see the typical mountain/lake typical scenic post-card beauty of Oregon? I presume those can only be found inland (some long detour off I-5) and not along the coastal road, right?
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 01-02-2012 at 11:52 AM. Reason: removed quote of entire previous post and removed duplicate question

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have driven CA-1 from LA to SF (northbound) and from Leggett to Bodega Bay (southbound). If anything, the northern part is MORE winding.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default It all depends on what you are looking for.

    Quote Originally Posted by mishyq View Post
    ... and one has to manuevere more slowly.
    That is true, but then, would you want to hurry through these areas? Take time to 'smell the roses'. For a ten day trip, you have the luxury to enjoy the areas through which you travel.

    As to whether the Redwoods will all blend into one and look alike, I guess that depends greatly on your depth of interest. These are all the reasons why we try to avoid recommending sights. The posts above mention some of the sights to be seen between SF and Seattle. It is up to you to choose what interests you. Columbia River Gorge can be driven there and back easily in a day..... or can be done in multiple days. This again depends very much on your style of travelling.

    Quote Originally Posted by mishyq View Post
    ... national parks or interesting sites off Interstate 5 are still quite far away - as in, the detour off I-5 to these places eg. Lassen Volcanic NP ...
    Regard these not so much as a detour, but as an opportunity to see and enjoy scenic routes 44 and 89 from Redding to Mount Shashta, via Lassen Volcanic NP. There is no need to stick to any one particular route. Let your interests design your route. And it won't matter the slightest if you decide on the day, that you will take a different route. Few trips are taken exactly as planned.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 01-02-2012 at 03:59 PM.

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