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  1. #1

    Default Idaho Falls to Vancouver, through Seattle, and down West Coast


    I'm planning a road trip, approx 2 1/2 weeks in August, with my parents (76 & 78) and my 20 year old niece. We're leaving from Idaho Falls, heading up to Vancouver, down through Seattle, and then heading down the West Coast as far as we can get, depending on how much there is to stop and see along the way. My parents won't be able to drive extremely long hours (>8 hrs), every day in the car, but I'm thinking we can get to San Francisco.

    We'd rather stay in cheaper lodging (Motel 6 Super 8, etc...), and spend our money on "DOING" & "SEEING" things. My niece and I definitely want to do some things that my parents may not be able or want to do (i.e whale watching (Vancouver or Seattle?), etc... We do enjoy national parks and awesome scenery, but we obviously won't be doing a lot of hiking.

    Any ideas on best routes and what there is to see?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Lucky Parents

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Your parents (and niece) are extremely fortunate to have you to both organize this and take the bulk of the responsibility onto your shoulders. So, herewith some help.

    First off, I'd suggest that you head almost straight north at the outset of your trip and cross the border ASAP. As long as you're going to Canada, you might as well see as much of it as possible rather than just take a quick scoot across the border at Vancouver. Use I-15/I-90 to lay down some initial miles when everyone is fresh, then switch over to US-93 just west of Missoula. Once in Canada, the Crowsnest Highway across southern British Columbia to Vancouver. For the most part, this will be a slower paced, absolutely gorgeous segment of your trip, and I encourage you to budget some time for it so that you can stop to stroll through the towns and parks along the way.

    I think I'd make plans to do my whale watching in Vancouver. Your success at this venture will have a whole lot more to do with the whale's migration patterns than the site or outfit you use, so be sure to check out what you can expect in the way of activity for the various species. Other than that, if you do plan to go out, a stroll along the docks to physically eyeball the available vessels should give you a good idea of which one to choose. From my own recent research the lengths and itineraries of all the various boats look pretty comparable, so pick yourselves a boat that looks well-maintained and stable (big helps) and plan to position yourselves somewhere near its center of gravity to minimize nausea inducing motions.

    After some time spent around and on the water in the Vancouver and Seattle areas it might be time to head inland a bit and come south following the Cascades using I-5 to Portland, US-26 to get inland by way of Mount Hood and then US-93 down to Crater Lake. One general bit of advice. Be sure to stop at the Ranger Stations and Information Centers of each and every national park, monument or forest you plan to visit. The rangers are an incredible and underutilized resource with information on something to meet everyone's interests and activity level. Use them.

    From Crater Lake it would make sense to head for the coast at Crescent City to set yourselves up for the drive south with the Pacific on your right (making pull-outs easy) and the Redwoods on your left. There are several state and local parks devoted to these magnificent trees around Orick, and I'd also recommend that you stay on the coast (CA-1) all the way down to San Francisco to enjoy the scenery and to be in position to enjoy Point Reyes National Seashore and the drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.

    For your final 'run for home' I-80, US-93, etc. is almost the only available route, but that doesn't mean it is limited. On the way be sure to check out Lake Tahoe and Virginia City. and certainly a family-style Basque meal at the Star Hotel in Elko would be something to remember. All-in-all, I think you're in for a great family RoadTrip.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Use I-15/I-90 to lay down some initial miles when everyone is fresh, then switch over to US-93 just west of Missoula. Once in Canada, the Crowsnest Highway across southern British Columbia to Vancouver.
    I think I'd take I-15 all the way to the border and into Lethbridge and pick up the Crowsnest there.

    then US-93 down to Crater Lake.
    I think you mean US-97?

  4. #4


    Thank you for the advice. What a great site. It certainly has helped in planning out a route and timeline. I'm so glad I found it.

    I looked at the Crowsnest Highway, but I think we're not going to be able to do it. My mom gets carsick, so I think the mountainous, winding roads might not be the best bet. I think we're going to head up along I-90 to Missoula-->Spokane-->Seattle. Taking my parents' age into account with the driving distances (they don't want to do more than 300-400 miles a day), we're going to stop in Seattle (after 2 days driving). My parents will need a break, so we're going to explore Seattle before heading up to Vancouver for several days. When we leave Vancouver, we'll bypass Seattle & head down I-5 straight to Portland, Oregon (314 miles). My niece wants to check out the Veterinary program there. Any must-sees in Portland?

    Because of time constraints, we're going to bypass Crater Lake/Klamath Falls National Parks (my niece lives in Rexburg, Idaho, next to both Yellowstone & Grand Tetons National Parks, and my parents & I have been there before). Therefore, we're going to head over to Newport. I heard that the Devil's Punch Bowl is a must-see...anything else? From there, we'll head down the coastal highway to Crescent City & the Redwood National Park (they don't have those in Yellowstone). Then, we'll continue down the Coastal highway (101), as advised by AZ Buck above, to San Francisco. Any must-sees along that route? On the way home, we'll take 80 to Salt Lake City (probably laying over in Elko) & up I-15 to home.

    So, we've basically got the route planned out, but we're still working on what to see and how long to spend in certain places. Any ideas would be very welcome.

    ~Rayna aka gsd4me (german shepherd dogs 4 me) :)

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