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Thread: Northwest Area

  1. #1

    Default Northwest Area

    We are looking at going to the Northwest Region in July, for around 16 days total.

    We want to go to Seattle, Portland, Port Angeles to take the ferry to Victoria, then over to Vancouver, then we were thinking of ending in Yellowstone National Park. We are happy to fly into one airport and hire a one way rental car hire.

    Or we could reverse, and fly into near Yellowstone, start there, and come up to

    Yellowstone,
    Seattle, (past the mountains Mount Olympus I think)
    Portland
    Round the cost maybe a beach area
    Up to Port Angeles
    Ferry over to Victoria
    Ferry over to Vancouver
    Then maybe fly home from Seattle.....

    Is this possible in 14-16 days. And what are the not miss things?

    We are seasoned travelers. I have road tripped the California fully, as well as up the East Coast Florida-Washington, NYC and finger lakes etc before. i international travel monthly for my job and after traveling for 2 weeks last summer around Costa Rica we are looking for a USA vacation this year, and I this is probably the only region of the USA i haven't really travelled to....

    Any thoughts appreciated!

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Tucson, AZ
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    9,358

    Default My Take

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If I were going to make the trip that you've outlined, I would probably start with Yellowstone and finish in Seattle. Yellowstone will be busy throughout the timeframe of your planned time on the road but only gets busier through July until its visitation numbers peak in late July through August. Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest, an area known for its rain, average precipitation continues to drop until reaching its yearly minimum around mid-July. Neither of those factors is guaranteed or a deal breaker even if they both work out, still you should plan on making the best of what conditions are usual.

    There are a couple of small airports near Yellowstone with at least seasonally scheduled service, including Billings and Bozeman in Montana, Cody and Jackson Hole in Wyoming, and Idaho Falls and West Yellowstone in Idaho. Prices to fly into such smaller airports tend to be higher but can fluctuate quite a bit, so it's worth a bit of your time to comparison shop. Don't forget to also check the cost of a one-way rental from each airport which can also vary considerably. The nearest large airport is Salt Lake City UT, but that's about a seven hour drive from Yellowstone, more than you can cover in a single day after flying.

    After Yellowstone, I'd make my way west through the Snake River Valley on I-84 to Portland, then up the Pacific Coast (US-101) and around the Olympic Peninsula (Olympic National Park t Port Angeles, cross over to Victoria for my time there, catch another ferry to Vancouver and finish up by making the drive from there down to Seattle. That minimizes your driving time, but driving will still eat up the equivalent of a minimum of three to four full days out of your vacation time depending on ferry-boarding and border-crossing wait times.

    Places I've enjoyed and can recommend more or less along the route outlined above include Bruneau Sand Dunes and Bruneau Canyon in Idaho; the Historic Columbia River Highway (old US-30), the flower gardens of Portland, and the reconstructed Fort Clatsop in Astoria OR; and the harbor area of Victoria and Butchart Gardens north of town.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Jackson Hole is the busiest airport in Wyoming, and I'd anticipate you would have the most scheduling flexibility there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
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    10,749

    Default

    Your trip is certainly doable but you should plan on spending at least 3 or 4 days in Yellowstone and visit the Grand Tetons while in the area. Mt Rainier to the Southeast of Seattle is another amazing NP to visit, if you can find the time. I too would also recommend the Columbia river Gorge.

    If you take 101 around Olympic peninsular you will come across the Quinalt and Hoh rain forests in Olympic NP and in between the two you should stop and take a stroll on Ruby beach, it's right by the highway. If the weather is clear you really have to drive up to Hurricane ridge from Port Angeles, the views are spectacular.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks All
    I truly appreciate the help. I am going to cost out the flying into Yellowstone area and also the one way car hire.... I have friends telling me the one way car hire is going to be very expensive as it is quite a distance yellowstone to seattle.

    If i have to return the car to Seattle maybe I should take off yellowstone national park and make longer days on the other stops....

    But I would really like to see yellowstone as i don't think we will be in the northwest again as we rarely return to places on 2nd vacations as we like to try and experience more places every year.....

    Thanks everybody, i am noting down all your enhancements to my route and will get my plan into action.

    However, just one question, if you had to remove stops in order to make it a one way car rental and therefore doable in the 14-16 days, would you remove the Portland, and up the coast area time, OR yellowstone?

    My children are 13 and 3 years old so I know stops at the beach will be wanted....

    Thanks,
    Tori

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
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    Default rthquake Lake Geologic Area;.

    Just north of West Yellowstone, along US287 (west of US191) is the Earthquake Geological Area. There is a self drive tour along the 20 miles or so, with all the significant places from this 1959 event. Get your driving guide from the visitor centre in West Yellostone.

    If you are up to doing the walks to where all the ruins still are, allow a couple of hours for these 20 miles.

    Lifey

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default

    However, just one question, if you had to remove stops in order to make it a one way car rental and therefore doable in the 14-16 days, would you remove the Portland, and up the coast area time, OR yellowstone?
    We all face these type of decisions when planning a trip but the good news is there are no bad choices just great options. You would have time to do the full trip, it's at what pace you are prepared to travel at. Are the ferry rides a 'must do' for you ? Seattle >Yellowstone >Portland >Olympic >Seattle would make a great loop with lots to see in between, but ultimately it's your decision to make.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Default What Would Have to Give

    If you decide to keep the costs of this trip manageable by flying into and out of the same airport and thus avoiding one-way drop off fees on the rental car, then it's fairly obvious which one attraction should be dropped. Yellowstone is far and away the venue that is most distant from all the others, and the one that is causing the logistical problem. Also a flight using one of the smaller airports in the Yellowstone area is going to be considerably more expensive than flights using a major airport such as Seattle or Portland.

    There are other factors arguing for dropping Yellowstone as well. First of all, there will be plenty of great outdoor locations that could be included on a loop trip out of Seattle (say) including Mount Ranier National Park, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Olympic National Park, Pacific Rim (Canadian) National Park on Vancouver Island, and North Cascades National Park. Having all those great outdoor sites will lessen the impact of missing Yellowstone. Finally, consider your statement that you "rarely return to places on 2nd vacations as [you] like to try and experience more places every year." I wouldn't really consider Yellowstone and the Pacific Northwest as the same place or even the same region. Even while trying to avoid repeating trips to the same area I could easily envision two trips, one to the Pacific Northwest and another, completely different trip, to the Northern Rockies that could include Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, the Bitterroots, the Snake River Valley and the Great Salt Lake, using Salt Lake City as your gateway city and covering about the same amount of ground as your Pacific Northwest trip (without Yellowstone).

    If you do decide to limit your current plans to the Pacific Northwest, then a basic outline of a loop trip starting and ending in Seattle would have you driving down the interior valley defined by Puget Sound and the Arkansas Valley (basically I-5) to Portland, then head for the coast and follow that up to the Olympic Peninsula, cross over to Vancouver Island and then back to the mainland at Vancouver before returning to Seattle. Of course, as with any loop trip, you can use any major airport along the route as your gateway, including Portland, Victoria or Vancouver (or even Bellingham WA if you want to use low-fare carrier Allegiant Airlines).

    It's a tough choice, but I think you're coming to see how tough it would be to include Yellowstone in a trip that is otherwise two (fairly large) states away.

    AZBuck

  9. #9

    Default

    As others have hinted at or stated explicitly, the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains are really two separate regions. Salt Lake City or Denver are good circle route gateway cities for the Rockies. Seattle is ideal for the Pacific Northwest. Driving a rental car into Canada has its own unique requirements, not to mention ferry costs and reservations for the vehicle. One alternative is to ride the train from Seattle to Vancouver, BC, and another ferry over to Victoria. You can walk or use public transit in both cities, or rent a car for a day or two if you want to drive north from Vancouver or out the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Victoria.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Vancouver to Victoria via Public Transit

    Unfortunately, the ferry service between Vancouver and Victoria is nothing like direct. The ferry actually runs between Tsawwassen (18 miles south of Vancouver) and Swartz Bay (20 miles north of Victoria). There is bus service from Vancouver to Tsawwassen (Route 620) and from Swartz Bay to Victoria (Route 70), so it would be possible to use solely public means to get around Canada but taking four separate transit modes (including the train up from Seattle to Vancouver is probably more trouble than it's worth. I've never had any real problem taking a US rental into Canada. Just let them know when you pick up the vehicle of your intentions to cross the border and they will supply you with the necessary paper work - mostly just proof of insurance.

    AZBuck

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