I will be flying into Seattle in early July and out again two weeks later. I want to do a round trip to see the sights but am a bit lost for choice. Anywhere in the Pacific NW including British Columbia is possible.
Any ideas for a route?
It's always difficult to answer these types of questions wtihout knowing what kinds of things interest you.
Seattle: Pike Place Market, Seattle Center/Monorail, Waterfront, Hiram Chittenden Locks, Lake Union houseboats and kayaking, Musem of Flight, Boeing plant tour, Pioneer Square, Bill Speidel's Underground tour of Seattle, various boat tours of Puget Sound including those that focus on seeing whale pods
San Juan Islands: all are fun in different ways. Roche Harbor is a favorite.
Olympic Peninsula: Bremerton Naval ships and port tours, historic Port Townsend of victorian architecture/homes, Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc hot springs, Dungeness Spit NWR, Makah Reservation (with a fantastic museum), Lake Ozette, Hall of Mosses, various beaches along the north coast in the national refuge (Ruby Beach is a good one that is easily accessible), Kalaloch area, Lake Quinault (lots of good short hiking trails into the rainforest)
Mt. St. Helens!!! Including Johnson Ridge Observatory, Windy Ridge, and a trip into the Ape Caves
Mt. Rainier: Paradise, Sunrise, lots of great hikes and scenic viewpoints
Lake Chelan/Stehekin/Leavenworth/Methow Valley/Winthrop/North Cascades Highway: A loop from Seattle and back through these areas is a wonderful scenic drive with lots of interesting stops along the way, both natural wonders and touristy areas
Grand Coulee Dam/Lake Roosevelt/Dry Falls/Lake Lenore Caves: Great views of coulees, fun laser light show at the dam, fishing, boating, etc.
Yakima Wine Country: From Yakima to Richland are many wineries and the landscape here is far different than that of the west side, mountain areas, or coulees.
These are just highlights in Washington. I've left off a lot of other fun places to explore. You could spend your entire two weeks here and not see everything. The topography and scenery are very different in various parts of the state.
I didn't know that half of these attractions existed. I had envisaged a much sparser landscape, travelling as far as Banff NP and Glacier NP.
Food for thought.....
There are many regions in Washington state with diverse landscapes, cultures, etc.
The southern coast of Washington state if far different from the northern coast. The northern coast is very wild, rugged, and many people think it's more like what you'd expect to see in Alaska. The coastal areas of Puget Sound are different from the two Pacific coastal areas.
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago unto themselves with ample opportunities for fascinating boat or kayak trips.
The Olympic National park contains the only temperate rainforest in the continental US and is fascinating. Ferns, mosses, and the size of trees makes you feel as if you have entered a pre-historic era.
Mt. St. Helens is truly unique due to its 1980 blast and the re-growth of nature since that time. This is the biggest must-see as far as I'm concerned. I return there yearly to see the changes that take place as nature renews itself.
Mt. Rainier is not the tallest mountain in the US but it is the biggest in terms of mass and number of glaciers. It is an awesome sight and definitely worth a side trip.
The North Cascades Highway is one of the most beautiful drives I've ever been on and takes you through some rugged country.
The east side of the Cascades is much drier but very diverse. The coulees in the north eastern part of the state were formed by the scourging of the earth that occurred in pre-historic times when the inland sea that covered much of the mid-west broke through melting glacier walls and roared over the countryside literally scouring the landscape and creating canyons in its wake. The south eastern part of the state is more of a palouse with gently rolling hills that has become one of the major farming areas in the country due to irrigation waters from the Columbia River. In other words, from a desert, fertile farmland was created.
And along the Cascades, the landscape and topography of the western foothills is far different than what is seen on the eastern foothills. The contrast is quite interesting.
Banff and Glacier are both beautiful areas and are worth a visit as well. It just depends on how much you want to drive and what you pick and choose to see. It would take years to see it all. Have a great trip!
We are travelling to the same area this summer and our route is as follows
Seattle - Mt Rainier Natl Park
Mt Rainier - Columbia River Gorge via Mt St Helens
Columbia River Gorge - Leavenworth
Leavenworth - Winthrop
Winthrop - Whidbey Island via North Cascades
Whidbey Island - Seattle.
We are taking a leasurely 10 days for this. With the extra days you've got, I'd add in the Olympic Natl Park and the pacific coast.