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  1. #1

    Default Post bar exam trip from Chicago to Pacific NW

    My wife and I are looking for ideas for our 3-4 week road trip from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest in August 2006. I have the IL bar exam during the last week in July, but I don't start work until after Labor Day, so we might have as much as a month. We definitely want to hit Seattle, Portland, and have friends in Bend. We plan on buying a Nat'l Park pass and seeing Olympic, Mt. St. Helens, and Rainier. We plan on alternating between camping and staying in hotels/B&Bs.

    It seems that I-90 is the best way to get out there, but we're open to suggestions. I'd like to take a different route back, just for variety. If its scenic enough, we're also into staying off the interstate for a while. Any ideas on suggested routes, or places not to miss on the way out/back?
    Last edited by Robert Schaller; 12-30-2005 at 04:28 PM. Reason: Corrected a place name

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Congratulations (pending)

    Quote Originally Posted by snert
    My wife and I are looking for ideas for our 3-4 week road trip from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest in August 2006. I have the IL bar exam during the last week in July, but I don't start work until after Labor Day,
    Congratulations on passing the bar(!) and welcome to the Forum!
    It seems that I-90 is the best way to get out there, but we're open to suggestions. I'd like to take a different route back, just for variety.
    I would start by reading this recent post about discoveries in South Dakota

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Out and Back

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    Well, a month is a comfortable amount of time and the northwest is one of the more beautiful regions of the country, so this should be a great trip. We have a couple of regular contributors from that area who will probably pipe in with some suggestions. They are justifiably proud of their region. I'll limit my comments to your routes out and back.

    I-90 will clearly be the backbone for one direction. Sights along the way that you should give serious consideration to (I'll list them westbound) include: the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD; Badlands NP in southwestern SD; Wall Drug in Wall, SD; Mt Rushmore NM and Wind Cave NP outside Rapid City, SD; Devil's Tower NM in northeastern WY; the Little Bighorn Battlefield NM in Crow Agency MT; Yellowstone NP (of course!); and look at using US-12 from Missoula, MT through Lolo Pass and on to enter the Snake River valley at Lewiston, ID.

    Alternatively (listed eastbound), you could stay a bit farther north and see the Coeur d'Alene region of northern ID; maybe swing as far north as Glacier NP and the Great Falls of the Missouri in Great Falls, MT if time permits; then use I-94 as the main route back seeing Theodore Roosevelt NP in western ND; and some of the wildlife refuges along the Missouri River.

    One of the advantages to driving in the less populated regions of the northern and western plains is that the 'side' roads are almost as fast as the Interstates. Many of the sights I've suggested will require short to medium length scenic 'detours' off the main roads. If you start with a basic idea of the route you want to follow and then look for attractions that aren't too far off your path, you'll do fine.

    AZBuck

  4. Default US14 and SR296 in Wyoming

    I had the opportunity last summer to drive US14 west from Ranchester, WY (I-90) to Cody, and then used SR296 to get into Yellowstone Park. SR296 is called the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, and it's worth the detour. I also thought US14 was a beautifully scenic drive up across the Bighorn Mountains. There are so many beautiful routes along your route, no matter which you choose you're going to enjoy it. Bob

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default

    Here....the local WA yokel.

    What type of things do you wanna see?

    You're already hitting the highlights of Seattle, Mt. Rainier, Olympic NP, and Mr. St. Helens.

    Let me make a short list of some specifics but, if you have any hints on things you are particularly interested in, I'd love to come back and give you more ideas that fit your needs.

    If you come into Washington via I-90, I would suggest spending a bit of time in Spokane and then going north off of I-90 for a great detour. While in Spokane, you might enjoy Riverfront Park with its monster-sized slide and fantastic, historic, restored carousel.

    From Spokane, head west on Hwy 2 through some beautiful farm country into the desert and the coulees. At Wilbur, go northwest on 174 to the Grand Coulee Dam. This dam is even bigger than Hoover Dam in terms of mass (although not as tall). And they put on a terrific light show at night with laser lights on the dam's face. (Although I don't know if it occurs after Labor Day). I'm also not sure if they still do the great tours they used to do what with Homeland Security and all so you might want to check into that. You can also rent a boat in this area if you'd like to explore Lake Roosevelt.

    From Grand Coulee Dam, head south on 155. You'll be driving alongside Banks Lake on one side with some of the most fantastic coulees in Washington on your other side. Along the way, you'll come across Dry Falls. Dry Falls was either one of the biggest waterfalls in history or the very biggest (I don't recall exactly).

    Just a little geology lesson so you understand what Dry Falls was. At one time, during the last Ice Age, much of the midwest was covered by an inland sea that was being held in place by walls of ice. When the ice began receding/weakening, a break in the ice occurred and this ocean rushed out cutting through what is now Washington state. The force of this huge outpouring scoured the earth creating the coulees. The waterfall that is now Dry Falls was huge and would have made Niagara Falls a piker. Anyway, I really think it's an amazing site.

    Also along this route is Lake Lenore Caves, a short hike from the road to caves that were inhabited thousands of years ago by ancient Native Americans. There are still drawings visible in the cave. It's not a deep cave. No spelunking involved. And worth the short hike.

    You'll come to Soap Lake which is literally a soapy lake. Very odd to swim in. It's really kinda dirty feeling but you at least need to put your feet in to experience the strange water here.

    At Soap Lake, head west on 28. You'll eventually get into Washington's famous apple orchards. At Wenatchee, head west on 2 toward Cashmere and look for the Aplets & Cotlets factory. Try a sample. God stuff. Continue west on 2 to the lovely little "Bavarian" village of Leavenworth. Yes, a "Bavarian" village in the Washington "Alps". A fun theme town to explore. From here, continue west on Stevens Pass. A much prettier pass than Snoqualmie's pass on I-90. This will get you to just north of Seattle.

    Alternatively, if you don't care if you see Leavenworth, you can go north at Wenatchee on 97 which will take you past Lake Chelan. Lake Chelan is a nice resort area. If you have time, you might want to take the Lady of the Lake (I think that's the name...it's been awhile) to the town of Stehekin. The only way you can get to Stehekin is via boat. There are no roads there. A very isolated community and fun to explore. The boat trip there and back is quite breath-taking. This makes a nice day trip and would be a great way to get a break from driving for most of the day. There's a surprising amount of things to do in Stehekin. Dont' miss the fantastic bakery!

    After your return to Chelan, continue north on 97 until just before Okanogan where you will go west on 20. This drives takes you through the gorgeous Methow Valley (which is a haven for cross-country skiing in the winter) and to another theme town. Winthrop is a wild-west theme town. I actually like it better than Leavenworth. It's a fun stop. Near the center of town is a great ice-cream place. I wish I could remember the name.

    Continue west on 20 and you'll be going over one of the most beautiful roads in America, in my humble opinion. The North Cascades Highway has awesome views. Make sure you stop at the rest stop at the top of the pass. There are short trails with stunning views there. This highway closes early due to snow and is typically only open about 3-4 months of the year. It should be open through September but it wouldn't hurt to check when you get to Wenatchee so, if it's already closed, you can take the Stevens Pass route I mentioned a few paragraphs above.

    Whew!

    I've probably already told you more than you wanted to know but I really think you are seeing just some of the most fascinating parts of the Pacific NW by taking this route. You'll go through deserts, coulees, orchards, wheat fields, alpine forests, evergreen forests, and mountains. What more could you want?

    How about beaches, water, islands, wetlands, and rainforests?

    If you're interested, let me know and I'll write a suggested itinerary from this point on. But, for now, my fingers are getting tired.

    ETA: Gosh, I read my post and I think I said I was giving you a short list. Oy! If this is short, I'd hate to see my long list. LOL

  6. #6
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy
    At Soap Lake, head west on 28. You'll eventually get into Washington's famous apple orchards. At Wenatchee, head west on 2 toward Cashmere and look for the Aplets & Cotlets factory. Try a sample. God stuff. Continue west on 2 to the lovely little "Bavarian" village of Leavenworth. Yes, a "Bavarian" village in the Washington "Alps". A fun theme town to explore. From here, continue west on Stevens Pass. A much prettier pass than Snoqualmie's pass on I-90. This will get you to just north of Seattle.

    Alternatively, if you don't care if you see Leavenworth, you can go north at Wenatchee on 97 which will take you past Lake Chelan. Lake Chelan is a nice resort area. If you have time, you might want to take the Lady of the Lake (I think that's the name...it's been awhile) to the town of Stehekin. The only way you can get to Stehekin is via boat. There are no roads there. A very isolated community and fun to explore. The boat trip there and back is quite breath-taking. This makes a nice day trip and would be a great way to get a break from driving for most of the day. There's a surprising amount of things to do in Stehekin. Dont' miss the fantastic bakery!
    Continue west on 20 and you'll be going over one of the most beautiful roads in America, in my humble opinion. The North Cascades Highway has awesome views. Make sure you stop at the rest stop at the top of the pass. There are short trails with stunning views there. This highway closes early due to snow and is typically only open about 3-4 months of the year. It should be open through September but it wouldn't hurt to check when you get to Wenatchee so, if it's already closed, you can take the Stevens Pass route I mentioned a few paragraphs above.
    Impressive knowlege of Chelan County and the NCW (North Central WA)!!! And, yes, it's still the Lady of the Lake.

    If you take the Stevens Pass route, here are some hidden jems that people tend to pass by:

    Approx 4-5 miles W of Leavenworth in Tumwater Canyon: The Alps Candy Store

    Bygone Byways Interpretive Trail, near Stevens Pass Summit (its a signed pull off, westbound lanes only)

    Deception Falls, about 5 or 6 miles west of the sharp turn at the base of the west climb of stevens pass.

    Thats all that I can think of right now!

    Brad

  7. #7

    Default Thanks

    Thanks for all of the advice.

    I set up a quick map at wayfaring.com (which allows you to make your own customized google maps) of all the destinations we want to hit on our trip. All that's left is figuring out the routes.

    Check it out.

    http://www.wayfaring.com/maps/widescreen/4069

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,059

    Default Wayfaring is a cool tool

    Quote Originally Posted by snert
    I set up a quick map at wayfaring.com (which allows you to make your own customized google maps) of all the destinations we want to hit on our trip. All that's left is figuring out the routes.
    Yep, that is a cool tool. Thanks for telling us about it.

    Mark

  9. #9

    Default Chicago to the Pacific Northwest RoadTrip

    What do people who know the area think of this route? It's actually a combination of routes from the book, The Most Scenic Drives in America. I'm curious about how long it might take, places to stop, camp, or any other advice really. We'll be doing it in mid-August.

    Start in Astoria, head south on 101 to Oregon Dunes Nat'l Rec. Area. Take Hwy 42 to Myrtle point, and then 42 east to I-5. Take I-5 south to Grants Pass on 199, then south on 238 to Jacksonville and on to the Rogue Gorge using 234 and 62. From there, 62 east to Crater Lake. Circle the lake, and then head north on 230 to Diamond Lake, then follow 138 back to I-5.

    It looks like 200 miles or so on the coast, then another 200 to Crater Lake and back, but I haven't actually checked.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default It is all gorgeous country

    Quote Originally Posted by snert
    What do people who know the area think of this route?
    Welcome to the Forum! I recently reviewed a book that would be perfect for planning this trip. It covers much of your planned route.
    I'm curious about how long it might take, places to stop, camp, or any other advice really.
    I am not trying to a smart aleck, but how long do you have? There are so many spur roads you could use to divert from that route, all with cool things to see, that if left to my own devices -- such a journey could easily take a couple of months to complete. I bet you don't have that long. So, tell us a little more about the kinds of things you enjoy, how long you have to explore and we can be more helpful!

    Mark

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