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  1. Default Washington State National Parks road trip

    I am planning a week 7/8 days in Washington State. I will fly into Seattle. Please forward suggestions for which direction to start and what I do not need to miss. Would love to see all 3 National Parks and maybe Lewis & Clarke Historical Park in northern OR.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
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    9,969

    Default Once Around the Block

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    For two relatively simple reasons, I'd suggest making your loop to the Washington National Parks in a counter-clockwise direction. Doing so will put the Pacific Ocean on 'your' side of the highway as you drive along the shore and keep most of the views of the mountains as you circumnavigate them out the window on your side of the car. That said, there's lots more to see and do in Washington State than those three parks, and plenty of scenic roads connecting them, so consider the route outlined below.

    If you want to add a 'sea cruise' to your trip first head north out of SeaTac Airport to Colman Dock in Seattle and take the Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry over to Bainbridge Island and use WA-305, WA-3, WA-104 to connect with US-101 towards Port Angeles. If you'd rather save the cost of the ferry just leave SeaTac and head south on I-5 to WA-16 north to WA-3 at Gorst and then to WA-104 and US-101 as above. US-101 is the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway and will give access to both Olympic National Park and the ocean. Follow that all the way around the Olympic Peninsula to Astoria OR. I say Astoria because if you're interested in Lewis and Clark, you might as well visit the End of Trail in nearby Seaside and then proceed up the Columbia River on US-30 to WA/OR-433 and WA-432 to I-5 north. Follow that to the US-12 east exit which will be marked for Mt. Ranier National Park. From US-12 take WA-7 north to WA-706 east, part of the White Pass Scenic Byway through the Park where it becomes Paradise Valley Road then Steves Canyon Road and emerges on the east side of the Park onto WA-123 which you'd follow north to WA-410 north. Unfortunately, there's no good way to get up to North Cascades without returning almost to the Seattle metro area, so just stay on WA-410 to Enumclaw and WA-169 north to WA-18 east to I-90 east. Next up is WA-970 east to US-97 north, part of the Cascade Loop, to Pateros and WA-153 north which will put you on WA-20 west, the North Cascades Scenic Highway to North Cascades National Park. Finally WA-20 will take you to Rockport and WA-530 south to I-5 south and back to SeaTac.

    So, you see it will take some navigating, but the whole loop is right around a thousand miles long so not too much driving for a week, and almost all of it will be scenic, historic, or both

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thanks for the information - I like the idea of a Ferry ride. Can you recommend places to stay?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,515

    Default

    If you choose to stay in Forks, WA, be aware of one thing: there are many of the old hotels that are NOT air-conditioned. Usually they don't really need to be, but if they have a heat spell, you'll wish they did. We loved Olympic Suites Inn's set up, EXCEPT that it was 95 during the day, didn't get much cooler at night during that heat wave, and they didn't have AC. Talking to waitresses in the town of Forks, it seems that many hotels there did not have AC.

    We stayed in Sequim's Econo Lodge - comfy for a budget place but no pool - then Olympic Suites in Forks, and then in Aberdeen's Best Western Plus. Loved the latter, though its location was weird.




    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,969

    Default Tough One

    Recommendations for places to stay are always the hardest to make. As you can tell from Donna's response, personal experience is almost a must to give meaningful advice, and with over 85,000 motels and hotels in the United States alone, we (much as we'd like to) can't and haven't stayed at them all. I can tell you that over the years my personal taste in lodgings have changed from any cheap flop (when I was young and single) to comfortable, well-set houses (my current road residences of choice). What my wife and I have discovered in recent years is that vacation rentals by home owners have proven to be a very significant step up in quality for only a modest step up in price, especially when traveling with more than a couple of people. It all really depends on what you want in the way of amenities, comfort and safety in your accommodations - things we really don't know.

    What I'd suggest is that you first figure out how long you want to spend exploring each National Park and other venue you'll be visiting, then figure out how much you want to drive each day, and only then start looking for towns/areas where you want to spend your nights, and only finally start looking for specific accommodations. For example, let's look at your first night. Since we don't know what time your flight arrives at SeaTac, and we don't know how far you plan to drive that first 'day' we really can't even begin to give you the names of an exact hotel/motel/rental we'd suggest.

    About the only thing I can do is take a guess that your flight won't arrive at SeaTac until late afternoon at the earliest. Assume that it will take you an hour after your scheduled arrival to deplane, get through the airport, rent the car and actually get on the road. If that means that it's essentially sunset or after dark, there's no point to taking the ferry ride that evening and you'll want to look for something north of SeaTac and south of Seattle to just settle in and get a good first night's sleep to start you off on the right foot that day. If, on the other hand, your flight gets in early enough in the day that you're convinced you can make the ferry before or (even better - at) sunset, then set up your first night's lodging on Bainbridge Island.

    So, you can see that we're in no position to offer any real help on lodging yet. As I say, the next step is up to you, namely to figure out were, roughly, you want to be spending your nights and what kind of accommodations you prefer. If you have specific questions along the way we can try to assist you, but a general question of where you should stay on a thousand mile RoadTrip is just outside our ability and trying to answer it would do you a disservice since we'd be telling you where we'd stay, not where you might like to.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-24-2020 at 05:48 PM.

  6. Default

    What a great trip! I live in WA state and have only been to 2/3 of our National Parks. I think that the Mt. St. Helen National Monument is also an awesome sight, and could be worth seeing, if it fit into your itinerary.

    Specific hotel recommendations are tough. I personally have the apps and loyalty accounts at all the major chains, and usually use those, for consistency, and the perks of the occasional free night. In Sequim, there's a newer Holiday Inn with a nice pool, for example. In Forks...not much. Check the reviews carefully there. The WA coast near the Olympic National Park is gorgeous. Hurricane Ridge is not to be missed--access to it is just outside the city limit of Port Angeles--it is part of Olympic National Park. Amazing views--you can see Canada on a clear day.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,515

    Default

    The thing about Forks that most folks don't realize (until they breeze through there or try to overnight there) is that there are NO chains of anything. No chain fast food places (they do have a burger place), no chain restaurants, no chain motels or hotels, no Target, no Walmart, no big grocery store chains.

    Forks Outfitters takes the place of Target, Walmart, grocery stores and has food-to-go within (or did before the Pandemic; I can't speak for 2020, only for 2017). Motels are all mom-and-pop owned and, as I stated above, few are air conditioned. Restaurants are mom-and-pop owned (and thankfully, those with dine-in service WERE air conditioned).

    If anyone in the family was a Twilight series (books, movies) fan, it's the setting of both. However, NOTHING in the Twilight movies was filmed there. NOTHING. But you can still drive around and see the HS, "Bella's house", drive out to where Jacob lived, and see a few other sites. I'm not a big fan of books or movies, but one of my daughters was/is. So we drove around just to take pictures for her.



    Donna

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