PNW Road Trip

Nick

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Audra and I are going to take a big road trip the first week in September to try living out of our new Four Wheel Camper. We're tentatively planning on driving out to the Olympic National Park area first and then working our way down the coast through Oregon and then probably cut over through Crater Lake before heading home. I've been through some of this area so I have some ideas but this will be Audra's first trip to the PNW aside from an Alaska cruise we took out of Seattle once.

I'd love advice and ideas from all of you on things we should try to see along the way. We have 8-9 days to work with. Also, any intel on places we can camp out of the FWC would be awesome as well. We're interested in everything from roadside attractions to solid day hikes and I think we might do an overnight backpack in ONP. Thanks in advance!

This is the rough route we have in mind.

1528088682315.png
 
Last edited:

KJR

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Feb 12, 2018
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Audra and I are going to take a big road trip the first week in September to try living out of our new Four Wheel Camper. We're tentatively planning on driving out to the Olympic National Park area first and then working our way down the coast through Oregon and then probably cut over through Crater Lake before heading home. I've been through some of this area so I have some ideas but this will be Audra's first trip to the PNW aside from an Alaska cruise we took out of Seattle once.

I'd love advice and ideas from all of you on things we should try to see along the way. We have 8-9 days to work with. Also, any intel on places we can camp out of the FWC would be awesome as well. We're interested in everything from roadside attractions to solid day hikes and I think we might do an overnight backpack in ONP. Thanks in advance!

This is the rough route we have in mind.

View attachment 64921
Nick,

Here is my nickels worth as I live near Tacoma. When you get to Yakima, ignore the road to I-90. Take hwy 410 - AKA Chinook Pass across the mountains. Still possible to come out onto I-5 near Tacoma. Much more scenic drive. Lots to places to spend the night (if it looks like you need an overnight in this area, let me know and I will tell you a couple roads to go up) and lots of spots to stop and look. Awesome mountain scenery. Take a detour to Sunrise in Mt. Rainier National park and go for a hike to Burroughs - preferably on to Burroughs #2. Easy day hike - combine with a trip to the lookout and you have a fantastic day. Go out to Neah Bay at the tip of the peninsula and hike out to Cape Flattery (have to pay couple $ for the hike as it is native land), well worth it.

I just got back Friday night from a month in Crescent City courtesy of my work, which appears to be your southern point on the coast, so here are a few items in that area. Drive the Drury parkway south of Klamath and stop and wander at a few of the trails into the trees. Just south of where the parkway comes back to 101 is I think Davidson rd, goes to the coast and a state park. $8 day use fee, pay it and go to end of the road and hike Fern Canyon. Short hike about a mile, get your feet wet in the creek. Awesome short hike, ferns grow on the side of the canyon, both sides. If you have the time you can start from the visitor center at Prarie Creek and do a loop to the coast, hike down through Fern Canyon, hike down the coast a mile, then catch the Miller trail back to the visitor center and save the $8. I did both, the loop ended up about 13 miles. Excellent trails to hike, awesome big trees to look at. (Recommend it if you have the time)

Do the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and get a permit for the tall trees loop (up the road from Lady Bird). Permits are given free at one of the visitor centers for Redwoods. Limited entry, 50 a day I think. Only couple mile hike, easy, nice trail. Be sure to walk out to Redwood Creek and look back at the trees to get an idea of Scale.

Hit up Stout grove only a few miles outside of Crescent City - turned into my favorite grove of big trees. IF you have a day - do the Devils Punch bowl. You could easily spend the night along this road anywhere you wanted. It is 20 miles of paved forest service road and then 20 miles of good gravel. THe hike is a bit less then 10 miles roundtrip and ends at 2 lakes - wonderful hike through the woods and then across the granite to the lakes. If you go be sure to go around the first lake and keep going a short distance to the 2nd lake.

At the south end of Crescent City take a left onto Anchor way, go past the chart room restaurant and then park in the lot and check out the sea lions and seals on the floats. At the south end of town, just before you head up hill into the park, look for elk in the evening and morning, herd of about 40 hang out there. Also take a drive up towards Enderts Beach, also at south end of town. Road only goes a couple miles, but, view is awesome from the cliff out over ocean. Nice pull out at end with a couple of picnic tables. I saw whales from here a couple of times in May.

Southbound on 101, just after you cross the Klamath river is an exit for a coastal drive, take it. Takes you over to coast and then you go north along the bluff looking over ocean, road turns one way and loops around to the mouth of the Klamath River and right back to where you got off 101. There is a pull out right above the mouth of the river, stop there and look for sea Lions in the water at the mouth of the river. Only about a 10 mile loop, but a nice drive, couple of nice stops along it as well.

Hit up the Oregon Caves on your way to grants Pass from the coast - worth the short side trip. Take the cave tour, and there are some hikes that leave from there as well. I did the Big Tree loop, less then 5 miles, easy trail, nice leg stretcher. Goes past a big Doug fir tree.

Once you leave Crater Lake if you have time add Stevens Mountain and or the Alford Desert. Find the hot springs and go for a soak on the edge of the Alford, preferably sit in the hot springs and watch the stars go by.

I drive a Tundra and haven’t sent you anywhere it won’t go with ease.

If you are interested in any of this let me know and I will see about some photos to wet the appetite a bit...

Kevin
 

Miya

Because I am able.
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Really avoiding CA, looks like LOL

That is awesome though. Should be fun! Umpqua National Forest is nice, idk if that could be planned into your route though. Lots of waterfalls along the highway with short hikes to them.
 

oldnavy8292

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Jun 9, 2018
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Nick,

Here are few of my suggestions:

- Taking I-84 to just right outside of Boise and then take US 20 to Bend, Oregon. It's really scenic drive. As you approaching Bend, the Oregon Cascade slowly emerges into your view. There are few dispersed camping spots before you entering Bend. Regarding hikes, there are plenty of options to choose from like Three Sisters, Jack's finger, Smith Rock, etc. It depends on how much time do you guys want to stay there.
- From Bend, you guys can take a detour South to Crater Lake. It's roughly about 2hrs or so from Bend. Or if Crater Lake is not really high on your list, you can head straight to the coastal town of Newport, OR. After that, just shoot straight up on US-101 along the coast north. Another coastal town that I think worth a visit is Astoria. There are few campsites just right outside town.
- When in Washington, you could either take a short detour from US-101 to get to Rialto beach. There are a camping spot for your camper and it's about less than a mile away from the shore (Unfortunately I can't really remember the name of the campground). Unless you fell a little more adventurous, you could do a much longer detour to visit Shi Shi beach. It's absolutely beautiful. You can camp on the beach with the catch of having backpacking in ~2 miles.
- After the coastline, you can stay at Fairholme campground. It's definitely one of the most beautiful campgrounds in Olympic NP. Another great camping spot is Deer Park campground. At this campground, you have the 360 degree view of the Olympic range. The road to get there is little rough. Without a 4x4 might be impossible.
- Then, if you run out of time, you can traverse along US-101 to get to Olympia then through Rainier NP to Yakima and take I-84 back. The alternative route is to take the ferry from the peninsula to Edmond and then take WA-20 through North Cascade NP then take US-97 through lake Chelan, Wenatchee, and then Yakima to I-84 back.

Hope this help.
 

DaveS

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Jun 12, 2018
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If near Yakima (north a bit and east a bit), check out Jackson Creek Fish Camp for $10 camping right on the Columbia River.

Info at the Grant County PUD site: http://www.grantpud.org/recreation/campgrounds/jackson-creek-fish-camp

Photos: https://www.yelp.com/biz/jackson-creek-fish-camp-mattawa

Google maps view: https://www.google.com/maps/place/J...80ca025f51c223!8m2!3d46.629623!4d-119.8660661



Washington state parks are good for showers. Especially good in my experience are Yakima Sportsman State Park and Wenatchee Confluence State Park or Lincoln Rock State Park in the Wenatchee area.

WA State parks: http://parks.state.wa.us/sitemap

Buy an annual Discover Pass ($30) for easy day access: http://parks.state.wa.us/167/Discover-Pass-fees



Rimrock Lake on U.S. Highway 12 is nice and has dispersed camping. Info: https://freecampsites.net/#!Rimrock,+WA,+USA

Take the Tieton Road turnoff. There is a gravel road about 1/4 mile in, to the right. Tieton Road is paved the whole way around the lake and passes many other camping possibilities.

Google maps view: https://www.google.com/maps/place/R...c9457cc621f1e!8m2!3d46.6413466!4d-121.1663016



Capitol State Forest offers free camping (https://www.dnr.wa.gov/Campsites), but does require a Discover Pass (http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/)

Middle Waddell and Margaret McKenny campgrounds are just a few miles southwest of Olympia.

You can also find an out-of-the-way spot and just park in the woods, and though this is not allowed, you probably won't ever be bothered.
 

Nick

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Thanks so much for all the great suggestions! I got kinda busy in June and couldn't process it all, but now I'm totally back into the planning of this trip. I've spent most of this weekend dialing things in. Here's where we're at now, please take a look and chime in if you have any suggestions.

First off, here's the current map. Purple bed pins are where we plan to spend nights. Night 1 in Boise, then west toward Crater Lake doing the loop counter clockwise.

map.jpg


I've come to terms with the fact that pretty much all of this is going to be camping in campgrounds. That said, I've already booked a handful of sites but to me they are insurance more than anything. If we come upon a better plan along the way, I'd rather do that than worry about losing my $30 spent booking a site. With that said, here's the tentative plan. Lots of gaps still to fill in as far as what we do along the way.


Thur 8/30 - Day 1:
Leave SLC 7-8am. Arrive in Boise before 1pm. Work. Camp near Boise.

Fri 8/31 - Day 2:
Work in Boise. Leave by 1-2pm to head west. Camp at or near Diamond Lake (near Crater Lake). ~7 hours driving.

Sat 9/1 - Day 3:
Drive up to Crater NP and down to Coos Bay. Spend the afternoon/evening around Coos Bay. ~4 hours driving.

Sun 9/2 - Day 4:
Head up coast. Camp at Cape Perpetua (booked). ~1.5 hours driving.

Mon 9/3 - Day 5 (Labor Day):
Continue up coast. Go to aquarium. Camp at Cape Lookout (booked). ~2 hours driving.

Tue 9/4 - Day 6:
Continue up coast. Cannon Beach, Seaside, Astoria. Camp at Willaby CG at Lake Quinalt (booked). ~4 hours driving.

Wed 9/5 - Day 7:
Drive ~2 hours to La Push and start backpack in ONP Third Beach South Coast to Toleak.
OR
Drive a bit further and backpack Shi Shi beach. Leaning toward Shi Shi.

Thu 9/6 - Day 8:
Finish backpacking ONP, head east to camp in Cascades near RNP. ~5 hours driving.

Fri 9/7 - Day 9:
Hike the Burroughs Mountain Trail in Rainier NP. Start drive home, camp somewhere along the way.

Sat 9/8 - Day 10:
Drive remainder of the way home.


Here are some of the questions still rattling around in my brain...

Where to camp around Boise?
I'd love to find a site that has good data service so I could stay there and work when I'm not going to be on-site somewhere.

Where to camp around Crater Lake?
I'm thinking I'll book a site at Diamond Lake, especially since we'll be arriving later on the Friday leading into Labor Day weekend. But open to other thoughts. If I can get out of Boise earlier, it would be cool to catch sunset at Crater and then camp along the North Umpqua, but I don't think I can swing that. Not to mention the first come, first served sites on the river would probably be full.

Where to camp around Coos Bay?
This is a tough one. There are plenty of suitable campgrounds with available sites, but they won't let me book just Saturday night on Labor Day weekend. I'd need to book Fri-Sat-Sun. Right now my top contenders are to just stealth camp somewhere, or perhaps camp in the $15/night 'dry camping' parking lot at the Mills Casino in Coos Bay. Or the Walmart.

Where to backpack in Olympic National Park?
I already asked this question once and @moose droppings and others gave some awesome advice. I'll be there mid-week so I'm torn between doing South Coast Trail: 3rd Beach -> Scotts Creek / Strawberry Point / Toleak -> 3rd Beach, out-n-back or just going up and doing an out and back to Shi Shi Beach. If I could find a shuttle I'd probably opt for a point-to-point from Oil City to Third Beach but I am having no luck there and I'm not sure how creative I want to get. And that may not even be good as an overnight. I don't think Audra will be down with two nights backpacking on this trip.

Where to camp near Mount Rainier?
I may just book a riverside spot at The Dalles campground. I hear maybe White River CG is better but it's first come first served and we may be coming in late. Anything else good around there?

Where else to hike?
I have some books on order but other than the backpacking in ONP and hiking Burroughs in Rainier, I still need to figure out how we're going to spend a lot of time. Obviously just touristy stuff on the coast will be fun. And I know there are some hikes around where we're camping at Cape Perpetua. But what else should I focus in on based on our route?
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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For Rainier I have had success with Ohanapecosh. It doesn't always fill and it is on the same side as White River.
Coos Bay area--Try Eel Creek Campground. It is a forest service campground in the Oregon dunes Nat Rec Area where the dunes come right into your campsite. No ORV access to the dunes from the CG which means it should be quieter than some of the others. I don't know about weekend rules for that campground since when we are in the area we are staying that long anyways.
Dune hiking the area around Coos Bay in the Oregon Dunes Nat Rec Area can be fun if it is your thing. Time consuming and somewhat tedious, but I personally love it and the trails are in the areas where ORVs are not allowed. There can be forests and lakes back in there between the "layers" of dunes. There is a trail near Carl Washbourne campground (close to Florence, OR) called the Hobbit trail (maybe it is the colloquial name), which is kind of a fun short trail through the bushes down a steepish incline to the beach. You end up in a less used area of the beach although there will likely be a few people around, because, well, it is the Oregon Coast and people love to visit and poke around all sorts of places.
You'll love cape lookout. It's a great camping spot. Early morning low tides yield sand dollars, sometimes unbroken ones as my son will attest.
Check out any lighthouse you can along the coast. They are all awesome and cool in their own way. Yaquina head lighthouse (near Newport) is the best to go inside. You'll love the aquarium too. Very well done.
Also the fort to sea hike from from Fort Clatsop where Lewis and Clark stayed is a fun hike and there is a shuttle that can bring you back to your car from what I recall (I didn't use it as my wife didn't want to hike it so she and the kids came and got me at the end). The maritime museum in Astoria is also awesome. And if you're a Goonies fan, it was filmed in Astoria.
I've never camped near Boise except once in a sorta sketchy commercial campground west of Caldwell right on the highway with some sort of pond. Can't remember the name. It turns out that Boise is right about the midway point in our trips either home from wherever we stayed the night before in Utah or Wyoming (i.e. inbound) or about midway into our journey from home for that particular day (outbound).
It probably doesn't fit your itinerary, but LaPine state park campground south of Bend is really nice and is along a river in a pine forest.
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Shore Acres state park is one of the best places to storm surf watch. Plus it has a really lovely rose garden as it originally was the grounds of a now removed mansion previously owned by a lumber baron. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's eve they do an amazing Christmas light show all through out the garden. You will have to come back for that.
 

KJR

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Feb 12, 2018
Messages
43
For Mt. Rainier - After you pass through Greenwater and the fire station on your left - less then 2 miles from Greenwater, turn left on FR 70. Starts out as paved. Go 5 or 6 miles up this road and find a campsite along the creek. (If interested in this option let me know and I will be more specific). You will be there Thursday after Labor Day. Should have your pick. Be sure to gas up in Enumclaw, next gas that won’t cost you $$$$ is Yakima. Not far back to hwy and not much time to Sunrise for Burroughs, the next morning. Not a campground. Watch for Mtn goats and black bears on Burroughs hike, almost always see one or both. If. You have the time go to the lookout and then do Burroughs and loop back to parking lot from the top of Burroughs #1 after you hit up #2 for an absolutely fantasitic view of Mr. Rainier. Here is a look from late October a couple years ago, started snowing a couple hours later so most of the mountain is hidden...
2015-10-25 12.19.30.jpg
 

Nanda

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Jun 30, 2013
Messages
282
I did a similar, but smaller trip to central Oregon last month. It's good you have it all mapped out, i wish i had done that, I just went with my gut without much planning and ended up driving a same section of route both ways. Don't have much to add except for these 2 points.

Where to camp around Boise?
I camped at Willow creek in NF of boise river, it's a really nice/free campsite with toilet and side of the river. But it's hour and half in because of the dirt from the highway and don't think I had any reception there. if you didn't know already, look into freecampsites.net, there are some areas around boise with cell reception and dispersed camping.

Where to camp around Crater Lake?
I drove from Bend down to Crater Lake, then west through Umpqua NF. I didn't have plans to camp anywhere in the middle, but I saw most of the NF campgrounds along the river were empty. Also there are few cool waterfalls in that section, be sure to go with ur camera.

You seem more focused on the coastal area obviously. I only spent 2 nights there and camping was most expensive along the coast, but worth it for the views.
IMG_1139.jpg
 

andyjaggy

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Dec 2, 2013
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So much good stuff up there. My favorite beaches are Bandon and Pacific City just outside Tillamook. Yaquina Head just north of Newport is also definitely worth a stop. I would also suggest driving into North Cascades just East of Seattle for a night, such a pretty area and some great camping to be had there.
 

tennistime99

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Jan 16, 2018
Messages
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Where to camp near Mount Rainier?

Skate Creek road (NF52) from Mount Rainier's Nisqually exit will have free dispersed camping along the creek. There's a gas station in Packwood at the end of the road. This will put you on highway 12 from where you can go east through Lewiston, ID and ride over Lolo Pass (well known twisty road) if your heading back towards Utah; or west to interstate 5.

A nice little hike to 3 lakes can be found off of FR52 if you don't mind a pretty beat up dirt road.

https://goo.gl/maps/nkf31mDdB552

Sent from my XT1575 using Tapatalk
 

Ben

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Sep 12, 2014
Messages
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Re backpacking in Olympic
I wouldn't plan on doing La Push to Oil City with Audra. I did it with Brittinei and her brother and they both hated the long inland stretch at the south end. It's reliably pretty muddy and uneven in some stretches there. It was bad enough some one threw a shoe. After it got sucked off in the mud. I thought it was fine, but I'm guessing it's not for Audra. You really can't go wrong with either of the other two options, Third Beach or Shi Shi. Both gorgeous. I'd do which ever one was more convenient.

Re other places to hike
There are some interesting day hikes from the Hoh visitor center, or Lake Quinault. It's cool to see the rain forest. In Oregon it's possible to hike any where on the coast. I haven't done it. If you want to know more try looking up 'Oregon Coast Trail'. I'd probably spend some time just hiking where ever you happen to be.

We stayed at Diamond Lake when we went to Crater Lake. It's not far off the beaten path, but it was still low key when we were there. Pretty area.
 

Nick

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Aug 9, 2007
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Thanks so much everyone. So much to process so I'm sure I'll respond to bits as I work through it. For now though, I am entertaining the idea of not backpacking in ONP but day hiking instead. Long story, and I'm a little disappointed at the idea, but maybe I can get on board. Anyway, with two days to day hike in ONP rather than 2 days of backpacking the coast, any good suggestions on what to do? Rialto Beach to Hole in the Wall seems like a good one. What else?
 

Ben

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Sep 12, 2014
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Go to Second Beach, the crowds there are a must see. Just kidding. Rialto and Third Beach are both nice, there are some cool sea stacks at the Hole in the Rock end. If you are just day walking you could also stop and check out the beaches south of the Hoh. They're numbered, Beach 1, 2, etc. Not to be confused with First, Second, Third Beach. They're just off the highway. Try to go around low tide to see the starfish and sand dollars.
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Hurricane Ridge can be crowded but if you go earlier or later in the day plus go on longer hikes (as I'm sure you'd know to do already) the crowds do taper off. If night sky viewing is your thing stay at heart of the hills and go up for the program (last year it started really late, so with kids we didn't do it). We were on top around sunset and the views (with fog) were awesome.
IMG_5820.JPG
 
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