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Oregon road trip in early June

sue1947

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Thank you for all the time and consideration you've given to my plans. I used Trip Advisors Top Ten things to see and do in Central Oregon but I like many of your suggestions and have revised the game plan. I especially liked Dave's recommendation to take the ferry in order to avoid Seattle traffic. The Mount St. Helens Visitor Centre I was planning to see is at Castle Rock just 5 miles off of I-5, not the Johnston Ridge Observatory which is an extra 50 miles. I'm the only driver so if I'm finding the driving too stressful and exhausting we might just relax when we get to Sunriver and do local activities as recommended by Sue. Easyrider, we were planning to drive from Sunriver to the Dalles, overnighting there, and then driving to Oliver the next day. I own with VI so it's good to know about Leavenworth for a future, shorter trip from BC. So much to see and do...so little time!
The St Helens visitor Center closest to I-5 isn't much. It was the first one opened after the blast as a chamber of commerce effort. There's an entrance fee and you won't see much. The best visitor center is Johnston Ridge which is right on the edge looking at the Mountain and the blast zone for full impact. The movie is a must do as is the hike. The other Visitor center further down the road is the Forest Learning Center which is ok and second choice and I wouldn't bother with the one down by the freeway. I'd save Mt St Helens for another trip. In fact, June is a great time for both Leavenworth and St Helens so maybe that is next year's trip? There's a whole 'nother thread on that one. The road over Chinook Pass (west of Yakima) and then through the south end of Mt Rainier NP usually open by Memorial Day. In early June, there will still be lots of snow, but the scenery is spectacular. Stay in Packwood or Randle on Highway 12 for both parks.

As you're transiting on Hwy 20 down to Whidbey Island, take a few minutes to stop at the Deception Pass Bridge. It's a pretty amazing view, and worth the (free) stop. There are two bridges, one after the other, and there is parking on the right before the first one, on the left between the two, and on the right after the second one. That last parking lot has restrooms. Great historical website: https://whidbeycamanoislands.com/history-of-deception-pass-bridge/

If it's a sunny day, the ride on the Port Townsend ferry is a great "mini-cruise" experience. :)

Enjoy the drive. It's gorgeous at this time of year. And plan to be back - you're going to find things you'll want to come and see again, when you have more time.

Dave
Deception Pass is lovely, but they are painting the bridge. The work is mostly at night but they have machinery parked on both sides of the bridge so parking will be limited and walking across the bridge is limited to one side only. The 'free' parking on the far side now has a Discover pass required sign in it plus limitations from the painting. Discover Pass is the day use fee for Washington state parks and they have 2 free days in June; June 8 and 9th. If you are there on one of those days, continue past the bridge to the light and turn right into the park. At the 3 way stop, go straight ahead to North Beach. Find the trail on your right and hike up along the trail that goes underneath the bridge. It's a beautiful walk. If you can park in the lot at the far end of the bridge, find the stairs down to the trail on the bridge side of the parking lot.
The ferry to Port Townsend is a small one and you will want reservations in advance. You can do this online. In addition, that ferry is frequently impacted i.e. runs cancelled, by low tides so make sure you check in advance. It's a beautiful drive, but it also has it's own traffic issues. Weekends can be stop and go through Oak Harbor and the drive down from Port Townsend is mostly narrow and windy two lane roads. It will take 2 hours more than going through Seattle. Seattle traffic just requires some planning. Leave Vancouver (or better Birch Bay as was suggested earlier to get the border crossing out of the way) around 9am and get through Seattle and down to Olympia by noon and you should miss most of the traffic issues.

The ferry route is a pretty one and there are plenty of places to stop along the way. If you go that way, I'd bag St Helens and stay west towards the coast for a prettier drive. Just watch for the speed traps through Elma/Montesano/Raymond.

Sue
 

ronandjoan

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Yes, whidbey island a favored place of ours too and a WA state ferry is also the BEST!!

The Deception Park was built by the CCC... really points out how sturdy things were built in those days!!!

What dates will you be in Newport?
 

dreamin

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The day we arrive in BC we'll be picking up my sister in Maple Ridge, BC and crossing into the US at the Sumas border which is supposed to be much quicker than the busier Blaine crossing. That first day we'll be able to drive as far as Burlington, WA which will allow us more time the next day to enjoy the drive on Whidbey Island. This will also make it easier for me to judge what time to make the reservation for the ferry.

Joan, we'll be in Newport for 2 nights - June 9th and 10th. Unfortunately we'll miss you & Ron. It would have been fun to meet up as we sure enjoyed the Orlando TUG event.
 

DaveNV

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Are you sleeping over in Burlington? Where are you staying?

Depending on when you're leaving BC, keep in mind the drive from the Sumas Border Crossing to Burlington is only about 45-60 minutes. On I-5 the exit numbers are also mile markers. So if you cross at Sumas, and make your way to I-5 at Meridian(?), that's Exit 256. Burlington is at Exit 230. So only 26 miles, and most of it is outside a metro area (after you leave Bellingham.). Even the Blaine Border Crossing by the Peace Arch is Exit 276, so is only 46 miles to Burlington from there. You may make better time than you think.

Also, from Maple Ridge, the Lynden Crossing might be faster than driving all the way over to Sumas, then back to I-5. From the Lynden Crossing it's a straight shot down "the Guide" to I-5 at Exit 256.

Also, remember the sun sets much later right now, so you'll have a lot of daylight that day. :)

Safe trip!

Dave
 
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sue1947

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I think Burlington is a good place for the first night. It has a good selection of decent and inexpensive motels and plenty of restaurant choices. It always takes longer on the first day than I think so giving yourself some extra time makes a lot of sense.
If you have time and want to get out for a walk, try Padilla Bay Shore Trail less than 10 miles west. Take Highway 20 towards Anacortes. Take a right at Bayview-Edison road (there's a light and the Farmhouse restaurant on the far corner) and drive around 2 corners around the farm fields and look for the small trailhead on your left. The trail is along an old dike so look for a very small parking area with a gate and a porta-pottie and then a small parking area just past that. The paved trail follows the slough and then the Bay with benches along the way. It's very popular and a nice place to stretch your legs after being in the car.

On the other hand, if you have more time, getting to Oak Harbor for the night gives you time to explore Deception Pass without worrying about catching the ferry. Oak Harbor can be very congested so allow extra time to get through there.
Sue
 

DaveNV

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On the other hand, if you have more time, getting to Oak Harbor for the night gives you time to explore Deception Pass without worrying about catching the ferry. Oak Harbor can be very congested so allow extra time to get through there.
Sue

And Deception Pass Bridge along about sunset in Summer is a great view. :thumbup:

Dave
 

ronandjoan

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Oak harbor is on a beach too, a nice walking path.

Burlington? Not
 

yellow2bus

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S0 many great suggestions for you. I didn't see any mention of seeing all the whales. Driving south On 101 before Newport is Depoe Bay, right in the middle of this small town is a easyview point to watch all the whales feeding. They are very close to shore. Last June we saw maybe 30+ whales feeding.
 

Rjbeach2003

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On your first day, give this option a bit of thought:

As you're coming down I-5 from Bellingham, take Exit 230 West, and follow the signs on Highway 20 for Whidbey Island. Catch the ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend, (it's only a 30-minute ride - look at https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/ for sailing times, and so you can decide whether to make a reservation, you might need one.) Then drive south toward Bremerton, and on 101 then to catch I-5 again at Olympia. You will save a ton of time, and you can bypass all the Everett, Seattle, and (northbound) Tacoma traffic. Continue down I-5 and decide if you want to drive up the highway to the Mt. St. Helens Visitor's Center. That's the Castle Rock exit. After that, make your way to Seaside by whatever means you'd like, but one suggestion is to cut west on Highway 4 at Longview, and drive across the Astoria Bridge. You can completely bypass Portland traffic that way. And Seaside is only a half hour south of Astoria.

You can cut off a LOT of city traffic delays this way, and see some amazing scenery.

Dave

View attachment 11675
Agree with Dave. We drove from Edmonds to Canby OR yesterday and it took 6 hrs. Stopped only for gas and drive thru food. Left Edmonds just a little after 3pm and it was stop and go til past Olympia. Driving this route will be much more fun.
 

dreamin

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Edmonds to Canby is only 212 miles according to googlemaps so it is shocking that it would take you 6 hours! We arrive in Kelowna, BC around noon and after picking up my sister in Maple Ridge we'll be heading south around 6 pm if everything goes smoothly. We're taking TUG advice and will be staying in Oak Harbor the first night. The next day will be the ferry to Port Townsend and the long but what looks like an interesting drive south on 101/I-5 to Seaside. I'm a bit concerned that we will be on Whidbey Island on the weekend that there is free admission to the state parks. This usually means more traffic congestion. We'll definitely be spending a lot of time in the car for this trip but I'm sure it will be worth it!
 

ronandjoan

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Edmonds to Canby is only 212 miles according to googlemaps so it is shocking that it would take you 6 hours! We arrive in Kelowna, BC around noon and after picking up my sister in Maple Ridge we'll be heading south around 6 pm if everything goes smoothly. We're taking TUG advice and will be staying in Oak Harbor the first night. The next day will be the ferry to Port Townsend and the long but what looks like an interesting drive south on 101/I-5 to Seaside. I'm a bit concerned that we will be on Whidbey Island on the weekend that there is free admission to the state parks. This usually means more traffic congestion. We'll definitely be spending a lot of time in the car for this trip but I'm sure it will be worth it!
That timing on the I-5 corridor through Western WA is normal.. Seattle traffic is so bad and it does continue through Tacoma and Olympia too.
These last two mornings the ferry route from Coupeville to Port Townsend has been cancelled due to low water levels. Hope you are not caught in that . But I guess they would just make patrons wait
 
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dreamin

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We just returned from our road trip and had an amazing time. Thanks to all who provided recommendations. We travelled almost 1700 miles and didn't find it difficult at all until the last day when we drove from just south of Bend to the Canadian border, a 10 hour day. I did all the driving and my sisters navigated. Our favourite areas were Cannon Beach, Yaquina Head, Newberry Volcanic National Monument, High Desert Museum, and Timberline Lodge. The tidal pools at Cannon and Yaquina were simply amazing! The varied scenery throughout the trip was outstanding. Our least favourite area was Seaside, where we had a disappointing meal at Mo's (l l/2 hour wait at Nonni's!). We liked historic Astoria and should have over-nighted there instead. Hood River and the Dalles was less than anticipated but that might be because we didn't spend much time there, opting to make the diversion to Mount Hood. We really enjoyed the ferry experience to avoid Seattle traffic and thank DaveNW for that suggestion. There was very little traffic on I-5 south of Olympia. Snow caused road closures at McKenzie Pass and Crater Lake and trail closures at Cascade Lakes Byway so unfortunately we didn't get to see these areas, nor did we have the time! Oregon is definitely worth a return trip some day. Here is a link to my travel blog with photos: https://findpenguins.com/wheredowegofromhere/trip/sisterhood-washington-oregon
 

DaveNV

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Really glad you enjoyed your trip, and glad I was able to help a bit. There is so much to see in the Pacific Northwest, including BC, that it's a fine place to vacation. The best part for you, now that you've done it, is you can do it again, and go back to see more of the places you want to, and skip those you don't care to see again. :)

If you want a ferry ride that is even more dramatic, head over to Sydney, BC, and catch the ferry to Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island. The ~90 minute ferry ride through our San Juan Islands back to Anacortes, Washington, is like a mini cruise in itself. :) (Or you can do the same trip in the other direction, from Anacortes, and ending up on Vancouver Island.)

Dave
 
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