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Old 06-02-2009, 06:42 AM   #1
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Vancouver Island, Northern Washington trip recommendations?

We are headed north from Colorado for the month of July for vacation. Anyone have any recommendations for must see areas or cool camping spots or camp grounds. We have been to the San Juan Islands several times but want to explore Vancouver Island a bit.

Also anyone have any info on Ross Lake in north/central Washinton?
Thanks,
Josh
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:47 AM   #2
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Re: Vancouver Island, Northern Washington trip recommendations?

Here is my trip report to that area in October, 2008 - viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1976

I have a feeling it may be different during the summer, but let me know if you have any specific questions.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:33 AM   #3
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Re: Vancouver Island, Northern Washington trip recommendations?

There is also sdwindansea's info-gathering thread, here.

Brent
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:01 PM   #4
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Re: Vancouver Island, Northern Washington trip recommendations?

Saline,

We spent three weeks exploring Vancouver Island last fall and it is a really cool wild place and perfect for a Sportsmobile.

If you are planning on visiting Western Washington prior to going to Vancouver Island I would recommend taking the ferry from Anacortes, this way you only have to clear customs with the people on your ferry. You can make a reservation on the ferry but if you are crossing on a week day you probably won't need it.

If you are coming up through Eastern Washington plan on crossing the boarder ar Nighthawk. You may need a magnifying glass to find this crossing on the map. This is a very small border crossing and if you hit it mid week there will probably be no line. It is along the Sinlahekan Rd. which is a great drive through gorgeous country. If you are at Ross Lake head over Washington Pass/Hwy 20 which is probably the most scenic highway in the State. Just out of Winthrop you can take Eastside Chewack Rd/ FSR 51 to FSR 5130 to FSR 37 which turns into FSR 39 which connects to Sinlahekin Rd. at Conconully. I have done the eastern half of this road up to Lone Pass and it was fairly easy gravel road through miles and miles of beautiful remote woods. There are load of great boondock spots along this road. Alternately you can follow the less scenic but faster route along Hwy 20 through Omak and then connect to Sinlahekin Rd. North of Omak.

Ross lake is a very beautiful place but can only be accessed on the Washington side by a .75 mile hike. When you reach the lake there is a floating fish camp on the opposite shore that will come pick you up and then you can rent a small aluminum boat with an outboard to get up the lake. I haven't been up there in a couple of years but the boat rental were very reasonable, I think it was $20 per day but that may have changed. There are camping spots all up and down the lake I would recommend 10 mile Island, which is my favorite site. The hike to desolation peak is also not to be missed. Jack Keroak wrote one of his books while working as a fire spotter at the lookout tower. The last time I was on the lake it was in August on a weekend and most times there was never another boat in site. There is only one road that access the lake in BC which has a boat launch but it is very remote and not well used. You will need to register with the ranger station before camping and I think that is located on Hwy 20 by Sedro Woolley. You should be able to locate it on the Web with no problem.

If you cross into BC prior to landing on Vancouver island take the ferry from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo. Be sure to fill your tank on the mainland because fuel is very expensive on the island. From there you can drive South to Victoria about 1/2 hour away. If you are interested in experiencing the wilderness head North up through Campbell River. Our favorite area was around the numerous small lakes North of Campbell River.

Telegraph cove is a beautiful little harbor with a quaint waterfront. There is a whale museum that is run by a couple we met in Baja in '07, Jim and Mary which is worth a look. They also run a whale watching operation out of telegraph cover which is worth doing if you have never seen killer whales up close. They have trained biologist on the boats which make it a very informative trip. You will need reservations as they are very busy in the summer and I would recommend asking for the Gikumi (pronounced Geekumee) This is a beautifully restored wood boat that was the used in the saw mill that was located in the harbor. Jim worked on the boat as a young man and then bought it when the mill closed.

The trip out to San Joseph is also worth considering. This will take you to the farthest NW part of the island that can been reached from road. There is a beautiful hike through old growth forest out a beach where a town was located up until WWI. There is a funky campground near the trail head run by a Grizzly Adams king of dude which is a nice quite place to overnight. There are not a lot of choices for camping on the far north part of the island because this is mostly working (logging) woods.

There is an organization called Western Forrest Products which manages most of the woods on the North part of the island that makes good maps of the logging roads. We didn't learn this until we were up on the island and we were not able to locate a map so I would suggest trying to get one before you leave.

Another note is you will likely encounter some off road log truck that carry 100 ton loads. These are twice as wide as a normal truck and take up the entire road. They will make your SMB feel very small. If you encounter one of these they will expect you to yield which usually means quickly backing up to the nearest turn out or road which could be a quite a distance.

Here are our favorite camp spots on the island.

Stella Cove located on Stella Lake. A great single spot at the end of a short access road. N50 17.138', W125 29.236'.

Ida Lake, small campground on a medium sized lake near Telegraph Cove. There are no services and you will likely have the place to yourselves. N50 27.448', W126 48.645'

Bonanza Lake, large lake with a small campground. The best site is next to the boat launch that a d has nice sun. There is also an log yarder on the shore just east of the boat launch. This lake can get quite windy but this site has nice shelter from the wind. N50 20.485', W126 44.651'

Our favorite spot was on a small unnamed lake. It is down a very old but short logging road. It is so quite hear that you can hear every fish jumping at any point on the lake. It has a small dock and if you like fishing this is the place. N50 9.083', W125 31.667'.

I will post add some pictures this afternoon when I have more time.

If you have questions or want to run ideas by me feel free to send me a Email through the forum. If you pass through Seattle and need a camp spot or just want to stop and chat we have a large lawn you are welcome to park on provided we are in town.

John
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Old 06-03-2009, 03:06 PM   #5
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Re: Vancouver Island, Northern Washington trip recommendations?

Wow! Thanks John, thats exactly the kind of info we need. Thanks a bunch! Now it's off to Google earth for me.
Josh
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:23 PM   #6
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Re: Vancouver Island, Northern Washington trip recommendations?

I've been working on the WashingtonState page and other info for the Northwest on the forum wiki. It's fairly bare bones at this point, and the prose is lacking. It's mainly lists of resources and places, but I'm working on bulking it out and adding details. Hopefully it'll help

Personally, I love the Cascades and Eastern Washington. There are more places to explore and camp than you can shake a stick at. We have a family trip planned for Eastern Washington at the end of the month, then a trip around the Olympic Peninsula for next. I was really hoping to get up to Vancouver Island this year, but it's not looking likely.

The Northwest Overland Society and Pacific Northwest Adventures Forum are both good for finding places in the northwest you want to visit that are off the pavement. The Washington Park Service maintains a pretty large system of campgrounds, with online maps and reservations. They might not be your first choice for outback camping, but they usually have decent enough amenities and give you a place -- outside of Wal-mart -- to camp near major cities and attractions.
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Old 06-07-2009, 01:54 PM   #7
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Re: Vancouver Island, Northern Washington trip recommendations?

Recently, I passed through Vancouver briefly on my way to Prince Rupert, on planes, sadly. But the destination was worthy, and I ran into a few locals that I photographed..



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