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Old 07-16-2008, 09:46 AM   #1
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Western Oregon & Washington - Trip Advice Needed

We (my wife, two dogs and I) will be exploring the Oregon and Washington coast lines for 2 weeks beginning at the end of September (9/27 – 10/12). We have a tentative plan as far as general areas but I was hoping to get some more specific advice of where to actually go. I love remote, primitive camping but I also realize that this will not be possible in many of the places we want to see. As far as activities go, we plan on spending most of the time hiking and kayaking (rentals). So, here is our general, tentative plan. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated since we’ve never been to these areas before. Thanks!

3 – 4 days in Olympic National Park & Forest
2 days on Victoria Island
1 day/night in Seattle at a pet friendly hotel
2 days in Southern Washington/Northern Oregon
2 days in Central Oregon
2 days in Southern Oregon

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Old 07-16-2008, 12:04 PM   #2
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Short Sands beach,

This is a classic beach with a nice beginner surf break, just south of Cannon Beach.

Oswald West State Park, Short Sands Beach. Not sure of camping, but it is a must do 1/2 mile hike down to the beach.

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Old 07-16-2008, 01:57 PM   #3
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Two days in Victoria just isn't enough. Be sure to visit:

- Craigdarroch Castle

- Butchart Gardens

- Anne Hathaway's Cottage

I think a month on Vancouver Island would be a good visit. It is a beautiful place with much to see and do.

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Old 07-16-2008, 02:11 PM   #4
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Im planning a 1-weeker for Southern-Central Oregon for August as well and am struggling. So anyone with any "SPECTACULAR MUST SEES" please share!
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Old 07-17-2008, 01:08 AM   #5
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gosh, that is a tall many places, where to begin.

Fist thing is your timing is good, perfect time of year. If I were coming up the coast out of California I would definitely do a short detour in and around Jedediah Smith State Park and Smith River NRA outside of Crescent City. Some really nice spots and huge Redwoods off Hwy 199, not nearly as crowded as some of the Redwood areas further south. In fact, I would blast up I-5 direct to Redding and then come over thru the Trinity Alps on the way to the coast. Some really nice stuff up and around Weaverville and just a beautiful way to get the the coastline. And from there, thru Arcata, Crescent City and the redwoods, its just a hop skip and a jump on to Oregon Coast Hwy. Unless you want to come all the way up 101 thru CA.

A few observations on a couple of other destinations:

Olympic Nat'l Park. Go up 101 to Quinault, there are a few roads that go in in deeper toward the Wilderness boundary from there (the largest Sitka Spruce on the planet is located near Lake Quinault). Good hiking in and around the Hoh Rain Forest just north of here too. Also worth checking out Sol Duc Hot Srings farther north, its fairly remote but also well known and usually always someone around. In general, would spend most time on north and west side of the Park, 101 between Port Townsend and Shelton wont offer as much remoteness or Park access. For novelty, and some time savings, put the SMB on the ferry to get to Seattle, probably from Bremerton. May have to pay a little more for height and length of the rig but its a cool ride and it does shave significant time.

Central Oregon: Cascade Lakes Highway (46) on the back side of Mt Bachelor outside of Bend, a plethora of Lakes and Forest Roads and cool camping spots. Little Cultus Lake is nice, and from there you can branch out and go backroads all the way to Waldo Lake and Odell Lake if you wanted. Also Paulina Lake in the Paulina Mtns to the south and east of Bend and La Pine. There is both dispersed and relatively remote USFS campgrounds all over the place. Depending on how you get here, coming south or heading north, lot's of good remote areas in the Mt Hood Nat'l Forest off Hwy 26 as well. Also may want to check out the Metolius River outside of Sisters, north and west of Bend. Great fly fishing.

Oregon Coast: Rogue River outside of Gold Beach, Cummins Creek and Big Creek drainages north of Florence offer slightly more out of the way places up and away from the beach areas, which is kind of what you need to do to get really remote. Be sure and stop by Bay Street in Old Town Florence, cool little shops and funky waterfront nicer and less touristy than Newport. Gotta check out the Heceta Light House too. Many official campgrounds all along the stretch between Florence and Newport, but will be more populated. Carl Washburn is pretty close to the beach if you want to be able to walk to the beach from your campsite. If you want to get away into the coastal forest, drive up the various drainages (tenmile, Big, Cummins,etc). Dont bother with anything in Lincoln City other than maybe gas. At north end of Oregon near Seaside you can drive on the beach in some areas which is cool, and there is an old shipwreck (Peter Iredale) but no camping allowed unfortunately. Ft Stevens is a big state park campground if you need a place to stay (large, many spaces but some fairly private areas)
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Old 07-17-2008, 08:52 AM   #6
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You're killing me, I'd love to take this trip again.
I know it's trite, but Crater Lake in Oregon is truly spectacular.
Ashland in Southern Oregon is an interesting town with lots of theater and is very dog friendly. They have a great central city park whose name escapes me.
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:45 AM   #7
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Thank you so much everyone for the suggestions, especially BC for taking so much time to type that out. That definitely gives me a good start to the more "detailed" planning process. I wish we had more time to spend on Victoria Island, but it isn't going to be possible with only 2 weeks available for the entire trip. At least we'll get a teaser. What is the camping situation like on Victoria Island, especially with dogs? I'm sure I'll have many more questions as it gets closer. In the meantime if anyone has any other recommendations, please let me have them
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Old 07-17-2008, 12:06 PM   #8
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Joanna is right, Crater Lake is probably a must-see. Not sure if you would hit Central Oregon on way back south, but that would be a good way to go. So northbound on 101, then coming home when you hit Oregon go east through the Columbia Gorge to Hood River (kite/windsurf capital o the world -- yes maybe even better than San Diego!). From Hood River, go south thru the Mt Hood Nat'l Forest (Hwy 35 to Hwy 26) then Bend, and up thru Cascade Lakes Highway (46). From there head south to Crater Lake, and then make your way west and south to Ashland via Diamond Lake and the North Umpqua River.

Ashland is a neat little town, where its all about Shakespeare. Take in a play at the outdoor Elizabeathan theatre (a fully functional replica of the original in England), and enjoy (Lithia) park which Joanna mentioned. Emigrant Springs campground is just outside of town and makes for a good base camp for all things Ashland.

This is really a great trip and there are so many ways to go, let me know as you get closer if you nail down more specifics and want more. I dont have a lot on Victoria other than to say, if I were going that far north I would probably gravitate more to the remoteness of Vancouver Island esp north end. Or do both if you have the time.
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Old 07-19-2008, 10:18 PM   #9
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Family favorites in OR and WA

We love Washington and Oregon so I'll offer my favorites in no particular order. Note it can almost guaranteed to be cold so dress warmly.:-)

Manzanita beach campground slightly south of the more touristy Cannon beach in Oregon is a favorite of ours. It is a state campground that can get crowded but if you can wait until school starts, the crowds thin. Many miles of deserted beach walks are on the border of the camp sites.
When you want to see the trendy shops, Cannon beach is only 7 miles away.

Mt. Hood outside Portland Oregon is a more technical climb but the lodge and surrounding area is worth the visit even if you aren't a climber. BC has some great pics under Show and Tell from a Mt Hood trip he did. Unless you are experienced, I'd use a guide if you are going to climb it.

Mt St Helens in SW Washington is spectacular if you are hikers and have good weather. Permits are required during the peak months but I think in September you will have no trouble. It can be a strenuous hike when there is no snow on the ground (likely Sept) but it will be worth it from the views at the top.
I've never used guide services as there is usually a steady stream of people climbing/hiking.

The Olympic Peninsula is my new favorite. I like the beaches creatively names Beach 1, 2, 3 and 4. They are directly off 101 on the West side, heading to Forks. We have stealth camped in timber lands and inside the National Forest. Neither has been memorable.
We have also stayed at Mora campground which gives easy access to Rialto beach and Hole in the Wall. You need to keep an eye on the tides because low tide gives great beach walks and high tide is pretty limiting.
I also liked Camp Flattery which is the NW most point of the continental US. There is nice hiking out to the point and a Makah Indian reservation campground which was reasonable (a big grass field up against the beach) with great showers. It seemed to be a popular surf spot.
In the same area is Neah Bay which is an unremarkable working port inside the reservation. It did surprise us with the number of eagles; 22 in one counting over the July 4th week. They were eating the scraps from the boats.

Slightly outside your criteria is Bend and Sisters but it is Central OR.

If I can offer any help, let me know.


Uncrowded tidepools Rialto beach (may actually be Hole in the Wall)

Big driftwood in the Olympics

From Neah Bay


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Old 07-31-2008, 07:53 PM   #10
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Here are my suggestions:

On the Oregon Coast in the town of Tillamook is the cheese factory which is worth a 1/2 hour, but next door is an absolutly amazing air museum which has many very rare WW1 & WW2 military aircraft as well as a F-14 which you can sit in. It is also housed in the largest wood structure in the US which is an old WW2 airplane hanger. If you have any interste in airplanes this is definetly a great stop. You will need atleast 4-6 hours to see everything.

We have done a lot of boondocking in central Oregon around the town of Oakridge, this is about 30 miles east of Eugene. If you are interested we can direct you to some great spots. All of them are along a river or stream and we usually spend a week at a time here and never see another person Most of these have short sections where you will want 4-wheel drive. There are also some great hotsprings in central Oregon, our favorite is Terwilliger.

If you haven't been Crater Lake is definetly worth the drive.

If you are in the area of Mount St. Helens and aren't scared of the dark, bats and small places you should plan a stop at the Ape Caves. This is an old lava tube that is approximately 1 mile long that you can hike through. It is a state park so directions should be easy to find. The last time I hiked it we started at midnight which was very cool because no one else was there. That was about 10 years ago so I am not sure if they restrict access to only daylight at this point, but it wouldn't supprise me.

On the Oympic Peninsula you should plan a stop at the Hoh Rain forest. The Hoh River Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes along the Olympic Peninsula. It follows the Hoh River through the rainforest and up into the mountains.

Also on the Olypic Peninsula is Lake Ozette which is a great hike and in this area you can also reach the farthes West poiint in the continental US here.

One Warning about the Olypic National forrest is they do not allow dogs on any of the hiking trail which may be a problem for you. You probably should check with the Park Service before planning much time in this area. Unfortunately Mount Ranier National Park also has the same policy It is the only reason we don't spend more time here.

If you are looking for a good hike on the Seattle side of Western WA I have hiked here extensively and can make some great suggestions. You didn't sound like you were going to spend much time around Seattle so I will not include those here. If you need anything when in the Seattle or need to make repairs, I would be happy to give you advice/help. (provided I am home)

We actually may be on Vancouver Island at the same time. My wife and I are leaving for a three week trip up there beginning August 28th. I haven't done much research on the Island yet, but if I find anything that sound like it is a must see I will post it here for you.

I hope this helps. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want.

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