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Heading to the Great Northwest (WA, OR) National Parks, Crater lake etc . Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by Wisertime, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    I'm flying into Seattle Next Weekend and spending 9 days between there and Oregon on a long awaited vacation. I've never been to this corner of the world before. Staying with family in Seattle for the weekend then Skamania lodge on the Columbia River, Timberline lodge Mt. Hood, Crater Lake lodge and maybe somewhere on the Coast before flying back from Seatac. If anyone has been before and has any special suggestions or things/places to avoid, please share.
    Some must see stops/tips. Crown point, Oneonta gorge, Horsetail falls, Hood River, Bend, Crater lake lodge/Boat tour, Canon beach, Astoria, Newport.

    I haven't decided what lenses I'm taking either. I wish I had a 12-40, but I'll have to make do with 12-50 and primes. Scenery is going to be spectacular.

    Any suggested stops/hikes along the ways? I think we only have one night available at the coast and it's a Saturday night, so we might be limited, since I read some places only take 2 night reservations in the summer.

    Thanks.
    Steve
     
  2. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    713
    Sep 24, 2011
    Crater Lake is a long detour to the south. I'd stay closer to Seattle and Portland and take in Mount Rainier National Park (but not if it's cloudy and rainy) and Mount St. Helens National Monument to see how the 1980 volcanic eruption changed the landscape. Also, maybe Olympic National Park if the weather is sunny. While on the Columbia River east of Portland stop at Multnomah Falls.
     
  3. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    I'm aware of that, but it's booked already and I've always wanted to go there, plus the scenery on the way won't suck.
     
  4. esnift

    esnift Mu-43 Veteran

    247
    Mar 17, 2013
    Boston, MA
    Dan
    Second for Multnomah Falls. It's right off the freeway and a stunning waterfall. You may want to go at a non-toursity time though (i.e. not weekends or middle of the day).

    If you need more than one waterfall and are looking for a hike, Silver Falls State Park is just an hour south of Portland and has 10 impressive falls with the option of a 1, 5 or 9 mile loop (the 9 mile loop gets you all 10 falls) on a well maintained path.
     
  5. Kalifornier

    Kalifornier Mu-43 Veteran

    430
    Apr 29, 2014
    California
    Oregon Coast is fantastic...small towns, lighthouses, plenty of vista points, sand dunes, and so on.
     
  6. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    I heard it can be hard to park in the summer, on weekends etc...and that there are better falls nearby. If it's not crowded I'll stop by for sure, but there seem to be plenty of good ones that are less crowded too. Good thing is we'll be there midday on a Monday.
     
  7. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Crater Lake is a bit out of the way, but if you plan your trip accordingly, it can make for a nice journey. The east side approach is to head down from Bend, and might work for your trip. This is east of the mountains, and getting into desert country. Nice if you like it. And, Bend is the last large town for quite some distance. If you did decide to go down the west side, you are skirting along the Cascades, but mostly following I-5. I highly recommend driving out on Highway 138 (the Umpqua Highway) to Roseburg, and then to the coast. It is a beautiful drive, and the cool weather is a nice change from the hot desert. The towns along the coast all heve their own personality, and I would drive up along the coast until Highway 18, and then head east into the Wine Country. There you can either head into Portland, or head up the back routes (Highway 47 and Highway 30) to Longview and then back to Seattle. It all depends what you are looking for.

    Enjoy,

    --Ken
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    329
    Jun 10, 2013
    Dublin, Ireland
    Absolutely. A drive through Columbia River Gorge is worth the trip in itself. Drive on "Historic Columbia River Highway" instead of I84 and you'll drive by plenty of beautiful stops on the way.
    If you're returning back to Portland the same day, maybe cross the river and drive back on the Washington side.

    Personally I was a bit disappointed by Multnomah Falls (just for the reason that it really is right by Interstate 84.
    And we've been to Silver Falls State Park before which we liked much better (ten waterfalls on an 8.7-mile loop - but you can park at several spots along the loop).

    Bend has been one of our favourite places in the last year. Here's a small album from places around Bend (if you have time for a daytrip there):
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tilman_paulin/sets/72157634864581201/
    (if you need a great place for breakfast in Bend, check out "McKay Cottage"... :) )

    Driving back from Bend towards Portland "Smith Rock State park" is worth a stop. "Cove palisades" is nice too - just a small detour. A bigger detour would be the Painted Hills, but definitely worth seeing too.

    We haven't been up in Washington all that much, but lots of great places too. Driving up to Artists Point in Mt Baker Wilderness was good fun in July (still loads of snow).
    Olympic National Park was nice too. But very busy with tourists.

    Mount St. Helens National Monument is also worth a visit. Had a great day there last year :)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tilman_paulin/sets/72157635175817531/

    So much to see - can't really go wrong with any choice...
    Here's another flickr album with a more or less random "best of Northwest" collection (the first few shots are in Silver Falls State Park, OR - the last few up in Washington)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tilman_paulin/sets/72157645696961498/

    Enjoy your trip! :)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    Thanks TIlman for the suggestions...I've been following your Flickr and it helped me want to visit the Gorge and other places. An episode of Aerial America really inspired me to finally make the commitment to see the gorge alone. Looks spectacular. I have envied your snow hiking in the mountains. I've wanted to see Crater lake since I was a kid, so I gotta make the trek. And Mt Hood has been calling me too for some time. Hopefully make a return trip sometime for skiing at Hood/Bachelor. I need to Golf Bandon dunes someday too...that seems quite remote and expensive I'm sure.
     
  10. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    We are leaving Mt Hood and passing through Bend. Some desert will be a nice change from what we get on the East coast. I just love changes of scenery and driving through places like CA, WY, UT, ID, MT, CO...so I'm sure OR and WA won't disappoint.

    I did read 138 was scenic...but have been wavering between that or 58 via Eugene (Seems faster and skirts a few lakes)...is 138 dramatically better? A few people on Tripadvisor suggested that route. Are any routes to the coast west of rt 5 better than others? 18, 20 126, 138...I was thinking a balance of time/scenery. We have two days at Crater lake after 4.5hrs drive from Hood...so 5 hrs to our next stop will be reasonable ..give or take.

    As much as I'd like to see PDX, I don't think we'll have time, unless we skip the coast. But Can do that on a return trip. Renting a car in Seattle is a rip off. I'm mainly flying there because I have a cousin to stay with for a few days and I've never visited and it's a direct flight.

    I originally was going to take 101 across Astoria and up to Aberdeen then back to Seattle thinking it might be scenic, but google earthing seems like there's not much to see that way, so might just go 5 instead. IF I had time to go around Olympic park, I would.
     
  11. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    329
    Jun 10, 2013
    Dublin, Ireland
    Crater Lake is absolutely fascinating. Unfortunately we only had half a day there. If you can make it, a boat trip to Wizard Island is supposed to be fantastic.

    Bandon beach is another place I would have recommended, but it's, as you say, a bit out of your way...
    But... there's lots of nice places along the coast.
    If you make it to Cannon Beach, make sure to visit "Ecola State Park" (and drive down to Indian Beach from there).

    Oh, and don't worry about the 12-50. :) It'll do just fine.
    In my experience it helped if you used it on a monopod (or tripod if you like using one). That gave it the extra bit of sharpness back which it might be missing (compared to the much more expensive PRO zooms). ... at least for me (maybe my hands are just too shaky :) )
    But I got plenty of nice shots from it handheld too.
     
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  12. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    12-50 works fine for wide shots and long exposures it's quite capable. Figuring it might be good for Oneonta Gorge, in case It gets wet. I have all the nice primes I need though. :) We ended up booking 2 days at Crater, knowing we could cancel one if we wanted, but it will allow us to really relax and enjoy it and do a boat tour...and hopefully some good photo ops with ideal light, which I often never had time for on other trips...just get what you can in mid day sun. I don't think I'd ever get tired of having a coffee or a beer on the deck of the Lodge overlooking the lake either. ;-0
     
  13. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    329
    Jun 10, 2013
    Dublin, Ireland
    If I had the choice between Portland and the coast, it would be the coast any old day :) Cities are cities... but that's maybe just me. :)

    I agree with skipping Astoria to save some time... We've been in that area only one day (so we probably missed the nice parts) but it's fairly flat. (so is the coast).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    329
    Jun 10, 2013
    Dublin, Ireland
    sounds like a great plan :thumbup:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    I kinda think the same way. There might be a few exceptions like San Fran, but what makes it so special is how close to nature it is, the topography, water, weather, clean crisp air and I love the Golden Gate bridge. I enjoy visiting new cities, but I'll take the natural wonders and solitude given a choice....and the West has no shortage of that.
     
  16. D7k1

    D7k1 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    690
    Nov 18, 2013
    Make sure you visit Ecola state park (very near Canon Beach) for great stacks and a light house if you have a long lens. Smith Rock on your way to crater lake is another great place to image.
     
  17. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    I kinda think the same way. There might be a few exceptions like San Fran, but what makes it so special is how close to nature it is, the topography, water, weather, clean crisp air and I love the Golden Gate bridge. I enjoy visiting new cities, but I'll take the natural wonders and solitude given a choice....and the West has no shortage of that.
     
  18. esnift

    esnift Mu-43 Veteran

    247
    Mar 17, 2013
    Boston, MA
    Dan
    Going north on the 101 from Astoria up is a bit blah in my opinion, but going south through to Crescent City, CA is breathtaking. In fact I might end up doing a little road tripping myself now that I think about it :wink:
     
  19. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin Mu-43 Veteran

    329
    Jun 10, 2013
    Dublin, Ireland
    couldn't agree more. We've been to Crescent City and the Redwoods twice in the last year and loved it. Probably going back for Christmas again this year. :smile:

    It's a long drive south though... but on the way back north you can go via Crater Lake and Bend... that's what we did on our first trip.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I believe that you will enjoy the drive down 26 to Bend. Pelton Dam is an interesting place to stop for a few minutes if you are there in the morning. Osprey usually feed them, and they are great to watch. 97 will take you into Bend, and then down towards Crater Lake. I cannot speak about 58, but 126 was quite nice and takes you through Sisters, but that is quite a bit north from Crater Lake. 138 was quite a beautiful drive, and it sticks in my mind as one of the nicest highway drives that I can remember in quite some time. It was so pretty that we were driving at 45mph when there were no cars just so we could enjoy the drive (albeit we were driving a Vanagon which is no speed demon).

    Depending how much time youhave from departing Crater Lake, I would recommend 138 58 woudl require backtracking east. Take 138 to roseburg, and then decide if you want to continue heading to Reedsport, or you can head north on I-5 and then head over to the coast on 38 or 126. Reedsport is nice, and it brings you out to the Dunes, if you are interested in seeing/playing there. From there, I would work my way up the coast to Astoria. There are nice towns and places to stay and eat (with the exception of Lincoln City IMHO). Alternately, you could head into the Wine Country on 18 if that interests you. Niether is a bad choice, it depends what you want to see.

    If you do head to Astoria, head north on 101 to Raymond or towards Aberdeen. You will be following along Willapa Bay, which is one of the oyster capitals of the world. The drive along 12 and 8 to Olympia is niceer than the interstate, but 6 is also a pretty drive to just south of Centralia. At that point, youare mostlyheading back to Seattle. Note that weekend traffic from Olympia to Seattle can be quite slow. And, driving in the mountains and along the coast is also slower than the interstate, so plan accordingly. Also, the drive to Crate Lake is a bit of a white knuckle drive, as the roads are narrow with no shoulder. Most traffic moves quite slowly, but if you are an issue with steep drop-offs, you have been warned. Also, it can be quite cold at Crater Lake, as you are up around 6000 feet, so bring some warm clothing for the evening and early morning. And note that weather there can be qutie tempermental. Snow leaves quite late in the season, and starts quite early as well. And fog is quite common. So common, that you might only get a limtied view of the lake.

    Good luck,

    --Ken