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Road Trip Salt Lake City to Vancouver

Road Trip Salt Lake City to Vancouver

Old Jan 29, 15, 4:15 am
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Road Trip Salt Lake City to Vancouver

I was hoping to collect some advice on timings and spacings for a road trip we have booked in the first two weeks of September. We will be landing in SLC on the 30th of August and departing from YVR on the 12th of Spetember . So far, only the flights have been booked. I have looked into the few threads there are on Oregon roadtrips, but most people don't have Yellowstone and Vancouver tacked on at the end, which squishes things a little.

Some might think the distances are crazy, but I quite like driving in the US, and sometimes the road is the journey. Also, this is a trip ticking off a LOT of things that I never get to do when we end up in California - we aren't hikers or want to stay too long in one place, so I hope this is doable.

My current thoughts are:
29/08
SLC Airport Hotel
30/08
Jackson Hole
31/08
West Yellowstone
01/09
West Yellowstone
02/09
Boise
03/09
Bend
04/09
Red Bluff
05/09
Crescent City
06/09
Portland
07/09
Seattle
08/09
Seattle
09/09
Vancouver
10/09
Vancouver
11/09
Vancouver
12/09
Home

It gets a bit tricky between Yellowstone and Portal. Crater Lake would be nice, Redwood Forest is a must and so seems to be Avenue of the Giants. Not so sure about whether we should be cutting down the cities to have more time near the coast.

Any routing and accomodation recommendations on the way much appreciated. I am a bit of a sucker for chain hotels, have had to many "cozy" surprises with lovely fluffy carpet in the bathroom during my past trips...

Thanks!

Last edited by Quark999; Jan 31, 15 at 5:49 am
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Old Jan 29, 15, 9:21 am
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Yes I think those distances are crazy and I enjoy roadtrips!

I would recommend cutting out Yellowstone or Northern California.

Leave in Portland and Seattle since you're headed that way anyways.

I would do SLC -Yellowstone - Boise - Hells Canyon - Portland -Seattle - Vancouver.

Or SLC - Lake Tahoe - Eureka/Crescent City - southern Oregon/Bend - Portland - Seattle - Vancouver.

Edit: September 7 is a major US holiday (Labor Day) so expect outdoors type destinations to be packed that weekend (5th-7th) Most retail businesses, restaurants, etc... will be open. Businesses like banks, post offices, etc... will likely be closed

Last edited by Lost; Jan 29, 15 at 9:53 am
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Old Jan 29, 15, 9:53 am
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I'll offer some general comments -

You arrive the week before the Labor Day weekend (4-7 September,) the traditional end of the school summer holidays. Because of this, the national parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone, are going to be nothing short of crazed when you get there. Accommodation is going to be scarce and expensive, there will be very annoying traffic queues inside Yellowstone - every time someone sees a bear or a moose or a bison off the side (or in the middle) of the road, traffic stops.

Yellowstone itself is enormous, and two nights in the area would barely give you enough time to see a couple of the "big" attractions like Old Faithful or Mammoth Hot Springs, etc. Adding a day to visit Jackson and (I presume) the Grand Tetons would make the following days - out to the redwoods - very rushed. And seeing the Avenue of the Giants, which is south of Eureka, at least two or three hours' drive from Crescent City - and expecting to make it to Portland the next day simply isn't doable.

Your route - http://goo.gl/maps/GSNdP

I think you're going to have to make a tough choice - Yellowstone v. redwoods. The long detour from Yellowstone to the northern California coast is just too much for the days you've allotted. It might be doable with back to back 8 to 10 hour days on the road, but then you're not seeing anything except the inside of the car.

I'll say this: I've taken several sets of British pals on trips both to Yellowstone and to the redwoods, and in every case - unanimously - they were more knocked out by the redwoods than they were the geysers and scenery in Yellowstone. Which is not to say they weren't impressed by Yellowstone, far from it, but not to the degree - not even close - that they were gobsmacked by the redwoods.

Obviously if you chose the redwoods over the Rockies, then SLC as your point of entry is less desirable, but you can still make a pretty decent road trip out of it in my view.

What I'd suggest is heading west on I-80 from SLC to Reno, then over to the coast at Eureka for a couple of nights, during which you can spend a day in the Avenue of the Giants (south of Eureka) and maybe take the "Lost Coast Loop" which will skirt the "Lost Coast" - the last remaining coastal wilderness in California, with a stop in Ferndale, a lovely little village chocked full of amazing Victorian architecture.

Then head north through the core of the redwoods (between Arcata and Crescent City) then continue up the southern Oregon coast, breathtaking. Stay a night in Bandon, the nicest town on that part of the coast, then head inland (Oregon Hwy 38, lovely) and up to the Portland area, more specifically the Mount Hood/Columbia Gorge area, based in Hood River.

Spend two nights there, visiting Timberline Lodge on the side of Mount Hood, the gorgeous Hood River Valley (orchard country probably in the middle of harvest) and - most importantly - the Columbia Gorge itself - numerous waterfalls, vista points, white water rivers... incredible.

Then on to Seattle, but with a stop at Mount Rainier National Park, accessed from the east side of the Cascades. The drive from Hood River to Mt. Rainier via US 97 and US 12 is remarkable in all of the landscape and climate zones you see in a few hours - "wet" forest to sagebrush to "dry" pine forest to high desert to orchards to alpine... quite amazing.

Here's a map showing a rough outline - http://goo.gl/maps/MoEYv

Now, here's a plan that includes Yellowstone but not the redwoods. However it substitutes Olympic National Park instead, with its stunning coastline, unique rain forest valleys, and alpine meadows at Hurricane Ridge. I've also added a day at Yellowstone; you could stop in Jackson for a late lunch and continue on to YNP. http://goo.gl/maps/7Bz6n

Here's a table showing the two alternatives I've laid out.
Code:
		Redwoods	Yellowstone
29-Aug		SLC	        SLC
30-Aug		Reno/Tahoe	YNP
31-Aug		Eureka		YNP
1-Sep		Eureka		YNP
2-Sep		Bandon		YNP
3-Sep		Hood River	Boise
4-Sep		Hood River	Hood River
5-Sep		Lake Quinault	Hood River
6-Sep		Port Angeles	Paradise
7-Sep		Seattle		Seattle
8-Sep		Seattle		Seattle
9-Sep		Vancouver	Vancouver
10-Sep		Vancouver	Vancouver
11-Sep		Vancouver	Vancouver
12-Sep		Dep		Dep
One other thing I'd mention is that you should plan on dropping the car in Seattle rather than Vancouver. From SLC the car cost will be halved. You can take the train (scenic, inexpensive) from Seattle to Vancouver instead, and just rent a car locally in Vancouver if you need one.

Hope this isn't too confusing.

Edited to add - looks like Lost beat me to the punch while I was getting all verbose. And needless to say, if you flew into SFO instead of SLC the redwood alternative would be much easier and would allow you to explore the northern California coast at more leisure.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Jan 29, 15 at 10:02 am
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Old Jan 29, 15, 10:04 am
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Thanks for pointing out the 7th, hadn't thought of that - so I guess that's the latest we have to be in the cities, and also need to book early.

Hm. Back to the drawing board. I've got a few point stays booked for the Yellowstone area (cancellable), as I saw the prices rocketing up. So I think we're covered at least at that front.

I really *want* to see Yellowstone AND Redwood Forest, so something else will have to give. Any ideas about internal flights that might save a few day's worth of driving?

Oh, and the reason for those dates were the BA/AA/US sale fares in business - not exactly how I would have normally planned this
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Old Jan 29, 15, 10:12 am
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Originally Posted by Quark999 View Post
Thanks for pointing out the 7th, hadn't thought of that - so I guess that's the latest we have to be in the cities, and also need to book early.

Hm. Back to the drawing board. I've got a few point stays booked for the Yellowstone area (cancellable), as I saw the prices rocketing up. So I think we're covered at least at that front.

I really *want* to see Yellowstone AND Redwood Forest, so something else will have to give. Any ideas about internal flights that might save a few day's worth of driving?

Oh, and the reason for those dates were the BA/AA/US sale fares in business - not exactly how I would have normally planned this
The problem is both Yellowstone and the north coast of California are both a good distance from decent size airports, so you'd spend a full day driving to the airport, flying, then driving to the next destination. There's small airports near each location, but you're looking at at least one (more likely two) connections, which will still take a good part of a day.
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Old Jan 29, 15, 10:12 am
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Thanks for the long input Gardyloo, food for thought. I had worked out the car return in Seattle, which is one of the reason why it's in there. Had checked trains but couldn't see anything suitable - need to look again.
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Old Jan 29, 15, 10:15 am
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Originally Posted by Lost View Post
The problem is borh Yellowstone and the north coast of California are both a good distance from decent size airports, so you's spend a full day driving to the airport, flying, then driving to the next destination. There's small airports near each location, but you're looking at at least one (more likely two) connections, which will still take a good part of a day.
Right. So no shortcuts then...
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Old Jan 29, 15, 10:44 am
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Originally Posted by Quark999 View Post
I really *want* to see Yellowstone AND Redwood Forest, so something else will have to give. Any ideas about internal flights that might save a few day's worth of driving?
Sure, just do a road loop out of SLC to Yellowstone and back, then hop a one-way flight to SFO (under $100 on AS) and drive north from there. Eureka is around 5 hours drive up US 101 from SFO.

Code:
29-Aug		SLC
30-Aug		SLC-YNP
31-Aug		YNP
1-Sep		YNP
2-Sep		YNP-SLC
3-Sep		SLC-SFO-Eureka
4-Sep		Redwoods
5-Sep		Redwoods - Bandon
6-Sep		Bandon - Hood River
7-Sep		Hood River - Columbia Gorge, Mt. Hood
8-Sep		Hood River - Seattle
9-Sep		Seattle
10-Sep		Vancouver
11-Sep		Vancouver
12-Sep		Dep
Note you could steal a day by spending just one night in either Eureka or Hood River, provided you promise to visit the Columbia Gorge for several hours. Hood River to Seattle is around 4 1/2 - 5 hours, either via I-5 (boring) or US 97/I-90 (very scenic.)

Train - http://www.amtrakcascades.com/

Just so you know why I keep mentioning the Columbia Gorge - (photos from the spring, but you get the idea)...

Gorge from "historic" Gorge Hwy -



Mount Hood from Hood River Valley



Where to stay in the Gorge area, if you like beer, wine, spirits, movies, funky art, golf, food... http://www.mcmenamins.com/Edgefield

Last edited by Gardyloo; Jan 29, 15 at 10:51 am
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Old Jan 30, 15, 2:54 am
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Gardyloo, thank you very much for the effort you put into this, given your convincing campaign for the Hood River Valley, I shall consider some changes to the Portland/Seattle stretch of the trip, and, more importantly, run it past the other half for approval
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Old Jan 30, 15, 8:34 am
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Originally Posted by Quark999 View Post
Thanks for the long input Gardyloo, food for thought. I had worked out the car return in Seattle, which is one of the reason why it's in there. Had checked trains but couldn't see anything suitable - need to look again.
I looked into the train from Seattle to Vancouver about a year ago, and the times (something like a 7am or 6pm departure) just are not good. At the time, I think one of those was a bus anyway.

I'd suggest you return your car in Seattle (avoid extra fees from driving the long-term vehicle over the border). Then pick up another car just for the Seattle-Vancouver drive (I was charged per mile/km). Then if you need another car for Vancouver (such as a daytrip to Whistler), pick up yet another for that. Parking in both downtown Seattle and Vancouver is quite pricey, so take this into consideration when planning when to pick up a rental.

If you drive Seattle to Vancouver just make sure you fill up before crossing the border. Gas prices increase significantly in Canada.
I found the drive rather painless, until nearly right in downtown Vancouver. Traffic was a bit of a mess (Sunday afternoon), and we hadn't yet activated cell service for Canada, so it seemed we were going almost blind.
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Old Jan 30, 15, 4:30 pm
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I think the OP meant to say "West Yellowstone" rather than "West Yosemite" on the itinerary.

It does take at least 4 days to properly see Yellowstone, but of course that's like someone telling me on a particular trip that I would need at least a week to see Vienna when I had 1 day.

The redwoods are worth seeing, but it's not necessary to see multiple examples with limited time. The area around Redwood National Park near Orick, CA is one alternative, while Humboldt Redwoods State Park (Avenue of the Giants, Weott, CA) is another. Many people get a reasonable taste of the redwoods, although somewhat smaller specimens, by visiting Muir Woods near San Francisco, while the bigger trees are in more remote locations, i.e. far northern California.

At Redwood National Park, the best experience likely is at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, which involves a one-mile level forest trail and explains the history of the founding of the park in 1968 when her husband signed the law creating the park. Allow about 90 minutes.

At Humboldt Redwoods State Park, about 90 minutes south, the Avenue of the Giants is a parkway that you can drive, while the best forest experience might be at the Founder's Grove, a nice collection of trees dedicated to the people who helped set aside the area in the 1920s as a state park. Allow 60 minutes and another hour for the Avenue drive.

Last edited by Reindeerflame; Jan 30, 15 at 4:46 pm
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Old Jan 31, 15, 5:57 am
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Originally Posted by Reindeerflame View Post
I think the OP meant to say "West Yellowstone" rather than "West Yosemite" on the itinerary.
Woops! Well spotted, I hope I didn't confuse anyone - that would have been an awful drive Been to Yosemite the second time last year, clearly still on my trip planning mind.

I have looked at the train times now, and they are indeed impractical. Also, considering that we might have quite a bit of shopping, ahem "luggage" with us at the time, a rental car swap looks like the best option. I am still trying to juggle accommodation vs. rental car price vs. rental car station, but that should be relatively easy to sort out.

Thanks for the information on the Redwood Forests, that helps. It will probably depend on how many trees we want to see, and whether we are knackered from all the driving by that point. It's good to have the option of either just doing the Redwood National Park, or if we want to see more doing the Humboldt as well, at the expense of yet more driving.

And I fully appreciate that we would need more time everywhere - it will be a bit of a ticking off exercise, but three days in the Tetons/Yellowstone should at least give us a flavour. I've done things like this before, and if we really love an area, we can try to go back "properly" one day.

Again, thanks to everyone for the great advice - I think it's coming together now...
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Old Jan 31, 15, 9:23 am
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On US 101 you pass in and out of various State parks and the national park without much differentiation - slightly different road signs is about it. I like the Founders Grove too - it's convenient for those on a timetable, but really delivers big time.

Doing the car swap in Seattle is quite doable. You're still going to be whacked with a one-way drop between (SLC/SFO) and Seattle anyway, just less than with Vancouver. You might also experiment with dropping the first car in Portland. PDX hire rates in the summer are often much lower than in Seattle due to the pressure on the car companies from cruise passengers, so even with the extra days it might work out cheaper.
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Old Feb 1, 15, 2:14 pm
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One-way SLC - SEA is usually perfectly reasonable, and anything to Vancouver that isn't from Seattle is either unavailable or ridiculously priced - we're talking 1000s of $. Strangely, that seems to include rentals from Portland as well, which I thought might be fine like Seattle, but apparently not. There also seems to be a mysterious "Multnomah Car Rental Tax" at 17%, so Portland doesn't seem to be the best option...
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Old Feb 1, 15, 3:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Quark999 View Post
There also seems to be a mysterious "Multnomah Car Rental Tax" at 17%
That would be a tax on car rentals levied by the county where Portland is located. You'll find that hotels and car rentals are often taxed by municipal and/or county governments. It's a way for them to collect revenue from visitors instead of locals.
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