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Old 01-15-2017, 03:21 PM   #1
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Franklin , Ohio
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Trip to West Coast need suggestions

We our planing a trip late this summer or early fall to head north to Washington State.
We will be starting from Ohio and visiting family in Washington then heading south to see the sites: Northern Sequoias, Crater lake, Pacific coast, Golden-gate, Napa and ending up around Sequoia national park before heading for Utah.

I would appreciate any suggestions relating to the best date to arrive in Washington avoiding the summer traffic but not to late to avoid snow and cold weather.
Also any suggestions on camp grounds and must see attractions would be most helpful.
My age is 65 enjoy a short hike mile or so, fishing and have never seen a giant red wood a life long dream.

We will be traveling in our 1994 30’ AS, 2010 Duramax TV.
Trip is planned for 4-5 weeks

We plan to drive to Washington in 1 week or less then head south to see as much as we can before returning home. Normally like to say 3 days at campsite then move on.

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Old 01-15-2017, 03:39 PM   #2
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Someone else could chime in on dates but I would consider late Sept when the kids are back in school. Not sure what your plan is but Mt Rainer National Park should be a must. Also consider the visitor center for Mt Saint Helens further North. There is a camp ground about 30 miles away as Mt St Helens does not have a camp ground.

Further South in My part of the woods there are so many places to see within 100 miles of Portland. Mt Hood, The Columbia River Gorge, Silver Falls State Park.

You might like to look at the web site for the States of Oregon and Washington. Oregon has an excellent description of all of its parks and places of interest.

Hope this is of help.


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Old 01-15-2017, 04:09 PM   #3
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Anytime after schools starts would be a good time to make this trip. School starts at different times in different schools these days, but I would imagine any time after the middle of September would be good.

The coast of Northern California and Oregon is my favorite place in the world to travel with the Airstream. Ft Stevens state park in Astoria is my favorite of all, partially because I like the town of Astoria itself so much. All the Oregon state parks along the coast are great, well maintained with ample spacing between campsites. In California, Crescent City to Eureka can be traveled along the coast, with many nice RV parks to choose from. Between Eureka and Ft Bragg lies the Lost Coast, which is accessible at spots via roads inland from Hwy 101, but does not have a road along the shoreline. However, this is the area where the Redwood Forrest lies inland, which you would probably rather see anyway. The road cuts back to the coast north of Ft Bragg, where there is one of my favorite little state parks near the village of Westport. No hookups, but one of the few places where you can camp on a bluff overlooking the ocean:

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A few miles further down the coast is a beautiful state park called Mackerricher, just north of Ft Bragg, which is a good base for exploring Ft Bragg and Mendocino. From there, you can either continue down Hwy 1 exploring the quaint villages, if you don't mind a very twisty road that is steep in spots, or you can head inland and down to Napa Valley and the Bay Area. I would suggest you park your trailer somewhere like the KOA in Petaluma and do your exploring of Napa Valley and the Golden Gate in your TV, due to the very heavy traffic at all times of the year.

For your trip to Utah, I recommend Hwy 50 across NV, "The loneliest highway in the world." The country between Ely and Delta, UT is quite beautiful. I've made the trip across NV a half dozen times, and would like to make it a half dozen more.

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Old 01-15-2017, 04:20 PM   #4
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So far all good suggestions. Schools start before Labor Day out this way so head out as early as the last week of August. I second the trip across Hwy 50. You could take your time and explore a little. The food at Middlegate is great and you can't beat it for a local color stop. It's about an p
Hour east of Fallon. The "castle" in Austin can be done towing your rig. Big flat are to turn around and a great view and interesting thing to see. Petroglyphs would be a fine overnight dry camp before continuing on to Ely.
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Old 01-15-2017, 04:37 PM   #5
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I am so excited for you to see the redwoods. I remember the first time I saw them, and I still get that thrill when I spent time with them. They are truly amazing!

We love the CA coast! So many great places to stay. I'm not sure whether you are the type that prefers State Parks, RV Parks, or both, but if you are looking at State Parks you will want to plan ahead. We have found that, even in the winter, the nice parks fill up on the weekends. Most have a least a few "first come, first serve" sites, so if you time it right you should be fine. Sonoma County has some great parks as well with Doran Beach being one of our favorites.
Some others we love are;
Manchester Beach
Guallala Point Regional Park
Half Moon Bay

If you travel back through the Tahoe area, be sure to spend some time exploring the Lake. There are some excellent parks in the area as well.

I know you were asking more about Washington and Oregon, but I would suggest allotting some time to CA.

Sounds like it's going to be an amazing trip!
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Old 01-15-2017, 06:51 PM   #6
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Ferndale, CA. Quaint little town, which has provided the setting for several movies, has the Humboldt County Fairgrounds. Quiet and reasonable camping. You can get to the Lost Coast, but plan to take most of the day. Those are county roads, hilly, rough, but scenic.

Farther south, Wrights Beach near Bodega Bay has sites which can accommodate your rig, but no hookups and no showers. Most CA state parks are not set up for longer than 24 ft trailers, most have no hookups, and most have showers but take quarters with you.

By all means, do the Pacific Coast Highway, it posed little difficulty to our 30' rig.

I will second the opinion on Ft Stevens. Much better the Cape Disappointment on the WA side of the Columbia.

In The Mt St Helens area, Gifford Pinchot National Forest has some great campgrounds, but again, no hookups.

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Old 01-16-2017, 05:18 AM   #7
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Not to rain on your parade, but as a general overview, if you are planning on a round-trip returning to Ohio, then 4-5 weeks is not nearly enough time for the itinerary you have sketched out IMO. If you have 2-3 capable drivers for towing the 30', and you want a Road Warrior trip with lots of driving in a short time . . . . that of course is very do-able. But with only one driver, he will be shagged, and the trip will be less fun and riskier IMO.

It might be helpful to plan the minimum number of destinations you "have" to make, then feel free to add on mileage and stops as the trip develops.

The worst part of any trip -- again IMO -- is when you have a schedule and feel that you are "behind schedule" -- better to start with a realistic schedule.

Have fun!
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Old 01-16-2017, 06:33 AM   #8
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That will be a great trip. The last trip i was out west did on the motorcycle. Rode 8000 miles in 32 days and had plenty of time to enjoy the sites. Yes it was a lot of late night riding so i could see during daylight hours. That was the second week in August. Most kids are back in school and most attractions were either virtually empty. No crowds anywhere. Don't forget all the awesome things on the way to Washington. You have the badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Deadwood,Devils Tower,Little Big Horn. When you head south out of Washington Go down the coast. 101 in Oregon to hwy1 in Cali.(PCH). Shortly into Cali you can go see the giant redwood trees. Make sure you take the drive called The Avenue Of The Giants. It is something like a forty mile drive thru the giant redwood forest. Cant help much on return trip unless you are going a lot further south to come home.
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Old 01-16-2017, 11:39 AM   #9
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Bend , Oregon
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Drive the WA / OR coast N to S

After visiting Seattle/Tacoma take the Tacoma Narrows bridge (the ferries are pricey) north to visit the Victorian Seaport of Port Townsend, continue west then south on 101 to Olympic National Park. Hoh cg is a favorite. The OR coast has numerous state park campgrounds and reservations are important. If you depart the Seattle area on Tuesday after Labor Day it should be smooth sailing. The best weather in the PNW is in August so campsites can be full then. On your way into Seattle swing through Rainier NP. Crater Lake after driving the coast is a must but with record snows it may not be accessible until late August. Swing back to the coast through Grants Pass to catch the redwoods and the expensive camping in CA. As indicated earlier your plate is very full and either more time or fewer stops will improve the trip. Lots of geography and infinite places to hang your hat for a few days. I've lived in OR & WA for 70 years and am still discovering new adventures. You will return again, I'm betting on it.
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Old 01-16-2017, 01:14 PM   #10
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What a great trip!!!

OK, I'm prejudiced as hell. I was born in 1942 in Portland, have lived in the Seattle area since 1986, & have done the WA & OR coasts, on motorcycle, car, & truck & trailer beyond counting. My simply favorite spots in the USA. (You may take this boy out of the NW (I lived in the Boston area for 5 years, & then in LA-LA-land, for 21), but you can't take the NW out of this boy!)


1. Drive the entire OR coast, from Astoria to Brookings, OR/Crescent City, CA, the northern coastal redwoods. Unbeatable! There are numbers of other great sites in OR, inland, but the OR coast is simply prime. Regarding inland sites, what comes to mind is Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, the Oregon Caves, & possibly the area around Bend, which has great lakes area and a remarkable high desert museum.

2. As for the WA coast, realize that with one exception, it has a different ecology than the OR coast. By & large, the entire OR coast is sandy beach, with occasional intermittent rocky headlands, but with the highway adjacent to the coast for most of its distance. By & large, most of the WA coast is rocky headlands, particularly its northern half, with only very occasional nearby highway. Nevertheless, the northern WA coast remains spectacular, when you can get to it. The southern WA coast is again different, with several large estuaries & tidal bays, & there, the highway drives around them.

Therefore, you have a choice as to the WA coast, from the Seattle area:
a. Drive to Tacoma, cross the narrows bridge, & then go north up to Pt. Townsend, Sequim, Port Angeles, possibly Neah Bay (Makah Indian reservation & a short walk to a stupendous site overlooking Tatoosh island, at the entrance to the Salish Sea (aka Straight of Juan de Fuca)), Forks, Hoh Rain Forest, Kalaloch, Quinault, & then down through the two major bays, Grays Harbor & Willapa, & then down to WA's sandy beaches, around Long Beach, just north of the entrance to the Columbia River.

b. Alternatively, drive to Olympia, go towards Aberdeen, and from there hook up with Grays Harbor & continue south as above.

In any event, at the southern end of the WA coast will be the Megler bridge to Astoria, & from there, it's clear sailing down the OR coast to the coastal redwoods.

Lastly, don't go until after school starts, circa Labor Day weekend. I was in Lincoln City the week after last Labor Day & spent an hour with the manager of the RV park where we were staying. Mind you, I came through the approx. 10 miles of Lincoln City the night before in around 15 minutes. The manager said that over Labor Day, it was solid traffic & took 1.5-2 hrs to go those 10 miles. Driving Lincoln City during the summer is like driving Laguna or Newport Beach, CA. It gets much more relaxed in southern OR, south of, say, Florence, or better, Coos Bay.

As for the redwoods, others have mentioned Avenue of the Giants, south of Eureka. I'd like to mention a more daring & spectacular ride: Howland Hill Rd, east of Crescent City. The major park in the area is Jedediah Smith. Just past the entrance to Jed Smith Park is a fine RV park, in Hiouchi. And a mile or so past Hiouchi is the turnoff to Howland Hill Rd, which quickly becomes unpaved & narrow (no RVs and should be one-way, but isn't) that drives through the northern coastal redwoods with innumerable twists & turns. But man, oh man, you are under a skyscraper canopy and within arm's length of giant, massive trees for miles, eventually coming out into Crescent City.

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Old 01-16-2017, 02:54 PM   #11
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I am enjoying all of the suggestions and excitement generated by this trip to the west coast in the fall. We want to do it 1st week of May from FL to LA to Coos Bay and back. Keep the thread going I am lovin' it!
Bill and Janice, We're lovin' it! (Airstreaming)


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Old 01-16-2017, 03:25 PM   #12
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Lots of great information for you to cook (and over which to salivate!). My only comment is not to try to do so much in a 4-week trip. There's simply too much to see and do unless you spend all your time doing one-nighters and long hours on the road. I'd really suggest you look at all this in terms of regions: Washington's Olympic Peninsula (Port Townsend, especially second week in September's Wooden Boat Festival); Washington/Oregon inland (Mt. Ranier, Mt. St. Helen's, Crater Lake); Oregon/California Coast; and California inland (Napa Valley, Tahoe and look at Fallen Leaf Lake NW corner of Tahoe, US 395).

There's more than you can really manage to see out here.

I would add one caution, CA-1 Carmel to San Louis Obisbo, while really beautiful, is a very twisty highway with lots of hairpin turns (and not too many pull outs). I've driven it many times by car, once towing a 14' KZ Sportsman trailer, and have no intention of doing it with my 31' MH!

As someone said earlier, you'll be back, and you will.

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Old 01-16-2017, 03:52 PM   #13
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Olympic Peninsula for certain.
Go to Hurricane Ridge on a nice day (morning is best). I've been all over the Olympics on the ground and in the air- that is still one of the best views anywhere. (better than the 'One Mountain Park' of Rainer)
leave your trailer in Port Angeles (PA). there are several places from town you can go, if the Elwha Campgrounds in the Park are open (seems unlikely, but perhaps) that is a great place to stay a few days.
The 'Heart-o-the-Hills campground is getting pretty cold and dark that time of year.

If you have time, Go to SolDuc Hot Springs (campground there also)- some neat short walks (I designed and was on the crew of 4 that built the bridge at SolDuc Falls). Klahowya FS campground it close to that area, right on the river and I really like it.

keep going around (perhaps day trip to Neah Bay, walk to Cape Flattery), through Forks and south. The Hoh is nice, but too many people for me. I prefer the Quinault myself, there is a Park Campground up the East Fork of the river (some 10 miles of gravel) and almost certain to see Elk. Also campgrounds on Lake Quinault. Visit the Lake Quinault Lodge- neat old place.

You can keep going, only occasionally seeing the coast (great sand beaches at Kalaloch, also campground) and more further south. You have to go inland some at Hoquim, then can go south to Astoria or through West Port.

Oregon Coast is very nice- probably still a fair amount of traffic in Sept. You can cut back across several places, and you will to if you want to go to Crater Lake.
You can return to the coast by going back up to Grants Pass and taking 199 (through Cave Junction- you could drive TV up there and tour the caves) to Crescent city, through some great Redwood groves.

Lots of stuff to see/do.
Yes, September is wonderful around here (generally). Weather is fabulous and less tourists.
But of course you never know. I worked for Olympic National Park for some 34 years, and have been snowed on every month of the year in the mountains.

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Old 01-16-2017, 03:54 PM   #14
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Some very valuable advice here, Ditter! The only thing I would add about the WA-OR-CA segment is to allow for at least twice the travel time you might normally expect. US 101 and CA 1 are often twisty and 2 lane, and go right through the centers of small towns. Most important, though, is the scenery which will tempt you to stop often.

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