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Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

Gloucestershire...
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Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

Hello, I am so lucky in that my husband travels to the Pacific NW from the UK regularly and I have been able to accompany him on three previous trips over the last few years. Thank you to everyone who has made suggestions here in the past. They have been invaluable in helping me plan previous adventures for us following his business meetings in Seattle. Your part of the world is just amazing and I have great fun doing my own thing in Seattle for a few days before we head out of the city. We will be on vacation from April 27th to May 5th when we head back to the UK and I am running a little low on ideas and hope you can help.

We had a splendid week based on Whidbey Island (Langley) travelling as far afield as Hurricane Ridge (wonderful) and were lucky enough to see orcas off Coupville Pier and the Olga Symphony. The volcano gave me a 'bonus' week in Seattle so I feel I am getting to know it quite well. When visiting in February 2011 we had a fantastic log cabin near Stevens Pass for a few days (wasn't at all sure about Leavenworth) then last April we visited Snoqualmie Falls and Pass, Roche Harbour (briefly), Galiano Island (3 nights) and Yaletown, Vancouver (3 nights) before a final night in La Conner.

We enjoy the stimulation of being in a place so different to our home (which is deepest Hampshire, UK) and that can be either in the middle of a city (finding the Bill Reid Foundation, Vancouver or the splendid Seattle Public Library) or in a hot tub by the river enjoying the snow. We do enjoy being independent and prefer self catering options ideally with places to eat within striking distance.

I have researched the weather in late April and although we were considering basing ourselves near Mt Rainier I am concerned about the snowfall. The Oregon coast / Vancouver Island look wet and the Columbia Gorge too dry. We are fit and enjoy walking but do find your potential of bears a little worrying.

I welcome your suggestions and thank you in advance for your time,

Best wishes, Pat

Green Valley...
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1. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

"... and the Columbia Gorge too dry." We should all be so lucky in that season! :)

Seriously, the Gorge is very scenic with nice trails, including several following the waterfalls.

Keeping it comfortably dry, with many rivers and lakes, I'd continue on to Bend, OR. Lots to see, fascinating area...

Columbia River Gorge

http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia/ Here is a useful map contained in this website:

columbiariverhighway.com/historic_columbia_r…

Oregon, Central/Bend Area

http://www.visitbend.com/

traveloregon.com/Explore-Oregon/Central-Oreg…

Edited: 11:35 am, February 06, 2013
Gloucestershire...
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2. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

Thank you so much for your prompt reply and links. I will have great fun checking this out. By too 'dry' I was really referring to what appears to be semi-arid landscape compared to the lush forests further north. Obviously an instant assessment based on one bad photo?

Thanks again for your advice, Pat

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

In late April the snow at Paradise Inn on Mount Rainier will still be at least ten feet deep, but that's okay because most of the time you won't be able to see the mountain through the clouds, fog and mist. At lower elevations it will be very wet; trails will be covered by snow and/or mud... really IMO not the best time to visit MRNP.

I think you may be thinking of other parts of the Columbia Gorge than the parts nearest to Portland. In reality the Columbia flows through a number of landscapes that could be called "gorges," one of them being in central Washington near the town of Ellensburg, where there's a big outdoor amphitheater music venue called "The Gorge." It's true, below the concert area there are canyon walls that fall down to the river maybe a couple of hundred feet, and that area is indeed dry and desert-like.

However the "gorge" usually referred to as the "Columbia Gorge" begins just east of Portland and is definitely on the "wet side" of the Cascades. As one travels east through the Gorge, one can see dramatic changes in vegetation, such that by the time one reaches The Dalles (about 70 miles from the western start of the Gorge at Troutdale) the landscape has morphed from fir trees, ferns and waterfalls, to dry pine trees and sagebrush. You've gained maybe 80 feet of elevation in those 70 miles, but the intervening mountains on either side of the river have blocked most of the moisture from ever arriving. It's really quite stunning.

In late April and early May I'd argue that the Gorge, along with Portland, the Hood River Valley, and points north and east, are just about the best places to visit in the Pacific NW. Here's why:

The waterfalls along the Oregon side of the Gorge (between Troutdale and Cascade Locks) are full of water from melting mountain snows. They're spectacular. Here's Latourelle Falls, taken in early May: http://gardyloo.us/latourellefallshdr1.jpg

The Gorge itself has "leafed out" with new foliage, very beautiful. Here's an overview of Crown Point on the "Historic" Gorge Highway, taken the same day: http://gardyloo.us/20100509_5a.JPG

The Hood River Valley (running south from the town of Hood River) is orchard country, and in late April there will still be lots of tree blossoms and probably some wildflowers, with Mount Hood looming in the background: http://gardyloo.us/20100509_90a.JPG and http://gardyloo.us/20100509_85a.JPG

Mount Hood itself is easily visited in a day trip either from Portland or from anywhere in the Gorge area. There will still be skiing at Timberline Lodge, but the roads will be open and things will be fairly accessible. IMO this is a more-than-acceptable substitute for Mount Rainier, which is more distant from other things to do than is Hood. Mount Hood is around a 60-90 min. drive from downtown Portland, whereas Mount Rainier takes at least 2 1/2 hours to reach from Seattle, longer depending on weather and traffic. Here's Mount Hood from central Portland: http://gardyloo.us/20100510_21b.JPG

Beyond the (wet part of the) Gorge, you enter eastern Oregon and Washington. It will be sunny and warmer than the "wet side," but by no means hot. Instead of being desert-like, the area, especially on the Washington side, is vineyard country, and, if time allows, one can drive into the Washington Palouse region (between, say, Walla Walla and, say, Pullman WA) which is a vast wheat-growing area. In the spring the new wheat turns the rolling hills of the Palouse into the most remarkable panorama of green one can imagine. Here's an image pulled from the web - it's NOT really exaggerating - whiterivergallery.com/blog/…0069.jpg One can

For people/culture things, Portland is an obvious draw - a marvelous, affordable, funky city with fantastic restaurants, pubs, and shopping (no sales tax.) At the east end of the Gorge is the Maryhill Museum, a striking little blast of fine arts out in the sagebrush, complete with a Stonehenge "replica" overlooking the river.

Anyway, that's my vote.

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

Meant to add, website for the Maryhill Museum: http://www.maryhillmuseum.org/

Gloucestershire...
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5. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

Wow - thank you so much for your time - will carefully follow up your recommendations.

Gig Harbor...
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6. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

Since a previous poster suggested sites in Oregon, I won't feel too disloyal to my newly adopted state by suggesting Banff and Jasper if you haven't already been there. The scenery is jaw-droppingly beautiful. You can do a loop, returning via Revelstoke and Nelson, enjoying some of the ferries in eastern B.C.

Edited: 1:01 pm, February 06, 2013
Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

Really too early for Banff and Jasper unless you plan to ski.

I don't know the Gorge, although its on my list of places, but your statement about it being "too dry" intrigued me. What do you mean by too dry? Are you saying that desert landscapes don't appeal to you? I think they are spectacular, and I love the area along the Columbia River south of Wenachee. Just gorgeous if you ask me. Of course, everyone has their own interests, but I was just interested to find out specifically what you were looking to avoid.

In the PNW in April, heading somewhere "dry" is a very good plan!

I also really like the mouth of the Columbia on the Washington/Oregon border. It would be windy and wild at that time of year (north Wales comes to mind...) but still beautiful.

Poulsbo, Washington
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8. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

Well I am very biased obviously toward Olympic National Park. If rain will ruin a visit then do not consider returning there. And despite a good chance of rain, rain is not a given in April and May. There is so much more to see there in addition to Hurricane Ridge. There are some nice rentals on the Coast and a couple of beautiful lakes with lots of easy walks.

Seattle, Wa
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9. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

igardyloo makes a really good case for his plan.

I'll throw out another: the Methow Valley in the NE Cascades. It is on the drier side of the mountains, so you shouldn't be too cold and wet. I love spring up there--sure the alpine areas are still snowy, but there is a lot of walking (lots of flowers!) to be done in lower elevations. There is also good biking, horseback riding, fly fishing, etc. It should be easy to find a cabin with a hot tub. I prefer to stay near Mazama, but if you want more of a town, stay near Winthrop.

The North Cascades Hwy may or may not be open then; you'd go via Stevens Pass (Hwy 2) if it's closed.

seattlemag.com/article/great-escapes-2010-me…

The best hotel:http://www.sunmountainlodge.com/summer/index.html

A good site for finding cabins: centralreservations.net/lodging/methow_valley

Trail info: http://www.mvsta.com/trailmaps.html

east texas
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10. Re: Any suggestions for our 4th late April trip from the UK?

I lso loved the answers because we will be in Washington the same time, But we will be in Yakima. I really loved the pics in the post and was wondering how far from the Ykima area it would be. Never been to Washington STate so I am very excited especially after seeing the pictures that you posted. Margie