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2 months from DC to Seattle. What would you do?
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John Pain

Locale: Road trip
2 months from DC to Seattle. What would you do? on 06/13/2013 18:10:52 MDT Print View

My new bride and I are leaving the politicians behind in DC to relocate to Seattle. We've got two or three months to drive across country and want to do a lot of backpacking on the way out. It's going to be the best trip we've taken so far.

So I'm looking for wisdom on great places to visit, some that are off the beaten path. Here's the rough route we're thinking of, by national parks in the area. I plan on hiking for a week in an area, and then driving on to the next stop.
Grand Teton
Waterton Lakes
North Cascades

I'd like to see places apart from national parks, too.

So if you had the time, what would you do?

(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Advice on 06/13/2013 18:43:28 MDT Print View

When are you planning on leaving? Seasonality will dictate some of the advice as well as what type of terrain and landscapes you like? Tell us about your experience. The more specific the questions here the better the response I find.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: 2 months from DC to Seattle. What would you do? on 06/13/2013 19:52:26 MDT Print View

Congratulations on reaching escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the center of the universe, politically speaking. We just uprooted ourselves from DC after more than 15 years there and relocated to Seattle. Best thing we ever did and not sure why we waited so long (well, I know, careers, etc.). Y'all will love at the range of outdoor activities in every direction here. We have a few of us from BPL doing the Wonderland Trail this year as well.

Edward Jursek
( - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
2 months on 06/13/2013 20:26:40 MDT Print View

We moved from Ohio to Seattle 15 years ago and love it here. We did some backpacking on the way and, much to my surprise, I was blown away by Badlands National Park. The backcountry was like nothing I had ever seen. I was there in early October.

Edited by on 06/13/2013 20:27:50 MDT.

Steve Robinson
(Jeannie) - F
Go west on 06/13/2013 22:11:29 MDT Print View

Drop the N Cascades and Olympics. They're going to be your new 'backyard'. Badlands are cool as said above, Banff/Jasper are spectacular! I might add Arches/Canyonland area if it isn't mid summer, because it's a nice contrast to what you're going to be experiencing on the shores of Puget Sound.

Edited by Jeannie on 06/13/2013 22:24:41 MDT.

John Pain

Locale: Road trip
Re: Advice on 06/14/2013 05:12:03 MDT Print View

We're leaving June 27, so I'm figuring there will still be snow at the higher elevations in Wyoming at the beginning of our trip.

I like a lot of off-trail hiking above treeline and have some experience doing that in Alaska and the Sierras. (I wrote about a trip I did with Andrew Skurka last year:

My soon-to-be wife isn't a big fan of hiking in snow though. And while I like doing 25-30 mile days, but she prefers 10-15.

John Pain

Locale: Road trip
Re: Re: 2 months from DC to Seattle. What would you do? on 06/14/2013 05:13:33 MDT Print View

Oddly enough, neither of us is in politics. Glad to hear you're enjoying it out there. When are you doing the Wonderland Trail?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: road trip on 06/14/2013 08:36:28 MDT Print View

For what it's worth snow across the west seems to be in early retreat. It'll still be there, but perhaps less than usual.

One thing to worry about in early July is mosquitos.

I'd do a swing through southern CO and perhaps northern NM before hitting southern UT and heading north. Yes it'll be hot, but stick to high elevations and you'll be fine. Do an overnighter to the summit of Pikes Peak and back. See the sand dunes. Hike a few peaks and maybe some of the CT. Get into the Weminuche. Swing south and visit Chaco (which will be really hot).

In Utah, the Needles, Natural Bridges, perhaps Grand Gulch, the upper Escalante, Bryce, the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and Zion should be on your list. Call now and see if you can snag a reservation to do the Narrows as an overnight. It makes for short days, but it's a really cool place to camp.

Head north and hit the Tetons, Yellowstone, and perhaps the Winds later. Hopefully the bugs will be calmed down. Yellowstone especially will be crowded, but drive late or early and do some backpacks. Frontcountry camping in Yellowstone is a pain during August, so plan accordingly.

Glacier, Waterton, and the Canadian Rockies will be coming into fine shape by mid-August. Driving around Glacier will be a headache, and you'll have to do walk-in BC permits. You can get these on the morning before you start, and if you're flexible you'll be able to get something good.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: re: road trip on 06/14/2013 15:49:35 MDT Print View

David just described my dream road trip. Maybe when the kids are teenagers....

John (iceberglake), we are doing the full 93 mile circuit Wonderland 14-19 Sept. Got lucky with a permit lottery. I hear it is sort of a highway with all the demand. But I figure it is a right of passage for backpackers in the PNW, so why not do it your first full summer here.

Our permit is full, but we could probably add one more person if we called the NPS and asked. They probably would not let us add two more people.

You should have had your fill, though, with your road trip. If you do make it down to Santa Fe or Albuquerque, check out Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas. Tell Jim, the owner, Michael sent you. Jim knows all the hidden gems of the NM backcountry and can hook you up. I would race straight from DC to NM, then roughly bounce up the path of the CDT then cut along the path of the PNWT over to Seattle, using David's specific points as a guide.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
re: road trip on 06/14/2013 16:59:56 MDT Print View

It seems like Dave gave you the West's greatest hits. If you need a place to break up the drive through the Great Plains, you could always stop and snag a burger at Wall Drug, in Wall, SD. You know, pick up your bumper sticker, have a malt? Then there's always the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. You could fill up your schedule doing tacky things in the Dakotas.

John Pain

Locale: Road trip
Thanks! on 06/14/2013 20:19:15 MDT Print View

Hey everybody,

Thanks for all the tips! Lots of rethinking of plans going on now because of the ideas. The way I feel about it is that we really can't go wrong where ever we go.

Michael, it looks like we'll probably be settling in to life in Seattle when you're on the Wonderland Trail, but I look forward to meeting up with other BPLers out in the PNW.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Thanks! on 06/14/2013 20:25:12 MDT Print View

Feel free to PM me when you get to town and we can coordinate on some hikes.