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Washington Highlights

Atlanta, Georgia
8 posts
Washington Highlights

Hello!!! Let me start by saying i know the beauty of this state cannot be discovered in such a short time. So i consider this trip a highlight trip. My BF and I are flying into vancouver spending two days there- then driving through washington- 2 days and ending with 2 days in oregon- and flying out of portland next week. So more of a highlight tour. Im not interested in seattle. More so in beautiful vistas scenic drives and hikes <5k. What highlights should be considered in Washington? We are staying in tacoma. I was wondering if its possible to drive through cascades and do mt ranier one day and then olympic national park a second day. Is loop drive doable with stopping at ruby beach, hoh rainforest and hurricane ridge in 1 day? Im sure there will be future trips where we can return and know where we would want to go for a longer period of time. Thanks in advance!

Seattle, Wa
Level Contributor
5,865 posts
49 reviews
1. Re: Washington Highlights

Why stay in Tacoma? If you want to experience beauty between Vancouver and Portland you need to NOT be along the I-5 corridor. You could do something like, go down Whidbey Island, ferry to Port Townsend, and spend 2 nights in Olympic (still very rushed), then go to Portland after. But staying in Tacoma means you can't do that.

The drive around the Olympic Peninsula is outside the park, and not scenic. It's quite tedious (at best) for the most part. The scenery comes when you do the lengthy detours into the park. You could make the stops you wanted with 2 days, starting in Van and ending in Portland.

My first thought, if you can give up ONP, is to recommend going over the North Cascades Hwy, which is the most scenic route in the state, then head down along the eastern part of the Cascades, through Leavenworth, ending up in the Columbia River Gorge before heading west along the river to Portland. Here you get a little of everything--spectacular alpine scenery, ranching country, the Columbia River, orchards, and the waterfalls of the Gorge. Again, Tacoma is not along this route.

Edited: 09 June 2017, 01:52
Level Contributor
12 posts
1 review
2. Re: Washington Highlights

I picked tacoma thinking it was centralized and we could travel from there. More of a place of rest.Thank you for suggestion of scenic drive in north cascades. I have two days for washington, 3 days for Oregon of which we need to be in portland by end of third day. So i think i can use one of the 3 oregon days to do Columbia river gorge area. So do you still think we should utilize 2 days to do your north cascade scenic drive, ranier , gorge and then perhaps ONP another day?

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
71,180 posts
123 reviews
3. Re: Washington Highlights


Are you the Original Poster? Ask TripAdvisor to combine your accounts. tripadvisorsupport.com/hc/…200615157

Another member is asking about trying to fit North Cascades NP, Mt Rainier NP, and Olympic NP into five days. It just doesn't fit. You're trying to fill all that into two days. Really won't fit.

With just two days for the entire state of Washington, try to pick one location that you can explore.

Maybe look at some of the ideas in the Top questions on the right side of the WA state forum page

Level Contributor
5,637 posts
109 reviews
4. Re: Washington Highlights

Big, big mistake to stay in Tacoma. I'm from there originally and drive down fairly often (live up by the Canadian border) to visit my parents. The entire Puget Sound corridor along Interstate 5 makes for unpleasant driving. What you're proposing puts you smack dab in the midst of wretched traffic and stretches without nothing to speak of in terms of scenic views. I highly recommend taking Christy's advice above, offered in her final paragraph. Best option by far, given your time frame & parameters.

~ Colleen

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
33,178 posts
6,438 reviews
5. Re: Washington Highlights

Tacoma has a beautiful park with beach area, forest and lots of places to hike and bike.

Its Point Defiance and we were just there last Sunday.


so if you do stay in Tacoma you might want to spend some time at this park.

Level Contributor
6,599 posts
18 reviews
6. Re: Washington Highlights


"flying out of portland next week" -- Do you literally mean next week" What exactly are your dates?

The following assumes you don't literally mean next week.....

Sorry, but you need to do three things.

1) Print out your first plan - and shred it! Totally impractical even for a "highlight" visit given the time you are willing to spend here.

2) Buy a good map of the area and read it. Note the mileage you're considering.

3) Skip Canada this time. Forget about ONP this time. Concentrate on Western Washington and Oregon. There is PLENTY to hold your interest!

Tacoma, Washington
Level Contributor
26 posts
7. Re: Washington Highlights

Your plan is doable but you will be busy! Definitely check out the gondola at Crystal Mountain ride it to the top for the most amazing views of Mt. Rainier. While on top you can grab a bite at the Summit House, try their ginger beer it's amazing!

We have a scenic by way map for all of Washington in our visitor information center if you want to drop by. It's located at:

1516 Commerce St

Tacoma, WA 98402


Make sure to check out Pt. Defiance and Ruston way while in Tacoma!

Poulsbo, Washington
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,718 posts
8 reviews
8. Re: Washington Highlights

I agree forget about Olympic National Park. You do not have enough time! You do not realize the distances that you are talking about. Depending on time of year you could visit Mt.Rainier National Park as a daytrip. The Columbia Gorge while in Portland or on your way. You just do not have enough time to do what you think you have time for. I wish that you had consulted us before making your plans.

9. Re: Washington Highlights

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