Sunday, August 01, 2010

SF to Vancouver -- 10 day road trip

Hey Road Trip USA --

We will be traveling from San Fran. to Vancouver on a road trip. Have 10 days. Can you give advice as to where to stay and what to see?

thanks much,


Hi Pat --

Thanks for writing in to Road trip USA. 10 days is an ideal amount of time for your trip -- there's plenty to see and do, and no need to rush.

My specific suggestions would depend on your tastes -- if you like wine tasting, you'll want to spend time in Napa, and Sonoma, visiting the many great vineyards and wineries. But if you prefer hiking or mountain biking, you may prefer to spend time on Mount Tamalpais, or around the Point Reyes National Seashore.

That said, there are quite a few "must see" places to visit between SF and Vancouver. To start with, you'll want to see Mendocino, on the coast about 4 hours north of SF, a lovely old town with great restaurants and historic B&B inns, all surrounded by gorgeous scenery.

Next stop is the Humboldt Redwoods, where the famous "Avenue of the Giants" runs through a forest of ancient redwood trees -- followed by an overnight in either Eureka or Arcata, twin towns with very different personalities. And if you like wilderness, one of the few stretches of California coast you can't reach by car is around here -- called the Lost Coast, it offers great hiking (and fishing, from the port of Shelter Cove.)

North of Arcata is one lovely state park, at Patrick's Point, then you have 100 miles of Redwood National Park, which collects together old-growth forests, coastal areas and some photogenic wildlife (including giant elk). There isn't much in the way of towns here, but Klamath is home to the region's biggest roadside attraction: the Trees of Mystery, fronted by a giant statue of Pal Bunyan. Klamath also has an excellent B&B -- the Requa Inn, a historic B&B on the Klamath River, where it meets the Pacific.

(I give details of B&Bs -- and everything else -- in my big book, Road Trip USA, in a mini-guide to the Pacific Coast Highway, and here on the website.)

Depending upon how much wine-touring and/or hiking you do, the trip up northern California could take 3-5 days; now, on to Oregon!

The Oregon coast is a bit more "civilized" than the wild and rugged California stretch, but the drive is still pretty and not too busy -- most of the through traffic turns inland, following I-5 up through the Willamette Valley (which is also very pretty, and more pastoral). A couple of my favorite places along Oregon's coast are the extensive Oregon Dunes (which inspired the Sci-Fi book, Dune), and the headland at Cape Perpetua. There are also some admirable old 1930s-era bridges along US-101, especially at Florence, one of the more attractive coastal Oregon communities. Bandon and Cannon Beach are also very pleasant -- when the weather's fine, and when it's stormy. And Astoria, just shy of the Washington border, is perhaps the most historic community on the West Coast.

One last destination along the coast is Olympic National Park, in far northwest Washington-- this has rainforests, and ice fields, and just about everything in between.

That could easily fill your 10 days -- and if you venture inland, there are some magic places to see in the Cascades (Mount Hood, Mount St Helens, Mount Rainier...), plus two great cities, Portland and Seattle.

Hope this helps, Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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