Touring - Pacific Northwest Early Spring Camping Route
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03-09-07, 07:32 AM
I'm on my first self contained camping trip and I'm looking for a modest 5 - 7 day travel plan for the first week in April. I'm concerned about weather at this time of year but I really need to know how I handle the experience before committing to a summer long series of opportunities. Any suggestions on a route where the weather would be reasonably mild and not toooooo wet for this early departure. I'm out of Spokane but I'll travel a ways to get to a destination that might be more weather friendly. Thanks in advance. Bill
03-09-07, 08:36 AM
Stay as low as possible. No guarantees.
I'm figuring you are planning to do it during spring break.
One possible route that stays low -
Take Amtrak to Portland
Follow Hwy 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia to Umatilla -
Then cross the river on I-82 bridge and take US 730 east -
Take US 12 past Walla Walla and Dayton -
Then Hwy 261 to Washtucna and north to Ritzville -
(There's a shorter route - Kahlotus Road - via Juniper Dunes)
But Lyons Ferry and Palouse Falls parks made for a nice break -
Then take old Hwy 10 to Sprague -
You can do a short dirt section or use I-90 before -
Taking Hwy 904 - Cheney Road - to Cheney and Spokane.
This would be a short week, easy, warmest possible.
It all depends on the weather the week in question.
03-09-07, 09:17 AM
April? Brrr, still not very likely to be crossing the passes.
low indeed. how is it over that side of the mountains in april?
you could ride from spokane to potholes, up to coulee city and back.
or get over to olympia, up thru hood canal, over to port angeles, tootle back to port townsend, go to whidbey island, ride up to the san juans, go to orcas, then back.
I think you'll get wet, getting a stretch of a week of dry weather in april around here is pretty slim.
The hood canal/PA/PT/ Islands is a very nice tour.
03-09-07, 11:11 AM
jamawani's route sounds perfect for a 5 day break-in tour.
If you decide to do the SR14 route, I have que sheet I could email you with a great route through the gorge. It would help you avoid the curvy, narrow part of SR14.
03-09-07, 11:27 AM
The SR14 route is classic... by doing it spring, you will ditch the masses. But it's going to darn cold and rainy.
I've toured in the Idaho panhandle in April... but it really depends on the weather that year. You could just ride a Ritzville loop locally-- the weather is likely to be better over on East side of the Cascades than the West. But then again it could snow! Or it could be sunny and 60.
Personally, I'd stick close to home because it would be easier to bail if it weather gets too crappy. There's no dishonor in bailing on the year's first trip out.
03-09-07, 04:28 PM
Well, not too rainy - but it's usually an all-or-nothing proposition.
From Western Regional Climate Center
Averages for first week in April:
Vancouver - 58/38 (Hi/Lo); .77 in. precip for a week (3.3 per month)
Goldendale - 58/31; .23 (1.0 per month)
Walla Walla - 60/40; .40 (1.7 per month)
Ritzville - 57-32; .23 (1.0 per month)
Now these are AVERAGES which means it can be drier or wetter.
But, on average, once you get east of Bingen/White Salmon it's fairly dry.
PS - You can always hop back on Amtrak or Greyhound and bail out if need be.
If you want to keep it simple, why not peddle up to Tiger and hook on Rte 20 West. Many years ago, I took that ride and loved it. I think I took the bus to Spokane from Seattle, so can't help on the return journey. On the other hand, if you were to take a bus to Seattle, there's always that screamingly beautiful loop up Vancouver Island to Courtney, cross over and come back south on the West Coast. Screw the weather! Dress warmly and bring some of those cool wool gloves with the leather palms. Trip would almost be worth making just to wear the gloves.
03-10-07, 12:24 PM
The San Juans are the "banana belt" of western Washington. They usually have significantly less rain (though it still rains.) I think Sequim (on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula) has the lowest rainfall in the region. I'd suggest some touring through the San Juans, maybe on up to Bellingham, maybe a foray into B. C. In the summer I really like Lake Alouette - Golden Ears Provincial Park - but it could be pretty miserable in the spring. You might even hold off on making a decision until the last minute - like a day or two - so you could check the 10-day forecast to see what your odds are.
03-10-07, 06:36 PM
If you check the weather sites and their statistics, you can find areas that are likely to be drier.
For a trip like that (5-7 days), you could prepare several different attractive options, and be ready to take any one of them, up to the last day (or the last hours). Then you could decide, at that time, which one to take, based on the updated or current weather forecasts. There are sites that let you see satellite photos of the approaching storms and weather systems -- and often the forecasts are reasonably reliable (not infallible, but still useful) six days out, sometimes more.
(Plan A=first choice; go to plan B if weather forecast nixes A; go to plan C if forecast nixes B, and so on.)
Eastern Oregon? Some people really like touring there.
Parts of Idaho or Nevada?
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