Travel advice

Briar

Hall of Famer
Location
Scotland
Hi

I’m seeking your travel advice for a trip we are planning from Seattle to Jackson Hole in September 2023. We only have about 16 days for the trip and would be flying in from the UK.

Yellowstone and the Grand Teton national Parks are the main draw but from the UK its much, much cheaper to fly to Seattle then catch an internal flight to Jackson Hole. I know there are lots to see around Seattle area too with Mount St Helen’s, Mount Rainer, Olympia and Craters of the Moon, etc.

For those of you who live in or have travelled within that area, the question I’m posing really is, if you were a first time traveller to that area:

Would you you fly between Seattle to Jackson Hole to maximise the time at each location, or would you do a road trip between the two? Are there places in between that should not be missed?

I don’t mind camping or hotels but I’m assuming accommodation (whatever type) would need booked in advance especially near the national parks?

Any recommendations, tips and photographs you have to share would be much appreciated.

Thanks 😊
 

PacNWMike

Veteran
Location
Salish Sea
We fly Iceland Air to/from Glasgow. Straight shot. Rather round-about to go by way of Heathrow or NY. Rent a car in Seattle and drive. Not sure why you chose Jackson Hole but with only 16 days that's a pretty tight schedule but doable. Yellowstone might be too much. There are plenty of great places to see along the way. We just spent last week doing part of that route. See some of the photos that I will be posting. Not sure what your main interests are but PM me if you want and I can give some recommendations.
 
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
It sounds like a seriously cool and worthy trip - and, possibly, a great road trip as well. Unfortunately, I can't offer helpful advice or tips with regards to an exact route between Seattle and Jackson Hole because a) I've never done that exact trajectory myself, and b) it's been some time since I've driven around Washington State, and even longer since I drove up to, through, and around Jackson Hole. So why am I even trying to give advice on a trip that I haven't actually made? Simply because almost all of my road trips through that part of the world - including Washington State and parts of Idaho and Wyoming (and possibly even the northeast corner of Oregon) have been memorable and generally excruciatingly beautiful - so I can unhesitatingly say that I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND renting a car and making an extended road trip. With 16 days, that theoretically leaves you a decent bit of time for some cool side trips 'en route' - but the truth is, on a road trip, one never has enough time. Of course, you have alternatives: you could do the road trip on the way to Jackson Hole and then fly back (doubtless the most expensive version, as one-way car rentals and one-way plane flights tend to be pricier); or you could do a 2-way road trip, there and back from Seattle, but take different routes each way. I think this last would be my choice - as it would allow you to see more; though the practicality and scheduling need some planning.

Among the many, many cool possibilities is the one you mentioned - Mt. Saint Helens in Washington State. (Confession: I've lived in Oregon for several decades and have always wanted to make a trip of several days to Mt St H, and never done so yet. Damn! You are inspiring me.) There are several ways to access it but supposedly one entry point, from the north, allows you to get closer to and access some of the more remarkable hiking trails which truly let you experience the mountain.

Heading south from Mt St. Helen's, you reach the mighty Columbia River, which is long, large and magnificent and divides Washington and Oregon. If you started at the westernmost point - in the charming small town of Astoria (on the Oregon side of the river, and home to nice restaurants and brewpubs and coffee shops), you could spend a day or two or more simply going eastwards along the Columbia. The Columbia Gorge (more on the western side of the state of Oregon) is a national scenic area with wonderful hikes, waterfalls, etc etc etc; the town of Hood River is a mecca for windsurfers because of the high winds which go across that part of the river. I think there may be quite a few other spots along the Columbia worth seeing, too.

Another potential side-trip would be cutting down across the northeastern corner of Oregon, home to the Wallowa mountains which are splendid, rugged, and isolated. (2nd Confession: I've been yearning to make a Wallowas-only trip to that part of the PNW or Pacific Northwest, and still haven't gotten around to it. Damn!).

Probably, your route will take you through or across southern parts of Idaho, near the city of Pocatello. There are beautiful rivers there, and the area is scenic. (And also, rather socially and culturally and religiously conservative, though the past decades have brought a sprinkling of more liberal-minded dwellers, as well as more nice coffee shops.) I think parts of southern Idaho are meccas to paleontologists - certain locations are or have been treasure troves of fossilized dinosaur bones. Not sure if any are 'visitable', though.

Eventually you will cross into Wyoming and reach Jackson Hole. Once, many many decades ago and in a previous lifetime, I went on a memorable road trip which took me up to and through Jackson Hole - I still remember how stunningly beautiful it was - and also how cold it was. My trip was made at the end of Fall/beginning of Winter, which I think is significantly later than your projected September dates; hopefully you won't be running into heavy ice or snow. (But if you were, an AWD or 4WD vehicle could be a lifesaver.)

Coming back to Seattle, one cool side trip is going to the San Juan islands, in the upper Puget Sound. Accessible only by Ferry, from points north of Seattle, they are isolated, rugged, and beautiful. It's also possible they might be touristy and crowded. Parts of the northern Puget Sound are beautiful. Another trip near Seattle is the Olympic Peninsula, on the Northwest point of Washington State. Parts of it are a primeval green dripping rain forest - other parts, including small waterfront towns (like Port Angeles, along the inland Salish Sea that divides the U.S. and Canada) can be either charming, picturesque or touristy, depending. But the Peninsula itself has a world of possibilities - worth considering if you have time.

Short version of all of the above: I truly think you could have an epic road-trip.
Most of my recent trips to parts of that part of the world have been to parts of the Columbia River - or parts of Washington State - not to mention a ;pt of Oregon - but I'm by no means an expert so you may get more up-to-date tips from others. One final thought - there are many great camping spots and campgrounds, both in Oregon and Washington, that are created and maintained by the respective states of OR and WA - so checking out the State Campground websites (and possibly for Idaho as well) would be a good idea. In the lengthy recent pandemic period, going camping (in beautiful isolated spot)s seemed to be one of the few things people felt safe doing -- so nice campgrounds tend to get reserved months and months and months in advance. Moral of story: it's a good idea to explore them now, well in advance of your trip.

And...I didn't even mention Yellowstone. Whew. All things considered, 16 days, which sounded like a lot initially, may not be enough for ALL OF THE ABOVE.
But... it sounds like a wonderful trip.
 

Acraftman

Veteran
Name
Dan
If your going into Denver a suggestion would be medicine bow peak I basically stumbled thru there on a road trip and was duly impressed with the beauty of that area actually Wyoming is really a gem . I came across an actual cattle drive with many many cowboys and still regret not stopping and photographing them that area has plenty of 10k plus mountains and not a ton of tourists which Jackson Hole has plenty of. One suggestion if you can stay off the major highways and you will enjoy it so much more. Also I would stop at RMNP just north of Denver beautiful.
 
Location
Seattle
Name
Andrew
I think it's actually better you didn't fly into Seattle, when aiming to travel a distance from the PNW. Because it's an area for its own trip, as Miguel aptly illustrated. My highlights would be the Olympic Peninsula, Snoqualmie Falls, the aforementioned Mt. Saint Helens, which sadly I haven't been to, yet, parts of the Oregon coast, and the redwoods of the northern slice of California, particularly if you are camping. However, a little earlier in the year is best for experiencing these places without a lot of rain. October is usually a banner month, with less tourist traffic. Going east, Glacier National Park is something to see in Montana.

I hope you have an excellent trip centered more on the interior this time around. It's been so long since I've been to Yellowstone and thereabouts that I can't really give any advice on Wyoming or the surrounds.
 

serhan

Hall of Famer
Location
NYC
I spent 1.5 years in 2 years in Pocatello, Idaho on the other side of the Jackson Hole over the pass and flied every month to East Coast thru Salt Lake City hub... It's been 19-20 years, but most probably it might be similar now as all those destinations are controlled by Delta Airlines and smaller affiliates. The East coast trip to Idaho was nearly costing as much as flying to overseas or Hawai at that time... A few times when the flight was cancelled, I ended up overnight in LA or red eye flight from California... Denver is the other hub where United controls the hub...

When I was there, I drove a lot as I had only weekends from work and a rental SUV with unlimited miles on my second year... There are so many places to see. I avoided the long weekends to travel as much as I can, but I hit the Las Vegas/Grand Canyon on labor day weekend... I went Tetons and Yellowstone 4 times, just before the memorial day weekend (end of May) and after the labor day (1st Monday of Sep).... One May trip was very cold and windy eg Yellowstone Lake was still frozen, so I didn't stay there. These were before internet phone, so I stayed in cheaper hotels at Yellowstone and Wy without any reservations. The challenge for me was how much I can drive without sleeping and how much time I was going to spend hiking/sightseeing... Also the elevations are around 7-8,ooo ft, so you need to be acclimated to the high elevations for long walks/hikes... I had coworkers hiking in August and it was snowing, but I have not seen snow on my trips. I drove on mostly paved roads though I picked some alternative roads too. I saw only in one trip 2 bears near the road. One thing I regret was not going to Glacier Park in WY as they say it will not be there for long with global warning. I mostly went to national parks in Utah and Colorado. I luckily had Olympus UZ digital camera from work so that was my entry to the digital photography. I wish I had my current knowledge and gear, but then I might not survive those long trips now... Some of the photos are below (First 3 parks are from Washington DC/VA. the rest are National Parks in that area that I visited). I recommend to visit the national parks in that area as much as you can. You can check all of them on US national park list. My favorite show, Outside Beyond the Lens (filmed by photographers from California), on PBS also recommends some of the locations outside of the National Parks as less crowded and as beautiful as they were driving around parks in Colorado, Utah, California locations... I enjoyed driving the mountains in that area as well... Aspens are beautiful. More wilder trip to take might be middle of British Columbia/Alaska, but you cannot see the variety of the National Parks that you can find in this area...

 

Acraftman

Veteran
Name
Dan
If your going into Denver a suggestion would be medicine bow peak I basically stumbled thru there on a road trip and was duly impressed with the beauty of that area actually Wyoming is really a gem . I came across an actual cattle drive with many many cowboys and still regret not stopping and photographing them that area has plenty of 10k plus mountains and not a ton of tourists which Jackson Hole has plenty of. One suggestion if you can stay off the major highways and you will enjoy it so much more. Also I would stop at RMNP just north of Denver beautiful.
Hi

I’m seeking your travel advice for a trip we are planning from Seattle to Jackson Hole in September 2023. We only have about 16 days for the trip and would be flying in from the UK.

Yellowstone and the Grand Teton national Parks are the main draw but from the UK its much, much cheaper to fly to Seattle then catch an internal flight to Jackson Hole. I know there are lots to see around Seattle area too with Mount St Helen’s, Mount Rainer, Olympia and Craters of the Moon, etc.

For those of you who live in or have travelled within that area, the question I’m posing really is, if you were a first time traveller to that area:

Would you you fly between Seattle to Jackson Hole to maximise the time at each location, or would you do a road trip between the two? Are there places in between that should not be missed?

I don’t mind camping or hotels but I’m assuming accommodation (whatever type) would need booked in advance especially near the national parks?

Any recommendations, tips and photographs you have to share would be much appreciated.

Thanks 😊
Briar , I have been enjoying this guy for a while and remembered He lives in Jackson Hole and thought I would send a link.
 
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