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A Pacific Coast Road Trip Planner

Intro­duc­tion

If you have dreamed of find­ing a way to save up enough vaca­tion time and mon­ey to final­ly explore the beau­ti­ful regions of the west­ern part of the Unit­ed States and Cana­da, one of the biggest frus­tra­tions is choos­ing where to vis­it. The Grand Canyon looks beau­ti­ful, but so do the Cas­cade Moun­tains in Wash­ing­ton. The prob­lem, of course, is that they´re sep­a­rat­ed by sev­er­al thou­sand miles.

Instead of choos­ing one des­ti­na­tion and fly­ing there and fly­ing back, it would be a much bet­ter use of your time to plan a trip to vis­it sev­er­al dif­fer­ent nation­al parks dur­ing a west coast road trip. While you might not be able to fit both the Grand Canyon and Glac­i­er Nation­al Park in Mon­tana into the same trip, it is entire­ly pos­si­ble to see sev­er­al eco­log­i­cal­ly and geo­graph­i­cal­ly dis­tinct regions dur­ing one trip.

There are dozens of dif­fer­ent routes that you could take, but our favorite and most rec­om­mend­ed trips is to dri­ve up the Pacif­ic Coast from north­ern Cal­i­for­nia into west­ern Cana­da. Below we offer a sug­gest­ed itin­er­ary and some need­ed tips to make a road trip of the life­time.

How to Plan for Your Trip?

Obvi­ous­ly, you first need to see how much time you´ll be able to get off from work. There is huge dif­fer­ence in how far you´ll be able to trav­el and what you´ll be able to see if you only have a week of vaca­tion as com­pared to three weeks. While a longer time frame might be most desir­able, not every­one has the need­ed flex­i­bil­i­ty. Below we offer an itin­er­ary for a three week trip. How­ev­er, you eas­i­ly break the trip into sev­er­al small­er seg­ments if you feel that three weeks is out of your pos­si­bil­i­ty.

You´ll also need to con­sid­er your bud­get. If you plan on vis­it­ing sev­er­al nation­al parks, it´s prob­a­bly a good idea to get a Nation­al Park Pass (avail­able at every nation­al park). While this is a larg­er upfront invest­ment, it will save you mon­ey if you plan to be vis­it­ing sev­er­al parks. Also, bring qual­i­ty camp­ing gear if you plan on avoid­ing the hotels.

Overview of the Itin­er­ary

Week 1: Fly into San Fran­cis­co and spend three days explor­ing Yosemite Nation­al Park. From Yosemite dri­ve North to Red­wood Nation­al Park to enjoy some of the most pris­tine old growth for­est in the Unit­ed States.

Week 2: Dri­ve from Red­wood Nation­al park to Crater Lake in Ore­gon and hike the rim trail around the U.S.´s most spec­tac­u­lar vol­canic lake. Then dri­ve up the beau­ti­ful Ore­gon Coast until you get to Mount Rainier Nation­al Park in Wash­ing­ton. If you´re up for the adven­ture, con­sid­er hik­ing the per­pet­u­al­ly snow­capped peak of Mount Rainier

Week 3: After a quick dri­ve up to the North Cas­cades in north­ern Wash­ing­ton, cross the bor­der into Cana­da and head west to vis­it Banff Nation­al Park and Jasper Nation­al Park where you´ll end your trip

Review of Some of the Places to Vis­it

This road trip will take you into some of the most beau­ti­ful, pris­tine areas of the North Amer­i­can Rocky Moun­tains. While it is obvi­ous­ly a long trip, the dis­tances between each stop­ping point are rea­son­ably spaced mean­ing that you´ll be spend­ing much more time out in Nature as opposed to stuck in a car.

Yosemite Nation­al Park and the Red­woods

The first stop on our route takes us into one of the U.S.´s old­est and most appre­ci­at­ed parks. The geog­ra­phy of Yosemite is sim­ply spec­tac­u­lar, and you can even enjoy adrenaline-racing moun­tain climb­ing trips up the sheer gran­ite cliffs of El Cap­i­tan and Half Dome. While we can’t cov­er all of the dif­fer­ent things to do in this mas­sive Nation­al Park.

The Red­wood forests of north­ern Cal­i­for­nia take you into a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent ter­rain. Instead of the wide open panoram­ic vis­tas of Yosemite, you´ll find your­self enclosed in some of the thick­est old growth forests with mas­sive, thou­sand year old trees.

Cosmo Dream Yosemite National Park

Redwood National Park

Crater Lake and Mount Rainier

Crater Lake is a mas­sive for­ma­tion cre­at­ed by a mas­sive vol­canic erup­tion mil­lions of years ago. The hike around the rim trail of Crater Lake offers spec­tac­u­lar views of the lake from dif­fer­ent angles.

Mount Rainier offers one of the most reward­ing moun­tain hikes in the world. The per­pet­u­al­ly snow capped peak of Mount Rainier might require some tech­ni­cal gear to get you to the top safe­ly. Nonethe­less, the pris­tine forests and pure moun­tain lakes lead­ing up to the mas­sive peak are well worth the hike.

Crater Lake National Park Oct 05, 2014

Mount Rainier National Park

Banff and Jasper Nation­al Parks

Once you make your way into Cana­da, you def­i­nite­ly will want to check out two of the trea­sures of the Cana­di­an Rock­ies. Banff Nation­al Park and Jasper Nation­al Park both offer some of the most spec­tac­u­lar scenery of the North­ern Rock­ies. The moun­tain lakes of Banff Nation­al park are sim­i­lar in col­or to an island in the Caribbean.

At Jasper Nation­al Park, you can explore every­thing from the glac­i­ers of the Colom­bian ice­field to steam­ing hot springs. This UNESCO world her­itage site is also one of the best places for wildlife sit­ing as you should be able to eas­i­ly find every­thing from cari­bou to black bears to bighorn sheep.

Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park (Alberta, Canada)

Plan Your Trip Now

Even if you only have a few days of vaca­tion each year, instead of spend­ing that time being lazy or vis­it­ing the same state park you´ve been to 100 times already, find a cheap tick­et and explore any one of these fan­tas­tic nat­ur­al areas. If you would like to learn about more Wild Adven­tures, see our friends at www.LiveOnceLiveWild.com for more info.

This arti­cle sub­mit­ted by: Scott Moses ©2017

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