travel blogger

Your Best 6 Days In Washington

By: Danielle Peterson

If your looking for the perfect itinerary to escape to the Pacific Northwest, you've come to the right place. I've done all the research and experienced first hand the ultimate trip that YOU DEFINITELY DON'T WANT TO MISS. 

Washington state is considered the heart of the Pacific Northwest, and also takes the title of my new favorite state. I instantly fell in love with the diverse landscape, including the bustling seaport city of Seattle and expansive Olympic National Park, in which you can explore three distinct ecosystems;  temperate rain forest, rugged Pacific shore and mountains/meadows. 

I’ve put together an itinerary for those who only have 3 days to explore Olympic National Park. And for those lucky enough to have a bit more time, I’ve added on some extra bonus days for you, and I promise, you’ll want to see this trip out to the very end.

 

Olympic National Park in 3 Days

Day 1: Hurricane Ridge , Marymere Falls and Lake Crescent

Hurricane ridge is located 17 miles from Port Angelus.  The trails offer views of glacier-clad mountains showcasing viewpoints of Olympic Mountain and the Olympic Peninsula coastline. Chipmunks, ground squirrels, marmonts and black tailed deer wander the ridge, and we saw all of them.

After hiking Hurricane Ridge, we drove to Lake Crescent, a 624-foot deep shimmering glacier-carved jewel. You can stroll the shore, or rent rowboats at Lake Crescent Lodge (where accommodation are also available).  Because the water was choppy, we didn't go boating, but  instead enjoyed a DELICIOUS lunch right at the lodge with views of the lake.  **The food was absolutely amazing, and it was a great time to rest after the hours of hiking we did at Hurricane Ridge.

Follow the signs to Marymere Falls from Lake Crescent Lodge and enjoy a short hike to the 90-foot waterfall. This was a must for me, as I'm a waterfall lover, and the walk to get there was easy and beautiful.

Accomodations: If you are up for adventure, I highly recommend couchsurfing at Lonnies which is located in Port Angelus. Port Angelus is a great base point for your first day visiting Olympic National Park. We stayed two nights at Lonnies : The night we landed in Washington and after Day 1 of hiking Hurricane Ridge. Lonnie is a wonderful man who has built cabins for travelers who come to experience Olympic National Park. He has hosted over 600 travelers over the past couple of years. Staying is free, just sign up on couchsurfing.com. (You will find his profile once you search hosts in Port Angelus.) However, come ready to share stories, laughter, wine and bonfires with Lonnie himself.  It is the ultimate adventure, and a great way to start the trip. Families or individual travelers are all welcome. The night I was there there were 9 people total, and yes there is room for everyone! A great way to meet other travelers and share your tales of adventure. 

****We flew into Seattle, rented a car (NECESSARY FOR THIS ITINERARY) and drove to Port Angelus, where we stayed the night.  Drive time from Seattle Airport to Port Angelus is about 2.5-3 hours. We took the route south through Tacoma as we didn’t want to deal with crossing the ferry/lines at ferry, etc. So Day 1 starts our first day in the park, but technically second day in Washington.****

 

 

Day 2- Hoh Rainforest and Sunset at Rialto Beach

The morning of Day 2 we woke up and after Lonnie shared some of his fresh farm eggs with us, and then we were on our way to drive to the Hoh Rainforest. The drive time from Port Angelus to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center is about 1 hour 50 minutes.

We spent the day exploring the moss-draped maples, Douglas-firs and Sitka spruce trees. This temperate rain forest receives over 12 feet of rain a year, and hiking the trails is nothing short of spectacular. The emerald and mossy greens create a canopy above you as the sun peaks through highlighting the trails in front of you.

 

Accomodation: Manitou Lodge Bed and Breakfast.

*It is best to call or reserve reservations ahead of time*

After hiking we went to check in at Manitou. All of the lodge rooms were full, so we ended up renting one of their campsites. Glamping at it’s finest. We arrived and our campsite was already pitched. Blown up mattresses, carpets in the tent with a table and lamp, warm blankets and a campfire with complimentary smores kit. This was my kind of camping. I actually preferred staying in the campsite than inside the lodge. The campsite is pitched right in the forest, surrounded by the massively tall trees, with the sound of nature around you.

 

After getting settled in, we headed to Rialto Beach, which is only three miles from Manitou Lodge. Here you can catch a pretty spectacular sunset.

 

Day 3- La Push Beaches while heading back to Seattle

Instead of heading back toward Port Angelus to get to Seattle, we decided to continue south and take the slightly longer (barely) route back to Seattle. This way we were able to see more of the La Push Beaches and take in some different scenery.

Just south of the village of La push are three olympic coast charms: First, second and Third Beaches. Each one is sandy, broad and hemmed in by dramatic bluffs and headlands. With roadside access, First Beach is the easiest to get to and so can be crowded. Third beach requires a 1.2 mile hike down a forested trail. But Second Beach is just right: a hike just long enough to discourage crowds, het short enough to encourage those who want to see the beautiful beach.

Accommodation: Drove from beaches to stay in Seattle

 

Day 4- Seattle

I don’t have a specific accommodation referral as I stayed with a cousin who lives out here, but there are plenty of accomodations for all budgets here in this beautiful city.

We only had one day to explore Seattle, and for me this was enough since I’m more of a nature gal. We hit the highlights such as the Pike Place Market, walking along the waterfront to see the boat houses, and visiting the troll under the bridge. I’m not a museum gal and we also skipped out on the space needle.

Accomodation: Left Seattle mid afternoon to check in at River View Cabin, Gold Bar

Day 5 and 6 – Gold Bar, River View Cabin and Bridal Veil Falls

This was by far the highlight of my trip, and if you are able to make it to this gem, only an hour and 15 minutes east from the Seattle Airport, I highy recommend it.

Located in Gold Bar, this tranquil house rental sits right on the Skykomish River at the base of majestic Mt. Index. The view from the cabin windows and Jacuzzi is a unique and unsurpassed experience. The cabin is private, charming, comfortable and I promise, two nights is probably not enough. You’ll want to stay forever. Bonus points: DOG FRIENDLY!

From the cabin you can walk and then hike up to Bridal Veil Falls, a spectacular waterfall with unbelievable views. There is also a 7 mile roundtrip hike to Lake Serene, if you have the energy by the end of this trip!

Accomodation: River View Cabin

 

Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear your favorite places to visit in Washington, or the Pacific Northwest!!!!

 

Last Stop: Tucson

 

 

Saguaro National Park:

Tucson was our last (and quick) stop on our road trip through Arizona. Before flying out we took some time to check out Saguaro National Park, home of the largest cacti. From Native American artwork to Arizona souvenir travel mugs you are probably familiar with seeing the famous saguaro cactus, which has become the universal symbol for the American West.

 

The Saguaro National Park is unlike any other view I have seen before. There are approximately 1.6 million individual saguaro plants growing within the national park. The beautiful red mountains in the background make it one hell of a site to see.

 

Saguaro National Park has two districts, encompassing a total  91,327 acres. The Rincon Mountain District is located to the East of Tucson and the Tucson Mountain District is located to the West of Tucson.  There is a visitor center in each of the two districts.  For directions to each district please visit here.  

 

DID YOU KNOW: The average lifespan of a saguaro cactus is 150 years, but some plants may live more than 200 years. A 20 foot tall saguaro weighs approximately 1 ton (2000 pounds).

 

The park is open every day of the year except Christmas, and the busiest time of year is Nov- March due to the cooler weather.

 

Late April and March is when you will see the iconic saguaros begin to bloom, along with many other wildflowers.

 

 

Did you know? Saguaros are a very slow growing cactus. In Saguaro National Park, studies indicate that a saguaro grows between 1 and 1.5 inches in the first eight years of its life.

 

 

ADMISSION FEES:


Entrance fee paid for admission to Saguaro National Park is good for seven days and includes both the Tucson Mountain District (West) and the Rincon Mountain District (East).

Saguaro National Park Weekly Pass - $10.00 (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle or motorcycle and all its passengers. Organized groups are not eligible for the vehicle permit.

Saguaro National Park Individual Weekly Pass - $5.00/person (U.S. Dollars)
Admits one individual when entering by foot or bicycle. Individuals 15 years or younger are admitted free of charge.

 

 

Oak Creek Canyon Roadtrippin'

OAK CREEK CANYON FROM FLAGSTAFF TO SEDONA:

If you are driving from Flagstaff to Sedona, or Vice Versa, make sure you take the Oak Creek Canyon route. Recognized as one of the Top 5 Most Scenic Drives in America, by Rand McNally, it is a winding road of breathtaking beauty. Initially you’ll snake quickly down switchbacks into the canyon that hug the edges of cliffs and then eventually opens into oaks with evergreen pines with a backgrop of red-faced cliffss. The drive is about 14 miles, and is a picture perfect landscape the whole route.

 

Chapel of the Holy Dove

One of the benefits of renting a car and not being on a time limit is the ability to stop and enjoy random sites along the way. The Chapel of the Holy Dove was definitely one of these moments.

We passed the TINY chapel, and thinking it may have been a figment of my imagination, I had to turn around to make sure my eyes were seeing correctly.

The entrance to the chapel (whcih looked like an outhouse) was no taller than I was, and is open year round for visitors or worshipers to enter. The entire back wall of the chapel is glass, providing a stunning view of the San Francisco Peaks.

The chapel leaves free CDs of sermons in different languages that visiors can take. The visitors journal is not the only thing that interntional travels leave their mark on. The walls and benches of the chapel are filled with felt-tip pen signitures, prayers and town representations.

History of the Chapel of the Holy Dove


The Chapel of the Holy Dove sits on a parcel of land originally part of a small ranch purchased by Watson M. Lacy, MD in 1960. He was the only physician at the Grand Canyon Hospital which he operated with his wife, Ruth. They came to this area for respite from the demands of the medical practice at the Canyon. The beauty of the Peaks affirmed the goodness and majesty of God. They wanted to give travelers the opportunity to share it. In the summer of 1961, with the help of his sons and some hired hands, the 41 year-0ld Lacy, with no experience as a builder, used explosives to create holes in the rock beneath the Chapel to secure and position the large Ponderosa Pine logs which comprised the original A-shaped structure framing the San Francisco Peaks. Local volcanic rock and petrified wood was used to build the supporting stone walls. This was a project for intermittent days off from his practice at the canyon. The Chapel was completed in 1962. Dr. Lacy died October 1991. The ranch property was sold but the parcel on which the chapel stands remains in the trust of his widow.

On March 8, 1999, the Chapel was destroyed by a transient's campfire but the stone walls remained. Shortly thereafter, 18 year-old NAU student, Christen McCracken obtained permission from Mrs. Lacy to raise funds to rebuild the structure. Since the Chapel had become a popular landmark, the local public supported the project. Many materials were donated by Flagstaff merchants. Volunteers supervised by Flagstaff resident Ricky Roberts, completed the current Chapel, similar to the original, in April 2000.

The Chapel is open to All. Four of Dr. Lacy's six children, the daughter of an Arizona governor and Christen McCracken were married here, besides many others. The chapel of the Holy Dove was named to acknowledge the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, described in Matthew 3:16 as descending "like a dove" above Jesus in commissioning His earthly ministry as God, Incarnate.

The building was dedicated in memory of Dr. Lacy's brother, George, and nephew, Randy Lacy, who drowned in a boating accident in California in 1957. The original memorial plaque read: "In Memory of George and Randy Lacy whose great love in life and great courage in death made known the Glory of God." Lacy's profound grief resulting from the loss propelled great soul searching which led to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Once an agnostic, he discovered "...the Way, the Truth and the Life" was to be found only in Jesus, who said of sacrificial love in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."

It is our prayer that all who visit the Chapel of the Holy Dove would experience God's love and power.

 

Directions: 18 miles north of Flagstaff on Highway 180, near milepost 236

 

Trading Post by Dairy Queen:

Just a few miles before you enter Sedona, there's a Dairy Queen, at  4551 hwy 89 A, that has a setup of about 10 Native American vendors that sell fair priced and good quality souvenirs. You can find sterling silver jewelry,  hopi and navajo pottery and turquoise pendants among other souvenirs. It won’t be fine jewelery like items sold at Garlands but the the jewellery is authentic and the prices reasonable.



Getting lost in slot caves and horseshoe bends :)

Day trip from Grand Canyon to Page:

From the Grand Canyon we took a day trip to Page, leaving early in the morning to make it to an 11 a.m. tour of Antelope Canyon, and returning back to the Grand Canyon after sunset. I HIGHLY recommend doing the activities of Page in a day, which CAN be done, as there is not much in Page besides the three main highlights: Antelope Canyon, Antelope Canyon River Tour, and Horseshoe Bend.

 

 

Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon, known as a slot canyon (think of a cave without a roof), is one of the most photographed canyons in North America.  This canyon, among with others, were formed over millions of years ago when tributaries of the Colorado River would flood during hard summer rains. Now a sculptured masterpiece remains.

Antelope Canyon makes you feel like you enter into another world. The shapes and colors are constantly changing with the ever changing position of the sun casting light into the cave.

Your Navajo Guide will take you on an easy journey through the canyon stopping in areas that are popular for photos and also sharing the Navajo Cultural stories about the canyon. This tour is very informative, sharing the history and geology of the canyon and lasts about an hour.

Your Navajo guide with bring you on safari-style vehicles to the entrance of the canyon, sharing Navajo cultural stories and explaining about the history and geology of the canyon.  

*Note* The ONLY way to see Antelope Canyon is by signing up for a tour, as it is on a Navajo Indian Reservation.

We did a tour with Navajo Tours, which operates tours all day long. Any time of the day is good to see the canyon because as the sun crosses the sky it offers different lighting within the canyon.

Rumor has it that the BEST time, however, is around noon, when the sun is high in the sky.

The tour cost $40 dollars per person.  Navajo Parks and Recreation requires permit to enter the canyon and there is an additional $8 charge, that must be paid in cash. Tour payments can be made by credit card.

For the avid photographer, there is a professional photography tour for $80 that lasts about 2 hours long.

Adults: $40 per person. Children ages 0-12 are $20

There are a few other tour companies that operate that offer the same packages. You can also opt to tour the Lower Antelope Canyon, which offers some different photo opportunities.
 

We went in January, and although we were unable to see the famous beam of light that shoots through the canyon (due to the position of the sun in the wintertime sky) we were able to enjoy the slot canyon with less crowds and more photo opportunities.

 

 

Antelope Point Marina Boat Tours- Lake Powell

After we ended our tour of Upper Antelope Canyon we headed into Page to grab some lunch, and then made it to the Antelope Point Marina for a boat tour of Lake Powell by 2 pm.

The tour departs every hour and a half, so it’s easy to catch. The tour on Lake Powell lasts about an hour,  letting you relax and enjoy the beautiful contrast between the blue waters and the Navajo Sandstone.

The tour costs $28 for adults and $18 per child.

Visit Antelope Canyon Boat Tours for more information, directions and to reserve your spot.

 

 

Horseshoe Bend

The view down into the LIttle Colorado RIver from the canyon overlook is one you will never forget, and is a must see location for either sunrise or sunset.

After our boat tour we headed straight to Horseshoe Bend for sunset which was around 5:30 p.m.

Arriving at Horseshoe Bend is an easy 1.5 mile roundtrip walk from the parking lot off off  U.S. Route 89. The overlook is 4,200 feet (1,300 m) above sea level, and the Colorado River is at 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level, making it a 1,000-foot (300 m) drop.

If you are brave enough to stand at the edge (that has no handrails)  and look down, good luck! This site will leave you speechless, especially if you stay for the setting sun, casting colorful hues across the sky. Best of all: IT’S FREE!

Directions to Horseshoe Bend:

From Page, AZ drive south on Highway 89 to between mile posts 544 & 545. Look for the exit lane and prominent dirt road on the west side of the road which you can drive a short distance on to the parking area.