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road trip from st. louis to mt rainier, cascades, Glacier NP and back to St. Louis

road trip from st. louis to mt rainier, cascades, Glacier NP and back to St. Louis

Old Oct 28th, 2021, 11:40 AM
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road trip from st. louis to mt rainier, cascades, Glacier NP and back to St. Louis

Husband and I are planning a 3 week road trip in early August from St Louis to Mount Rainier NP (via Salt Lake City) . Plan on spending 2 week nights at Paradise in Mt Rainier. We are 70 yo. I really want to see the blooming wildflowers. Plan on short, easy hikes - Alta Vista, scenic viewpoints on parts of Skyline Trail, Reflection Lake, possibly Sourdough Ridge Trail and Tipsoo Lake. Plan on leaving Mt Rainier on a Friday. From there, will head north and stay around Anacortes or Bellingham. Want to drive the Mount Baker scenic byway - is that very busy on a weekend? Intend to take a eco whale watching tour, walk onto the ferry at Anacortes and go to San Juan Island to spend the day using the Jolly Trolley to get around the island. Maybe go to the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum. My husband is very interested in anything WW II. After a few days, we will take the Cascade Loop to Twisp and then head off to Glacier NP (staying near West Glacier) for a couple days. We then head home going through Buffalo Wy and then Rapid City. (We have vacationed several times in South Dakota)
Is there anything we should not mess on the way to Mt Rainier and then around Buffalo? I know that this is a very long trip but don't want to take a chance on plane cancellations and renting a car.
Thanks for any input.
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Old Oct 28th, 2021, 03:31 PM
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Suggested itinerary from Salt Lake City to Mt. Rainier.

Take the Interstate to Ontario, and then U.S. 20 through the Malheur river basin to Bend.


then U.S. 97 to U.S.197 to Washington State


visit Mt St. Helens on the way to Rainier



There will be stretches of tedium in the high desert on the way to Bend.

I believe that late June/July would be a better time for alpine flowers.
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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 09:42 AM
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Near Buffalo there is the Bighorn Scenic Byway to Greybull which is an Old West town with real cowboys. Three hours away is Cody, WY which has the world-class Buffalo Bill Center of the West which features the Whitney Gallery of Western Art and Plains Indian Museum. The town also has the Irma Hotel built by Buffalo Bill which hosted many famous people, including Teddy Roosevelt.

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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 09:42 AM
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It's forecast to be an above-average winter for precipitation (rain, snow) across the northwest, so trying to anticipate the wildflower peak at Mt. Rainier is going to be a crapshoot. Usually early to mid-August has been reliable, but with hot summers, fires etc. it's hard to know.

The Mt. Baker Hwy can be busy on weekends, but that's a relative term. More importantly, the final few miles have been closed (pre-snow, now closed by snow) due to erosion and evidently only "temporary" fixes have been made. Artist Point | WSDOT (wa.gov) Will you be able to get to Artist Point or Picture Lake by next August? Hopefully so, but worth monitoring.

Have you been to the Museum of Flight in Seattle? For WW II aviation buffs it's pretty terrific, especially the "war birds" exhibits. Home | The Museum of Flight

Just me, but that sounds pretty ambitious for three weeks, unless you really like spending long days behind the wheel.

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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 12:13 PM
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I guess fortunately, we have been to Bend and Mount St Helen's 4-5 years ago. Photos are beautiful. Thanks for your suggestions.
We have also been to Cody in the past. Don't remember what museum we visited but I had to drag my husband out of it at closing time. Cody was an interesting town.
I know that timing is always a crap shoot when it comes to seeing wildflowers. Is the Mount Baker Scenic byway worth it even if we cannot get to artist point?
I understand that part of hwy 20 on the Cascade Loop was closed this summer due to wildfires. I guess I will need to think of contingency plans if that would happen next year.
I am trying to figure out what to do on the weekend when we leave Mt Rainier - that is why I thought maybe Mt Baker. I know that time of year will be very crowded so I am trying to time Mt Rainier and Glacier during the week- knowing that it will still be crowded. The Museum of Flight is an idea. Was planning on Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum. I assume that it would be best to go to San Juan Island for a day trip during the week as well. Any suggestions as to what would be a good base for going to Mt Baker and San Juan Island and doing a whale tour? That was when I was thinking around Anacortes or near Bellingham.
We know that it will be a long haul getting to Washington. Figures 4 days driving out there and 3 or more driving back (8 hr drive days).
Many thanks to all of you for your input. I will spend some time researching your suggestions!

Last edited by tripod; Oct 29th, 2021 at 12:38 PM.
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Old Oct 29th, 2021, 01:24 PM
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If you have an interest in aviation, please come to Oregon to see the Evergreen Air and Space museum in McMinnville. It is home to the "Spruce Goose". There is another way to get from SLC to Bend. Stay on I-80 to Winnemucca NV and then go north to get onto Oregon Route 31 all the way to US 97 just south of La Pine.
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Old Oct 31st, 2021, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by tripod View Post
Husband and I are planning a 3 week road trip in early August from St Louis to Mount Rainier NP (via Salt Lake City) . Plan on spending 2 week nights at Paradise in Mt Rainier. We are 70 yo. I really want to see the blooming wildflowers. Plan on short, easy hikes - Alta Vista, scenic viewpoints on parts of Skyline Trail, Reflection Lake, possibly Sourdough Ridge Trail and Tipsoo Lake. Plan on leaving Mt Rainier on a Friday. From there, will head north and stay around Anacortes or Bellingham. Want to drive the Mount Baker scenic byway - is that very busy on a weekend? Intend to take a eco whale watching tour, walk onto the ferry at Anacortes and go to San Juan Island to spend the day using the Jolly Trolley to get around the island. Maybe go to the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum. My husband is very interested in anything WW II. After a few days, we will take the Cascade Loop to Twisp and then head off to Glacier NP (staying near West Glacier) for a couple days. We then head home going through Buffalo Wy and then Rapid City. (We have vacationed several times in South Dakota)
Is there anything we should not mess on the way to Mt Rainier and then around Buffalo? I know that this is a very long trip but don't want to take a chance on plane cancellations and renting a car.
Thanks for any input.

According to the machine here, it takes roughly 30 hours of non-stop driving to go from St. Louis to Paradise, Mt. Rainier. That's 60 hours round trip... days of 8-hours of driving = 7.5

(so that's a whole week of your three weeks right there)...


Try not to spread yourself too thin... in fact it might be a good move to select a route with perhaps a couple of don't-wanna-miss sights, and otherwise dedicate yourself to doing those days as fast as you can (while being realistic).

Then, once you're (here), then you can more comfortably allocate your time, with half of the main driving behind you, and clearer vision of your days ahead.



If you have it as your target to go from the Seattle-ish area toward Glacier NP, it can't hurt to at least have a look at glaciallakemissoula dot org, for understanding of how an ice age lake formed thousands of years ago in the valley that is now home to Missoula, Montana, and then every X-thousand years a big ice dam there would BREAK... resulting in the largest floods ever documented by man, which carried (everything, including ginormous boulders) westward at such a fast rate that it carved the Columbia Gorge, and took much of the topsoil in eastern Washington through the Gorge before depositing lots of it in western Oregon.

Something along your path might tie-in nicely with that sort of understanding (an example might be "Dry Falls" in Washington)... or just, some of the highways in central Washington beside which giant boulders just sit, without a hill anywhere near by... making observers wonder why in the world so many boulders are in one spot.


You have a good sense for things you want to experience, but I underscore the importance of not dawdling on the way out here, so that you can perhaps save any spare moment or night for impulsive ideas you may have on the way back.

And since you have a northerly trajectory for the return trip to St. Louis, it makes some sense to lean toward staying a bit south on the path west.


I can't figure out if you have any plans for the North Cascades Highway, or if you have traveled it before. I can easily see leaving Mount Rainier on a Friday - making damn sure you don't slow yourself in anything close to Seattle area rush hour. (I want you NORTH of Everett, WA by 2:00pm !!!)... and then staying strategically near Mt. Vernon-ish, and leaving early on Saturday morning for the path to Winthrop... and from there you continue east and make an effort to see Grand Coulee. (IF you've left the population areas of Western Washington behind you by 8 or 9am on Saturday morning then you can cover some nice scenery on the North Cascades Highway before it starts slowing down with weekend travelers)

IF you've left TIME so that back-tracking is somewhat OK, then maybe Highway #155 from Coulee Dam to Coulee CITY, and on to Dry Falls to have a look at the used-to-be waterfall that was 3-miles wide.


As for Mt. Rainier wildflowers... nobody would ever see them if it required pinpointing an exact guess from months in advance just when they will be at their peak. But August in general seems like a fair window of (hope), and you can't do much more than to plan in general and then just HOPE.


Good luck with your plans.

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