October 1, 2014

A Driver’s Dilemma: Deciding on a Roadtrip Route


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I’ve got 3 days to get from Sacramento, California to Seattle, Washington during my West Coast road trip this summer, and it turns out that this particular leg of the trip is providing the biggest planning challenge. Why? Too many choices.

I can:

  1. Take the National Parks trail, and travel up through California and Oregon making stops at Lassen Volcanic NP and Crater Lake NP. This option would allow me to cross 2 more National Parks of my list in my goal to see all the major parks in my lifetime. However, spending only 3 days in 2 National Parks seems rushed. Just being there isn’t the same as experiencing it, in my opinion. This essentially means flying through the rest of Oregon to get to Seattle in time to deliver my rental car. (14 hours, 20 minutes)
  2. Experience Willamette Valley in Oregon. I could shoot up I-5 from northern California which will take me through Oregon’s Wine Country and then up through Portland (with a stop at Voodoo Doughnuts, natch). I know Napa and Sonoma in California typically get all the love, but it would be nice to see what Oregon’s Wine Country has to offer. (12 hours, 45 minutes)
  3. Swing up Oregon’s coast. I’ve only heard how gorgeous this part of Oregon is, and I’d love to see it for myself. There’s something supremely seductive about seeing the entire length of Oregon along its shore but this trip will take the longest, which means less time to stop and savor the beauty of my surroundings. However, there’s a bonus: my journey would most likely end in Astoria, Oregon, where two of my favorite movies (The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop–don’t judge me!) were filmed. (19 hours, 53 minutes)

Verdict: I’ll make my decision about which route to take when I get to Sacramento. At that point, I will be coming off 3 days of roughing it in Yosemite National Park and I just know I’ll be in a different frame of mind then than I am right now. Not planning every detail is part of the whole “year of risk” I talked about earlier this year and quite frankly, I’m excited to see how the second half of this roadtrip unfolds. Hope you’ll come along for the ride.

So if you had to choose right now, which option sounds most appealing to you? If you’re from this neck of the woods, or you’ve visited the area before, is there another option that I’m missing?

*Times listed in parentheses are pure drivetimes according to Google Maps and don’t include stops, refueling, restroom/food breaks, traffic, or just plain ol’ getting lost…which I tend to do…a lot.

8 Responses to A Driver’s Dilemma: Deciding on a Roadtrip Route

  1. Sere says:

    Always the decision on which route to take. I know what you mean though about how hard it can be. I would love for you to knock off two more National Parks, but I hate to rush those. I would probably do Route 3. Yes it’s the longest but I have heard really beautiful things about that coastline as well. Good luck with your decision. My California trip is coming up really soon, so I’m getting excited. I will be crossing off two more National Parks myself (Sequoia and Kings Canyon).

  2. trachinotus says:

    I am biased of course coming from a marine science background, but I would do the oregon coast route. I concur that it is too short a time to do two national parks. Could you do one and feel that you had a good go of it and not feel guilty checking it off your list. Too much vino might make your trip hazardous! Just picture the rocky coast with towering pines and great crashing waves as you twist and turn along the narrow (??) coastal roads. Watching the sunset as you pull into a small coastal town for a hearty mill. Maybe having that great cup of coffee to start the morining and looking over the cliffs into the small coves to notice a pod of orcas frolicking about. Whew! I feel a little light headed from the thoughts. I will have to do that some day. Have fun choosing once you leave Sacramento and be strong with you decision. No regrets.

  3. Claire says:

    I would do the oregon coast route. I concur that it is too short a time to do two national parks. Thanks that you’ve shared your site with us.

  4. Barry says:

    I concur that it is too short a time to do two national parks. Could you do one and feel that you had a good go of it and not feel guilty checking it off your list.

  5. Laura says:

    I think you are going about this the best possible way! There is totally no need to have everything planned out and follow it all the way through, not planning such things and having a huge impulse element makes things much more interesting.

  6. Andrea Smith says:

    I’d say go for the Park Trail… nothing beats a close encounter with nature.. but hey that’s just me

  7. Marsha says:

    Everyone thinks I should do the Oregon Coastline! Well, great minds *do* think alike, after all! :)

  8. Marsha says:

    Wow…are you sure you don’t work for Oregon tourism? LOL!

    You’ve almost sold me on the coastal route, but I don’t want to decide until I have to. Trying to do things a little differently this year….thanks for stopping by and responding!