National Parks of the Northwest is not offered this year. A variety of other spectacular National Park Tours are currently available for travel.
This summer enjoy a wonderful national parks tour in the northwest section of the United States. Parks visited include Olympic National Park, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, and Mount Rainier National Park. You will also visit Mount Hood in Oregon and sightsee in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. Train rides include Amtrak’s Talgo from Seattle to Bellingham and later from Portland to Seattle; the steam-powered Chehalis-Centralia Railway; the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, and the Mt. Hood Railroad brunch train. Tri-Met passes are used to tour Portland, Oregon by light rail.
Fine hotels are used throughout including the Mayflower Park in downtown Seattle, the lovely Inn at Port Hadlock on Puget Sound, and the Embassy Suites Hotel (formerly the historic Multnomah Hotel) in downtown Portland. Sightseeing highlights historic Port Townsend WA, the Columbia Gorge in Oregon, and activities in all the parks noted. Your tour manager is Denny Thompson, who lives in Washington State and is highly familiar with the area.
Day One, Sunday, July 5 (D)
Arrive Seattle; Welcome Dinner. Participants arrive independently into Seattle, Washington today. You stay tonight at the lovely Mayflower Park Hotel in downtown Seattle, located near shopping, mass transit and the end of the monorail line. This European-style hotel includes a beautiful art-deco bar and an award-winning restaurant. The Welcome Dinner is here this evening.
Day Two, Monday, July 6 (L)
Amtrak Talgo; Whidbey Island; ferry to Port Townsend. You begin today with a ride on Amtrak’s fine Talgo train on the scenic former Great Northern route from Seattle to Bellingham WA (near the Canadian border). This line closely follows the shores of the Puget Sound and ends with a spectacular run past the San Juan Islands in the shadow of Chuckanut Mountain.
The motorcoach then takes you through Anacortes and drives you onto lovely rural Whidbey Island. You make a photo stop at Deception Pass to view the thundering currents, then continue south to the pretty town of Coupeville. Here you have an included lunch at the Mad Crab restaurant overlooking the water and free time to stroll or shop in this quaint Victorian village. In mid-afternoon, you board the Keystone ferry for a short crossing to historic Port Townsend. The hotel this evening is the Inn at Port Hadlock, located in an old alcohol plant renovated into a lovely boutique hotel on the waters of Puget Sound.
Day Three, Tuesday, July 7 (CB,L)
Port Townsend tour; Hurricane Ridge in Olympic N.P. Following breakfast at the hotel, you make the short drive back to Port Townsend for a tour of the Victorian neighborhood on the hill and a visit to two of the historic homes. The tour leader, will enlighten us with all the history and gossip related to this town, which is a National Historic District. The railroad (or lack thereof) figured prominently in the history of Port Townsend, as you will see.
Day Four, Tuesday, July 8 (L)
Hoh Valley in Olympic N.P.; to Chehalis. After breakfast at the lodge, drive around the Olympic Peninsula through a sparsely populated area where the major industry is logging. You will notice the increasing denseness of the forest as you travel. You are now in one of the few protected temperate rainforests in North America, where annual precipitation can be 180 inches a year! In mid-morning you reach the western entrance to the park and drive into the Hoh Valley and Visitors’ Center. After seeing the exhibits, there are loop walking trails through the spectacular rain forest which definitely should be experienced. Returning to the entrance of the park, you have an included luncheon at Kalaloch Lodge before turning inland for the drive to Chehalis, Washington. Here you spend two nights at the Best Western Park Place.
Day Five, Thursday, July 9 (CB,L,D)
Mount Rainier National Park; Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad. Morning and early afternoon are spent in the south area of Mount Rainier National Park and at Paradise. After free time for the visitors’ center and to explore the area, included is a luncheon at the recently renovated Paradise Lodge, a National Historic Landmark property. Paradise is located in a beautiful sub-alpine meadow, and cameras are strongly recommended. This time of year some of the wildflowers are in bloom; and views of this 14,410-foot mountain, covered in glaciers, are absolutely spectacular!
Leave the park and drive to Mineral, where you ride the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad on a 28-mile round trip across bridges and through the forest to Divide and return. This trip usually is steam-powered and follows the former National Park Branch of the Milwaukee Road, which ran from Tacoma to the base of Mount Rainier. Lodging tonight is a few miles up the road near the entrance to the park at the Nisqually Lodge. This small lodge is built in chalet style and includes a great room with stone fireplace. Dinner will be catered at the Lodge this evening.
Day Six, Friday, July 10 (CB, L)
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Depart your hotel in mid-morning and come down from the Park. After an included luncheon at the Rose Tree Restaurant in Castle Rock, you begin the drive to Mount St. Helens. During the course of the afternoon, you stop at two visitor centers. The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake includes a chronology of events leading up to the May 1980 eruption, a theater presentation, and hands-on exhibits.
At the Johnston Ridge Observatory, which is the closest location to the volcano, visitors can walk a half-mile Eruption Trail. Views from here include the lava dome, crater, pumice plain and landslide deposit. A wide-screen theater presentation also is available. Return to Chehalis in late afternoon and once again stay at the Best Western Park Place.
Day Seven, Saturday, July 11 (CB,L)
Chehalis-Centralia Railroad; Columbia Gorge and Multnomah Falls. This morning you have a chartered ride on the Chehalis-Centralia Railroad (behind steam), traveling on a portion of the former Milwaukee Road line from Tacoma to the coast. The included lunch is at Mary McCranks eatery, which has been in business since 1935.
You then drive into Oregon and travel east from Portland up the spectacular Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Make photo stops at Crown Point for the 30-mile vista of the Gorge and also at 620-foot high Multnomah Falls for photographs and to visit the interpretative center. Overnight tonight at the Best Western Hood River Inn at Hood River OR in rooms facing the Columbia River.
Day Eight, Sunday, July 12 (Brunch,D)
Brunch on the Mount Hood Railroad; to Portland. You have a wonderful treat this morning: brunch on the Mount Hood Railroad as you travel from Hood River round-trip to Parkdale. This former Union Pacific line climbs so steeply up from the Columbia River that the ascent had to be moderated by an enroute switchback, where the train literally reverses direction and backs up for a short distance to avoid impossibly sharp curves and grades.
After departing the train, you re-board the motorcoach for the beautiful drive to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. This beautiful historic property was built by the W.P.A. during the depression and features a soaring lobby with fireplace and animals carved into the woodwork. While here, you'll enjoy a light dinner in the lodge. Then travel east to Portland and the hotel for the final two nights, the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Portland. This property is located in the former historic Multnomah Hotel (built in 1912) and still showcases an ornate lobby, crystal chandeliers, marble staircase and gold-leafed columns.
Day Nine, Monday, July 13 (B,D)
Portland sightseeing including Oregon Zoo and Zoo Railway; Rose Test Gardens; Farewell Dinner. Today everyone gets a Tri-Met pass to travel around Portland and do some sightseeing on your own. First, however, you will use the pass to visit the Oregon Zoo and ride the 4-mile Portland Zoo Railway train to the famed Rose Test Gardens. The Japanese Garden nearby can be visited for an additional cost for those who wish. The balance of the day is at leisure to visit some of the other Portland attractions using your light rail passes. This evening, you'll walk about three blocks to the Farewell Dinner at Dan and Louis Oyster Bar, operated by the same family for over 100 years and a favorite local eatery.
Day Ten, Tuesday, July 14 (B)
Amtrak’s Cascades Talgo north; tour ends. This morning, the motorcoach transfers you from the hotel to the depot to ride Amtrak’s Cascades Talgo north, departing Portland at 8:30 a.m. The route is very scenic, first following the Columbia and Cowlitz Rivers and then the shores of Puget Sound past the South Sound Islands and Tacoma.
Those leaving by air from Sea-Tac Airport can detrain at Tukwila WA at 11:26 a.m and take a short taxi ride to the airport. Those planning to spend extra time in Seattle should continue on to Seattle, arriving at 12:00 noon.