Jenna of Tales of the Vineyards just lately traveled to Napa Valley, California for a 5-month wine harvest job. After wrapping up lengthy hours working within the cellar and scrubbing her wine-stained arms, one other epic journey was all she had on her thoughts.
Leaping in a campervan together with her harvest greatest buddy Sarah, she journeyed out on the final word one-week Pacific Northwest highway journey. Right here’s Jenna with all the data!
As a first-timer on the West Coast, my checklist of locations to go to and issues to do was infinite. Coming from South Africa, a rustic that’s solely a tenth of the scale of the USA, it’s simple to overlook the sheer dimension of 1 US state.
All I knew was that I used to be prepared for a USA highway journey of a lifetime (one other first) and needed to tick off a minimum of one nationwide park from my checklist.
After chatting to a few my buddies in Napa and doing my very own analysis, I got here to the conclusion that venturing out to the standard suspects of California like Yosemite and Huge Sur simply wasn’t going to chop it.
Sitting on the sofa one night time with my housemate, she talked about Glacier Nationwide Park in Montana and that was it—Sarah and I had been going to drive over 1,400 miles from San Francisco to Glacier Nationwide Park with just a few stops alongside the way in which…in winter!
Right here’s the final word one-week Pacific Northwest highway journey itinerary!
The Greatest Time to Go to
Fact be advised, winter isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Whereas the Pacific Northwest by no means reaches excessive summer time temperatures, if rain, snow, and -17 levels Celsius don’t sound like a enjoyable time, then make sure you schedule this highway journey for summer time.
Irrespective of the season, the Pacific Northwest has magnificence round each nook.
Whether or not it’s sunny days wandering by means of the plush vineyards of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, frequenting the summer time markets of Portland, or trekking by means of the snow-covered mountains of Glacier Nationwide Park, each season presents one thing particular.
Prime Spots to Go to on a Pacific Northwest Highway Journey
Whether or not you’re beginning your highway journey in California and seeing among the high websites on Pacific Coast Freeway, otherwise you’re eager to discover the entire West Coast—I’ve obtained a lot of locations so that you can try!
Traveling in a Campervan in Winter
Going on a road trip in a campervan in winter seems daunting (and foolish) to most, but really, it’s doable as long as you go prepared. An extra duvet, a warm jacket, fairy lights, and plenty of coffee go a long way!
The main reason we chose to get a campervan was the freedom it would give us in staying wherever we wanted, especially when it came to National Parks. We rented our campervan from Lost Campers primarily based in San Francisco as their choices had been extraordinarily reasonably priced and included limitless miles.
We went with their Sierra Class van which included:
- A mattress for two with linen
- Kitchen equipment (pots, espresso mugs, cups, cutlery)
- A double burner range (howdy, espresso!)
- A sink with water
- Space for storing
- Battery-operated cooler field
After just a few buddies saying we had been loopy to even take into consideration sleeping in a campervan in winter, we determined to carry alongside an additional quilt and blanket simply in case. While you hit these unfavorable temperatures, these undoubtedly come in useful.
Touring and sleeping in a campervan has its highs and lows. I’ve little question that getting one throughout summertime would undoubtedly be slightly simpler – sleeping, altering, and socializing in a small van will be difficult to navigate while you’re attempting to keep away from stepping foot out into snowy or wet climate.
With that stated, it actually simply provides to the journey and we wouldn’t have modified a factor. It allowed us to be versatile, to all the time have our issues shut by, and made us understand how little you could go on an unbelievable journey.
Easy issues like standing to vary your garments or rummaging by means of a cabinet begin to really feel like luxuries.
Day 1 – San Francisco to McMinnville
Through I-5 – Roughly 9.5-Hour Drive
Desperate to get the present on the highway, begin your day early and knock a giant distance out of the way in which. Take within the stunning surroundings on the drive with snowy mountains within the distance, lush forests lining the freeway, and a good chillier chew within the air.
On arrival in McMinnville, a historic little city within the coronary heart of Oregon’s wine nation, throw on a jacket and wander its streets adorned with twinkling lights. Discover one of many many bars earlier than settling in at a comfy restaurant.
After a well-deserved meal and with hopefully a second wind kicking in, pop into the Conservatory Bar. Serving up unbelievable cocktails and native beers, they’re recognized for his or her winter heaters which can be good for combatting the skin chill.
In the event you see their scorching buttered rum on the menu, do your self a favor and order one instantly.
One of many many Willamette Valley wineries
Day 2 – McMinnville to Portland
Through Pacific Freeway W – Roughly 1-Hour Drive
Earlier than hitting the highway, seize a espresso and breakfast on NE third Road at Community Plate (pictured above). A cute, upbeat cafe that’s nice for a fast chew to eat or one thing slightly slower paced in the event you’re not in any rush.
Oregon is thought for producing unbelievable Pinot Noir wine (and lots others), so a visit to a few wineries in your approach to Portland is a should for any wine lover. Ensure to make an appointment beforehand and be ready for unreal photograph alternatives.
After a day of vino and vineyards, arrive within the stunning metropolis of Portland. Recognized for its hipsters and occasional tradition, seize a cuppa joe in your approach to the Pearl District for dinner. Wander down NW 13th to admire the refurbished deep-red buildings earlier than settling down for a tasty meal.
Willamette Valley Wineries to Go to:
- Bergström – Unbelievable Pinot Noir and Chardonnay utilizing fruit from 4 of the Willamette Valley’s greatest appellations
- Lingua Franca – Producing wines that mirror the true expression of their fruit, Lingua Franca is thought for his or her premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
- Chateau Deluxe – For these on the lookout for one thing particular, Chateau Deluxe is a small producer creating significantly good Pet-Nat (pure glowing wine)
Day 3 – Portland
Winter in Portland is assured to be a moist one so be sure you’ve obtained a terrific waterproof jacket for wandering the streets.
Begin your day at one of many many cute espresso retailers scattered all through the town or head straight to Mississippi Avenue for a little bit of morning purchasing. Browse the boutique shops or cease at The Meadow to fill up on scrumptious snacks for the highway.
In the event you’re as huge a fan of cheese as I’m, take a drive to the Cheese Bar on SE Belmont Road for probably the greatest cheese boards of your life paired with a glass (or bottle) of native wine. Subsequent up, head to Powell’s Books – the world’s largest unbiased bookstore – to seize an attention-grabbing learn for the highway forward.
A culinary spotlight and dinner-must when visiting Portland is Pok Pok in SE Division. Serving unbelievable dishes impressed by Thai avenue meals since 2005, Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings and the Papaya Pok Pok salad are what foodie desires are product of.
Day 4 – Portland to Seattle
Through I-5 N – Roughly 3-Hour Drive
Begin your morning early for the 3-hour drive to Seattle. You’ll wish to get there earlier than the loopy afternoon visitors hits – one thing we undoubtedly didn’t take into consideration.
Though fairly wet and gloomy throughout winter, don’t be fooled, Seattle by no means sleeps. Park your automotive for the night time and hit the streets. Head to the George Washington Memorial Bridge to snap an image with the well-known Fremont Troll – a big troll sculpture dwelling beneath the bridge with roots in Norwegian folks tradition.
Subsequent up, go to the enduring Space Needle for unbelievable views. And if twinkly lights tickle your fancy, head there later at night time to see the town gentle up – it’s open till Eight pm on weekdays and 9 pm on weekends.
Day 5 – Seattle
Like Portland, Seattle has develop into often called the “mecca of espresso” providing completely brewed espresso on virtually each avenue.
Begin your morning off on Cherry Road with a freshly baked pastry and a cup of espresso from Cherry Street Coffee House earlier than strolling all the way down to the waterfront. Absorb views throughout Elliott Bay to the Olympic Mountains as you head in direction of iconic Pike Place Market.
Undoubtedly considered one of Seattle’s most-visited points of interest, Pike Place Market is dwelling to scrumptious seafood, contemporary produce, and artful shops. However be careful – don’t get in the way in which of the fellows behind the seafood counters and their killer fish-throwing abilities.
Each couple of minutes you’ll see fish casually flying by means of the air as they go it jokingly between one another.
A fast 15-minute stroll away, go to the must-see Olympic Sculpture Park. See spectacular works from high modern artists with the Area Needle and the Olympic Mountains as your backdrop. And one of the best half – the park is free!
Would you check out all that snow?!
Day 6 – Seattle to Spokane
Through I-90 E – Roughly 6-Hour Drive
Rise and shine – right this moment’s the day you head in direction of the Montana mountains!
Whereas Google Maps could make the route from Seattle to Glacier Nationwide Park look doable in a single day, the snowy circumstances of winter undoubtedly throw a curveball. Begin your day early with a pit cease at a grocery retailer on the outskirts of Seattle to fill up on necessities earlier than heading in direction of Spokane for the night time.
Take it sluggish on the roads and watch as your environment change. The snow will get thicker and the temperatures rapidly begin to drop as you get nearer to Montana – Huge Sky Nation.
When you attain Spokane, select from just a few campgrounds for the night time and comfortable up for an evening’s relaxation earlier than the ultimate journey to Glacier.
Day 7 – Spokane to Glacier Nationwide Park
Through I-90 E – Roughly 7-Hour Drive
Placed on these woolly socks and lightweight up the gasoline range, a cup of espresso shall be important to knock off the chilliness and kickstart your day.
Get on the highway early because the drive in direction of Glacier isn’t extremely far however count on the icy roads of the go and probably snowy circumstances to delay your journey by a minimum of 2 hours.
Take pleasure in a leisurely drive by means of dramatic landscapes with towering mountains and frozen lakes passing by. The roads begin to quieten down rather a lot, so be sure you’ve stuffed up with gasoline, have one thing packed for lunch, and are stocked up on meals to your time within the park.
After a very good couple of hours on the highway you’ll lastly attain Glacier Nationwide Park and boy, is each mile price it!
Only some roads are maintained over winter and the one space to remain in is on the Apgar Campground, so be ready for max peace and quiet. Choose your spot amongst the snow overlooking the McDonald Lake and absorb scenes that few individuals ever get to witness of their lifetime:
Deer wandering previous, snow gently falling to the bottom, and views for miles.
Day 8 – Glacier Nationwide Park
Get up cuddled beneath your quilt surrounded by full magnificence and tons of animal tracks! Begin the day as sluggish as you want however espresso and heat breakfast comes extremely advisable.
Glacier Nationwide Park over winter actually is a spot of serenity. With just a few mountain climbing paths open and never a lot else to do, throw in your (waterproof) mountain climbing boots and hit a path to benefit from the views and wildlife. That is actually the final word journey in the event you’re eager to immerse your self in nature and keep away from any crowds.
The remainder of your time? Drink loads of tea, make amends for some studying, perform a little journaling, and benefit from the wonderland round you.
A Native’s Information to Glacier Nationwide Park
In the event you’re fascinated with heading to Glacier, you’re in for a deal with. There’s a motive there have been greater than three million guests there final yr!
Just about your preparation purchasing will be accomplished at any sporting good retailer. Listed below are among the key issues to carry alongside!
Don’t be terrified of seasons, it’s possible you’ll simply find yourself on one of the best journey of your life.
Main as much as our journey, there have been many events the place I believed we had been downright loopy to wish to highway journey in a campervan throughout winter. Sure, it may well get slightly crowded and sure, it was robust braving the chilly particularly after we hit Glacier and needed to make a cup of tea.
However would we do it another time? A thousand instances, sure.
Our journey prolonged all the way in which all the way down to Yellowstone, Zion, Vegas, and again up the coast to San Francisco – an epic journey that I’d advocate to anybody and everybody.
What are you ready for? Pack these baggage, lease that campervan, and get exploring.