Hi! This page is a mix of links and notes that I find useful for planning a trip in the Pacific Northwest. I plan to expand this info into a site later, with images and information from my travels, more advice, and perhaps an itinerary planner.
NOTE: The text on this page was last updated in 2008.
I fell in love with Bellingham, WA the moment I saw it (in June 1997). Each time I hit the west coast en route to Alaska, I visited Bellingham and liked it more and more, until finally in August 2001 I moved here! I've been here ever since and still love it!!!
There's tons of hiking trails, including some medium-sized ones on Chuckanut Mountain, which is within easy walking distance of where I live. The really cool hikes are in the North Cascades. The challenge is to find good weather, since it rains most of the fall/winter and the Cascades are full of snow in the spring. I guess the idea is to cram as much hiking into the summer as possible!
Most of these trails are reachable by foot from Fairhaven.
This is about an hour from Bellingham, accessible via Mount Baker Highway. Trails include: Church Mountain, Goat Mountain, Hannagen Pass, Helitrope Ridge.
|Glacier Public Service Center||(360) 599-2714||Glacier
(Mt. Baker Hwy)
|8a-4:30p||US Forest Service, for info about stuff outside of national park (e.g., Heliotrope ridge)|
The main part of the North Cascades National Park is accessible via Hwy 20. Trails include: Cascade Pass, Easy Pass.
|Wilderness Information Center||(360) 873-4500 ext 39||Marblemount
|7a-6p (Fri-Sun) 8a-4:30p (Mon-Thu)||-|
|North Cascades Visitor Center||(206) 386-4495||Newhalem
|(National Park?) Headquarters||(360) 856-5700 ext 515||Sedro-Woolley||8a-4:30p||-|
Here's stuff that applies to multiple areas of NorthWest Washington.
I live in Bellingham, WA, which is less than an hour from Canada. I've been to BC countless times now, to the Canadian Rockies three times (Oct 1999, Jul 2001, Aug 2003), and to Vancouver Island twice (Aug 1997, Nov 2003). Canada might not have the awe-inspiring scale and wildlife of Alaska, but it's cheaper, more comfortable, and requires less driving, which means more time can be spent hiking and/or relaxing. Overall, Canada makes for a less stressful (though perhaps less memorable) vacation.
I've been to Alaska four times now: Jul 1997, Nov 1999, Jun 2001, Aug 2004. Here's some information I assembled when planning the fourth trip:
Here are some estimated costs of travelling to and within Alaska:
|Bellingham - Haines||Ferry(foot)||$300||$600||3|
|Bellingham - Prince Rupert||Train||$200||$400||2|
|Prince Rupert - Haines||Ferry(foot)||$150||$300||2|
|Haines - Anchorage||Bus||$185||$370||2|
|Seattle - Anchorage||Air (2way)||$250||$500||2|
|Bellingham - Anchorage||Car (1way)||$300||$300||5|
For the August 2004 trip, we flew from Seattle to Anchorage for about $250 each. We took a red-eye both ways. Going up was hard; it took me a couple days to get my energy and mood back.
|Anchorage - Seward||Train||$59||$118|
For the August 2004 trip, we ended up renting a car from High Country Car Rental (in Anchorage). We got a good deal: mid-sized car for two and a half weeks of unlimited mileage for around $850 total. We stayed in campgrounds every night, and slept in the car most of the time (a tent the other times). Sleeping in the backseat of the car was a little cramped, but it was cheap and protected us from the rain, bugs, and bears. :)
If you have only 2 weeks, I think the cheapest way to experience Alaska is to fly. I've seen round-trip tickets for Seattle-Anchorage at $210/person. Once there, you'll need to rent a car (~$300/week), get an AlaskaPass (expensive for short trips), or make piecemeal use of ferry, train, and bus/shuttle. If you plan to spend more of your days hiking and exploring on foot than riding a ferry, train, or bus, this is the most economical way to go.
If you have about 3 weeks, an interest in SE Alaska, and/or a love of ferry travel, then the AlaskaPass might be the smartest way to go. The first 5 days (on the ferry and bus) will be mostly boring, but also relaxing and occasionally exciting. You'll get to see most of the "big name" locations in Alaska (plus a little bit of Canada), for no additional cost: Juneau, Skagway, Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Kodiak, Homer. If you want to see as many of these (mostly coastal) locations as possible, the AlaskaPass becomes quite a bargain.
If you have a month or more, and aren't all that interested in seeing the islands, then you'll probably save a lot of money by driving. It takes 5 days to get to Anchorage, 10 days up and back. If you figure $60/day gas, that's $600 for gas, plus 10 days' food, lodging, and vacation hours. Once you're up in Alaska, you have lots of freedom and (relatively) cheap transportation: your car. The 10 day "commute" would kill a 2-week vacation, but for a 30-day trip it's not so bad, since you can break it up a bit (sightseeing, day hikes). Sleeping the car is cheap!