Mountain Project Logo

Things to do in PNW


Original Post
grog m · · Saltlakecity · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

We are taking a two week road trip from SLC to the PNW in the beginning of Aug. I have a list of things I want to do while we are up there. Anything else I should consider? Anything on the list not worth the time/effort? We enjoy sport, trad, backpacking, skiing, and climbing mountains. (We don't have glacier experience which seems to be involved in some of the coolest things to do up there). Interested in things outside of climbing as well. Any input would be appreciated.

The general path will be SLC - Bend - Seattle area (family) - Squamish.

Smith Rock, Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Squamish, Olympic National Park

Mike Brady · · Van Diesel, OR · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 673

Smith will be toasty.

Leavenworth and/or Index are on your path to Olympia

bryans · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 13

I'll only address bend/portland area climbing, and some of the less obvious stuff. but first: people will say you can climb at smith in the shade no matter the temps, and they're pretty much right. the lower gorge trad (occasional sport, too) is 4 star basalt and on both sides of the river so you can chase shade.

The west ridge of mt. washington (1 hour from bend)  has the best volcanic rock of any oregon volcano - it's about 7 pitches with a bit of 5-7/8, cruxes on solid rock. it would be the best oregon summit without glacial travel. or you can hike the 3 sisters wilderness and peak bag/ scramble.

meadow camp boulders in bend are a lot of fun, situated on the deschutes river. same with The Depot. Both are briefly discussed on MP. good to hit in the morning.

beacon rock in the columbia gorge just west of hood river is the best trad in that area, an 800 foot devil's tower like basalt plug with lots of moderate multis and also 5-11 and up trad..

empire boulders are the best bouldering between bend and leavenworth. not on MP, but easy to google. near stevenson, WA. right off a highway, 5 minute walk, dense concentration of boulders of all grades. 

there is of course so much more but those are some of my favorites, as someone who climbs a bit of everything (on rock, not snow/ice) like you seem to do. honestly i would skip smith. it's an amazing area but it's too hot to make the most of it. in summer you will see either locals who know exactly where to climb, and are just out for a few hours before or after work, or tourists who don't know better. save smith for spring or fall (that said it's 10 minutes off the highway and worth at least a detour to check the views and maybe do a short hike)

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Go straight to Squamish. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

2 weeks is barely enough time for Squamish - there is so much there - so maximize your time there. 

Travis M · · Olympia, WA · Joined Feb 2018 · Points: 0

You can bag Adams via the south spur without glacier experience if you want to do a volcano. It's doable in a (long) day and living at SLC elevation will help a tad.

You've seen mountains, but ancient old growths and rocky coastlines? Even more awesome if you're coming from a landlocked state. So if you're going to Olympic NP, consider doing the the whole Hwy 101 loop of the peninsula. It's worth it just to visit the ocean and Hoh rain forest.

Coming from the south, I'd cut over to Hwy 101 to see the ocean and continue north: Lake Quinault>Hoh Rain Forest>Port Angeles, and then from there you have multiple options to get to Seattle, which I suggest doing by ferry. Any of the ferry routes into Seattle provide you with the best possible views and are a WAY cooler way to get into the city than slogging up I-5. On your way out of Seattle, consider getting on another ferry to Whidbey Island, from which you can go over Deception Pass (amazing) and on to Mt Erie. Climb at Mt. Erie (amazing views) if you can hook up with a local who knows the trails or buy a guidebook at the local grocery store. Drive to the top if there's no time to climb to at least catch the scenery.

Other cool stuff in the Puget Sound area:

There are cool old military forts to explore on Whidbey Island and in Port Townsend.

Tacoma and Olympia are both worth spending a few hours in for lunch and beers.

Mountain biking all over the place, but there's plenty of that in Squamish too.

Mount Rainier and the North Cascades are amazing alpine environments, each unlike anything you'd find in the Rockies.

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

If you have time hit the Olympic Peninsula.  As mentioned above it is a very unique environment not found in most places in the country.  Plus many of the summits are short day excursions so a quick hike can get you some great views.  

Adams is cool, but long and surprisingly out of the way if you are in a time crunch.

   If you are in Seattle proper and need to get out for a quick sport or trad pump, there are “the exits” 32 and 38.  In August think humid, buggy, slightly low quality rock with the possibility of a line on most routes.  Index is a spectacular crag, maybe 1-1.5 hours from Seattle depending on traffic and where you will be.  Get out of your car, walk 100 feet and you have ground up world class trad routes.  This will also be humid, likely crowded and you’ll be happy for the bug spray. 

Hiking/scrambling/climbing in the north Cascades. If you want spectacular views of a rarely accessed Picket Range, check out the hike to trapper peak.   If you want to climb some multi pitch hit up WA pass.  Could be Smokey up there this time of year. Endless options, and worth the visit if there isn’t a lot of smoke in the area.
Leavenworth low lands will be hot as balls in Aug.  most of the low lying crags are nothing to write home about.  If you have a chance to hike to Colchuck lake or even push further to the top of Asgard pass for a look at the core enchantments, it’s worth it.  These are both 1 day objectives.  Also the fake German town is a cool stop for some sausage and beer.
Feel free to hit me up if you want some specific recs. 

Jameson Young · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

I'll second exit 38. Short approach and a decent climbing area. It may be crowded though. Another place I enjoyed a lot is Lake serene, it's likely to be busy but it's a beautiful lake and great hike.

Will McCarthy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 0

City of Rocks is on the way. Also, Boise, Hells canyon, Walla Walla, and more.

Travis M · · Olympia, WA · Joined Feb 2018 · Points: 0

If they've got two weeks in the whole PNW region, isn't it kind of a disservice sending them to the Exits? I guess if they're chilling in Seattle for a few days and desperate to get some pitches in, the Exits would work. Even then, they could go just a tad further to Index, and while there might still be crowds, the climbing is actually something to write home about.

Jaime Bohle · · Bend, OR · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 35

For a non climbing check out the Chihuly Garden of Glass in Seattle.  Worth the time and coin.  I skied Adams on the 4th, it was in bad shape.  I'd skip the area at this point. Smith/Bend will most likely be hot.  It's better in the fall or spring.  Squamish will be busy, for good reason.  It usually great this time of year.  I'd look at the North Cascades, they are pretty magical.  Bench camp below the Wine Spires is a great spot to camp and you can tick a few good lines.

That's my two cents

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Travis M wrote: If they've got two weeks in the whole PNW region, isn't it kind of a disservice sending them to the Exits? I guess if they're chilling in Seattle for a few days and desperate to get some pitches in, the Exits would work. Even then, they could go just a tad further to Index, and while there might still be crowds, the climbing is actually something to write home about.

Agreed. I love our local sport crags, but they don’t make sense as a destination for an out of towner. Honestly, I think this even applies to Index also in mid-summer (sacrilege!). The climbing there is great, but it is in the sun most of the day and will be hot and sweaty. Also, it takes some time to get the feel for Index; it is a hard place to just roll in for a day or two to climb there.

For the out of town rock climber, Squamish and the North Cascades (WA Pass) are the most destination-worthy options and offer the best conditions in the summer. Two weeks is a limited amount of time; go straight to the goods and skip the Seattle local stuff.
Now, that is for rock climbing. If you want to hike or be a tourist, visiting the national parks (Olympic, Mt Rainier) is highly recommended. Or do some city tourist sightseeing in Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver.
goingUp · · over here · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 30

Straight to squamish. Maybe a layover day or two in index to climb hard and warmup. Then stay in squamish as long as you can and leave with just enough drive time to make it back an hour late to whatever your deadline is.

Alan Zhan · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 66

as others have said, if you're into rock climbing whether it's bouldering, single pitch sport/trad, or multipitch, it's really hard to top Squamish in terms of quality, quantity, accessibility, and convenience.

grog m · · Saltlakecity · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

All, I really appreciate the feedback. I will re calibrate the plan to maximize time in the squamish area. We have been there before during the winter to ski and also thought the area was absolutely beautiful.

With that in mind, any camping suggestions for squamishish area? We will have tent + vehicle we can sleep in.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95

Camping can be challenging in peak season. If possible, reserve in advance at the Mamquam River Campground.

Alan Zhan · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 66

If you arrive on the weekday in Squamish (monday-thurs) I have had good luck with the Chief campground which is somewhat expensive, but very nice and convenient.

Eric K · · Leavenworth, WA · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 45

I agree with JCM, all the cragging we have is great but being from SLC you have access to better goods. That being said time in Leavenworth or WA Pass to get after the alpine granite is definitely worth traveling for. Pretty unique and likely different from what you have access to. Or just head to Squamish.

Kumar FK · · Mazama WA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

Alpine rock climbing in the north cascades is spectacular if you're into that kind of thing. Washington pass/wine spires/cutthroat area especially, and there will be no snow travel to get up there to speak of in August

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
Post a Reply to "Things to do in PNW"

Log In to Reply