The concept of "Bed and Breakfast" on the west coast is different from the rest of the world. Out here, B&B is sort of a fancy hotel, where they fix you fresh muffins in the morning. In Washington, B&Bs are considered businesses, so the usual red tape applies. That jacks up the price.
However, you can access some B&Bs in Seattle at www.seattlebedandbreakfast.com
And, don't forget that Bainbridge Island is only a 30 minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. I usually stay at the Island Country Inn on Bainbridge. There is a website for other lodging at www.BainbridgeLodging.com.
There isn't any lodging withing easy walking distance of the ferry dock, but motorcyclists generally park for free along the fence at the East end of the parking lot. Then you could walk the waterfront in Seattle, or take the free downtown busses.
The best time to visit the west (wet) side was about 30 years ago.
Seattle is situated on the ocean side of the Cascade Mountains. Actually, there is another 100 miles to the ocean, but the point is that the mountain range that runs from Mexico all the way into Alaska runs right in the back yard of Seattle.
From Downtown Seattle, on a clear day you can see a huge ice cream cone to the southeast. That's Mt. Rainier, much of which is a national park. There are two main entrances to the park, Paradise (on the south) and Sunrise (on the east)
A little farther to the south is what's left of Mt. St. Helens. Actually, there's a lot left, and there are two main viewpoints that (on a good day) allow you to look right up into the maw of the blowout zone.
A few miles to the east of Mt. St. Helens is Mt. Adams, and south across the columbia river in Oregon is Mt. Hood.
To the north of Seattle there is Mt. Baker, and in between are three of the cross-state mountain passes. Highway 20, the "North Cascades Highway" goes from Whidbey Island at the west, over Rainy Pass (4860) and Washington Pass (5477) to the cowboy town of Winthrop, then on across the state to US 2 and northern Idaho.
Highway 2 starts in Everett, and climbs over Stevens Pass (4061) to the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth, then downhill to Wenatchee on the Columbia River, and east through the wheat fields and farm towns of Waterville, Wilbur, etc. to Spokane.
Interstate highway 90 starts at Seattle at the west end, crosses Lake Washington via a floating bridge, then climbs up and over Snoqualmie Pass (3010) then descends toward Ellensburg, crosses the Columbia River at Vantage, and zings across the lava rocks to Spokane, and points east.
Highway 410 starts in Enumclaw and climbs up through the forests on the north side of Mt. Rainier, over Cayuse Pass (4694) and Chinook Pass (4532) then downhill to highway 12 and on to Yakima.
Highway 12 starts a few miles south of Chehalis, and climbs up hill through logging country south of Mt. Rainier, over White Pass (4500) and east downhill to Yakima, then wanders parallel to I-82 through the Yakima Valley wine country, and east to Clarkston WA, Lewiston, ID, and over Lolo Pass to Missoula and on across the country.
With the exception of the superslab I-90, all of the passes are fun on a motorcycle, with little towns to visit, scenic vistas, and mom-and-pop bakeries and restaurants. The North Cascades Highway 20 is a favorite with riders because of the curvy road, the magnificant scenery, and usually sparse auto traffic. On sunny weekends there will be more bikes than cars on the road.
Mt. Rainier is arguably the most spectacular of Washington's mountains, with a peak of 14,410 feet, and at least a dozen active glaciers. The ice never melts on the upper slopes, which is why it looks like a giant ice cream cone all year long. The easiest and most scenic place to visit on the mountain is Paradise, with a visitors' center and a huge old log inn. From Paradise to the east, the ride is spectacular, but the westbound direction is even more so as you look right up to the top of the mountain in many spots. A plus for bikers is the twisty up-and-down pavement. There are campgrounds in and around the park, and rooms available at Paradise Inn.
Highway 20 over the North Cascades is rated highly by area motorcyclists. My favorite twisty road is a series of US Forest Service roads (all paved) from Randle on Highway 12 down past Mt. St. Helens to the Columbia River. The pavement is still reasonably good, but there are lots of bumps and grinds where the land has moved and the USFS hasn't been able to keep up. But when we say "curvy" that's no understatement.
From the little village of Randle on Highway 12, head south to FS25. If the weather is good and you have a couple of hours, take the turnoff to Mt. St. Helens, and ride all the way to the viewpoint at the end. There used to be several alternative roads in the area, but most of them have been closed, so you have just one good route now. Watch for the display areas where you can see what's left of man made objects after a volcanic blowout.
Back at FS 25, continue south. Note that there is a 4,000 + ft. pass, which may not open until mid July, depending on snowpack and road damage. You should inquire at Randle before heading south. At the lower end of FS 25, take the left turn about a mile after the river crossing, and continue south. If you pass a lake on the left, you've missed the turnoff. There is usually fuel at a little store on Curley Creek Road. After some "interesting" twists and turns through the forest, you'll eventually reach the Wind River logging mainline that continues south to Carson, then Highway 14 on the Columbia River.
If you want to gawk at the mountains, you might consider wandering around Mt. Rainier, finding a motel or campground for the night, then spending the next day around Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Adams is situated in a wilderness area, so it's harder to see except from unpaved logging roads.
If you're a dual sport rider, Tom Mehren of www.soundrider.com has a great book on the state, Dual Sport Rides Through Western Washington. Go to "store" and then "books and DVDs" Tom actually rides all those logging roads, so he knows which are open and which are not.
There are lots of interesting things to do in the Columbia River Gorge. If you're a history buff, there is a great museum and interpretive center about a mile south of Stevenson, on the side road.
There are all sorts of paved country roads in the area, on both sides of the river.
If you are arriving from the east, or heading that way, there is a very interesting museum in the old Hill mansion, now Mary Hill Museum, just west of the 97 junction. Several floors of stuff you'll see nowhere else, a nice location for a picnic, and great views across the river toward Mt. Hood.
Just to the east of the 97 junction is a strange monument to WWI soldiers, the Stonehenge Replica. It's made of concrete, not stone, and it's complete as Mr. Hill imagined the Stonehenge in England would have looked.
What no one might tell you is that the first hard surfaced "Macadam" (asphalt) road in the northwest was built from the ferry crossing at Rufus, uphill to Goldendale. And sections of that original road are still visible alongside the access road to the Stonehenge Replica. The pavement is still complete after it crosses highway 14, and twists and turns it's way up a steep grade leaving the river. This section is on private property, but arrangements are made for motorcyclists to ride it during the Soundrider rally at Stevenson every July.
Well, just about the time I really started focusing on making it to this rally...I got an email. Seems the Iowa side of my family decided to have the big family reunion the very same weekend as the rally!
Originally Posted by coxengr01
I only re-connected with my Iowa roots a few years ago, so these reunions are sort of important. Darn! I SO wanted to attend my first ever BMW Moto rally!
But, perhaps we could hook up for a "back side of St Helens" tour some other time this summer? I don't moto-camp any more, but it would be nice to ride with another Beemer guy down as far as the gorge, I'd sort of planned to make a one-day loop or perhaps do a bigger loop out to the coast with an overnight motel in Astoria or some such place...
Cheers! Bill J
Dang Dave... You get a 'voice to type' program?
You should mention the Coulee Corridor.
Ride from the Coulee Dam to the Columbia River Gorge is some amazing geological scenery.
Plus the fact that you are in the Evergreen State and there isn't a tree to be found.
FS #25 down the east side of Mt. St. Helens is one of my favorite rides, although the pavement has been getting a little rough in recent years. This is one very curvy road, and the best part is that it's not watched by the Washington Snake Patrol, plus the Forest Service doesn't have any extra money to squander. So, you can really enjoy yourself on this one.
FS 25 heads south of Randle on US 12. Wise riders gas up at Randle. Actually, the road south of Randle curves off to the east and eventually goes to Trout Lake. Turn off at the Y to FS 25 and keep going. FS 25 makes a turn to the west at the south end, but you can continue south to the Columbia River for some additional great riding. Turn left onto Curley Creek Road before you pass the Swift Creek Reservoir. Curley Creek R bumps into Meadow Cr. FS 90. Hang a right, and you'll reach a T with Wind River Road. Hang a left on Wind River, and you'll come out on WA 14 just past Carson.
Now, if the weather is cloudy or raining, it's still a good ride, but probably not a good day to go to the Mt. St. Helens viewpoint. But if the weather is clear and sunny, definitely DO NOT MISS the road in from FS 25 to the viewpoint. It's twisty, and you'll ride by spectacular tree blowdowns and some interesting displays. If the road is open to the viewpoint, this is a spectacular ride, and not likely to have many motor homes in your way.
Note that there is a 4,000ft pass on FS 25, and the snows may not melt before mid June or early July. So, before heading out to ride FS 25, call the US Forest Service office and ask if it's open.
It's even more fun on a hack!
Book mark this page...
As the season approaches changes occur rather quickly.
03/26/2010: Snow above 2000 feet. From the Randle side, A landslide at Benham Creek bridge area has closed Forest Road 25.
Wakepish Sno-Park will not be opened this season. From the St. Helens side road gated at FR 93
I got to that page from here:
Thanks for the link to the USFS roads.
www.soundrider.com also has information on WA roads and mountain passes. And, there is the official WA state site for highways and mountain passes:
GREAT shot, BTW. That's the type of day when it would be a crime to NOT go out to one of the viewpoints. In the photo, you can see the road along the hill continuing toward the mountain. There are some even more awesome views out there, but you have to climb some short trails.
There is a new access road and fancy viewpoint on the west side of the mountain, too, accessible from Castle Rock or Toledo on I-5. Of course, with the easy connection to the Interstate, that road will be crowded with traffic during the summer months.
If riding FS 25, bear in mind that Mt. Rainier National Park is just to the north, and it's an easy ride from Randle on 12 and 123 to the east entrance. The ride from E to W gives you spectacular views of Mt. Rainier. And, be sure to take the Paradise road up to the visitor center and the old Lodge. Mt. Rainer is 14,000+ feet, and covered by glaciers year-round.
For those camping, there are several somewhat spartan USFS campgrounds just north of the viewpoint turnoff, and some classic National Park campgrounds at Ohanepekosh and Longmire in Mt. Rainier park.
For those preferring lodging with light switches and toilets, best bets would be Morton, Packwood, or Enumclaw. There are a number of motels elsewhere along the highway, but they tend toward "rustic." If you can score a vacancy at the Paradise Inn, that would be special. Anyone stayed there recently?
Last edited by pmdave; 04-04-2010 at 05:15 PM.
If you are coming from the East this is a must visit on your way to or from the rally.
This is from Windy RIdge parking lot looking East at Mt. Adams... Yet another active volcano. Mt. Rainier, St. Helens and Adams are all active volcanoes.
The spot where the hack was parked in the other shot is just behind the tree.
Beautiful shots, GrafikFeat. Would you have some of Mt. Rainier or the Columbia Gorge to share?
And, don't forget that the volcano chain extends down through Oregon, with Mt. Hood just across the Columbia River, and Mt. Mazama (OK, "Crater Lake") at the south end of Oregon.
A few years ago I had a discussion with a vulcanologist, who was reluctant to admit that Mt. Rainier was indeed an active volcano. There's actually a steam vent up on top, where climbers can warm up. He explained that the biggest danger from volcanos isn't a sudden eruption, but the internal steam that causes the sulfurous chemicals in the rocks to form sulfuric acid--eating the rock from the inside out. Occasionally, the weak rock lets go in a monstrous slide called a "lahar" that can travel many miles out from the base of a mountain.
So, Rainier is a spectacularly beautiful mountain, but it's a ticking time bomb, too. Best come and visit before the next lahar--or eruption.
Just curious if any one is iterested in joining up for a group ride to the Rally? Myself and a buddy are making the trip and leaving the Seattle/Eastside area around 6:00 on July 15? All are welcome to ride along with us.
We plan on going East on I-90 to Ellensberg, then South on US 97 into Bend/Redmond OR
Any who are interested. Just reply to this post.