Trip Planning Assistance: Rainier, Cascade & Glacier NPs - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-27-2014, 02:57 PM   #1
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Trip Planning Assistance: Rainier, Cascade & Glacier NPs

Hi Everyone,
We are asking your assistance in planning a (3 weeks, preferably) trip to Rainier, Cascade and Glacier National Parks. We plan to leave from San Francisco sometime before Labor Day (Yes, we know!) and get back home by September 18 (because of family obligations). We are retired and otherwise our time is free and flexible. Obviously, the conundrum is when to travel so we avoid Labor Day traffic. All reserved spots in these parks are taken. There are "first come, first served" spots that are posted online when they are occupied.

Please understand that it is not our preference to be camping on Labor Day weekend as the campers tend to be rowdier and it will be CROWDED. We relish camping in the low seasons when all is more quiet. That may not be an option is this case. Alternatively we would have to travel after September 20th and it could be very cold, possibly snowy and campgrounds could be closed.

Our questions are as follows:
1. When, do you think (or from personal experience) should we arrive in one of the parks before Labor Day to assure having a campsite?
2. Which park would be the best to be in over Labor Day weekend?
3. In which camp order would you suggest camping?
4. Might there be campgrounds near one of these parks that would be pleasant over the Labor Day weekend if the NP is full, full, full?

Many thanks to all who choose to assist us in our camping plans.
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Old 07-27-2014, 03:43 PM   #2
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Oops, NOT Glacier, I meant OLYMPIC NP.
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Old 07-27-2014, 04:21 PM   #3
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Oh, that makes more sense.
I'd go with North Cascades for Labor Day. (Not necessarily in the park.) Lots of campsites around and more remote so less likely to be filled. For order- I'd save Rainier for after Labor Day, maybe drive up around the Olympics, camp a few places, take the Port Townsend ferry to Whidbey and follow 20 on up to the North Cascades. Then hit Rainier on the way home. Or do North Cascades first, hit Rainier, and then the Olympic National Park. The most common and popular approach to Rainier is to Paradise but Sunrise is really nice, and less crowded. I've never car camped there (or not for the last fifty years) so can't comment on campgrounds.
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Old 07-27-2014, 09:04 PM   #4
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Be sure to check the NP website foe when various locales and visitor centers are closed for the season. For example, at Rainier,the Paradise Visitor center and the lodge AND the road were closed, so some of even the campgrounds were not available the Wed after Labor day. Even Sunrise visitor center was closed, but at least a campground and some trails were accessible that week.
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Old 07-27-2014, 09:28 PM   #5
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Good point. Plus forest fires. Last year had unusually early snowfall; this year and 2012 we had forest fires. The good thing about doing it without reservations, though, is that you can play it by ear.
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