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Northwest

My wife & I recently retired & moved from S.California to Trinidad, CA (in N.California near Eureka).We purchased a 23' Airstream & now plan to travel the Northwest. I'm looking for suggestions/referrals on where to stay in 4 states (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho).
Any info would help. Thanks, Mark 

Posted by
9736 posts

When are you planning to travel and what would you like to see/do?

I live in the Idaho panhandle on an area called the Palouse which I think is beautiful. Many prefer the mountain and lake area north of me in the Coeur d’Alene/Sandpoint area.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for your time & info. As far as when we would go, it's pretty much open for us year round (depending upon weather).
Thanks again, Mark

Posted by
9736 posts

Well, North Idaho has been unseasonably warm recently but the weather is supposed to turn mid-week and be yucky. For Idaho I’d wait until May at this point.

The last few years we’ve been plagued with bad smoke in August and early September so I’d avoid that time frame as well. While the fires have not been real near, there have been huge fires in Eastern and Central WA and British Columbia and smoke has drifted over us.

Posted by
6880 posts

You might want to join an Airstream forum or IRV2.com and repost your message. There are many RV forums that are a source of information.
We're in the North Georgia mountains in our fifth wheel trailer this weekend enjoying a beautiful Fall.

Posted by
1666 posts

Well, start here for Oregon ideas. Since you'll have shelter, the rainy season shouldn't be an issue (and though our fall has been spectacular, the rain is coming). Depending on how long you plan to be out, you could spend a long, long time just in Oregon. Reservations at state campgrounds are needed in summer time. If you need full hook up for your trailer, that will limit you some, but there are a lot of choices still. Just a few ideas:

  • Drive up coast highway 101 all the way north. Plenty of amazing campgrounds along the way (Jedediah Smith in the Redwoods, Cape Perpetua in Oregon, for example)
  • Head up through Southern Oregon, to Crater Lake, then north to Bend. Dozens of amazing campgrounds along the way (Lake of the Woods, Waldo Lake, Paulina Lake, anything on the Cascade Lakes highway, Smith Rock)
  • You can't beat the beauty of Wallowa Lake, just takes awhile to get there
  • If you like wine, you could plan an entire trip driving just up I-5 and drink world class wine all the way from Ashland to Portland. Ditto for beer.

I'm a native Oregonian and would be glad to answer any other questions, PM me.

Posted by
3685 posts

I'm assuming that your 23' Airstream is a tag trailer, as opposed to a 5th wheel or a goose neck. How long is the tongue?

What kind of a vehicle are you using to tow it? What safety measures do you have for hitching up? What is the weight of the loaded trailer? What is the tongue weight? Is the hitch on the tow vehicle rated for the gross weight and tongue weight of the trailer? I'm assuming that the Airstream has whatever braking system that it needs.

I'm asking these questions because I'm also assuming that you are new to towing. If I'm wrong about that, please forgive me.

Every year we tow my husband's race car from Tucson up to the Seattle area in late April and back to Tucson in early October. We have a 22' long 1-ton dually as the tow vehicle. The trailer is a 24' box trailer with a 6' tongue. It's 9'3" tall from the ground, not counting the AC or vent on the top. It's 8 1/2 feet wide. Yes, the entire rig is 50+ feet long.

When we got the trailer, we invested in the maximum safety add-ons we could get. They include an electric tongue jack, electric trailer brakes, a load leveling weight distribution hitch and a sway control unit. Go here for a great glossary of these terms and many more.

Although your trailer and tongue are probably about the same length as ours, your rig might be be shorter than ours if your tow vehicle is shorter than our truck. I'd guess your trailer will definitely not be as tall. If you haven't driven rigs like this, the learning curve can be flattened a bit with proper equipment. Pulling into campgrounds can be a bit tricky. Shoot, trying to pull into gas stations or park somewhere can also be tricky.

Trailer tires are notoriously bad. Our past experience is that one blows out each way each year. But coming home this year, it was cooler than usual and none blew. Our trailer is a triple axle. We carry one spare. We've never had more than one blow out. When we lose a tire, my husband replaces it with the spare. Then we go to the closest tire place and have the blown out tire replaced.

The other issue we've experienced is high winds. The sway control keeps the trailer stable, but on the way up last spring, we went through an area in Washington where the wind was so strong that it ripped our rolled up and securely fastened canopy right off the trailer, across 4 lanes of the highway and into the abyss on the far side of the road.

The combination of the trailer pull option on our truck and our braking system works great on the steep grades of many northwest highways. Our truck pulls the trailer well up and controls the descent.

I'm not trying to scare you. I'm trying to present a realistic view of our experiences over several years. My husband says any road is fine so long as it's gray. We have towed over unavoidably white roads and we hope to never experience that again.

Posted by
5786 posts

To add to Lo's words of wisdom, bicyclist trying to share the road have a saying about retirees pulling travel trailers: The second most dangerous to bicyslist are retirees pulling a travel trailer for the first time. The most dangerous are the retirees pulling a travel trailer for the second time.

Posted by
128 posts

The PNW has so many beautiful spots and how lucky are you to be able to travel and enjoy this wondrous area. We have lived north of Seattle for the past 10 years and feel like we have barely scratched the surface of things to do. The North Cascades and Olympic Peninsula are amazing areas and I would put them on your list. I consider our summer weather to be among the best in the world, with sunny, dry days and cool nights, it’s just lovely here in the summer. Keep in mind the best time to see this area is after July 4th through September (although this October has been gorgeous weather wise). Enjoy your travels!

Posted by
247 posts

It wasn't clear (to me at least) what you've already seen of the PNW, so I will toss in these 2 cents. First, I'd add W. Montana to your list. It's just beyond Idaho and so good. If you haven't already seen all the National Parks & Monuments in those states, then start with those, they are all very worthwhile. Once you've done National Parks, go online or get the printed visitor info packets from each State and pick out the State Parks that sound intriguing to you. That alone could take you some years to complete considering the large number of Parks in those States. Then go after sights in National Forests that sound good. Again those could some time to do, there are lots of notable scenic and interesting areas in the National Forests, example Mt St Helens. Lastly, research County parks. I kid you not. You do need to shop carefully to find the good ones, but I've been to some really nice County parks that are way off most travelers radar screens. Bonus: they are generally less expensive and less crowded than the big name Parks. Happy travels.