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George, WA
April 15, 2006 12:39 AM   Subscribe

The Wife and I will be taking 5 days off in July to see Pearl Jam at The Gorge, just outside of George, WA (ha!). We're trying to book airfare and I'm wondering what's the best way to fly there? Should we fly into SeaTac? Portland? Spokane? We figure we'll have to rent a car no matter what and are fine with the idea of seeing some country. We're flying from Los Angeles (LAX, Burbank, Long Beach and Orange County airports are all an option) and we don't want to have to change planes.
posted by inviolable to Travel & Transportation around George, WA (17 answers total)
 
It is a long drive from downtown Seattle to The Gorge. Portland may be a better place to land.

SNA is always the most expensive airport in SoCal, so if you don't live in OC, LAX or LGB will be a better choice. LGB is a very quick and efficient airport despite, or perhaps because, it is really just a trailer park.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:44 AM on April 15, 2006


I suspect b1tr0t doesn't know where George is. "The Gorge" first runs north/south down the center of Washington, until it reaches the Oregon border, where it then runs east/west to Portland.

Since George is up on the North/South portion, Portland is much farther away than Seattle.

George is roughly halfway between Seattle and Spokane on I-90. Both drives are spectacular, as is the country immediately surrounding George. I would make your plans based on flight times and availability.

Spokane's airport is suprisingly well attended, given the size and location of Spokane. I was quite suprised to learn there were direct flights to Spokane from Oakland...
posted by Dunwitty at 1:12 AM on April 15, 2006


Or, if you do want to add some driving miles and see some beautiful scenery, fly into Portland and drive The Gorge eastward. Then turn north and follow the Columbia River up to George.

The Gorge coming out of Portland and heading east is not at all like The Gorge up in eastern Washington. The Gorge as it runs along the WA/OR border is verdant and luscious. There are waterfalls and mountains and historic drives, even parts of the old highway (circa ~1910), which was the completion of the first highway across America.

The Gorge up in Eastern Washington is Red Rock stuff - dramatic barren landscapes, huge formations, natural amphitheatres. Eastern Washington is "high desert", very stark and beautiful.

Seriously, you can't lose here.

Man, why did I just move to The Bay Area? :-)
posted by Dunwitty at 1:20 AM on April 15, 2006


The Gorge is the absolute best concert venue I've ever been to. Beautiful desert (which you wouldn't expect in Wash. state) and fantastic acoustics. I saw Radiohead there in about 2000 and it blew my mind.

I dunno about Portland, but from Seattle I seem to recall it being a good 3-4 hour drive (give or take an hour). Traffic back to Seattle after the concert will be pretty heinous, so if you're into camping that'd be a great time to do so.
posted by zardoz at 1:26 AM on April 15, 2006


It really does depend upon the traffic/weather, but in my experience the Seattle to George drive takes maybe 2 1/2 hours, more if you stop somewhere to eat. (I live south of Seattle and have family in Spokane, so I know the route fairly well.) Spokane to George might be faster, but it's a straight shot in the worst sense of the word. Unless you're keen on dead-straight roads running through farmland and desert, I'd start from Seattle. Snoqualmie Pass is very dramatic, much more fun to drive in the summer, and heading east will take you right by the Cle Elum bakery, which is not to be missed.

About camping: do not, under any circumstances, camp at the concert grounds. On paper it sounds like a great idea; in execution, not so much. Rows of cars parked cheek-by-jowl as far as the eye could see, no fires allowed, and it was about as pleasant as you'd imagine a field full of wasted Nine Inch Nails fans would be. There are other campsites around, but the only one I know of personally is in Ephrata, which is probably the closest proper town (it's a half-hour south of George). Vantage and George are more rest stops than actual towns, but they might be worth checking for sites/rooms. Reserve early, or make peace with sleeping in the car...

You should also remember to bring a coat. It gets very, very cold and windy once the sun goes down, even in high summer. I seem to forget this every five years or so, and as a result have an odd collection of overpriced long-sleeve concert shirts.

That said, the concert will most assuredly kick ass. The Gorge is a fantastic venue.
posted by Vervain at 3:01 AM on April 15, 2006


There is an airport in Yakima (YKM), which is at least an hour closer than Seattle or Spokane. Probably costs a little more to fly there, though, and you won't get to take in as much scenery.
posted by willpie at 5:48 AM on April 15, 2006


You can get a pretty good idea on price and geography by looking at

http://beta.farecompare.com/search/myAirportAlternateCitiesMap?departure=LAX&destination=SEA

They have some sort of bug on www so the bod gave me the beta address where the have fixes. If you plugin in PDX, YKM, GEG you can pretty much see what the price points are.
posted by thekes at 6:14 AM on April 15, 2006


Yervain is right about the Gorge campground, but there is a sweet mom-and-pop campground called the Wild Horse just a stone's throw away from the Amphitheater. It's cheaper, cleaner, smaller, has free coffee in the morning, free showers, a little food shack where they sell burritos and stuff for pretty cheap, and it also features lots of sweet hippies. They run a shuttle bus to the show every half hour or so, so you don't even have to walk through the long line of cars waiting to get into the Gorge to get to the show. It's definitely worth it to make a reservation if you want to stay there though, it fills up pretty quickly.
posted by pikachulolita at 9:36 AM on April 15, 2006


Most people that go to the Gorge do so from Seattle; thus, the one route out there (I-90) gets really crowded right around George. For pure scenic delight, fly into Portland and drive from there; the Columbia River Gorge is breathtakingly beautiful.

I cannot emphasize enough how much you do not want to camp at the Gorge. Ephrata's a good option.
posted by pdb at 10:06 AM on April 15, 2006


if I were doing it, and I had a few days, and I wanted to camp ... I would proably fly into Portland and spend a day getting up into the gorge, seeing some of the amazing natural beauty,

You should be able to find tickets from LAX to Portland for $200 or so round trip; that's always what I remember them being when I flew from Portland to visit my parents in LA.
posted by SpecialK at 10:07 AM on April 15, 2006


What about the Ellensburg airport? Could you fly in there? (Spokanite living in Seattle, here). If you don't want to do that, I would follow pdb and SpeacialK's advice: drive up from Portland.
posted by rossination at 11:06 AM on April 15, 2006


Driving distances to George from:
Downtown Seattle: 148 miles
Downtown Portland: 256 miles
Downtown Spokane: 131 miles

It does take a bit to get out of the Gorge after a concert, and I-90 does stack up at times, but you can drive back to Seattle and Spokane after the concert. Portland you're probably looking at camping in the area or finding a hotel in Moses Lake or Ellensburg overnight.

It really depends on how much you're willing to spend, how much country you're planning on seeing and how many days you're staying. If you're driving from Portland there are plenty of wineries and vineyards in the Yakima area on top of the scenery. However, with gas up here climbing over $3, it just means that much more gas in the rental car.
posted by dw at 11:33 AM on April 15, 2006


Thanks everyone! We're going to drive up from Portland and stay in a hotel in or around George.
posted by inviolable at 11:58 AM on April 15, 2006


Having driven from Portland to attend concerts at the Gorge more than once I have some suggestions...
  1. Get gas when you can. Specifically on the Oregon side of the border. There aren't many gas stations and they close at weird early hours.
  2. It takes longer than you think it will.
  3. Camp, at one of the campgrounds nearby. I don't remember anything even close to a reasonably priced hotel and the onsite campgrounds, as mentioned above, ... unless you plan on being very crowded and very inebriated in the dark you won't enjoy it.
  4. Expect extreme variations in whether, and pack accordingly
You're really going to enjoy the show, I've actually been contemplating the trip up there to see them.
posted by togdon at 4:42 PM on April 15, 2006


And remember, there is NO SELF-SERVE GAS IN OREGON! They pump your gas for you at every station.
posted by kindall at 12:25 AM on April 16, 2006


And remember, there is NO SELF-SERVE GAS IN OREGON! They pump your gas for you at every station.

And despite this, gas is still cheaper in Oregon than Washington.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:00 AM on April 16, 2006


Really? No self serve? That's damn cool!

Thanks for the extra tips, Togdon and Kindall.
posted by inviolable at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2006


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