Seeing volcanic sights en route to Seattle?
June 25, 2014 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Road trip filter! We're spending today (and tonight) in Portland and want to be in Seattle by mid-afternoon tomorrow. On the way, we'd like to visit a volcanic (or geological) outdoorsy spot. The original idea was to hike the Ape Cave lava tube, but looking at a map, it may be too far out of the way if we want to leave Portland at 9am and reach Seattle by 4. Any good alternatives?
posted by itesser to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Are you near any bookstores? You could pick up (or leaf through) a Roadside Geology of Washington. This is a great series and will give you some options along the roads you'll driving....just sliding that out there as an alternative if you don't get any answers here.
posted by barchan at 8:00 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

You could check out the Mima Mounds. They might not be volcanic, but they are geological and mysterious, and pretty close to I-5.
posted by isthmus at 8:33 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

As you head up I-5 take a side trip up to Mt. St. Helens. It's well worth the drive and there are many spots on the way up to Johnson Ridge to stop and learn about the eruption in 1980 and to see how it changed the landscape. Truly a trip you won't regret taking.
posted by OkTwigs at 8:44 AM on June 25, 2014

No, you don't have time for Ape Caves. Just head up to Johnston Ridge Visitors Center on you way.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:42 AM on June 25, 2014

Leave an hour earlier than you had planned, expect to arrive early evening and you will have time to do Mt St helens, other than that your volcanic options, other than views of Rainier from afar, are few.
the mima mounds, for what it's worth, neither volcanic, nor mysterious, but they still might be a nice break on your trip.
unfortunately, the I-5 corridor from Portland to Seattle is not really a pretty or exciting drive. plenty of things along the way to travel to, but few close enough to get to without a bigger time suck.
It's summer and the days are long...if it were me i'd take the time to go to Mt st helens and not worry about arriving in seattle at a specific time. ymmv
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:03 AM on June 25, 2014

If nothing else works timewise or routewise, you can always just go to Mount Tabor city park right in Portland, which is an extinct (or dormant) volcano.
posted by rtha at 10:06 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you don't have time for Ape Caves, I don't think you're going to have time for Johnston Ridge.

Downtown Portland to Ape Caves is about 1.5 hours. Lower Ape Cave hike takes about an hour; Upper Ape Cave takes about 2.5 hrs. Ape Cave to downtown Seattle is about 3.25 hours.

Portland to Johnston Ridge is about 2 - 2.25 hours. I imagine after that drive, you'd stay at least an hour, yeah? Then Johnston Ridge to Seattle is 2.75 - 3 hours.

If it were me, I'd go to Ape Cave & do the lower cave, but this is partially because I HATE the drive to the Observatory and I also find it expensive and boring. We live just outside Portland & regularly go to both places.
posted by peep at 10:37 AM on June 25, 2014

You have to do lower Ape Caves. Leave earlier to give yourself time. Bring layers to wear, hiking boots and extra flashlights.
posted by Diddly at 2:27 PM on June 25, 2014

There's a Mt St Helens Visitor's Center that's run by the state, too. You get a nice view of the mountain and the movie is interesting. It's in Castle Rock, Washington.

Johnston Observatory is much better, especially the ranger-led talks, but it is a long drive to get there.
posted by Ostara at 7:29 PM on June 25, 2014

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