Old 07-24-2011, 11:58 PM   #1
jdirelan87
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Default Ideas for a Washington/Montana trip?

Hi all,

I've been out of the country for a while now and to celebrate my return, I'm concerning a trip to the Pacific Northwest. Problem is, I'm not very familiarly with the area and my ability to research is limited thanks to unreliable internet.

I was hoping for some suggestions of what to do up in that part of the world. I have a rough idea in mind that goes something like: fly into Seattle- Scenic Sub - Columbia River Gorge - Montana RailLink - fly out of Helena (or loop back to Seattle time permitting). If you have any 'must hit' spots around that area, please let me know (especially if its shortline related)!

- John

PS - In the past five months, I've seen 2/3 of all railroads on the Arabian Peninsula - impressive until you remember there are only 3 on the entire subcontinent! Don't worry, didn't take a single picture of either of them.
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Old 07-25-2011, 12:35 AM   #2
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:58 PM   #3
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Personally, I wouldn't do a trip starting at point A and ending at point B. Rental car companies usually tag additional fees should you choose to do this, which can really add up over the length of a trip. Helena would be a lot more expensive to fly out of than returning to Seattle (or whatever airport you choose), and additionally, the Northwest is set up very well for loop trips starting and ending at the same location.

You didn't give a timeframe for the length of your trip, but if you flew into Seattle or Portland, you could hit Stevens Pass, Trinidad, Marshall Canyon, the St.Maries River Railroad, the MRL west of Missoula, the Funnel, the shortlines in the Palouse region, and the Gorge on a fairly comfortable 9-day trip starting on a weekend and ending the following weekend. I think an itenerary like that would pretty much cover all of your bases unless you really were dying to see Mullan Pass...and you could still fit that in if you were willing for some extra driving on one of your MRL days.

There's a ton to see up there. I try to make at least one trip up there per year, but I could easily spend a month or two up there shooting everywhere I'd like to go. Pretty sure if you do go up there you'll get so hooked you'll be doing an annual trip yourself. The sheer variety of operations and scenery is staggering.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:07 PM   #4
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I was planning a trip to Yellowstone this June until I had the double whammy of having to replace my air conditioner and getting termites. I have to agree with Ken that in my planning I found rental car rates ridiculous when you do one-way rentals. And that was with the corporate account rate I have through Avis. In looking into all the different airport combinations I could fly into, it made the most financial sense for me to fly into SLC and rent a car there, then drive back. Flights were cheaper and rental car rates were the same due to my corporate rate, but some of the smaller airports have ridiculous fees they tack on. Seattle may be cheaper, but Portland or Spokane may be an option as well.

I have not been there, so I cannot give specific advice as to where to railfan, but the Columbia River has been on my hit list for a while. I have been traveling a lot less lately because my company has been getting less work out of state and the aforementioned big expenses I have had lately.

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