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Westward Ho!

No, not that kind of Westward ho.

Last April over Spring Break my wife and I went to the Gulf Coast to hit the four southern states I hadn’t visited yet (AL, MS, LA and AR), I left some thoughts here: Some Thoughts On The South

That leaves me with four states in the opposite end of the continental U.S. that I haven’t been to: Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

We are in the very early stages of talking about taking a trip out that way in the next 12-18 months, probably at least 10 days as it will require us to fly out and the distances involved are pretty significant compared to when we were in the southeast and could hit all four states in a few hours.

My initial thought was to fly into Portland and then drive up to the Tacoma/Seattle area for a day before travelling through Idaho and then spending the remaining time in Montana. The more I thought about it, I was thinking maybe I wanted to spend more time in Oregon and Washington, away from Portland and Seattle of course, before heading to Montana.

Those who live or have travelled in that region, what are your thoughts? What should we see and what should we avoid? Where is a good place to hunker down for a few days to relax that has some interesting sights to see nearby? We aren’t really big city people, we would rather see scenic vistas than city skylines. We would also like to end up within easy driving distance (5-6 hours) of a major airport so the return flight is less expensive and requires fewer layovers.


  1. Paddy O'Furniture

    I grew up in Montana, but all four states are beautiful so much natural grandeur. In Montana, up northwest you have Glacier national park, Flathead lake ( huge ), and the Rockies plus many other intersecting ranges.
    I would say that western Montana is the best part, with the eastern portion more plains and somewhat less scenic.
    Hope that helps.

    • Arthur Sido

      We won’t go outside of the NW of Montana, we used to live in Cheyenne and drove across Nebraska several times so I have seen the basic gist of Eastern Montana, we definitely would like to see Glacier and Flathead.

  2. Yankee Terrier

    Lived in Seattle for 25 years, the Oregon Washington area is great for driving to small towns , eateries, etc. West of the Cascades is more artsy but lots of toxic liberals. But not universally so. East of Cascades much much much more conservative. Montana is great, hands down. A really good trip. Hit towns in Oregon like Tillamook, Cannon Beach, Florence. Astoria. Washington in West ugh can’t decide…. Leavenworth has good beer.Eastern Washington and Oregon is big, huge so there you can get info from the next guy.Idaho and Montana it’s hard to go wrong.

  3. LGC

    Glacier NP is amazing and a must not miss. Yellowstone off season is pretty great, in season it’s a disaster but most of Montana is pretty great. Pompey’s Pillar is worth a stop if you’re out that way. Hell’s Canyon (idaho/oregon) is pretty amazing. In fact everything in Idaho north of Boise is pretty amazing. Portland and Seattle look like any other big city. Totally skippable.

    • Arthur Sido

      We actually were in Yellowstone on the last day it was open in 1995, it snowed a ton and we stayed at the Old Faithful lodge. It was beautiful but we are going to try to stay clear of the big tourist areas. We actually got snowed in trying to get back to Cheyenne and had to stay in a motel as the highways were closed.

      Pompey’s Pillar might be too far east but I’ll add Hells Canyon to the list.

  4. Anonymous

    I never could understand the desire so many have to visit all 50 states. Not meaning to knock it or anything, but why bother? If I love the shoreline, I might visit numerous areas up and down the coast(s). If I am more of a mountain person, I might visit the Rockies, Appalachia, the Cascades. Like most, I return again and again to my favorite spots and feel no itch whatsoever to spread myself thin enough to boast, “Yep, hit ’em all.”

    To each his own, of course, and I wish you Godspeed on your journeys, Arthur. I just hope you don’t do what my asshole childless BIL and SIL do, sending out a custom calendar to the extended family each “holiday season” (Christmastime, for the non-woke) showing destinations that they visited on their trust fund bucks throughout the previous year.

    • Arthur Sido

      Mostly it is because when I travelled on business and because we moved a lot for work I got to so many states so it dawned on me that I had hit most of them, even little ones like Rhode Island and Delaware, so I decided to get the rest. My wife doesn’t really care much either way.

      • Anonymous

        I get it. It’s a ‘hobby’ of sorts. My son and his fiance are on a mission to hike all 89 Texas state parks (or however many there are here). Why? Because they are there to be hiked. I don’t think they expect a medal at the conclusion, just the satisfaction of “Gotta catch ’em all”. Yeah, these “adults” play Pokemon Go, too.

        BTW, coastal Rhode Island (Newport, at least) is mighty fine. Providence I would take a pass on.

  5. Reader

    My 0.02

    Fly to PDX, drive east on I-84 to US-97 head north to Yakima, connect to 90 towards Spokane.

    Head to Missoula then head south to Salmon (on the way you can pass thru Darby where the Yellowstone ranch sits) then on to either Idaho Falls to the east or Boise to the west. Idaho Falls is smaller, more rural areas, and close to Jackson, WY.

  6. Locustpost

    Running up to Vancouver from Seattle is well worth it. The coast along there is pretty and the distances aren’t that far. Sandpoint (and the panhandle of Idaho) is neat. Since Covid we’ve been doing driving trips and really enjoy it. Prior to that we used to fly and often went overseas but being unjabbed knocked us out of that habit. We always have a loose itinerary and stay in hotels and meet a lot of interesting people and stumble upon fun things to see. The history stuff, even little county museums, is always fascinating as this is a big country with a lot of variation in how places were settled and prospered. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody is great. By the way, I have one state to go to have visited all fifty (North Dakota). The other day I noticed the wife checking routes from here (North Carolina) to Boulder, CO so something tells me I need to get new tires for the truck and will likely get to go up in the St Louis Arch which I’ve wanted to do for some reason.

    • Arthur Sido

      I was in North Dakota on business, believe it or not. Lots of sugar beets. The motel I had our travel department book was like $30, the lady on the phone said she had never booked a room that cheap before but it was the only place in this little town. I would love to visit Vancouver but the wife doesn’t have her passport.

      • Mike_C

        Does your wife have an “enhanced” drivers license? That’s enough to cross the US/Canada border.

        I was just in Vancouver (and Whistler); at SEATAC waiting for the dreaded red-eye flight as I peck this out on my phone.

        More later on Vancouver, Seattle and PDX if you care to hear it (when I have a proper keyboard).

  7. Yankee Terrier

    I was an airline pilot for 40 years, PDX is better aesthetically than Seattle, also easier to get out of. Good launching point for rent acar road trip. Pay the drop off charge and finish out of Boise, or Spokane, or Billings.Something like that.

  8. Jay L

    It’s a little out of the way from some of the areas mentioned, but the southern Oregon Coast is some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. The Mrs. and I went last October for our anniversary and loved it so much we’ve gone back two more times since then. Brookings, Gold Beach and Bandon are all wonderful places to visit.
    I’d pack up and move to Bandon tomorrow if I could!

    • Arthur Sido

      I am thinking hard about flying into Portland and then going to the coast and driving the lengthy of it, we don’t mind long drives if the scenery is nice and I spent a lot of time driving most days anyway.

  9. AMB

    I would definitely hit the coast and devour your share of fresh seafood.

    I live in Montana and haven’t been to GNP in a handful of years. Lots and lots of people. They did start a reservation system so it may not be as bad now. A beautiful park for sure. I you want to go I would recommend taking the North Fork road up to Polebridge and going in that way. Stunning scenery. If you go to GNP budget a few hours for a side trip to Hungry Horse Dam. Stunning scenery and a little less traveled.

    Ditto for Flathead lake (the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi).

    What time of year do you plan to come?

    • Arthur Sido

      Probably in summer, I thought about a spring trip but I am afraid things we would want to see might be closed. I have zero interest in fighting crowds, so I might skip GNP

  10. T

    My suggestion would be to fly into PDX, eat at pelican brewing in Pacific City, drive north along the coast to Astoria. Continue north along the coast to Port Angles/Olympic national park, ride the ferry across the Puget Sound, take I90 East, stop off at Snoqualmie Falls, continue to CDA or Sandpoint, continue to Montana/Glacier.

  11. Xzebek

    I’m up in NW Montana between Whitefish and Eureka. Incredibly beautiful and a fun place to visit. Glacier park is great and so is Flathead lake. The past couple summers there has been a dopey reservation system to get into the park. Go to Polebridge a little north of the park. Beautiful area and the Polebridge Metcantile alone is worth the trip. Huckleberry Bearclaws!!

  12. rto-jerry

    I think you might enjoy the Kootenai National Forest. Here’s to hoping that places like the Yaak, Libby and Noxon have not been overrun with gaia worshiping lefty faggots and you may enjoy meeting Trad Montana folk!!

  13. wendyworn

    Arthur, if you are going to go to WA or OR do it now. If they succeed in doing a rerun of the scam, oregon will be locked up tight as a drum. I grew up there and lived there most of my life. there is a reason I moved to Kansas in 2021.

  14. G706

    Arthur, I live in Oregon and here are my thoughts. Fly into PDX then you can drive US 30 west along the Columbia to Astoria. Lot of Lewis and Clark history and a replica of their fort. Drive down the coast as far as you like, I would go all the way to Newport. Seaside is a tourist town. Tillamook has an air museum and cheese factory and lots of dairy cows. There is a train ride that goes along the ocean and into the coast range. One could drive back up the coast or take Highway 20 or 18 back to the Willamette valley. Lots of farming different than Indiana with grass seed wineries and filbert orchards. Drive up US 99W instead of I5. There is Silver Creek Falls near Silverton with hiking trails. It’s also worth driving east on I84 to see the Columbia gorge and water falls, could drive out to Hood River and take a loop around Mt. Hood and come back on Highway 26.

  15. realwesterner

    Leavenworth is nice, if a little touristy. Montana is awesome, but the college towns suck, even Missoula. If you take Hiway 3 south of I 90 a little west of Coeur d’Alene-exit 34- and head south, then take the left at the fork in Bovill, which puts you on hiway 8, you can eventually get all the way to a little town called Elk River. Great camping, nice little town with Boysenberry Everything, and a little reservoir called Elk Creek Reservoir stocked with rainbow trout if that’s your thing. Lookout Pass from (I-90) panhandle Idaho to northwest Montana affords great vistas and a somewhat challenging drive (for pavement). Getting up the panhandle around Lake Pend Orielle and Sand Point is always a great drive. If you get to Coeur d’Alene, do NOT eat at the Chinese restaurants-worst Chinese you’ll ever have anywhere-most of the pizza is not far behind. Aside from anywhere there are cattle ranches in western Oregon, the only other reason to be in Oregon is FOR the Chinese food, so have at it. Also, up I-95 north of CDA is Silverwood, a charming-ish little amusement park with enough oomph on the roller coasters to make them fun and a heckuva neat old style train ride around the park, but small enough and polite enough crowds to keep it fun. Stay out of college towns and anywhere the Prius lurks and you should have plenty of scenery, normal people and good times to make it worth your while. And if you like drive thru coffees, my wife’s very favorite place in all of the northwest was the Human Bean drive thru coffee place at 4th street across from Costco. She still talks about it. And, if you get down Hwy 3 just past St Maries you get on Milwaukee Road and that’ll take you back down around St Joe and all that. Nice scenery, nice drive. You can also get a great steak at Wolf Lodge-a little spendy-outside CDA also. Down south, the Snake River Canyon is hard to beat also.

  16. Bear Claw Chris Lapp

    Spent July in the Dakota’s, Montana, Wyoming as well as Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska some. The geology of Gods creation in the west is magnificent.

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