Outdoor adventure road trip: 30 days on an outdoor adventure itinerary

Our absolute favorite type of travel involves an outdoor adventure itinerary, the longer the better! However, even we don’t cherish the idea of roughing it continuously for weeks on-end. While we will be spending a full week (or more) on the PCT with kids soon, we opted to plan the rest of our summer outdoor adventures with a little more comfort in mind. Here’s how we’ll be spending 30 days on an outdoor adventure itinerary in the Northwest US this summer, without channeling our inner Bear Grylls.


Day 1-5: Out on the water at the edge of Washington State

We’ll be starting our month of outdoor adventure on scenic San Juan Island, Washington. The San Juan islands are one of our favorite outdoor playgrounds for families, because they offer unparalleled beauty and nature as well as comfort and relaxation, should you want it. It’s easy to get around the island, exploring beaches, forts, and harbors. We’ll spend a night enjoying in San Juan Island hospitality, then set out for two days and two nights with Crystal Seas, kayaking around the side of the island and in the sound. I won’t lie: on this kayaking camping trip, I am very much hoping to see orcas…wildlife that has eluded me so far during multiple trips in the Pacific Northwest. Fingers crossed!


Day 6-8: Mt. Rainer National Park

After one more night of R&R after our outdoor kayaking days at Snug Harbor Resort, we’ll say goodbye to the San Juans and drive back onto the mainland for a few days in Mt. Rainer National Park. Since we just camped out a few days on the island, we’ve reserved a cozy cabin outside the park instead (we got ours through HomeAway). While in the park, we have long day hikes planned; while it will be too early in the season for us to tackle the famous Wonderland Trail (we won’t have time, anyway), we’ll be trying a few of these day hikes. The teens and I will be wearing our Oboz hiking shoes, of course. (Curious about this? Check out why I’m an Oboz ambassador.) As the last Pacific Northwest national park we have yet to visit, I can’t wait to explore Rainer!

Day 9-11: Playtime at Suncadia

Our next set of stops on the itinerary will take us east across Washington, then up to British Columbia, but we don’t want to be in a rush, so we’re planning a relaxing stop at Suncadia. Located in Cle Elum, Washington, Suncadia is one of those one-stop outdoor resorts the Pacific NW is so good at creating. We’ll be able to spread out for a few days in a vacation rental, swim in the pools, ride rental bikes along the Suncadia paths (and perhaps embark on a little mountain biking). While at Suncadia, I’m looking forward to a well-deserved bottle of wine, some nice meals, and maybe even a round of golf.

Day 12-13: Rest(ful) stop in Spokane


After leaving Suncadia, we’ll have a long drive ahead of us as we travel to Cranbrook, BC. Spokane Washington is a natural stopping point, with a lively and revitalized downtown and plenty of outdoor pursuits. We lived in Spokane for many years (in fact, two of the Pit Stops kids were born here), and I can’t wait to show them beautiful Riverfront Park and the Spokane River. We’ll be staying the night at the Red Lion Hotel at Riverfront Park, where the kids will get an evening of waterslides and pool fun. We’ll actually be returning to this hotel later, to watch Spokane’s well-known Hoopfest basketball tournament.

Day 14-20: Cowboy (and girl) living at Three Bars Ranch

After leaving Spokane, we’ll arrive in Cranbrook, BC, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Located between two of our favorite outdoor playgrounds–Glacier National Park and Banff, Alberta–the Three Bars Ranch is an all-inclusive dude ranch perfect for families. After trying our first dude ranch last year at Triangle X Ranch, Wyoming, we’re really excited to repeat a week on horseback. Every dude ranch is different, and we’re looking forward to reporting on how Three Bars differs from our Triangle X experience. Already, I know the boys are looking forward to using the tennis courts and pool at Three Bars! While I know our days will be filled with outdoor adventure, we’ll be sleeping in comfortable lodging every night, and able to soak sore muscles in the hot tub.

Day 21-27: Tackling the Main Salmon with O.A.R.S. Rafting

OARS river rafting

It’s no secret that we absolutely love O.A.R.S., so we’re very excited to announce we’ll be back on the river with this amazing company, this time on the Main Salmon in Idaho. After leaving Three Bars Ranch, we’ll return to Spokane, then head east to lovely McCall, Idaho. After our pre-rafting trip team meeting, we’ll be flying to our put-in spot on the Main Salmon, in the heart of the Frank Church ‘River of No Return’ Wilderness. For six days, we’ll be out in the elements, sleeping in tents and paddling the river, but with the O.A.R.S. team, families still feel pampered, even when on multi-day trips. I know there will be good food, comfy tents, and lots of fun and games.

If you’d love to spend the majority of your summer out-of-doors, but the thought of roughing it for days on end have you hesitating, consider one of the trips listed above…or be crazy like us and do them all! Look for detailed reviews of our experiences with Crystal Seas, Three Bars Ranch, Suncadia, and O.A.R.S. in the months to come!