Thanks for the great info!!
In your opinion, what kind of daily mileage can be expected when crossing through Washington and those first set of mountains?? I'm really intimidated by the idea of tackling huge hill climbs right from the beginning.
I did the entire NT once and the section between Bay View and Glacier National Park a second time. Both times I started in Seattle and rode north for three days to join the route just east of Anacortes. Left Seattle both times around May 25th. Here was the daily itinerary in WA for both trips (excluding the two days from Seattle to Bay View):
Bay View, Rockport, Colonial Creek Campground, Witnthrop, Winthrop, Tonasktet, Republic, Colville, Ione. From there, it was into ID.
1. Between Sedro Wooley and Conrete, the S. Skagit Highway was a marvelous ride. Like being in a rain forest, but with a frightfully cold rain.
2. Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport has Adirondak shelters, which is nice if it's wet, which is a distinct possibility in May. Bought groceries in Concrete. There was a great dive bar right above the campground.
3. +1 on staying at Colonial Creek. There is camping in Newhalem, but that's right where the hills start. There are two shorter climbs and two descents between Newhalem and Colonial Creek. The climb to Washington Pass is long enough. No need to make it longer. If you stay in Rockport you will have a short day to Colonial Creek, which means you will be well rested for the next day's climb. The official route between Rockport and Marblemount is nice. There was zero traffic both times and no hills.
4. Take plenty to eat and drink for the climb to Washington Pass. There are no services whatsoever on the way up virtually none on the way down until Mazama. (I believe there is a USFS campground along the descent, but I don't know if it has water.) We supplied at the small stoe in Newhalem on the way to Colonial Creek. Don't know what sort of grocery selection they are currently carrying. The first year I got rained and then snowed on before Rainy Pass and through to Washington Pass. My fingers froze on the descent. The second year I brought an extra pair of winter gloves so I would have something dry to put on for the descent. Weather tunred out to be much better, but you should be prepared for anything.
5. The first time, between Mazama and Winthrop I took the official route which uses some road with the name Goat in it. The second time I stayed on SR 20. The former way is prettier but had some ups and downs. SR 20 was easier.
5. Winthrop is a nice place for a day off. There is a releatively new bike camp there. The KOA was also nice. Right next to the river. There is a brew pub in town.
6. Loup Loup wasn't that hard of a climb. It's relatively easy early on. The latter part is the most difficult. The descent has sections of 8%. The stretch between Okanogan and Tonasket was very warm and dry both times, and there is no shade. Water up in Okanogan.
7. Waucunda isn;t that hard either. You will feel cheated on the descent as you don't get a very long stretch of steep downhill. Ther fairgrounds in town was a nice place to camp. Cheap with hot showers. I understand that a couple near town has established a sort of bike camp.
8. Sherman Pass starts out steep then relaxes (even goes down a bit) then turns up again. Both times I felt like I climbed forever. Maybe I was just tired from the previous two days. The first year I woke to snow flurries in Republic and rode through snow on the descent. Saw a moose. The second year was cold but dry. There is a cool old CCC camp historical site on the right during the descent that is worth stopping for. In Colville I stayed at Benny's Colville Inn both times. Nice place with a pool and hot tub.
9. Colville to Ione is a short day, which meant a long day to Sandpoint. Ione was not that nice a place. The first year we (I was with a group) camped in the city park and saw a few drug deals being made between people in cars. The second time I camped a few miles north at a dam site that had a free campground. I felt isolated and uneasy. If I were to do it all again, I would pass on Ione and press on to Usk, where I think there is a campground. If it's no longer there, I believe there might be a place on the SR 20 side of the river. You can cross the river via the bridge at Usk.
10. Unless things have changed, do not be tempted to take U.S. 2 from the Newtown area into Sandpoint. There was a lot of traffic, including trucks, and little or no shoulder in places. Stay on the official route. The old U.S. 95 bridge that is now a bikeway into Sandpoint is neat. There was no camping in Sandpoint. The second time I stayed at Springy Point along the shore of the lake. Nice place for a two-night stay but not near anything. It's a several mile ride into town proper.
If you are worried about doing the Washington Pass climb so early on, you might consider starting in Seattle like I did. After a short ferry ride you can follow ACA's Pacific Coast route north to join the NT route. That would allow you to stay at Fort Worden S.P., which is a nice place that happens to have served as the military base in the film "An Officer and a Gentleman."
Probably more than you wanted to know. Feel free to send me a PM with more questions. A few years ago I did the section between Glacier N.P. and Eureka, MT so that's fresher in my mind.