From Campervan North America’s pickup location in Seattle, you have the perfect opportunity for a seriously “surf and turf” vacation. Your road trip can take you from sea level to over 6,000 feet at the venerable Hurricane Ridge. It will take you from sunny Sequim to the Hoh rainforest and to some choice places in between.
Get ready for a drive to remember with amazing photo ops and places to explore all along the way.
Step on to the 418-foot battleship USS Turner Joy to see a historic U.S. naval destroyer that was in service for 23 years before retiring as a museum. The nearby Puget Sound Navy Museum is a free museum that reinforces the history with a collection of 18,000 naval objects with stories to tell.
Stroll a historic downtown with a homemade candy shop and other charmers in a downtown waterfront shopping district. Heads up: an independent garden center in Port Orchard called The Brothers Greenhouses has developed something of a reputation for its hobbit house that fits right in with the Olympic Peninsula woods.
Ready to bed down for the night? Year-round state parks like Manchester and Illahee State Park offer camping on a reservation basis through the summer that opens up to first-come-first-serve for September through May. Manchester has two miles of hiking trails and 3,400 feet of saltwater shoreline on Puget Sound if you want to kayak, swim, dive, or just take some time out at the beach. Illahee has a half-mile trail as well as about 1,800 feet of saltwater shoreline. Note: Illahee is expected to be closed until late 2019.
Want an epic view of Seattle and the Puget Sound over Bremerton and Port Orchard? Green Mountain will get you just that with a locals’ favorite 5-mile hike that introduces you to the Kitsap Peninsula from a bird’s eye view. Requires a Washington State Parks Discover Pass.
Few national parks are as diverse as Olympic National Park. While road-tripping the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll find the park has several in-roads to experience vastly different places. The campground at Staircase is a great place to park the campervan and explore for a while with miles of trails to mountain lakes and rivers. It also offers a great place to park it for the night at the campground.
Five miles of hiking trails to forest waterfalls through old-growth forest are just part of the appeal. Mountains, rivers, beaches, and deltas are the scenic draw, but an elk herd shares the area with campers and the park is widely known as a clamming haven if you hit it at low tide. The Dosewallips area of Olympic National Park will take you deeper into the peninsula, but the road is currently washed out beyond the campground with no definite reopening.
You may be tired from all the adventures you’ve already had to this point, so it may be good to take some time to recuperate in town. Port Townsend is a charming town with many Victorian houses on the Sound with the historical Fort Worden State Park and tunnels, bunkers, and lighthouse nabbing many vistors’ attention. Sequim is a Northwest anomaly known for its position in the rain shadow of Olympic National Park. While nearby Hoh Rainforest gets 170 inches of rain per year, Sequim gets a mere 23. Make sure to check out Sequim’s renowned lavender farms while in the area.
Hit an aquarium on the sea, stroll a charming downtown, or catch lunch at one of many local eateries. Or you can even walk out on Ediz Hook, a narrow spit of land that doubles as a bird refuge because of the sheltered waters behind it.
Port Angeles acts as the primary gateway to Olympic National Park. Rising quickly from town, you’ll soon find yourself well over a mile above sea level with expansive views of the mountains and the sea. Hurricane Ridge serves as the jumping-off point for many hikes and trails, if you’re up for it. National Parks Pass required.
Kick back in natural hot springs pool in a gorgeously forested setting with access to trails if you’re still feeling like walking. Please note the springs are open only between late March and late October. You can also find a unique tri-pronged waterfall and a platform built for people to watch migrating salmon.
Near the funky town of Forks, made famous by the Twilight series, La Push hosts some of the most stunning beaches in the northwest. Rialto Beach fields impressive driftwood pounded onto the beach by equally impressive surf, and seastacks grace the area’s scenery. A sea arch is sited just up the coast, and tide pools always have something new to show you. Mora Campground has 94 sites if you’re ready to bed down for the night in your campervan rental.
If forest is your jam, then prepare for an overdose. Hoh Rainforest is a stunning example of old-growth temperate rainforest. With 170 inches of rain per year – that’s 14 feet if you’re counting raindrops – the Hoh Rainforest is about as lush a forest as you’ll find.
Moss clings tidily to every surface, large trees spread their branches into a thick canopy, and 50 shades of green beset you from every angle. And the air? Sometimes it’s so thick and fresh it feels like the air should be breathing you.
The popular forest has many short nature trails, but also has a 17.3 mile trail to Glacier Meadows on the shoulder of Mt. Olympus. Take as much time as weather permits at Hoh, because it’s rare to find such a beautiful forest.
Two campgrounds are waiting for you to park your campervan, but before you do, you’re likely going to want to explore more rainforest. Quinalt Valley offers access to many waterfalls, a gorgeous scenic loop drive and trails through temperate rainforest to backcountry gems like lakes, a historic “Enchanted Chalet” and forest pools in the ice-capped mountains.
If you have time, Capitol State Forest offers 150 miles of trails through a 110,000-acre forest. You can do anything from horseback riding to Mima Falls for an adventure horseback riding to the flowing Mima Falls to mountain biking on the renowned Rock Candy trail. If nothing else, you may want to stretch your legs and try to see some spawning salmon swimming upstream.
Imagine the satisfaction of having such an amazing, outdoorsy experience behind you with only a few miles left to cover. We see a lot of self-content smiles as people roll back in. The incredible outdoor opportunities available on the Olympic Peninsula are so much more accessible in a campervan.