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Our National Parks belong to each of us, and they are natural places to learn, exercise, volunteer, spend time with family and friends, and enjoy the magnificent beauty of our great land.”

-George W. Bush

Announcement of National Park Week (April 16, 2008)

From the mountains to the beaches and everywhere in between, Washington’s three national parks feature an array of ecosystems, wildlife, and outdoor activities that everyone can appreciate and enjoy. With summer already in full swing, RVers are busy finalizing last-minute camping trips, and many will be flocking to the Pacific Northwest. 

Who could blame them when you have breathtaking scenery, perfect cool weather, and plenty of outdoor activities just waiting right outside your RV door. Check out all the fun you and your traveling crew could be experiencing in Washington’s National Parks.

Rainforests and Beaches in Olympic National Park

Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park

Ever camped in a rainforest? The Hoh (pronounced “Hoe”) Rain Forest is left of an ecosystem that once stretched across the Pacific coast from southeastern Alaska to the central coast of California. According to the National Park Service, what remains is “one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States,”

Located in the Olympic National Forest, the Hoh Rain Forest receives about 140 inches of rain annually, and temperatures max out in the 70s during the summer. Flora and fauna unique to the area abound in this majestic environment. Visitors are encouraged to bring their binoculars and camera in hopes of capturing some of the wildlife. 

Roosevelt Elk, Black Bears, and River Otter are commonly seen on day hikes. Bobcat and Mountain Lions are stealthy night creatures. Be sure not to step on the more delicate critters like banana slugs, snails, snakes, and salamanders. Overhead you may glimpse American Robins, Barred Owls, Northern Spotted Owls, and Canada Grey Jays. Towering over the ferns and moss are the massive Sitka Spruce, Red Cedar, Big Leaf Maple, and Douglas Fir trees.

RVers can take in all the rainforest atmosphere and wildlife viewing they can handle. The Hoh Rain Forest has a campground open year-round. Campers can hike one of three trails, two short loops, and one epic out and back trail. And if the lush oasis gets to be too overwhelming, RVers can drive less than an hour west and visit Rialto Beach. Take in the fresh salty sea air, views of magnificent sea stacks, including the “Hole-in-the-Wall,” and the best tide pooling in the state.

An Active Volcano, Rivers, and Meadows in Mount Rainier National Park

Biking in Mount Rainier National Park

Ascending over 14,000 feet above sea level, the active volcano Mount Rainier is the iciest peak in the contiguous United States. With its five major rivers, ancient forests, and subalpine wildflower meadows, this 368 square mile expanse makes up Mount Rainier National Park, one of the country’s most famous and oldest national parks.

Summertime is prime time for RVers as the park’s three RV campgrounds are open from late May to September. Besides visiting the visitor centers, a museum, wilderness and climbing centers, and ranger stations, campers can engage in serious hiking and bicycling. The park has over 260 miles of maintained trails and 147 miles of roads. If you are even more daring, mountain climbing is a popular pastime for many visitors. The park also offers options to enjoy fishing and boating on specific rivers and lakes per regulations.

While rain is always a possibility, the summer is generally cool, with highs in the 60s and 70s. When it comes to day trips like hiking or mountain climbing, the park advises keeping abreast of weather and other special reports (i.e., avalanche warnings). Mountain weather is constantly shifting.

Peaks, Valleys, Waterfalls, and Glaciers in North Cascades National Park

Rafting in North Cascades National Park

The rugged beauty of North Cascades National Park stands sentinel a mere three hours east of Seattle. Among other features, the park is known for its jagged peaks, deep forested valleys, cascading waterfalls, and over 300 glaciers. In fact, save Alaska, the Cascades have more glaciers than any other U.S. park.

The park is also known for its cluster of diverse ecosystems with two extremes on either end–temperate rainforests to the west and dry ponderosa pines to the east. With the varying biological communities come equally varied plant and animal populations. As of late, park officials have identified over 1,600 species within its borders. 

As one would expect, RVers flock to the Cascades during the summer months. There are several campgrounds to choose from in and around the national park. Visitors to the park can have fun on their own agenda or participate in a scheduled ranger-led program or naturalist tour. 

There is a slew of activities to busy oneself with throughout an overnight or extended stay, by land or sea. From hiking, biking, and equestrian trails to rafting on the rivers, routes fit any skill set–beginner to advanced adventurist.

Washington’s Pristine Natural National Wonders

Every national park has its own unique qualities and attributes. Washington national parks seem to offer visitors an all-in-one experience package. There are not many places with such a high density of diverse ecosystems in one area, but Washington is vastly different from east to west and north to south. These different regions come together and create fascinating wonders that we, as RVers, are lucky enough to take in for as long as our camping ventures last.

Speaking of Wonder…

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RVing has something for everyone! Coach-Net is here to improve your RV experience one adventure at a time.”

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About The Author: Natalie Henley

Natalie Henley and her husband, Levi, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years.  They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time.  They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats.  They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com.

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