Hoh Valley

Trip Planning

Big City Escapes: Seattle

If you are a Seattle resident or even a visitor in the area, consider these destinations to escape the city. Jeff Crider shares where to go, what to see, and where to stay.

RV enthusiasts who live and work in Seattle can have a midweek or weekend escape at scenic destinations most Americans can only dream about. Many Seattle residents love to venture northward to the forested San Juan Islands, which offer excellent opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking and whale watching. North Cascades National Park, with its majestic, snow-covered peaks, dense forests and hiking trails, is just three hours away to the northeast. Then, across Puget Sound to the west, is the famed Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park, the wettest place in the continental United States, where one can wander dense, moss-covered forests and glacier-covered mountains. Towering above all of this, of course, is 14,110-foot Mount Rainier, a captivatingly beautiful, snow-covered volcano that can be seen poking through the clouds from virtually anywhere in the greater Seattle region.

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service photos)

To jumpstart your getaway planning, here’s a few recommendations on destinations that are just a few hours away from the metropolis that’s so green it’s often called The Emerald City:

San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands encompass 172 named islands and offer plenty of places to escape into nature. Three of the islands, San Juan Island, Orcas Island and Lopez Island, are the most populous and, in addition to being accessible by ferry from Anacortes, offer the most tourist activities, dining options and campgrounds. Shaw Island is also accessible by ferry but has limited camping and visitor amenities.

One of the most popular destinations is 57-square-mile Orcas Island, which some people call “the gem of the San Juans,” a hilly island that also offers dense forests and pristine lakes. Activities include hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding and sightseeing. Orcas Island’s Moran State Park features 38 miles of hiking trails and five lakes, where you can swim, kayak, stand up paddle or fish for rainbow trout.
The island also has a vibrant arts scene, with both visual and performing arts.

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service photos)

Lopez Island has a mix of forests and rolling farmlands, quiet bays and driftwood-strewn beaches with distant views of mountain ranges and snow-tipped Mount Baker. Lopez Village offers quaint cafes, farm-to-table restaurants, a bookstore, galleries, a historical museum, a library, and unique shops.

San Juan Island, the largest of the islands, has its own unique attractions, too, including an alpaca farm and a lavender farm, which complement the island’s other activities, which range from sightseeing on the San Juan Island Scenic Byway to whale watching and wildlife tours. Several campgrounds in and near the San Juan Islands can serve as base camps for island adventures, including:

Lakedale in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island

La Conner Marina RV Park in La Conner

Thousand Trails La Conner in La Conner:

West Beach Resort on Orcas Island

North Cascades National Park

Just over three hours northeast of Seattle, depending on traffic, is North Cascades National Park, an incredibly beautiful section of jagged peaks with over 300 glaciers, more than any other park outside of Alaska, according to the National Park Foundation. North Cascades National Park is situated between Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan, one of the deepest lakes in the country. Activities in these areas include hiking, boating, fishing and simply enjoying peace and solitude in nature. Nearby campgrounds include:

Thousand Trails Grandy Creek in Concrete

Olympic National Park

The Olympic Peninsula has a stunning concentration of some of the most beautiful coastline in the country, glacier-covered peaks, beautiful lakes and dense, old-growth rainforests. The peninsula is home Olympic National Park, which features everything from the fern- and moss-covered Hoh Valley to 7,980-foot Mount Olympus. This is the wettest part of the country, with the Hoh Valley receiving over 140 inches of rain in a typical year while the highest peaks in the area receive close to 200 inches, according to U.S. Forest Service.

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service photos)

Just outside Olympic National Park is Lake Crescent, a beautiful destination its own right with is surrounded by dense forests and mountains. Campgrounds are available inside Olympic National Park. Campgrounds outside the park that could be used as base camps for Olympic Peninsula day trips include:

Elhwa RV Park & Campground in Port Angeles

Olympic Peninsula / Port Angeles KOA Journey in Port Angeles

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service photos)

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park is home to 14,110-foot Mount Rainier, the most glaciated peak in the Lower 48, spawning five major rivers. The lower elevations of the park are filled with dense pine forests. During the warmer months visitors can enjoy meadows filled with wildflowers as well as hiking trails that lead up into the high country. Several campgrounds are located inside the park. Outside the park additional campgrounds could be used as base camps for day trips into the park, including:

Packwood RV Park & Campground in Randle

Rainier View RV Park in Graham

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service photos)

Jeff Crider


Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.