6 Best Places to Visit in Washington State on a Road Trip

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I didn’t have any kind of expectations or hope for our Washington State road trip, which was a good thing, because it ended up being one of my favorite states on our US RV trip.

North Cascades National Park, WA
North Cascades National Park

Actually, I even liked most of the places to visit in Washington State more than Oregon, which I thought would be the flip side.

We spent about a month in Washington State exploring its diverse landscapes from the temperate rainforests and rugged coastline, to quaint Bavarian Villages, vibrant cities, and striking glacier peaked mountains.

Even though Washington is known as the Evergreen State, the fall season does bring striking foliage set against deep green evergreen trees, and while is lessor known than East Coast United States for fall colors, it’s just as beautiful.

Get around Washington State in an RV Rental

RV camping in Olympic National Park

This post on best places to visit in Washington State on a road trip is in partnership with RVshare.

Washington State is the perfect place to visit in your own mobile home, especially given the current unsettling times.

But to save yourself the hassle of buying, owning, and maintaining your own RV, you can just rent one instead!

Renting an RV gives you the best of both of worlds; the ability to see the country while being able to travel safely with the comforts of home while getting up close and personal with the beautiful world around you. (More details about RVshare at the bottom of this post.)

Washington State is a fantastic road trip destination. Let us know in the comments any other places to go in Washington for our next trip. We did not explore Eastern Washington so any tips for that are welcome.

1. Olympic National Park

Klahhane Ridge Trail - Hurricane Ridge Things to Do in Olympic National Park
Klahhane Ridge Trail – Hurricane Ridge
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  • LOCATED: 82 miles from Seattle to Port Angeles (main entry point includes ferry crossing)
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: At least 3 days (optimal 3 days in each section of the park)
  • RV RENTALS: Check rental availability for Seattle or the Olympic Peninsula

For its diversity, it’s hard to beat Olympic National Park, located in north western Washington. It’s one of the best things to do in Washington State.

Within its one million acres of protected land, you’ll be surrounded by the call of the rushing rivers, shimmering lakes, cascading waterfalls, rolling surf and old-growth forests.

Choose your own adventure from its pristine region of ancient cedar spruce trees, glacial lakes, sub-alpine meadows, mountain ranges, verdant rainforests, and remote and rugged coastlines.

Hoh Rainforest
Hoh Rainforest in Olympic NP

I love how one day you can be playing with the driftwood on the beach and the next hiking high up in the alpine forests.

During fall, the rainforest becomes more magical with waterfalls teaming from the rain, elks in full mating season with moss-covered antlers and bugling calls, and gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows popping out vibrantly against green moss and pop up mushrooms.

Less crowds also makes it better for wildlife viewing.

RV Camping at the Olympic National Park

Lake Quinault camping Washington State
Our campsite at Lake Quinalt

There are various campsites throughout Olympic National Park.

Most campgrounds have RV spaces limited to 21 feet long or shorter with some allowing lengths up to 35 feet.

Where we camped:

  • Hard Rain Cafe, Hoh Rainforest: This small café is just outside the entrance to Hoh Rainforest and has a small RV park attached. Water and electric included. They also have cheap burgers and breakfast options.
  • Rainforest Resort Village, Lake Quinault: A pretty campsite on the shores of Lake Quinault, close to trails and Lake Quinault lodge. Easy walk to Salmon House Restaurant.
  • Heart O’ the Hills Campground: This was a beautiful campground surrounded by old growth forest in the northern section of the park as you enter the Hurricane Ridge area. It was only 10 minutes from downtown Port Angeles.

Read More

16 incredible things to do in Olympic National Park

Watch our Olympic National Park Video:

2. Mt Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier national park, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
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  • LOCATED: 47 miles from Seattle
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 2 days
  • RV RENTALS: Check rental availability for Seattle

Unfortunately, we did not get to visit Mt Rainier on our Washington road trip as the weather turned and snow was predicted.

But it’s no secret that it’s one of the top places to visit in Washington State.

Mt Rainier is one of five active volcanoes located in the Cascade Range, east of Seattle, Washington. The other four are Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens.

Standing more than 4,300 meters above southern Washington, Mt Rainier is strikingly beautiful – we could see its awesomeness from Seattle.

There are many hikes in the area and different regions to explore and see Mt Rainier from different angles.

Mat Rainier National Park, WA

The best areas on the mountain for brilliant fall colors include Paradise, Reflection Lakes, Bench and Snow Lakes, and the Grove of the Patriarchs.

Driving along Chinook Pass on State Route 410 or the White Pass Scenic Byway on U.S. Highway 12 will also provide astonishing vistas.

Mount Rainier Naches Peak Loop Trail is one of the most popular hikes, which starts along the Pacific Coast Trail and passes pass through subalpine meadows, and abundant vegetation and fall colors.

To get the best views of Mount Rainier, hike the loop in a clockwise direction.

Mt Rainier is an easy day trip from Seattle.

RV Camping in Mt Rainier National Park

Mt Rainier National Park has three RV camping sites to consider with a max length of 27ft – 35ft.

The National Forests and private campgrounds (open year-round) around Mount Rainier National Park provide a variety of camping and recreation opportunities.

Campgrounds are located along highways 12 and 410 in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, Gifford Pinchot, and Wenatchee National Forests.

Privately owned public campgrounds are open year-round and can be found in and around Packwood, Randle, Mineral Lake, Morton, Ashford and at Crystal Mountain.

3. LA Conner and Deception Pass State Park

LA Conner, Washington State
LA Conner, WA
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  • LOCATED: 47 miles from Seattle
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 3 days
  • RV RENTALS: Check rental availability for Seattle

Tucked between the Cascade mountain range to the east and the San Juan Islands to the west, historical La Conner is a favorite weekend getaway for Seattle residents.

Artists were drawn to La Conner in the 1940s, and a rich tradition of visual arts has remained a part of the community’s fabric. Galleries and museums are in abundance.

As are boats, boutique stores and restaurants along the boardwalk that lines the Swinomish Channel.

Deception Pass is Washington’s most-visited state park and offers mysterious coves, rugged cliffs, and beautiful sunsets. It’s located on two islands — Fidalgo to the north and Whidbey to the south.

Whidbey Island Scenic Byway meanders from the town of Clinton over Deception Pass, which is beautiful for fall foliage.

Deception Pass Bridge, Washington State
Deception Pass Bridge

The famous Deception Pass Bridge has gorgeous views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic mountains, and the San Juan Islands.

We explored it on a day trip from our campsite at La Conner.

La Conner is also close to the San Juan Islands, which is another of the best places to see in Washington State and home to breathtaking beaches, lush forests, and plenty of wildlife.

The Anacortes ferry terminal is 30 minutes away where you can catch a ferry to popular Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. 

RV Camping: La Conner Region

The La Conner RV Campsite has a beautiful location on Skagit Bay, with views out to nearby islands and gorgeous sunsets! It’s about a 10 minute drive to La Conner and 20 minutes to Deception Pass Bridge.

4. North Cascades National Park

The Blue Lake Trail North Cascades National Park, Washington State
The Blue Lake Trail, North Cascades National Park
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  • LOCATED: 47 miles from Seattle
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 3 days
  • RV RENTALS: Check rental availability for Seattle

With dramatic alpine views to rival Glacier National Park, North Cascades National Park is one of the coolest places to visit in Washington State and offers a more secluded experience.

It’s tucked away in the northern part of Washington State near the Canadian border. But with only a two hour drive from Seattle, it’s well worth including in your Washington State road trip itinerary!

Our most epic adventure of our RV trip was in this US national park. Somehow a 7-mile relatively easy return hike turned into a 15-mile return with an elevation gain of 4,000 feet.

We did this with the kids who somehow managed to run up the tremendously steep rocky incline to touch a glacier, while I struggled to lift one foot after another.

Cascade Pass Trail, North Cascades National Park
Hiking in North Cascades National Park

It was an adventure we’ll never forget.

Not to mention, the views were extraordinary, and we saw three black bears!

You’ll find adventurous hikes and spectacular views aplenty in North Cascades National Park.

With only one major road running through it, it’s easy to explore in just a couple of days and the campsites are gorgeous!

North Cascades National Park Highlights

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  • North Cascades Scenic Drive
  • Ross Lake Overlook
  • Diablo Lake Overlook
  • Gorge Lake Overlook and Gorge Falls
  • Blue Lake Trail
  • Cascade Pass Trail to Sahale Glacier

RV Camping North Cascades National Park:

t Newhalem Creek campground
Beautiful wooded campsite with hammock time

There is a full range of North Cascades National Park camping experiences on offer including those accessible from a car or RV to those requiring a strenuous trek into the wilderness.

We camped at Newhalem Creek campground, which was a gorgeous campsite in forests of cedar, hemlock, and Douglas fir and set alongside the glacial melt Skagit River.

It’s midway in the park so close to all amenities and trails.

Read More

12 coolest things to do in North Cascades National Park

5. Leavenworth

Leavenworth, WA
Downtown Leavenworth
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  • LOCATED: 47 miles from Seattle
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 3 days
  • RV RENTALS: Check rental availability for Seattle

Leavenworth is a tastefully done tourist town with a lot of soul and plenty of reasons to enjoy a little taste of Bavaria. And of course, a few pretzels, bratwurst, and steins – you are welcome to wear lederhosen while doing so!

Leavenworth was once a thriving logging village. When that took a turn for the worst, instead of letting it die, the community decided to use its beautiful setting and turn it into mini-Bavaria.

It’s now one of the most popular places to see in Washington.

In the town, you’ll find Bavarian style architecture that houses restaurants, bars, breweries, ciderie’s, and local retail stores. Basically, enjoy shopping eating and drinking in Leavenworth!

Leavenworth, WA
Fun things to do in Leavenworth

It’s location at the base of the Cascade Mountains and on the Wenatchee River means it’s also a hotspot for outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, whitewater rafting or gentle tube floating, which we really enjoyed.

The charming Leavenworth is a great starting point for autumn vistas since it is nestled in the Cascade Mountains and part of the scenic and popular Cascades Loop Drive.

RV Camping Leavenworth:

We stayed at the Leavenworth RV Campground about 30 minutes out of town. It was a great park in a serene location situated amid 300 acres of forests and meadows.

But a little challenging if you want to sample all those beers and ciders in Leavenworth! I recommend staying closer to town.

6. Seattle

Things to do in Seattle with kids
Exploring Seattle
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  • LOCATED: 47 miles from Seattle
  • TIME RECOMMENDED: 3 days
  • RV RENTALS: Check rental availability for Seattle

Seattle is one of our favorite cities in the USA.

So while your RV road trip may be focused mostly on nature experiences outside of the city limits, we highly recommend you spend some time in Seattle.

With its rich art and pop culture history and entrepreneurial spirit, Seattle is full of unique stories, vibrancy, attractions, and natural beauty.

It is sandwiched between the Puget Sound; the Olympic Mountains and the Cascades Mountain so is surrounded by natural beauty and provides easy access to so many incredible regions near to Seattle. And on a clear day, Mt Rainier.

Best things to do in Seattle, WA
Best things to do in Seattle

It’s likely you’ll pass through it to reach some of the other Washington places to visit mentioned in this post. So if you are renting an RV this is the perfect place to come in and out of on multiple Washington State road trips.

A fun way to get to Seattle is via the ferry at Bainbridge on the Olympic Peninsula. (you can take your cars and RV’s) The views are spectacular!

Autumn Colors in Seattle

Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park. With tidal beaches, meadows, sea cliffs, a forest, streams, and active sand dunes, autumn is brilliant in Discovery Park, Seattle’s largest city park. 534 acres.

The Washington Park Arboretum is said to have more deciduous tree species than any other setting in the northwest, so is a treat for fall foliage in Seattle.

Autumn colors in Seattle
Autumn colors in Seattle

Woodland Garden has the best section for autumn colors with its large portion of Japanese maples.

The best time to see fall colors is mid-to late October.

Check our in-depth post below for loads of insights and Seattle tips. Here are a few of our favorite do not miss Seattle experiences:

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  • Pike Place Market (behind the scenes tour)
  • Space Needle
  • Seattle Center
  • Whale Watching
  • Tour the Seattle Underground
  • Alki Beach

RV Camping Seattle

We did not camp in our RV during our visit to Seattle. These campgrounds come recommended.

Vasa Park Resort is 16-minutes east of Seattle located on beautiful Lake Sammamish.

Manchester State Park is 10 miles west of Seattle on Puget Sound with gorgeous ocean views. It would require a ferry ride in and out of Seattle, which would be pretty cool.

13 miles north of the city is Lake Pleasant RV Park situated on a scenic forested lake.

Read More

Guide on Things to do in Seattle

About RV Share

RVshare is the first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace.

They can accommodate any kind of outdoor adventure – whether a weekend camping trip or longer tour of multiple states – with their range of RV rentals from affordable travel trailers to luxury motorhomes.

Here are a few other benefits of renting though RV Share:

  • Worry free rental guarantee that offers payment and fraud protection
  • Largest RV Rental Marketplace: 60,000 five star reviews from happy customers
  • Safest and Most Trusted: 24/7 Emergency roadside assistance on every booking
  • Pet-friendly options
  • Delivery and stationary options
  • One-way rentals available
  • Comprehensive Nationwide Protection: RVshare Rental Insurance covers both domestic and international renters and provides collision and comprehensive coverage

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