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Washington State RV trip help

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Washington State RV trip help

We will be traveling in WA. from May 28- June 11 th and would like your input on things to do. We enjoy all things nature. We plan on "boondocking" as much as possible, so if you have any great places to do this please let us know that as well.

So far we know we want to go see the main National parks, and the San Juan Islands. Do people take their RV's over on the ferries or is there a bridge connecting them to the mainland?

We have a 9 and a 7 year old and we want to make sure we do kid friendly activities.

Thanks for any information.

Spokane, Washington
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1. Re: Washington State RV trip help

Where all in Wa do you plan on traveling to just the west side or all over? We can get you more info once we know. There is lots to see on the west side and I'm sure the westsiders will help you out but let the rest of us know where you want to go.

Cheers

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2. Re: Washington State RV trip help

We want to go to Seattle (just one day) and then north. The National parks (Olympic, Mt. Rainer, North Cascades) , the San Juan islands and Stehekin.

Someone told me we should not pay to go up the Space Needle... What do you think? We want to go to the market and do mostly nature activities such as rafting, hikes, and kayaks. Is the water temp good for swimming at any beach? If so, which one is best. Also, we were not aware of grocery prices in Alaska. Are they reasonable in Washington?

Should we plan on staying at Stehekin or go back at night since we have the RV?

Thanks!

Longview, Washington
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for Mount Rainier National Park
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3. Re: Washington State RV trip help

Only the North Cascades Park is actually north of Seattle and in late May/early June it may still have snow and road closures. Check the park website for up-to-date information.

Mt. Rainier National Park is south of Seattle. The park will be open, but that early in the summer it's likely that there will be some snow remaining in the areas around Paradise and Sunrise. Some nice places to camp with your RV at Cougar Rock Campground on the west side of the park and Ohanepacosh on the east side. When you travel to south toward Mt. Rainier, be sure to plan a trip to Mt. St. Helens (our resident volcano). Drive all the way to Johnston Ridge (it's about 3 hrs RT from the I-5 exit at Castle Rock-Hwy 504).

Olympic National Park is West/northwest of Seattle. There is much to see and do there.

Yes, folks do take their RVs on the ferries to the San Juans (there is no bridge). However, unless you are planning to camp on Orcas, Lopez or San Juan Island for a couple of days, I would suggest that you walk on the ferry at Anacortes and just do a day trip to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Much faster getting on and off the ferry and you don't need to line-up early. Here's the website for the WA State Ferries. If you click on Buy Tickets, and Fares, it will give you all the prices. www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries

I don't know, I think it's kind of fun to go up on the Space Needle. Just go to the observation deck, don't try to do the restaurant. You get some great views of the city, the waterfront, Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mts, if the weather is clear. If it's a cloudy rainy day, don't bother.

Edited: 09 January 2010, 21:43
Longview, Washington
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for Mount Rainier National Park
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4. Re: Washington State RV trip help

Oops, I fogot to add my comments about Stehekin. I would take the Express boat up to Stehekin, then return on the Lady of the Lake. That gives you 2 or 3 hours to explore around the area, before heading back down Lake Chelan. Again, that early in the summer you may find snow--it's about 50 miles up the lake from Chelan. www.ladyofthelake.com

There is a nice park along the river, in the city of Chelan with camping and RV sites. It's been years since we stayed there, it had just opened and the trees were really small, but nice RV sites. Check with the City of Chelan visitor info.

Everett, Washington
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5. Re: Washington State RV trip help

I know you said your planning on boondocking but I would still recomend this book.

Camping Washington: The Best Public Campgrounds for Tents and RVs--Rated and Reviewed by Ron C. Judd. I have the old edition and love it

It has maps and mentionds most of the campgrounds including city and county.

I haven't been to the top of the Space Needle in years but it is a blast when it's windy.

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6. Re: Washington State RV trip help

Thanks for the info!

We did not find any problems with leftover snow that same time last year in Alaska and thought for sure it would not be a problem in Washington. I guess I was wrong... Could you boodndock in the San Juan Islands or do we have to find a park to stay in? We found the best overnight places by just boondocking! Amazing views that RV parks didn't have. Also, our RV is self-contained so we can have a few days between dumping/filling.

Is the trip to Stehekin worth it? I am sure it is beautiful, but is there a lot to see/do once you get there?

Which of the San Juans is the best to go with the children for sightseeing and possible kayak trip? How about white water trips? Any river better than others? With the kids we can only go as high as category lll rapids.

Can we see whales if we just rent our own kayaks or should we take a boat/kayak tour for this?

How are grocery prices?

Thanks again!

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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7. Re: Washington State RV trip help

Here's information on the San Juan Islands.

With the young kids, rather than sea kayaking, you could go to Lime Kiln Point State Park (absolutely beautiful), and watch for Harbor Seals, Dolphins and Orcas. They will like the Whale Museum and other sites mentioned in the following page.

San Juan Islands (Information on the several major islands, with key websites.)

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58727-c102104/San-Ju…

http://www.nps.gov/sajh/index.htm

Green Valley...
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for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
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8. Re: Washington State RV trip help

Which Island? I much prefer San Juan Island, others Orcas and then Lopez.

Here is a website that should be useful.

gonorthwest.com/Washington/…islands.htm

Caution: Tour companies typically do not guarantee that you will in fact see whales. If you don't, the companies usually provide a freebie for the next time you visit and use their services. Some companies only guarantee that you will see marine mammals of any kind, and that precludes their need to show an Orca and to provide a freebie next time.

Do bring good binoculars on your trip, especially useful here in the PNW.

Port Townsend...
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for Olympic National Park, Port Townsend
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9. Re: Washington State RV trip help

Your chances of boondocking unfettered and without being hassled are inversely related to the popularity of the area you're trying to boondock. Hence the name.

It's going to be very difficult in the San Juans, downright frowned upon by locals. What's not out-in-the-open public land is private and highly coveted.

In the rest of the state you can stay up to 8 hours in any highway rest area and there's plenty of out of the way USFS land where it works great. I suppose you know the drill.

I wish the idea worked better in practice than it does. I love camping in my van.

Good luck, have fun,

chuck

Everett, Washington
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10. Re: Washington State RV trip help

If you are pretty self sufficient and truly able to boondock it there are a number of small National Forest Service campgrounds in the Cascades. I think they are still like $5 a night and at most offer water and pit toilets but can be very nice in terms of less being crowded. Some minimum night restrictions on weekends and holidays.

Info at: www.fs.fed.us/r6/mbs/recreation/camping.shtml

A kid suggestion down near Mt. Rainier...check out NW Trek Wildlife park near Eatonville. http://www.nwtrek.org/

Also the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma (with historic Fort Nisqually). Many places have petting zoos...they have a petting aquarium!

http://www.pdza.org/page.php?id=82 The aquarium in downtown Seattle is good too.

Didn't see it mentioned but salt water swimming is a pretty chilly experience around Puget Sound. Best bet is if the weather is extra warm and sunny and tide is coming in over warmed up sand. It can be bathwater warm for awhile.

Grocery prices are relative to distance from production. Seafood is reasonable, potatoes are cheap, beef/pork a bit higher so than midwest. Milk is the exception and generally lower the farther from Madison, Wisconsin. But watch out for gas prices. Washington is a notorious high area. www.gasbuddy.com/gb_gastemperaturemap.aspx

Note: If you have internet access use this site at start of each travel day to pre-plan fills at the lowest towns or skip the high cost places.

Some of the lower elevation (snow free in May) hikes in Mt. Rainer NP are good. The Kautz Creek trail from Longmire is a great look at some ancient old growth forest...that time of year though you might only get as far as the creek which might be too high to cross. Another good lower hike is to 320' Comet Falls - one of the highest in the state.

http://www.attrition.ws/index~Hike_Review~Comet_Falls_Mt._Rainier_National_Park_Washington~page~hikeoverview~HikeInstanceID~121.cfm