Welcome back to the Ready to Wander Podcast! I am your host, Sydney Breann, and I am SO excited for today’s episode! It is the first episode of the “Wander with Me” series, where I chat about where I have been, tips for traveling there, and tell you all about my itineraries, must sees, and must-dos in the area. For our first Wander with Me episode, I am taking you along for my fiancé and my Washington Coast trip recap.
This was arguably one of our top 3 trips to date. We rented a van and had a ton of freedom living on the road for a week. We love to tent camp, but especially in rainy Washington, it was nice to have a dry bed inside of a car after hiking all day. For all the nitty gritty on our epic trip from Mount Rainier to Olympic National Park, read on!
At the end of April 2022, Ethan and I flew into Seattle, Washington. We actually chose this location kind of on a whim because we had some plane tickets to use up (due to you-know-what flight cancellations in 2020). I first want to say that we LOVED this trip and everything that we did, but we did feel like we missed out on a few of the adventures we would’ve liked to do. I don’t think I expected the higher elevations to still have lingering snow, but hey, that’s part of traveling! You need to go with the flow. Luckily, it just gives us an excuse to go back in the summer.
Even though we loved our Spring trip, I would recommend June-October. You may even want to wait until July if you are wanting to do the high alpine hiking (like we would have liked to do).
We actually rented a camper-van for the week through Escape Campervans. I had seen their posts on Instagram and I was kind of hesitant. Luckily, they have really great reviews, especially in the Seattle area. This was the most expensive part of the trip, and we paid around $1,100 for 7 days in the van. While we had the van, we camped the entire time and loved many of our campsites. We didn’t do any crazy boon-docking or free camping. I did my best to book our campsites beforehand, but it wasn’t tourist season so a lot of camping was first come, first served. We loved having our rental car and lodging in one. It was honestly really convenient and cozy, and I get the pull to convert a van to a camper-van.
After picking up our van in Seattle, we started our way toward the Olympic Peninsula. Our first night in the van was spent at a stunning campsite right on the ocean – Kalaloch Campground. The campground was between $15-$20 per night! AND it was near the very popular Ruby Beach. This campground was so stunning! Since it was right on the beach, we went for beach walks and climbed on massive driftwood logs, took photos, and found shells. But the best part? We literally could hear the waves as we drifted off to sleep.
The next day we ended up passing through Forks, WA (where Twilight was based). We decided to stay at Sol Duc Hot Spring Resort. The campsite was nestled in the trees and surrounded by moss; I loved it. But we do tend to move around a lot when we camp! So the next night we drove to Port Angeles, WA and stayed at the KOA there for 2 nights. Ethan and I love KOAs, even if they are a bit more spendy for campsites. They typically have reliable bathrooms and nice properties with pools or hot tubs.
After exploring Port Angeles and Hurricane Ridge for two days, we headed to our next campsite near Mount Rainier National Park. We stayed in Mineral, WA at the Elkamp Campground for 3 nights. This place was so cute, owned by the sweetest couple, and there was an amazing camp store with local makers art and products. We loved the quiet, family-atmosphere and how close we were to the park.
Overall our campsites were wins on this trip and I think we would stay everywhere again.
So as y’all know, Ethan and I like to travel cheap. We aren’t really foodies, which means we sacrifice eating out when we travel, especially when we camp. We stocked up at grocery stores and ended up making things like pasta, sandwiches, and hotdogs. But the one restaurant I did have to highlight was actually in Seattle. When we landed the night before picking up the camper-van, we decided to go out for seafood. Spoiler alert: seafood is our favorite, especially when on the coast. We ended up going to a restaurant called Wally’s Chowderhouse. It was SO good and we both got a variety of fresh seafood like scallops, halibut, cod, and shrimp.
We also stopped at a little cafe near Mt. Rainier called Copper Creek Inn. We had burgers and their famous blackberry pie.
Travel day to Seattle. We stayed in a hotel and ate Seafood at Wally’s.
We picked up the van at Escape Campervans and made our way toward the Olympic Peninsula. We stopped at a grocery store just to get something for the night, and then set up camp near Ruby Beach at Kalaloch Campground.
I had a sunrise session at Ruby Beach! Then, we went to the Hoh Rainforest to do a little hike on the Spruce Nature Trail. It was a short hike, but covered in moss and it was so stunning. Then we made our way to Forks, WA to stock up on groceries for the whole week. We then made our way to Sol Duc Hot Spring Resort. We hiked to Sol Duc Falls that night and then went to the hot springs.
We did a longer hike near Sol Duc Hot Springs called Mink Lake. It was around 7 miles, 1400 feet of elevation, and it rained the entire time. It was stunning and super fun hiking in the rain. We had a couple of river crossings and fun bridges too. We finished that hike in the afternoon and then made our way to the Port Angeles KOA. We checked in and then went down to the Port Angeles Pier.
We woke up early and drove up Hurricane Ridge. It was closed the day before, so we were lucky it was open that day. We had it all to ourselves and it was stunning with 360 degree mountain views. We headed to the visitor center after taking it all in, and then went fishing for the afternoon in Sequim, WA.
We went back up Hurricane Ridge since the weather was sunny, and then we had a driving day to Mount Rainier. We did made some stops to fish and see the Eastern side of Olympic National Park. Then, we drove to our campsite at Elkamp in Mineral, WA.
We woke up early to drive into Mt. Rainier National Park. There was rain forecasted (of course), so we knew if we wanted a chance to see Mt. Rainier, we would have to do it in the morning. We ended up seeing the mountain, but it disappeared quickly behind clouds. The park was pretty much empty since there was still a lot of snow, but we loved having it to ourselves. We put on our spikes and went for a quick hike. Afterwards, we stopped at Narada Falls and Longmire on our way back to camp. We also stopped at a little cafe called Copper Creek Inn and then continued to Mineral Lake to fish for the afternoon.
We went back into Mt. Rainier National Park and we quite literally spent the morning sitting around eating breakfast in the parking lot, just waiting to see if Mt. Rainier would come out. Around noon, the mountain came out, so we decided to gear up for a hike. The entire mountain cleared from the clouds and we had the perfect view of Mt. Rainier covered in snow and surrounded by perfectly clear blue skies. We finished our hike and cooked hotdogs in the parking lot. We seriously just spent hours admiring Mount Rainier and how lucky we were to see it when the forecast was all rain. We went back to camp and prepped for our departure.
Travel day home.
Hotels/Airbnb: One night $100
Total: Roughly $765 per person give or take (with other food and fun expenses).
Ethan: Hoh Rainforest and seeing all of the different sea and wildlife.
Syd: Seeing Mount Rainier and all of the moss everywhere.
We also both loved van life. Tent camping is fun, but in the rain it was nice to have a warm and dry place to sleep. It was also fun to have all of our stuff in one place- our car, lodging, luggage, and no tent to set up!
There we have it, folks! Thanks for coming along on this week’s episode of Ready to Wander: Wander with Me – Washington Coast Trip Recap. And hey, you know the rest! You can tune into the Ready to Wander Podcast every other Thursday. You can also find me on Instagram (@sydneybreannphoto). Are you ready to wander?