Renting an RV in Washington

Very little about Washington is small. With its massive, ancient forests; towering mountains and volcanoes; and endless miles of coastline, Washington is a bona fide playground for outdoor enthusiasts. There aren’t enough days in an entire lifetime to explore it all, whether you’re a fan of rugged hikes with breathtaking mountain views, fishing for salmon and trout in clear mountain streams, or chasing thrills high above the earth with a hang glider or parachute strapped to your back. There’s something new to discover and another item to check off your bucket list everywhere you turn in Washington State.

Why Renting an RV in Washington Is the Way to Go

Road trips by RV are a great way to explore the natural splendor of America, and Washington is no exception. Having your very own campsite on wheels means you’ve always got a place to stay as you chart your own custom-made vacation through the Evergreen State. However, Washington is a particularly great destination for an RV trip for one additional reason: the sheer size of the destinations on our list of must-see places.

10 Spellbinding Places to See in Washington in Your Rental RV

Imposing mountains. Rushing rivers. Vibrant forests. Coastlines teeming with life. You’ll find all of this in Washington State—and, what’s more, all of that diversity can be found in Olympic National Park. Nowhere else in the United States can you find one state that offers so many diverse experiences: from futuristic towers with views of the city and the untamed wild all at once, to world-class skiing and fishing that will keep your cooler stocked for days. Whatever your pleasure, find it in Washington.

Pick any one park out of a hat—Gifford Pinchot National Forest or Olympic National Park—and you’ll uncover a huge swath of land filled with incredible sights to see. What better way to make the most of a trip to any of Washington’s great natural destinations than with an RV rental?

Space Needle

Few buildings define their city’s skyline quite like the Space Needle does for Seattle. Originally built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, it stood as a symbol of man’s dream of exploring space. Today, it offers incredible views of Seattle and the surrounding area. Fresh off a massive renovation in 2018, the Space Needle now features two floors of floor-to-ceiling windows with the floors at the base of the disc-shaped top of the building literally made of glass!

Highlights of the views atop the Space Needle include Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains, and the Cascades. What better way to begin your RV trip through Washington’s natural wonders than by starting in Seattle with a trip to the Space Needle? Catch a glimpse of your destinations, then hit the road in your RV rental to escape the bustle of the city and begin your incredible adventure through Washington.

Learn more about Space Needle.

Hoh Rain Forest

A rainforest isn’t exactly the first environment you might imagine when picturing the natural splendor of Washington state, but Hoh Rain Forest will make a true believer out of you. Located in the western portion of Olympic National Park, Hoh Rain Forest is a verdant forest with mosses and ferns covering the floor and massive pines and deciduous trees. While the time to visit is in the warmer months when the trails are inviting and the visitor center is open, it’s the winter that is responsible for this lush forest; heavy seasonal rainfalls keep the forest teeming with life and growth.

Hoh Rain Forest is located about an hour outside Forks, Washington. The on-site campground offers 72 primitive sites. As part of Olympic National Park, there are many other nearby camping options, including Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and Log Cabin Resort (if you’re looking for a place with electrical and water hookups). Wherever you wind up camping, Hoh Rain Forest is a destination all its own or a great trip for anybody visiting Olympic State Park.

Learn more about Hoh Rain Forest

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier towers over Washington as a true natural landmark with its snowy peak and slopes, which stand in stark contrast to the active volcanic activity happening just below the surface. At Mount Rainier National Park, visitors can explore the mountain and the diverse landscapes it has created—from the glaciers high up, to the old-growth forests lining its slopes, to the warmer meadows full of wildflowers at Rainier’s base. Hundreds of miles of trails make Mount Rainier National Park a hiker’s dream, whether you’re interested in a day pass to explore the beautiful wooded areas of the park or are looking for winter adventures in the snow.

While none of the campgrounds at Mount Rainier have electrical hookups, three of the four are RV-friendly. Cougar Rock has 173 sites that can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet, Ohanapecosh has 188 sites for RVs up to 32 feet, and the smaller White River offers 112 sites that can fit RVs 27 feet and under. All of the sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but you can also reserve a spot at either Cougar Rock or Ohanapecosh in advance.

Learn more about Mount Rainier National Park.

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park outside of Tacoma, Washington gives viewers an up-close and personal look at the diverse animal life native to the Pacific Northwest. Visitors can experience the park on a Wild Drive, which takes you through free-roam areas where you can spot buffalo herds, goats, moose, and more. The Wild Walk experience is a guided walking tour that will take you through habitats containing bears and wildcats, to name just a few of the animals that call the park home. There’s also a ziplining experience, a nature-themed playground that will make any adult jealous of the kids, and private tours with ecologists and zoologists.

The park is centrally located, only an hour drive from Tacoma or Mount Rainier—making this destination a perfect day’s stop along your RV tour of Washington. If you’re looking to stay near the park, Rainbow RV Resort offers full RV hookups and is located on Lake Tanwax. The fishing is good, and there’s a marina on-site to complete your experience of the Washington wilderness. Proximity to Tacoma and Mount Rainier also mean there are plenty of camping options both inside national parks and at private RV parks and resorts.

Learn more about Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.

Lake Chelan

Washington’s Lake Chelan is a premier tourist destination—offering more than 50 miles of aquatic fun plus resort towns perfect for a family vacation. There are two state parks in the area with RV-friendly campsites, and Lakeshore RV Park offers full hookups and close access to a marina where you can launch your lake adventures. The beautiful waters of Lake Chelan are perfect for boating, swimming, snorkeling, diving, and watersports. There’s also no shortage of marinas and vendors in the area to set you up with the rental equipment you’ll need to make this trip your own.

On the land, the Lake Chelan area is full of attractions, shopping, and dining experiences. Tour a local winery or cidery, hit the links at an area golf course, hike in one of the many parks in the area, or unwind at a spa. The most adventurous of visitors can even leave the ground behind with some zip lining or skydiving: the ultimate bucket list experience. With hang gliding and paragliding, helicopter tours, and whitewater rafting, there’s a little something for everybody to enjoy at Lake Chelan.

Learn more about Lake Chelan

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Covering the southwest corner of Washington, Gifford Pinchot National Forest encompasses nearly 1.4 million acres of forests and so much more. There are three distinct areas within the forest—each of which offer something a little different: from Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument’s titular volcano, to the towering mountains of Mount Adams Ranger District, to the waterfalls and rushing rapids of the Cowlitz Valley. Nature lovers will find something to pique their interest in Gifford Pinchot including excellent trout fishing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, boating, and more. 

Gifford Pinchot National Forest is home to dozens of RV-friendly campgrounds spread across the Cowlitz Valley and Mount Adams areas. While many of these campgrounds can fit most any rented RV you might take for your trip, many of them are without any hookups. That said, the sprawling forest is centrally located between the towns of Trout Lake, Randle, and Cougar—each of which offering great RV parks and campgrounds where you can plug in and get the full electric camping experience.

Learn more about Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Snoqualmie Falls

The vast fertile plains surrounding Snoqualmie Falls (one of Washington’s top natural destinations) have attracted mankind for countless centuries. Native peoples enjoyed the wildlife and plant life that arose in the areas —cleared out by ancient glaciers—and gave the falls their name: Snoqualmie (an anglicized version of a native word for the moon). Today, visitors to Snoqualmie Falls come to catch a glimpse of the powerful falls themselves, which stand 268 feet tall and can range from 50 to 150 feet wide, depending on the season and recent rainfall. A trip to Snoqualmie starts from the observation platform and takes visitors down a trail that’s great for both hiking and mountain biking while providing a closer look at the falls from above.

With a surrounding park of just two acres, Snoqualmie Falls is a perfect stop on the way to your next Washington outdoor adventure. Nearby Snoqualmie Casino offers world-class dining and some great gambling. In the greater Snoqualmie area, there are plenty of RV parks and campgrounds where you can set up base for the evening or stay for an extended visit.

Learn more about Snoqualmie Falls.

North Cascades National Park

The Cascade Mountains have earned their name in more ways than one. From the sky, they make up a landscape of glacier-capped stone cascading and crashing into the earth. By foot, they’re defined by the winding rivers, whitewater rapids, and breathtaking waterfalls that mean the sound of cascading water is never far away for a visitor to North Cascades National Park. The backcountry trails covering the park reward hikers with incredible views of the mountains and those stone giants themselves provide ample opportunity for world-class rock-climbing adventures. Boating and fishing are also popular pastimes at the rivers and the many lakes in the North Cascades region including on Lake Chelan, as mentioned earlier.

Backcountry camping is a big draw to North Cascades National Park, where even the RV crowd can break free of the comfort of a camper for a night under the stars. If you prefer to make full use of your RV rental while in North Cascades, there are five campgrounds accessible by vehicle. They’re a good mix of reservation and first-come, first-served; so, be sure to plan ahead if you want to snag a spot at the campground of your choice.

Learn more about North Cascades National Park.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park in Washington offers a unique mix of snow-capped mountains, temperate forests, and coastal landscapes that’s hard to find anywhere else in the United States. Named for the Olympic Mountain ranges that define the Olympic Peninsula jutting out into the Pacific from Washington’s northwest corner, Olympic National Park gives visitors a truly one-of-a-kind experience, from wintertime activities hiking and skiing the snowy mountains, to wildlife viewing, hiking, climbing, and exploring the coastal tidepools teeming with marine life.

Olympic National Park is too big for an overnight trip, which makes it a perfect destination for your RV rental. There are 10 campgrounds within the park that will accommodate RVs, though no sites in the park have hookups of any kind. Most of the RV-friendly sites will only fit rigs up to 21 feet in length, but there are several that can handle RVs up to 35 feet. Make sure to plan a trip to Olympic well in advance and reserve a spot that’s appropriate for your RV.

Learn more about Olympic National Park

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

In the years since Mount St. Helens erupted in a dizzying display of volcanic power, the locals and rangers of the area have built up Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument as a premier destination for outdoor lovers and anybody looking to catch a glimpse at the mountain’s caldera. The plant life of the area has returned too, with beautiful second-growth forests covering the land surrounding the mountain. The visitors center at the park offers visitors a great place to start their experience of Mount St. Helens, with interactive exhibits and displays documenting the fateful eruption in 1980 and monitoring the real-time volcanic activity of the mountain.

In the years since Mount St. Helens erupted in a dizzying display of volcanic power, the locals and rangers of the area have built up Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument as a premier destination for outdoor lovers and anybody looking to catch a glimpse at the mountain’s caldera. The plant life of the area has returned too, with beautiful second-growth forests covering the land surrounding the mountain. The visitors center at the park offers visitors a great place to start their experience of Mount St. Helens, with interactive exhibits and displays documenting the fateful eruption in 1980 and monitoring the real-time volcanic activity of the mountain.

Come for the mountain, and stay for all of the hiking, boating, and winter recreation the park has to offer. The area is home to many campgrounds and RV parks, but if you want to stay in the park itself, your best bet is to snag a campsite in the broader Gifford Pinchot National Forest area. Wherever you decide to park the RV, you’ll have no shortage of fun and exciting things to do while exploring Mount St. Helens.

Learn more about Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Campgrounds and RV Parks in Washington

With all of the natural wonders to explore in Washington, it’s no wonder that there’s a booming industry of RV parks, resorts, and campgrounds around the state. No matter where your journeys are taking you, you’ll be able to find comfortable, electric alternatives to the more rustic state parks.

Northern Quest RV Resort in Airway Heights, Washington has everything you need for a fun family vacation. Enjoy one of 67 high-end RV sites to accommodate vehicles of any size and pass the time at the casino or the nearby golf course.

Kenanna RV Park in Grayland, Washington offers a coastal experience with luxury for the RV-going crowd. Located just near the beach and boasting 85 pull-through sites, Kenanna is a great home base for all the swimming, fishing, and crabbing you can handle.

Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell, Washington is a centrally located RV resort in a quaint, valley setting. A stay here puts you in arm’s reach of Seattle’s Space Needle and Pike Place Market, and also Snoqualmie Falls.

Check out our list of campgrounds in Washington compiled by Good Sam

Things to Note About Camping in Washington

Washington is about as far north as you can get in the continental United States. As such, it can get downright cold during the winter, but, on a positive note, the state is diverse in terms of climate as well as landscape. There are portions of the Olympics and Cascades where you can enjoy winter activities for much of the year, and there are other places—like Lake Chelan—that make for great summertime vacations on the water. Many of the old growth forests covering the state remain temperate year-round, including the Hoh Rain Forest whose winter rains (not snows!) keep the area lush and insulated all year.

All that to say that there’s no one predictable climate in the state of Washington. Depending on what part of the state you’re visiting, and what time of year, you may see temperatures as high as 100 degrees in the summer and as low as 25 below zero. That said, Washington has average highs at around the low sixties and average lows around the mid 40s. That means camping—especially with an RV at an electric site—is something you can enjoy pretty much year-round in Washington.

Dry Camping or Boondocking in Washington

Boondocking, otherwise known as dry camping or dispersed camping, is all about setting up your RV for the night—away from developed campgrounds and the cost that comes with them. There are many national forests in Washington that allow boondocking off trails and roads and out of the way of major traffic, so you’ll never be too far from a place to camp for free on your road trip through the natural splendor of the state. The Bureau of Land Management maintains a large amount of land outside of Spokane in the eastern part of the state where dry camping is abundant, and the RV community highlights Puget Power’s Baker Lake Campground in Concrete to the Northwest.

Check out our Boondocking Guide to Washington