‘Tis the sweet season to crank up those tunes and take to the road in the stunning Pacific Northwest, where a million adventures await. Enjoy delightfully fresh air and exquisite scenery in Washington’s three national parks (Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic), as well as at beaches, forests, waterfalls and rivers around the region. And now, thanks to PacWesty, you can get behind the wheel and do the navigating yourself, by renting one of their beautifully maintained Volkswagen Vanagons.
PacWesty’s program coordinator Garrett Lund shares several road trip tips with us:
Why Van Life?
The PNW—and specifically the Olympic Peninsula—is perfectly set up for this sort of travel. It’s incredibly easy to find camper van –appropriate destinations for discovering why Washington is deemed the Evergreen State. Whether you choose to spend your days actively hiking, kayaking, climbing, cycling—or simply reading a good book in the peaceful shade—this may just be the lifestyle for you.
What To Pack:
Rentals come fully kitted out with camping gear, so all you’ll need to do is stop at a grocery store for provisions. (Garrett also recommends good books and fixings for s’mores.) He loves that you can camp almost anywhere with this flexible style of travel, commenting, “We love to help people plan their trips and hear where they are going, but it’s super easy to make last-minute changes since they have all the materials they need.”
Where To Get Off The Beaten Path:
Due to the company’s location on Bainbridge Island, they typically point people toward the Olympic Peninsula after having picked up their new ride. One of Garrett’s favorite getaways is Port Townsend, a great little town with maritime heritage—as well as the Dungeness Spit, a beautiful park on the beach. Other destinations, some more far-flung, include Mount Rainier, coastal towns like Long Beach, Washington, and Cannon Beach, Oregon, Mount St. Helens and British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. Foodies may enjoy meandering the Olympic Culinary Loop or visiting Taylor Shellfish’s Chuckanut farm in Samish Bay, while music lovers may steer toward the Gorge Amphitheatre in eastern Washington.
How To Prepare:
When asked for safety tips, Lund replies, “Don’t have too much fun! All jokes aside, there isn’t too much to worry about. Having a basic knowledge of first aid is always helpful, and we do include a first aid kit in the van.”
When To Cruise:
The PacWesty team agrees that Washington’s summer months are perfect for road trips. “That being said,” says Garrett, “the roads are very quiet (and the campgrounds are empty) in the fall and even more so during the winter months. It makes it a pretty magical time to explore the Peninsula.”
Looking for a bit of pampering after quality time in the great outdoors? Kimpton Hotel Vintage has partnered with PacWesty to unite the best of the region’s rugged outdoors with an urban retreat in downtown Seattle.
All images courtesy of Adela Lee.