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Must-See Van Life Destinations in the PNW

The Pacific Northwest Offers Van Lifers So Much to Experience

The Pacific Northwest is a beautiful area that is well known for its lush forests, rainy weather, and quirky cities. If you’re curious about this part of the country, taking a road trip is a great way to explore it! There are countless van life destinations along the Pacific Northwest Coast that are definitely worth a look.

Because this area is so huge and so attraction-packed, there’s no way you can see everything. However, there are a few hotspots that you’ll want to keep your eye on! Whether it’s skiing in the snowy mountains, visiting the bustling downtown cities, or walking along the beaches, there’s plenty to do in this region.

We’ve broken down a few main areas of interest that vanlifers might enjoy. Although everyone has their own preferences when it comes to destinations and activities, the list below should give you a few good places to get started.

Van Life Destinations in National Parks

Mount Rainier

The PNW has a wealth of national parks and state parks. These areas showcase the natural beauty of the forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains in this region. Mount Rainier National Park contains the famous peak of Mount Rainier. It also has gorgeous vistas and wildflowers galore.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park is located in Oregon. The lake is extremely deep and features crystal-clear water. In fact, it’s the ninth deepest lake in the world, so good luck trying to spot the bottom! The lake itself is the primary attraction, but there are lovely forests and biking/hiking trails that run throughout the park as well.

Redwood National Park

If you’ve heard stories about the towering redwood trees of the PNW, Redwood National Park is a great place to see them for yourself. These trees are massive and extremely old. It’s humbling to stand under their shadows! It’s a peaceful and beautiful area that is home to many different species of plants and animals.

There are many other parks you can explore in this region, but these are some of the most noteworthy! Keep your eyes open as you drive, and don’t be afraid to take a detour to explore the beauty of the PNW woods.

Waterfalls

If your favorite van life destinations include waterfalls, you’re in luck! The Pacific Northwest is home to countless rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. You’ll often be able to spot some as you drive, so keep your eyes on the nearby mountainsides and cliffs. There are some particularly famous and noteworthy waterfalls that are worth a visit.

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls
The Snoqualmie Falls in Washington

Snoqualmie Falls is one of the most popular scenic destinations in Washington. Tourists love to visit and watch the water tumble down 268 feet. It’s located in a gorgeous area, surrounded by granite cliffs and lush greenery. If you visit this area, you can sometimes get a guided tour of Seattle as well!

Visitors should also check out the local restaurants, shops, and attractions that are located close to the falls. Overall, it’s a great spot for a day trip or even a pitstop!

Top Campgrounds Near Snoqualmie Washington

Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls is another famous PNW waterfall. In fact, it’s been labeled as the official state waterfall of Washington. It’s an old waterfall that flows into a deep basin that took centuries to develop. Tiered cliffs surround the plunge. This is a fantastic vista that hikers travel from miles around to see.

Palouse Falls then flows into the Snake River, which winds across several state lines and provides a beautiful spot for hikes, boating trips, and fishing.

Campgrounds Near Palouse Falls

Skiing Destinations

If you happen to be traveling in the winter, there are also plenty of van life destinations you should check out. Skiing is a popular pastime in many PNW states because the peaks are cold enough to get plenty of snow.

Experience Van Life in Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain is a great ski resort that’s located on one side of Mount Rainier. It’s the largest ski resort in Washington and has hills and trails that suit any level of skill. There are 57 official runs on the mountain, and you can jump between them to create your own special route down the mountain!

Timberline Lodge Ski Area at Mount Hood

Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon, and it’s also one of the best places to ski or snowboard. It’s not far from Portland, so you can easily take a day trip for skiing and return to the city at night. The ski resort is also open all year long and is a favorite destination for professional athletes. Enjoy this ski-in, ski-out resort, the Timberline Lodge, and on-site gear rentals.

Mount Hood Village RV Parks & Campgrounds

Van Life Experiences at Scenic Hot Springs

Once you’re shivering from your long ski trip, why not visit a local hot spring? There are several small pools you can visit during your travels, but Scenic Hot Springs is one of the hottest (pun intended) van life destinations in the Pacific Northwest.

These hot springs are privately owned, so you’ll have to make a reservation if you want to stop by. It’s also a bit of a hike to get there, but it makes the reward so worthwhile! You can hike to these hot springs all year round, but some people prefer to visit during the winter because of the snowy views and delightfully warm water.

If you want to make a reservation, you can do it at scenichotsprings.blogspot.com

Beach Destinations

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach in Oregon

Cannon Beach is one of the most popular and famous beaches in the world. It’s located in Oregon and features the famous Haystack Rock that looms out of the sea. If you love to explore tidepools, Cannon Beach also has a wealth of intertidal marine life to discover. Keep your eyes open for interesting shells, rocks, and driftwood as well.

Cannon Beach RV Parks & Campgrounds

Seaside

Seaside, Oregon, is an adorable beach town. There are miles of sandy beaches to enjoy, plus an entire town that’s filled with restaurants, shops, and interesting attractions. There’s an aquarium, which is a great attraction for families. The beach is perfect for relaxing or playing!

Seaside RV Parks & Campgrounds

Long Beach

Long Beach lives up to its name! It’s the longest continuous stretch of beach in the United States of America. If you walk from beginning to end, it measures about 28 miles. There are lovely attractions here, such as historic lighthouses and a beach boardwalk that’s bustling with activity.

The Pacific Northwest is lined with other beaches and coves to explore. You can gather shells, go fishing, enjoy local seafood, go crabbing, book whale-watching tours, or just enjoy the gorgeous sunsets over the water. When you visit these van life destinations, there’s no shortage of things to do.

Long Beach RV Parks & Campgrounds

Van Life in the Cities

Seattle

Seattle skyline

Finally, we have some famous cities that everyone should stop by. Seattle is a vibrant city that has an active artistic community. When you visit this area, be sure to check out the Space Needle, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Pike Place Market is a local hotspot where you can get fresh seafood, goods from local artisans, and anything else you can think of.

Seattle RV Parks & Campgrounds

Portland

Portland is a famous tourist destination in Oregon, and it’s truly earned its “Keep Portland Weird” slogan! Stop by for a tasty and unusual pastry at Voodoo Doughnuts, enjoy the colors and smells of the International Rose Test Garden, and book yourself a lunch or dinner cruise.

The Pacific Northwest is truly packed with van life destinations, so you may have to return several times to get the full experience.

Portland RV Parks & Campgrounds

Quickly and Easily Create A Route to Each PNW Stop

Save time, plan safe routes, and find great places to camp with RV LIFE Trip Wizard before embarking on your epic van adventures to the Pacific Northwest! This all-inclusive trip planning tool allows you, the driver, to customize your journey based on your personal travel style–taking the quickest route or the scenic one and pinpoints stops along the way like gas, shopping, and points of interest. RV Trip Wizard also helps establish a travel budget, among other convenient and user-friendly features!

  • Emily Lawrence lives in Idaho with her husband Nathan. Despite the cold winters in this area, it's Emily's favorite season! She loves to spend time skiing, roadtripping, and just exploring the outdoors.

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

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