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A Vanlifer’s Guide To Olympic Peninsula Camping

Discovering Hidden Gems and Navigating the Pacific Northwest’s Wilderness

One of the best places to take your van on an adventure in nature is Washington state. And in particular, we absolutely recommend Olympic Peninsula camping. 

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is an incredible place. With green rainforests, majestic mountains, and stunning beaches, the natural beauty found here is astounding. The best part? The wilderness is untouched for the most part, and the opportunities for camping in the middle of nature are almost endless. 

Ready to try your hand at Olympic Peninsula camping? You’ve come to the right place. Below is everything you need to know for your van camping adventure. 

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Olympic Peninsula Camping: When To Go

The time of year you choose to take your van to the Olympic Peninsula is very important. You see, the winter months on the peninsula are brutal and would likely be pretty uncomfortable in a van. Spring and fall are a bit warmer and might be manageable with the right setup, but we think summer is the best time to visit the peninsula. 

During the summer, the sun shines, and the animals come out of hiding. Streams are babbling during these months, and the landscape is lush and green. 

All that said, July and August are the busiest months at the peninsula’s star attraction, Olympic National Park. Therefore, you will want to either go in prepared to hike with others, seek out less popular spots, or visit during quieter times of the day. 

Where To Stay When Camping on Olympic Peninsula

As mentioned above, the Olympic Peninsula boasts a plethora of camping opportunities. We especially love the boondocking and dry camping found here, and we highly recommend you go in prepared for an off-grid adventure so you can really immerse yourself in the beauty of the place. 

Some of our favorite van camping spots on the peninsula include the following:

Hoh Rainforest Campground

Of all the campgrounds in Olympic National Park, this one is our favorite. It allows you to park in an actual rainforest, complete with moss-covered trees all around. The campground does not have any hookups, but it does have flush toilets, trash cans, and fire rings. 

Heart O’ the Hills Campground

Want to be near Hurricane Ridge and the hot springs? Head to Heart O’ the Hills Campground. This is a dry camping spot run by the National Park Service. It offers flush toilets, potable water, and easy access to a number of attractions. 

Lyre River Campground

Hoping to find some super cheap camping? You’ll likely be happy with the Lyre River Campground, which allows you to camp right on the river’s edge. You will need a Discover Pass to use this boondocking location, so it’s not totally free, but the Discover Pass is a worthwhile investment anyway. 

Kalaloch Campground

Lastly, we must mention Kalaloch Campground. This is another NPS-run campground that is perfect for dry camping in a van. It features campsites that are tucked back in the woods but still within easy walking distance of the gorgeous beach. 

Amazing Things To Do on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

Of course, you will want to get out and do some exploring while doing your Olympic Peninsula camping. Fortunately, you’ll find plenty to do. Below are our favorites. 

Visit Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is by far the number one must-see attraction on the peninsula. Be sure to give yourself several days in order to squeeze all of the following things into your visit to the park:

Check Out Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest is a must-see. Start your visit at the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center and then walk the Hall of Mosses Trail for some otherworldly sights that you won’t soon forget. 

See Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge is one of the most beautiful spots in the entire park. This mountain area offers gorgeous hikes and some of the best hiking trails on the peninsula. 

View the Sunset at Ruby Beach

No visit to Olympic National Park is complete without watching at least one sunset from the beautiful Ruby Beach. Be sure to arrive early so you can explore the unique beach and find the perfect spot to watch the sun go down. If you have kids, they’ll enjoy climbing on all the driftwood.  

Kayak Lake Crescent

A gorgeous glacially carved lake, Lake Crescent is the perfect place to put your kayak in the water and go for a paddle. Gaze down into the pristine waters as you glide across this sparkling body of water. 

Walk to Marymere Falls

Of course, you must visit one of the park’s many waterfalls. A short hike with an excellent reward, the Marymere Falls Trail is excellent for hikers of all ages. It’s a short (1.7-mile) out-and-back hike that is pretty popular, so it is best visited on a weekday in the early morning or late afternoon. 

Learn at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge 

Looking for something to do outside of the national park? Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is an excellent pick. This park is a haven for local wildlife, making it the ideal place to pull out the binoculars and admire some animals.  

Visit Lavender Farms

Famous for its lavender, the town of Sequim is a must-see destination for flower enthusiasts. Wander through fields of purple lavender, take home some lavender of your own, or visit during July to enjoy the Sequim Lavender Festival. 

Wander Port Townsend

Port Townsend is the most adorable town on the peninsula. Spend an afternoon wandering this historic port town and enjoying the Victorian homes, admiring the sea, treating yourself to some shopping, and snapping photos at the lovely Fort Worden State Park. 

Soak in the Sol Duc Hot Springs

Feeling a bit sore from all that hiking? The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in the Sol Duc Valley can ease your aches with its lovely, hot, mineral spring-fed pools. This is the place to go to relax during your Olympic Peninsula camping getaway. 

Clearly, you’ll find plenty of amazing places to stay and things to do when you head out on your Olympic Peninsula camping trip. So what are you waiting for? Pack up the van and get ready to go!

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