Olympic Peninsula Road Trip and Stealth Van Camping | Part I
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
It’s just the day after the Fourth of July here in Washington and I’ve decided to travel around the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington for my next destination in the Pacific Northwest along highway 101.
Can you believe after living in this state for 15 years, I’ve never traveled Highway 101 on the Washington coastal area? I’ve been by the Olympic Peninsula a couple of times, but never really past Port Angeles, so this will be a first!
The National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book starts you out going clockwise on the Olympic Peninsula scenic drive; however I’ve been hanging out around the south part of the Puget Sound and I’m going to travel counterclockwise instead around the Olympic Peninsula.
Starting from Hoodsport, Washington on the western edge of the Hood Canal that flows in from Puget Sound, I made my way north along 101 that winds around the shore and through forested areas. The Hymer Aktiv did really well around the corners and rolling hills though I may look into getting Sumo Springs to replace my springs. Supposedly it really helps to cut down on the tilt when going around a corner and keep the van more level when you go over bumps.
It’s sunny days like this, with a light breeze, that has made me fall in love with the Pacific Northwest so many years ago. The water in the Hood Canal was just sparkling a blueish-green color and was picture perfect.
Related Posts: Olympic Peninsula Quest Drive Part II – Hurricane Ridge and more
Olympic Peninsula: Port Townsend, Washington and Stealth Camping AGAIN!
I stopped over in Port Townsend, which really isn’t a “stop-over” it’s more like a 30 minute diversion, but nevertheless I couldn’t come all this way and not hit up this quaint little town overlooking the Puget Sound and home to ferries between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend.
Founded in 1851, Port Townsend, Washington is known for its historic Victorian buildings lining the waterfront which comes from its extreme popularity during the 19th Century. It’s views are stunning over the water and great places to eat and get some coffee or an afternoon cocktail.
I usually try to find free spots, but if I were going to stay here at a campground I would pick Fort Worden State Park. It’s nice and large with tons of campsites, right off the Puget Sound with bathrooms, coin operated showers, dump site, music in the park, restaurants, and tons of beach and trails.
This area all over the Pacific Northwest is a tourist spot and not just people from the United States. People from all over the world put this area on their bucket list of places to travel. So that makes it very difficult to be spontaneous in trying to find campgrounds. You virtually can’t unless somebody cancels. These spots get reserved at the first of the season and after that you have to figure out alternative means of sleeping at night.
So guess what I did? I stealth camped again in a more residential area. I’m becoming a pro at this now and thankfully can do more stealth camping with my Hymer Aktiv.
I ended up staying in Port Townsend for almost a week, stealth camping in town and then heading to Fort Worden State Park during the day to work, walk the beaches, and enjoy the sunny weather and cool breezes.
After a week I figured it was time I should leave and keep story chasing.
Next stop along the Olympic Peninsula quest drive is Sequim, Washington. Sequim spells like how you might thing it should be pronounced SEE-QUIM; however it is actually pronounced like SKWIM. So if you’re in the area, remember SKWIM. It's like saying SWIM, but with a “k” between the S and W sound.
Sequim, Washington Farms, Berry Picking, and Hiking Dungeness Spit
Sequim isn’t that far from Port Townsend, only about a 30 minute drive west along the Olympic Peninsula. Last night I planned out the places I wanted to go in town using this amazing app called RoadTrippers.
You just tell the app what city your driving from and to and it finds all of these really cool places along the way and the surrounding area for you to explore. Everything from hikes, tourist areas, restaurants, parks, and more.
I found three places I wanted to visit:
- Purple Haze Lavender Farm
- Graymarsh Berry Farm
- Dungeness Spit
As I was traveling to Purple Haze Lavender Farm, I came upon this incredible park and marina off of the road overlooking Sequim (remember it’s SKWIM) Bay. It was so breathtaking to see these sailboats in the bay with the sun glistening off the water and mountains all around.
At one point I heard this loud, CRACK, and turned around to see Seagulls dropping their catch of mussels, or other shellfish, on the parking lot. Can you believe they had figured out how to fish for the mussels, fly over the parking lot, drop the shellfish, which cracked the shell right open for them to easily get out the meat inside?
What a sight.
See this is what I love about the Pacific Northwest. You can be driving down a thick, tree-lined road, and then, BAM, there’s this hidden body of water that you weren’t expecting and then you get side tracked from your original plan, because how could you not stop and take in this exquisite beauty?
So what was scheduled, albeit my loose schedule, to be a 5 hour sight-seeing day turned into 6.5 hours with my cool park finding AND a marina for yachts and boats.
That’s one of the perks of just venturing off though. I try to be flexible so I can take in those unexpected moments and really enjoy it and not feel rushed.
Purple Haze Lavender Farm
I found the Purple Haze Lavender Farm down this winding round and through a small embankment of trees and a gravel road. The farm was busy with bees buzzing around the lavender and roosters crowing. Yes, there was a chicken coop with roosters, or maybe just one rooster.
Anyways, the smell in the air from the lavender was sweet and the various colors of purple lavender swaying in the wind with the bees pollinating the flowers made my whole face smile.
These simple, but precious moments are golden. It fills the pages of my book of stories and memories to always cherish.
I feel like I’ve really truly lived so much this last year since I set out on this journey and been all over the United States and Canada in a short amount of time. RV life is the best..
Slowing down. That’s my phrase this year. I’m learning to slow down and live at a more simplistic, slower pace instead of the mad race my life was before.
Graymarsh Berry Farm
Next it was off to the Graymarsh Berry picking farm where I brought my Stasher bag to fill with my hand-picked raspberries. They had these huge white buckets so you could pick as many berries as you wanted; however there was no way I could eat all of those berries nor store those berries in the van, so I opted for a smaller batch and ended up with 1 lb.
Have you ever been berry picking?
This was my first time.
The raspberries, if ripe and ready to eat, pulled off the green bushes very easily and oh these babies tasted so good and fresh. I’ve never tasted anything like it. The raspberries in the grocery don’t even compare.
I highly suggest it! Do you have any local farms around you where you can go pick your own fruits and vegetables or they just picked it for you? It’s a must!
Dungeness Spit North Side of Olympic Peninsula
Last stop for the day is the Dungeness Spit for some hiking on the cliffs overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca which is on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula.
So this area is interesting with its water ways and all have different names for the salt water that spills in from the Pacific Ocean.
There’s Puget Sound (often called The Sound) that runs North and South all the way from Canada to south of Seattle with many islands scattered throughout. This body of water separates Western Washington from the I5 corrirdor of Seattle, Olympia, and all the way up to north to Canada. Unless you want to drive all the way around Olympia at the southern point of Puget Sound from the north, then you’ll have to take a ferry over to get to Western Washington.
I ended up driving around so I could pickup the 101 on the south side of The Sound – which is part of this quest drive.
Then you have the Strait of Juan de Fuca that pours in from the Pacific Ocean that runs more West and East and fills Puget Sound. The Strait of Juan de Fuca separates Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada from Washington. You can actually look across the Strait of Juan de Fuca while in Sequim or Port Angeles and see Canada.
There’s also a ferry boat, the Coho Ferry that travels between Victoria, B.C. and Port Angeles so you can explore Victoria on Vancouver Island.
While I was hiking Dungeness Spit I could not only hear the blue and green waves hitting the cliffs and beach below, but I could smell the salt water in the air as I looked across the waters at Canada.
It was such a beautiful moment and so peaceful.
Detour to Strait of Juan de Fuca
In my National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book I noticed there was another scenic drive that diverts off of the current Olympic Peninsula drive. This one goes all the way out to the farthest Northwest corner of the United States to Cape Flattery at Neah Bay.
So I temporarily stopped this quest to divert onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca quest and hike out to the farthest Northwest point. I’d like to travel to all four corners of the U.S. and so far have been to the farthest Northeast corner in Lubec, Maine last year and now the farthest Northwest.
That little diversion was only two days and I picked up the Olympic Peninsula quest on highway 101 in Port Angeles, Washington again.
Showering on the Road
I stayed at Walmart last night in Port Angeles, but not before heading over to Anytime Fitness gym to sign up for a membership so I can not only get some working out in, but also partake of the showers. I finally decided to get the gym membership. It’s something I’ve been contemplating for a while, but really didn’t want the added expense; however, a couple of things happened, especially since purchasing the new Hymer Aktiv van.
I don’t use the shower in the van – mostly because it’s a pain to use.
No matter what RV you're in, if you like to boondock more, as I do, it requires you to really watch your water consumption, so I would always take military showers. There’s nothing wrong with it, just that it’s nice sometimes to have a more traditional shower.
Also, I need to move more – and not just walking or hiking. I try to do more yoga like movements when I’m boondocking and I purchased resistance bands, but I can’t really do all that when I’m stealth camping. I could go to a park and do it, but, well, I fell weird doing it in public. Maybe I'm self-conscious. I know – I know, I probably shouldn’t care, but I do.
Hence the gym membership especially for those times when I’m in towns or cities.
So, I worked out for about 45 minutes on the lower body, indulged in the hydro massage and then took a much-needed shower. Since I don’t use the shower in my van – I wash my hair in the sink and use wipes to clean off daily – I don’t get “normal” showers as often as I would like so it felt so nice to stand under the hot water.
I slept really well that night!
….to be continued in part 2.
Have you visited the Pacific Northwest or anywhere around the Olympic Peninsula? What's your favorite place to travel?
Related Posts: Olympic Peninsula Quest Drive Part II – Hurricane Ridge and more
Road Trip Report & Map
Miles: 112 miles for this leg of the Olympic Peninsula road trip
Average Miles per Gallon: 16.5
Road Conditions: Roads are well maintained, curvy in some areas along the Hood Canal, but fine for any size RV.
Weather Conditions: In early July it was cool in the evenings and warmed up to mid 60s to the mid 70s most days. Perfect weather and sunny!
Time of Year Visited: Early July
- Port Townsend, Washington
- Fort Worden State Park
- Sequim Bay, Washington
- Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington
- Graymarsh Berry Farm in Sequim, Washington
- Dungeness Spit between Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington
Overnights & Places Visited
- Stealth camper van camping in Port Townsend / $0
- Walmart in Port Angeles, WA / $0
- Dinner out and the groceries in Port Townsend, Washington / Cost varies
- Fort Worden State Park / $0 with Washington State Discover Pass
- Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington / $0 entry and you can purchase lavender or goodies in their shop
- Graymarsh Berry Farm in Sequim, Washington / $0 entry and pay per lb for berries $2 per lb.
- Dungeness Spit between Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington / $0 with the Washington State Discover Pass
- You can drive the Olympic Peninsula route in any RV without any problems.
Cell Phone Signal Strength: 3-5 bars. Cell signal was great.
Park Pass: Washington State Discover Pass
Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging
Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video
Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.
Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.
Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.
AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.
Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.
Thanks for listing the equipment that you use. Your videos are great.
Randy – Glad you like the vids!
Thanks Amber, Great video and the info in the blog.
You’re so welcome Maz!
Amber, this was way cool! You were all over my old stomping grounds; so glad you finally experienced that majestic area of Washington State. As you spoke of the wonderful smell of the salt air, I took a deep breath and tried to get some too! Looks like Lily had a grande time & the weather cooperated nicely. It will be interesting to hear your input if you do upgrade to better springs on the van. Loved seeing Port Townsend again…..it’s where Phil & I first met (at the ferry). Thanks for the great tour.
Hey Carrie! Yep it’s such an incredible state. Just love this place! ahh…did you get some of that salty air around you? I wonder if they make a candle with that scent!?!? Business idea???? lol Oh yes, Lily loved that area and loves that sand. She’s such a silly girl. Oh wow…you met at the ferry!? Very cool. What a cool place to meet.
U r so awesome Amber, Thanks for all the info. U r very inspirational
Jocelyn – You’re so sweet and you’re welcome.
Hello Amber! Love the blog and your YouTube channel. I have decided to buy a Hymer next year and hit the road. Do you still love your rig? Any regrets?
Keep on keeping on!
Congrats on your decision to be a nomad! Love the Hymer and have ZERO regrets! It’s been a really incredible rig and exactly what suits me for my travel style. Hope to see you on the road!
Amber I want to pick up some.ofnthose stasher bags. Do you have an affiliate link? Great blog and video. My daughter lives in Port Angeles and I spend a lot of time up there. Stayed in forks for many months and explored.