Seattle and Portland have the best National Parks you’ll find anywhere in the world. Even if you randomly choose a park, you’ll be absolutely blown away at the beauty. Within a few hours’ journey, you can ride from the verdant canopies of the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park to the snow-laden peaks of Mount Rainier.

From hiking in rainforest to skiing down a mountain in just a few hours. Amazing.

In a world where solitude becomes increasingly precious, these parks represent the Pacific Northwest in its fullest splendor, offering an enthralling fusion of ecological diversity, seasonal transformations, and a myriad of recreational pursuits. So let’s take a look at the best parks around Portland and Seattle!

Top Parks Near Seattle and Portland

Mount Rainier National Park:

  • Unique Features: At an elevation of 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier stands as the highest mountain of the Cascade Range. Its glaciers, among the most expansive of any U.S. peak outside Alaska, carve out valleys and feed wild rivers. The subalpine meadows are a riot of colors when wildflowers bloom, and its ancient forests provide a canopy of tranquility.
  • Duration: For those eager to fully immerse themselves, a 2-3 day trip is ideal. This provides ample time to traverse the popular trails like Skyline Trail or the groves of the Grove of the Patriarchs. However, a day trip offers a delightful taste of the park’s beauty, especially when focusing on specific regions like Paradise or Sunrise.

Olympic National Park:

  • Unique Features: Olympic is truly three parks in one. From its temperate rainforests, like the Hoh and the Quinault, dripping in green and echoing with the sounds of the Pacific Tree Frog, to the alpine wonderland that is Hurricane Ridge, and the raw, untouched stretches of the Pacific coastline. It’s a confluence of ecosystems, making it a biodiversity hotspot.
  • Duration: A 3-4 day trip is perfect for a wholesome experience, allowing visitors to experience each distinct ecosystem. Yet, those on a tighter schedule can opt for day trips to specific regions, such as the Hoh Rainforest or Rialto Beach.

North Cascades National Park:

  • Unique Features: Often referred to as the ‘American Alps’, the North Cascades are a haven for those seeking true wilderness. Over 300 glaciers, azure alpine lakes like Diablo and Ross, and serrated peaks offer an alpine landscape that remains unrivaled. Its biodiversity ranges from mountain goats to gray wolves.
  • Duration: To truly grasp the park’s vastness, consider a 3-day journey, exploring both the popular areas and the hidden corners. However, day-trippers can still get a sense of its allure by driving along the North Cascades Scenic Highway or visiting spots like Diablo Lake.

Crater Lake National Park:

  • Unique Features: The deepest lake in the U.S., Crater Lake astonishes with its intense blue hue and pristine clarity. Formed from the remnants of the destroyed volcano, Mount Mazama, this caldera lake is a sacred place for the Klamath Tribe. The surrounding cliffs, some soaring over 2,000 feet, and two picturesque islands in the lake’s center, add to its mystique.
  • Duration: A 2-day trip can help visitors explore the park’s many facets, including a drive around Rim Drive and stops at key viewpoints. Day visitors can focus on the Crater Lake rim, taking in panoramic views and perhaps embarking on a boat tour to Wizard Island.

Which Parks are Best for RVs?

Olympic National Park:

  • Why It’s Great for RVs: The vast expanse of the park is complemented by a network of scenic drives and easily accessible campgrounds. The park’s roads wind through varied landscapes, offering vistas of verdant rainforests, snow-tipped peaks, and rugged coastlines.
    • RV Campgrounds: Some top options include Kalaloch, Sol Duc, and the Hoh Rainforest Campgrounds. While Kalaloch provides beachside camping, Sol Duc is nestled amidst ancient forests and the Hoh Rainforest offers an ethereal experience with its moss-laden trees.
    • Scenic Routes: Highway 101 loops around the park, providing stunning views, especially along the coastal sections.

Mount Rainier National Park:

  • Why It’s Great for RVs: The park’s main access roads, like the road to Paradise or Sunrise, are well-maintained and provide stunning vistas, making the drive itself an experience. Several pull-outs and viewpoints dot the route, inviting RVers to pause and bask in the scenery.
    • RV Campgrounds: Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh campgrounds are prime choices. While Cougar Rock provides proximity to the Paradise area, Ohanapecosh is set amidst old-growth forests near the serene Ohanapecosh River.
    • Scenic Routes: The drive to Paradise via the Nisqually entrance, with views of waterfalls, meadows, and the looming mountain, is particularly enchanting.

Seasonal Spectacles: Best Parks for Each Season


Mount Rainier National Park: As winter’s grasp begins to wane, Mount Rainier starts its majestic transition. While its summit remains cloaked in snow, the lower elevations come alive. Meadows, once dormant, burst into a spectacle of colors as wildflowers such as lupines, paintbrushes, and asters begin their bloom. The songs of migratory birds fill the air, and trails previously blanketed in snow become accessible, revealing serene vistas of waterfalls and babbling brooks.


Olympic National Park: Summer in Olympic is nothing short of magical. The temperate rainforests, with their ancient trees and fern-covered floors, offer a cool retreat. Along the coast, the Pacific Ocean kisses rugged, driftwood-laden beaches, its tides revealing tide pools teeming with marine life. The alpine areas, like Hurricane Ridge, provide panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys, with trails perfect for both novice and experienced hikers.

Crater Lake National Park: As the snow melts away, Crater Lake reveals its mesmerizing deep blue waters in full splendor. With the Rim Drive fully accessible, visitors can circumnavigate this ancient caldera, stopping at various viewpoints to marvel at the lake’s clarity and depth. Boat tours to Wizard Island become available, allowing adventurers a closer look at the lake’s mysteries.


North Cascades National Park: The ‘American Alps’ undergo a transformation in the fall. Deciduous trees ignite in shades of orange, red, and gold, painting a stark contrast to the evergreens. However, it’s the alpine larches that steal the show. These coniferous trees shed their needles, but not before turning a brilliant gold, creating ethereal landscapes especially around areas like Maple Pass Loop.


Mount Rainier National Park: With winter’s arrival, Mount Rainier dons a cloak of white. The Paradise area, in particular, becomes a hub for snow-based activities. Visitors can strap on snowshoes and venture onto trails, exploring snow-covered forests and meadows. The park’s undulating terrains also become a playground for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. The crisp winter air, the crunch of snow underfoot, and the serenity of the snow-blanketed landscapes offer a unique experience.

Beyond the Trails: Activities for Families at Bonny Lakes

Picnicking Paradises

The shores of Bonny Lakes are dotted with numerous picnic spots, each offering a unique perspective of the tranquil waters and verdant surroundings. Whispering Pines Clearing is an excellent choice with its shaded spots and the soft hum of pine trees in the breeze. Families preferring an open area can opt for Sunny Meadows, a grassy expanse overlooking the lake, ideal for games or lounging in the sun after a delightful meal.

Water Activities

  • Fishing

    Yes, families can fish at Bonny Lakes! The waters are teeming with various species, ensuring a thrilling experience for both amateur and seasoned anglers. Ensure you have the necessary permits and follow catch-and-release guidelines where specified.

  • Swimming

    There’s a designated swimming zone at Crystal Cove, marked with buoys to ensure safety. The gentle slopes make it ideal for younger swimmers, while the clear waters are a treat for all.

  • Paddleboarding

    The calm waters of Bonny Lakes make paddleboarding a popular choice. Moonlight Bay is a favored spot for this activity, allowing paddlers to glide effortlessly while absorbing the beauty around.

Interactive Learning

The Bonny Lakes Interpretive Center is a haven for curious minds. With a range of exhibits showcasing the region’s ecology, geology, and history, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the lakes and their significance. Regular nature talks and interactive sessions, especially curated for children, ensure learning is fun and engaging. Keep an eye out for their schedule, as some talks are led by local Indigenous people, offering profound insights into the area’s cultural heritage.

Evening by the Lakeside

As dusk sets, Bonny Lakes transforms into a realm of golden hues and serene silhouettes. Families often gather around designated campfire zones when it gets dark out. If camping is on the agenda, Starry Night Campground provides RV-friendly spots with a clear view of the night sky. Remember to always check for campfire restrictions, especially during dry seasons, and ensure all fires are completely extinguished before retiring for the night.

Take an RV to the Parks!

The diversity in parks, number of trails trails, and variety of activities at these parks promise families in RVs an experience that seamlessly weaves together adventure, relaxation, and profound connection with the great outdoors. Whether it’s the gentle lull of waves, the thrilling sightings of wildlife, or the night skies painted with stars, every moment spent in these parks creates unforgettable memories.

Don’t wait any longer to embark on your own RV journey! Rent an RV from NW Adventure Rentals With our wide range of vehicles tailored to your family’s needs, every trip becomes a comfortable, enjoyable, and memorable adventure. Dive into the magic of our amazing parks, and let the road take you where your heart desires.