Visit Washington State in a Campervan

5 Historic Sites in Washington to Visit this Season

Washington’s staggering size and diverse geography have spawned a history rich in culture and industry. Throw in 240 miles of coastline and at least 60 named mountain ranges, and no corner of the state is the same. From bustling maritime activities to the massive timber industry to the spectacular wild places, Washington has long been a place that attracts adventurers and explorers. Furthermore, the history of state’s original inhabitants – there are currently 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington – illuminates important lessons from the past. We’ve put together a list of five of our favorite historic sites to visit in Washington in your ROAMERICA campervan.

1. Makah Cultural and Research Center

Begin your tour of historic sites by visiting the Makah Cultural and Research Center, the place where the world began. When you arrive in Neah Bay (located approximately one hundred and sixty miles northwest of Seattle and 95 miles southwest of Victoria, BC), it’s easy to see why this place is the birthplace of the world according to  a fundamental belief of the Makah Indian Tribe. Archaeological research suggests that the indigenous people have inhabited the area for 3,800 years. To learn more about the past and present of the Makah and this area, visit the center’s permanent and temporary exhibits, take an informative guided tour, or sign up for an interactive demonstration or lecture.

Where to Stay in your ROAMERICA Campervan Rental: Enjoy the crashing surf and at the Hobuck Beach Resort where you can hike from your campground to the stunning Shi Shi Beach.

2. Port Townsend

Long before Washington became a state in 1889, Port Townsend was a thriving and productive port town. Its early architecture reflected the actual and anticipated wealth of the town; many homes and buildings were built in the ornate Victorian style. When rail lines failed to connect Tacoma to the coast, Port Townsend’s economy floundered. Fortunately, however, the homes and buildings remained virtually untouched since no other industry moved in. In 1976, with the value of the homes appreciated and recognized, the Port Townsend Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.

Where to Stay in your ROAMERICA Campervan Rental: Fort Townsend Historical State Park has 40 reservable campsites located on the scenic Port Townsend Bay.

Port Townsend in Washington State

Historic town of Port Townsend in Washington State. Photo Credit: Joseph (Flickr)

3. Mount Rainier National Park

As with all of Washington’s storied historic sites, the area around Mount Rainier National Park has long been a place that inspired how people – from the first inhabitants to Anglo settlers – formed culture and sculpted their lives. The park offers plenty of information on the human history of the area; however, the true star of the show is the mountain itself, the “intermittently active” 14,410 foot volcano. Plan to spend at least a day in the park and attend ranger-led talks and walks.

Where to Stay in your ROAMERICA Campervan Rental:There are three developed campgrounds in the park, available for $20/night and one primitive campground which is free.

4. Hanford Reach National Monument

There are few places in the US that have been untouched by development or agriculture, and most of these places are difficult to access due to their topography. However, it’s occasionally human activity that prevents access. In the case of Hanford Reach National Monument, it was the ruins of nuclear weapons production that made the site inaccessible for so long. The site, tucked into the last non-tidal, free-flowing section of the Columbia River, became a National Monument in 2000 due to its incredible biodiversity. Visit to learn how this “involuntary park” sprung up around the spoils of war.

Where to Stay in your ROAMERICA Campervan Rental: Visit the Hanford Reach National Monument website for resources on camping near the monument.

ROAMERICA campervan rental headed to adventure

Headed out on a Pacific Northwest adventure in a ROAMERICA campervan rental. Photo Credit: Micah Baird.

5. Grand Coulee Dam

About 120 miles upstream from Hanford Reach is another example of how human alteration of the landscape can have lasting effects. The Grand Coulee Dam, the last on this list of historic sites in Washington, was constructed between 1933-1942 to produce hydroelectric power and irrigation water. Despite its success in providing energy and water to the country, the dam’s impact has had negative environmental and social consequences at well. It nevertheless remains an important historic site with an informative visitor center.

Where to Stay in your ROAMERICA Campervan Rental: Stay on the shores of Lake Roosevelt (created by the dam) at the Spring Canyon Campground, a 78-site facility.

These are five of hundreds of historic sites to visit in Washington. By visiting them, we can learn how the past continues to inform the present, and what a wild and wonderful place the state of Washington is!

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