One Tank Trip for Washington Camping

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July 16, 2010

Washington one tank trip route mapThis One Tank Trip as seen in the 2010 Woodall’s North American Campground Directory.

Before you head out on this journey through Washington’s picturesque landscape, make sure you’ve got everything you need for several days’ worth of camping. When you see the almost primordial tapestry that nature has woven, you’ll understand why Washington’s nickname is the Evergreen State. Your route will take you through miles and miles of unspoiled wilderness, and within a stone’s throw of volcano country. Washington State is truly a paradise for the outdoors person.

Starting off this one tank trip in the big city of Tacoma, you can enjoy a taste of metropolitan life before you head out for the back territories. The Freighthouse Square Public Market was once a railway station before being converted into a collection of shops and eating establishments. It’s also the home of an eclectic array of arts and crafts that have been handmade by local artisans. Go searching for that “must-have” item down in Antique Row, or look in on a host of animal species to be found at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

As you leave Tacoma by way of the eastbound Highway 410, your voyage through Washington’s gorgeous countryside officially begins. Eighteen miles away from Tacoma, you’ll come to Greenwater, which is a fine place to pull over and stretch your legs with a hike along the Sourdough Ridge Trail. This trail is a fairly easy climb, and takes you to the top of a ridge where you’ll experience a breathtaking mountain view.

Continue south on the 410 for a little over 20 miles of view-filled terrain – keep your camera handy for wildlife sightings along the roadside – until Highway 410 becomes the southbound WA-123. You’ll stay on this road for another 16 miles before angling west on Highway 131, also known as the Cispus Highway. You’ll see signs for Mount St. Helens along this road; it’s a short southbound drive off the highway, and well worth the trip. Visitors can experience views of the blast zone, lava flows from earlier eruptions, and the massive crater itself. It’s not every day you get within viewing range of a volcano, so treat yourself to this rare opportunity.

If you decide to forgo the volcano on this trip, Highway 131 runs 40 miles from Greenwater to the town of Morton, which is situated very close to the Snoqualmie National Forest, the Tahoma State Forest, and Mount Rainier. All of these areas are filled with enough outdoor activities to please the most jaded camper, and you’ll have no problem finding a secluded place to pull over and make camp. Of course, the most spectacular of all of these campgrounds are the ones located near Mount Rainier, but they also tend to be the most populated, especially in the summer months. You could always divide your time between the three areas – it’s a difficult choice, picking between these three incredible areas, so why settle for just one Washington camping destination?

When it’s time to seek out the next point on the route, drive north on the WA-7 for 16 miles into Elbe. Elbe continues this trip’s focus on the great outdoors, but is also the home of a truly unique experience; the Spirits of Iron sculpture museum. This collection of artwork has been created from scrap metal, fallen branches, and even bones. Various animals are represented, including a giraffe that’s nearly 20 feet tall and a horse constructed of horseshoes.

The final leg of this loop trip runs 36 miles north on the WA-7, and brings you right back to your origin point of Tacoma on this one tank trip. Before heading home, why not check out some of the things you may have saved for later? The Port Defiance Park sprawls over 700 acres, and is filled with a myriad of floral and plant life, and there are enough museums and galleries in this area to please anyone looking to broaden their mind, or just spend a quiet afternoon investigating. With Puget Sound being just a short hop to the west and Seattle awaiting some 30 miles to the north, you can see that this great state covers the spectrum between the shiny big city and the splendor of Washington camping with mother nature.

Other Area Sponsors in Washington:
Lake Pleasant RV Park
Gig Harbor RV Resort

See a list of Woodall’s Recommended Washington RV Campgrounds.

Planning a Washington camping trip? Don’t miss these other great routes on one tank of fuel:
2009 Washington One Tank Trip
2008 Washington One Tank Trip

For a complete list of one tank trips visit

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