Exploring the Olympic Peninsula

2 people, 415 miles, 4 days

by Brian W.

Having wanted to travel to the Pacific Northwest for a long time, my girlfriend Alyssa and I found Gretel, Mike’s fully restored ’83 Westfalia. Getting to explore the Olympic Peninsula in such a classic camping vehicle was exactly the way we had hoped to experience it.

Mike, the owner, picked us up at the airport and drove us back to his place in Seattle, where he gave us a detailed tour of the van and all of its unique features. He gave us a ton of great suggestions for our trip, and we took off to hop on a ferry over to the Olympic Peninsula.

After the quick ferry ride, we kept driving west, passing through small towns as we got farther away from the city. We filled up on gas and food, and turned off the main road to go up to Deer Park. The drive up was surreal, climbing up a gravel road for the better part of an hour, navigating countless switchbacks along the way. We didn’t see another vehicle the whole way up, and the views were incredible.

The campground at Deer Park provided us with amazing views as the sun went down, and plenty of deer roaming around the nearby trails.

After a quick breakfast and a morning hike, we packed up, headed back down the mountain, and continued driving farther west to Lake Crescent.

Camping right at the shore of Lake Crescent provided some great views, and plenty of hiking opportunities around the surrounding mountains, including Pyramid Peak, where an old WWII lookout still stands at the summit.

The next day, we drove out and hiked around Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point of the contiguous US, and part of the Makah Reservation.

We left a note in Gretel’s guestbook, which is kept with a collection of ‘totems’ contributed to by everyone who rents the van. After retracing our route back across the peninsula, we hopped on the ferry back to Seattle, which gave us great views of downtown, before meeting up with Mike to drop off the van and head to the airport.

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