Situated in Eastern Utah, Moab is many people's first introduction to the magnificent sunbaked deserts of the region. Moab is practically surrounded by fascinating parks to visit. Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Uncompahgre National Forest, Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument and more all lie within easy reach of this extraordinarily blessed city. It's one of the best places in the nation to visit if you're looking to explore the outdoors - especially if you want to see the desert.
But even the most sun-worshiping traveler may find themselves eventually longing for something different. And from the arid environment of Moab, it doesn't get much different than the verdant rain forests of the Pacific Northwest. It's a long way from Moab to Seattle, but along the way, you'll see a variety of different climates along with some exciting cities and other attractions. So pack up the RV and hit the road for a week or more to see what the west of the country has to offer.
Your route north is going to take you through Salt Lake City anyway, so you may as well take this opportunity to explore one of the country's more unique cities. The longtime home of the Mormon church, Salt Lake City still has plenty that appeals to visitors of all kinds — including the Great Salt Lake itself. This massive body of water sits outside the city, and its salty waters have created a unique ecosystem that has to be seen to be believed.
Closer to the city, you can check out the iconic Temple Square in the heart of downtown. The grand State Capitol of Utah also offers a perfect photo opportunity, and Red Butte Garden is the ideal place to take a breather and experience some peace and quiet as you explore the trails through the botanical garden. Time your visit right, and you could even catch a performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. You don't need to be a believer to appreciate the skill of these musicians.
Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area is certainly a mouthful. It's also an eyeful, with its deep canyon carved out by the Snake River forming a majestic backdrop to any photos you take. And you'll want to take plenty. As the name implies, this conservation area was established to protect the habitat of a vast range of wildlife species, including many birds of prey.
The conservation area is home to eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons. If you're lucky enough to visit in spring, you may see the spectacular aerial courtship displays of the eagles. In June, the young raptors begin to take their first flights, and the sky is full of a staggering number of these creatures.
The wildlife here is made up of more than just birds, though. Bring your binoculars or a good telephoto lens and you may catch sight of rabbits, ground squirrels, coyote, deer, and beavers.
If you feel the need to recharge your batteries, Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area offers the Cove Recreation Site campground. Set on the banks of the lake, each site here offers a permanent shelter to protect you from the weather while you sit back and enjoy the view. There are no hookups, but you will find vault toilets and a dump station. The easy access to the lake makes it ideal for fishermen. Be aware that the site is first-come first-served, so get there early if you're planning to stay the night.
Once you've crossed into Idaho, you will soon find yourself traveling through Boise. After so much time spent in nature, you may well be eager to spend some time in the city. And although Boise is far from the largest city in the nation, it does have a lot to offer travelers looking for a change of scenery.
Boise was a major settlement on the Oregon Trail. There are various monuments throughout the town detailing this history of the settlement of the West. As you journey on a far more comfortable road trip of your own, it's interesting to learn a little bit about the pioneers who went before you and endured the hardships of the sometimes dangerous frontier.
An atmospheric place to do this is the Oregon Trail reserve, a 77-acre site that looks out over the modern city and the wild lands beyond.
For more historical background, consider visiting the Old Idaho Penitentiary site. This prison operated from 1872 all the way to 1973, and over the course of its life, held some of the most notorious prisoners from Idaho and beyond. Hear the chilling tales of what life was like for these condemned men from guides on regular tours. After some time in the old prison, your RV will look even more luxurious than it did before.
One of the best things about road trips is the opportunity to see some of the more quirky and unusual attractions that lie outside of the ordinary tourist itinerary. As you cross the border into Washington, make a slight detour to the small town of Walla Walla, and you'll find a classic example of one of these odd little places.
The Museum of Unnatural History is built around the idea of presenting a less factual view of the world than a regular museum. So don't expect to learn much while you're here. Instead, you'll be entertained and possibly fascinated by the imaginative displays you'll find. Exhibits include the Velocipus Rex, a bizarre combination of animal bones and bicycle parts, and the collection of fantastically creepy toys from the past. As one sign states, "this is a private museum, and we cannot expect too much from the exhibits."
Kennewick Washington isn't a large town, and as a result, it flies below the radar of most travelers. However, it makes a good place to break up your journey to Seattle and enjoy the slow pace of life surrounded by nature.
Kennewick is situated on the Columbia River, and as a result, it has some great waterfront parks where you can enjoy a quiet stroll and watch the sunset. Columbia Park is popular with the locals, and it makes a great place to people watch and take in the water views it has to offer. This area of Washington is also a noted wine-producing region, and there are some well-established vineyards to visit here and sample some of the local product. Tagaris and Goose Ridge are two of the best.
If you are looking for a place to stay, Kennewick offers a decent selection of RV parks. For instance, Columbia Sun RV resort is a little outside the center of town, but it offers impressive amenities, including up to 50 amp electrical service, water, and sewer hookups, Wi-Fi and TV. With 145 sites, this campground can accommodate even the largest RVs, but reservations are always recommended.
As you head further into Washington, you'll find yourself in Yakima. This is the heart of Washington wine country, and the city is surrounded by orchards and vineyards. It's a great place to take a wine tour, thanks to the abundant wineries such as Owen Roe and Treveri Cellars.
If you're more interested in the historical side of things, Fort Simcoe, a former frontier fort of the U.S. Army, is well worth a visit. The old wooden buildings are preserved much as they would have been at the time of the fort's use to pacify the local native Indian tribes. As you look out over the mountainous Washington scenery, it's not hard to imagine what life would've been like during this uneasy chapter in the nation's history.
If a quirky roadside attraction is more your kind of thing, don't worry. Yakima has a great one in the form of the Teapot Dome gas station, which really does look exactly like a teapot. This unique place has even made it onto the National Register of Historic Places, and is definitely worth a quick stop for a photo.
Your journey to Seattle began surrounded by monumental national parks, so it seems fitting that it end the same way. Just a short deviation from your route to the Emerald City will bring you to Mount Rainier National Park and its majestic 14,000-foot volcano that dominates the surrounding countryside.
Don't let the peace and quiet here fool you. Mount Rainier is an active volcano, even if its last eruption was all the way back in 1894. Nowadays, the mountain is popular with climbers, and 10,000 people attempt the summit each year. Less than half of them make it all the way up due to the demanding nature of the climb. But if you're an experienced mountaineer, maybe you'll be one of those who do.
If you'd rather stay closer to the ground, Mount Rainier National Park has plenty to offer. All that Pacific Northwest rain creates rushing rivers, majestic waterfalls, and deep forests of gigantic trees. The hiking options are virtually limitless, and the fishing in the rivers is second to none.
From one volcano to another. Mount Baker is smaller than Mount Rainier, but at 10,000 feet, small is most definitely a relative term. And the sprawling wilderness of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest offers more than just another mountain. The glacier-scarred peaks and flower- carpeted meadows provide everything you could possibly want in a mountain wilderness. There's no better place to round off a trip that's been dedicated to outdoor recreation.
Whether you're into hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, climbing, or wildlife viewing, you will be able to do it here. The lush rainforests that rise up the flanks of the Cascade Mountains are almost the polar opposite of the dry and arid landscape you started from. And that's what makes this stop so special.
Descending from the lofty forests of the mountainous National Park, you will find yourself in one of America's largest and most vibrant cities. The home of Starbucks and Microsoft, Seattle is a tech hub. But it's also a city that makes the most of its environment.
The endless forests that surround the metropolis and the sea that stretches out on its doorstep provide limitless opportunities for fun and adventure. Your trip may be over, but with all that Seattle offers, your vacation could be just beginning.