2016 Keystone Passport
2016 Keystone Passport
The city of Seattle in the state of Washington occupies a stunning location on the edge of the Puget Sound. A city that was founded way back in the mid-nineteenth century, Seattle has had its ups and downs economically with both booms and depressions as well as historically tragic events that have influenced the way it is today. Now it is a totally modern metropolis that covers an area of over one-hundred and forty square miles with a high rise central business district housing some of North America's largest corporations.
Seattle is a first-class venue for world-renowned events taking place on land, sea and in the air that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city. Major festivals include the Seattle International Film Festival and the Bumbershoot Art and Music Festival. Take a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel to get a sky-high view of the city's enormity, explore its maritime history with a visit to the Northwest Seaport, or its gold rush connections at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. There is an endless list of things to do that cater to all tastes and interests. It is a fascinating and buzzing city to live in or to visit. But if you start to feel closed in by the towering skyscrapers and the streets are too crowded for comfort, it can be good to get away for a while.
When you have anywhere from three to five days free, you can make an exciting road trip from Seattle to Billings in Montana and discover some people-free wide open spaces. Motor your way through Washington, Idaho, and Montana and you'll be able to go off-roading, camp out by a scenic river, hike through the forests, go into underground caverns or browse natural history museums.You'll find this road trip is just as diverse as the city you're leaving behind.
If you're feeling in need of letting off steam after the stress of a hard working week or the humdrum of a busy city, make the first stop on your RV road trip the Moses Lake Mud Flats and Sand Dunes ORV Park. The park is located near the town with the same name, Moses Lake, just off of the I 90.
You can camp at the ORV park, but if you prefer somewhere a little more peaceful try the Potholes State Park which is right nearby on the shores of O'Sullivan Reservoir. The campground there has a fishing dock, boat ramp and some tranquil hiking trails to explore.
The mudflats and sand dunes at Moses Lake cover around three thousand acres of sand and dirt designated for off-roading purposes. Whether you have a four by four, scramble bike or a dune buggy, you'll find plenty of exciting challenges to test your skill against during the day and at night if you want to be out after dark.
To enjoy some real outdoor adventure time plan to pitch camp for a day or two at the least in the beautiful Riverside State Park. The park is not far from the city of Spokane, and even though you'll still be in the state of Washington, it's a world away from Seattle. You can get there by driving along North Ruby Street in Spokane then turning off down the WA 291. The campground, the Nine Mile Recreation Area, is in the northern area of the park off the W. Charles Road.
The Riverside State Park is bordered by the Spokane River and Lake Spokane, so it offers plenty of opportunities to participate in boating, water sports, and fishing activities. If you didn't get your fill of off-roading at Mud Lake, there's another six-hundred acres here for ORVing. The park is a hiker's heaven with more than fifty miles of trails running through the countryside as well as having access to the forty-mile long multi-use Spokane River Centennial Trail directly from the campground. There are also twenty-five miles of equestrian trails to canter along if you have your horse with you on your road trip.
As you motor over the state border between Washington and Idaho you'll be entering into the massive expanse of the Lolo National Forest. While you won't be in Idaho for long, the same can't be said about the forest. It stretches all the way into Montana and as you continue toward Billings, you'll have it on either side until you reach Missoula. Give yourself time for this section of the road trip, not just to admire the scenery but to negotiate the twisty road.
The Lolo National Forest covers almost two-million acres of terrains so if you're contemplating camping out there, it's a good idea to pre-plan your campground before leaving Seattle. One that won't see you veering too far off-route to pitch camp is the Fishtrap Lake Campground near Thompson Falls. You can fish and hike from there too as well as chilling out by your RV while soaking up the stunning alpine-style scenery of the landscape. Peace, quiet and plenty of wildlife spotting guaranteed.
For a complete change of environment, go underground into the Lewis and Clark Caverns. The enormous limestone caves are part of the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park where there is a year-round campground suitable to pitch up at in your RV. The caverns are near the rural town of Whitehall, off the I 90 through La Hood Park.
Access to the caverns is restricted to the months of May through to the end of September and all visitors are required to be accompanied by a guide. In general, the tours of the subterranean marvel take approximately forty-five minutes. While the trek is steep in places the pathways are ADA accessible as well as wheelchair friendly in some parts. For those who like to scrabble on their knees in the near dark, there's the Wild Cave Tour which winds through tight passageways only illuminated by the lamp on your safety helmet.
As you're nearing your road trip destination of Billings, make one more stop in the city of Bozeman to take a look around the Museum of the Rockies. The facility on West Kagy Boulevard has a sizable parking lot where you can leave your rig while you spend a few hours inside. You'll need plenty of time to tour round too as the museum is huge and the exhibitions incredibly diverse.
Once you're past the eye-catching bronze statue of Big Mike, the museum's emblematic T-rex, and inside, you'll be hard put to know where to start browsing. The Siebel Dinosaur Complex is a wonder in itself and full of everything dinosaur from skeletons to fossilized eggs and bones. The Paugh History Hall carries displays on both the museum's founders and the Native Americans of the region and there are many more galleries besides. There are temporary exhibitions too that can vary from live reptiles to a living history farm to Japanese woodcut art. The museum also has a planetarium with a forty-foot dome where you can discover a universe of interesting facts about the planets, stars and distant galaxies.
2012 Jayco Greyhawk 31FS with Bunk Beds, sleeps 8
Compared to Seattle, Billings might not be the most exciting of cities to arrive at after a five-day RV road trip, but it's not always about where you end up but about what you see on the way. That said, there are a few places that you may want to add to your list of must-visits in Billings.
The Pictograph State Park contains hiking trails to some fascinating ancient Native art plus there are more contemporary creations to see in the Yellowstone Art Museum. If you decide to stay on the road for a while longer, take the US 212 southbound from Billings and you'll be in for the scenic drive of your life along the Beartooth Highway. It's not called that for nothing, so be prepared for plenty of gear changes.