The Northwest Passage - Page 2

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The Life Aquatic: Olympic Park's placid Pacific side  (PhotoDisc)

Day 4: Olympic National Park to Olympia (120 Miles)
Out of the rainforest wilderness, Olympia is the state capital of Washington, situated at the southern end of Puget Sound. Check out the Hands On Children's Museum (360.956.0818; www.hocm.org), featuring interactive exhibits on anatomy, building, architecture, and the environment. The area around the State Capitol Building contains many old and new buildings of historic relevance, while tours of the state legislature are offered. Seafood lovers swear by the local Olympia oyster, a regional specialty best savored, where else, at the casual Oyster House (360.753.7000; www.olympiaoysterhouse.com), which claims to be the state's oldest seafood restaurant.

Olympia Campground (360.352.2551; www.americanheritagecampground.com) provides good access to I-5 and offers groceries, propane, gas or diesel fuel, Internet, laundry, and firewood. It has an outdoor heated pool and a big playground to help kids burn off energy after another day in the road saddle.

Days 5-6: Olympia to Mount Rainier National Park (80 Miles)
With a girth of 35 square miles, 14,410-foot Mount Rainier's 26 glaciers comprise the largest single mountain ice mass outside of Alaska. Even during the hottest summer months, up here at Mount Rainier National Park (360.569.2211 x3314; www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm) you're never far from a snowball fight. Fishing, hiking, rock climbing, and scenic flights are available, as well as innumerable scenic waterfall-fed, glacial lakes. Note, too, that it's rugged here, with large parts of the park closed in winter due to heavy snows. Some of the park roads may open as early as April, while others may be closed until July. In the southwest part of the park, Nisqually-Paradise Road is open year-round, providing access to numerous waterfalls, including 320-foot Comet Falls.

White River Campground (360.569.2211; http://www.nps.gov/mora/recreation/camping.htm), deep inside the national park, provides excellent access to hiking trails, rock climbing, and bird watching, but no hot showers. The road is closed in winter, too. Note that none of the Rainier campgrounds has RV hookups, so plan on overnighting outside of the park if you're in a rig.

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