The Trip of a Lifetime - Visiting State Parks by Motorcycle
Rajesh Pillai standing next to his motorcycle - a red Indian Springfield cruiser
One man. One motorcycle. One unforgettable experience.
While some prefer to see the state by car, tour bus or RV, Rajesh Pillai had a different plan. Rajesh, a program manager from Bothell, Washington, set out on an adventure to see all auto-accessible Washington state parks by motorcycle.
Originally from India, Rajesh moved to Washington in 2002. In 2018, he bought his dream motorcycle and soon this father of two began planning his rides.
For the next three years, he spent countless hours driving highways and backroads to soak in the sites of the entire state. He reached his goal in 2021 and credits his wife for supporting his purchase of the red Indian Springfield cruiser – one of the last in its color – and the time it took to complete his epic adventure.
We caught a sneak peek at Rajesh’s travels on Twitter and caught up with him at the end of his journey for an inside look at this dream-worthy trip.
Rajesh visited Gardner Cave at Crawford State Park Heritage Site
What inspired you to set this goal?
It started with the purchase of my motorcycle. I was drawn to its power and legacy* and wanted to ride it to see the whole state. I wasn’t sure where to start and end my journey.
One day, I randomly found myself at Peace Arch State Park. I then traveled to Bay View State Park where I used to camp with my family and took my trip a step further by visiting Larrabee State Park. This initial trip was fun and nostalgic and inspired me to keep going.
What were the best parts of your adventure?
The journey and the destinations! I got to experience everything from the rainforests and beaches of the Olympics to the unique beauty of the cascades and the dry area of central Washington, as well as the amazing hills of the Palouse!
Then, planning the trips – finding the shortest routes, packing, keeping my motorcycle ready and clean. The whole process was thrilling!
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Sharing the road is always a challenge. I’d like to see people driving cars paying more attention to motorcyclists and leaving enough space for safety.
The last mile to Palouse Falls State Park is loose gravel. The views are worth it, but motorcyclists should take the utmost care.
Avoid forest roads if you are on a cruiser. Also, beaches are not necessarily a motorcyclist’s best friend. Of course, salt water is not motorcycle-friendly, but my concern was balance. Taking an 800 lb. bike on sand is not advisable… I learned the hard way.
Which park was your favorite and why?
I couldn’t pick just one!
- Lake Sammamish: Fun, family environment. Great water activities and close to Seattle.
- Wallace Falls: Great hikes!
- Twin Harbors and Ocean City: The beaches
- Cape Disappointment: Ocean and lighthouse views
- Cama Beach: Historic cabins and bungalows
- Fort Simcoe: Remoteness and emptiness on the road to the fort
- Crawford State Park: Getting to tour Gardner Cave (and making it in time even though it was a seven-hour trip!)
What would you tell people considering a similar trip?
You should definitely do it! And don’t wait to get started. Always carry safety essentials, including portable gas storage. Also, motorcycles are given priority on Washington state ferries, which helps with traveling to the Olympics or San Juan Islands.
Do you have future plans that include visiting state parks?
A few years from now, my wife and I would like to be park volunteers or even rangers (sincerely)!
- Many thanks to the Washington State Parks staff for maintaining these gems in our state.
- We are all given one short lifetime and one beautiful planet.
- Explore! Keep going ‘til the road ends and then walk a little further.
- Go to remote places, stay under the stars, connect with the child within you. Travel fills us with the wonders of nature and kindness for each other.
- Happiness is not really a state of mind – happiness is riding a motorcycle.
*Indian Motorcycles, originally founded as a bicycle manufacturer in 1897, was the first company in America to make motorcycles. The Springfield model’s engine (1800cc) makes it one of the more powerful cruising bikes on the market.