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A visit to Beacon Rock State Park is one for the memory book. Not only is the campground itself a woodland wonderland with winding paths through tall old growth forest areas, but the surrounding area of the park itself is impressive with exciting things to do around every corner.
Located along the Columbia River, the park has the asset of water activities while also the beauty of waterfall paths, public spaces ideal for family gatherings and of course the iconic Beacon Rock itself which towers above the surrounding area as one of the more unique look outs you will find.
I visited this park on a warm and blustery day. I started out hiking the Beacon Rock itself where I was impressed by the views and challenged by the ongoing ascent of the switchbacks. Following my challenge of the morning, I moved over the campground itself. Mid afternoon on a busy day, I expected to be turned away as the park was pretty crowded but instead I was impressed to find that the campground still had a few sites available and was able to settle into one for a few hours of R&R.
The sites were large enough to comfortably park my small car and have plenty of room to spread out. While I don’t see this camp being great for excessively large rigs, I did see a few smaller and mid sized units on the loop.
Sites were basically fitted with tables and fire rings while common spigots were located in several locations around camp for those needing water. Both trash and recycling receptacles were placed near the kiosk of camp, something which you will not find unless you travel all the way around the loop.
I enjoyed this site because of the access it had to the trail system beyond the Beacon Rock trail(which is located across the street from the camp). Several trails spur off the back side of the camp near an overflow parking area for those who need more than one car for their adventures.
Even as the camp filled up there was enough spacing that it didn’t seem to be loud and short of a few dogs barking here and there it was pretty quiet into the evening.
A centralized restroom and bath house was such a perk and justified the higher pricing of the site which I did feel was pretty high overall but somewhat fitting for the area. The showers were coin operated with every 3 minutes costing$0.50 a great investment after being on the road and staying at another campground previously which was having water issues which prevented me from being able to take a shower the night before. The showers were hot, the pressure was good and the overall impact of this was game changing!!!
- Bear Warning- This area is a bear zone however you will not find bear boxes like you will at other campsites in the area. For this reason you need to come prepared and make sure you are able to secure your items in a safe way.
- Other Campsites- There are several campsites beyond the mainly advertised loop. You can find these a bit further down the road and they offer RV hook ups and also equestrian camping. No Supplies No Problem- At this campsite you are only a short distance from town so if you do happen to forget something and need it the drive to a store or station is very short.
- Cell Service- This is one of the few locations in the area I did have cell signal with AT&T!!
When venturing to Mount St Helens area I wanted to find a campground relatively close by to stay before visiting the next day. I found Lewis and Clark State Park along the way and opted to give it a shot for an overnight. The site looked comfortable and quiet and was well shaded and welcoming.
Pulling into the campground I noticed several areas to enjoy recreationally alongside camping including public park areas with covered outdoor kitchen zones perfect for those enjoying the area for day use. Additionally there were several areas with play equipment and outdoor activities for singles or the family to enjoy.
Pulling into the camping loop area sites were well spaced and shaded by large vibrant trees. Soft mosses lined walkways and created a feeling of being deep into the forest without being far removed from actual civilization and it was a nice departure from many of the more commercial looking camps of the area which lacked the forest feel.
The camp site I chose was equipped with the standard amenities of a picnic table and fire ring and the pull in section was just large enough for my smaller car. Throughout camp I did notice some sites were designed specifically for tent campers while others would cater better to larger units. Something unique about this location was it offered bike in campers sites as well with much smaller pull in areas but just as much space to spread out and set up their tents.
The bath house was very nice as it was heated and had hot water, though when I was there I did encounter a slight concern with using this bathhouse because there was a current e coli water warning which was displayed throughout camp on all water spigots. This left me more than a little leary about using the water in the bathroom turning what could have been a warm amazing shower into a bit of a concerning experience.
Because of this concern I noticed they had hand sanitizer placed in the restrooms, which was a great concession considering the issue at hand.
While this was a campsite I did enjoy, I feel as though with the water concerns I could not fully embrace all the features of camp which did hinder me slightly from fully being able to embrace all of the options. Should I return to this area I would check in advance to see if the water was a concern before staying another night.
The campground, like many in the area, advocate recycling. Not only will you find trash cans and dumpsters throughout camp but you will also find recycling barrels scattered throughout camp. I truly enjoyed this feature of the park as it is making a difference in the bigger picture and you can commonly find items created from recycled items such as benches and tables located throughout various state parks as continued improvements occur.
All in all, for someone just wanting to enjoy a night at a quiet campground this would be a great one to check out in the area. While it lacks some of the amenities of other campgrounds in the area which are more destination style camps it has a lot of charm for those wanting to enjoy fun with family or friends in a more traditional camping style.
- Check in advance for water related issues not only at this campground but others in the area.
- Make a stop just before the entrance of the park at the Jackson House Historic Site. This site is a major portion of the area’s rich history and with several unique signs which walk you through the significance of the area you will be enriched by this short stop.
- Make sure you have a Discover Pass!! Any stay in Washington you will want to make sure you have this pass.
We spent only one night here (approx. 45°41'49.5"N 125°44'18.1"W) in a lovely clearing featuring a metal fire ring. Sites are designated, but free for use up to 14 days. Lots of fishing accessible along Cook Creek. Road is dirt/gravel and currently ends about 3.5 miles in due to "flooding damage" which takes the form of several very large boulders blocking the way. Our intention was to go for another 1.5 miles or so, but we were very happy with the site we found. We will definitely return!
This state park is gem. We winter camped here in February and were pleasantly surprised! The sunset over the mountains was amazing and the dogs loved swimming and fetching sticks. Nice level paved spots, some drive thru even. Clean bathrooms hot showers! Only draw back is that they are token showers. You can get tokens by the adorable lakefront cabins or main entrance. We like it so much we’re staying a second night.
Keeping in mind that we went during a rainy season (fall), this wasn’t a terrible place.
On the way to Mt St Helens, it is a nice base camp for exploring the area a bit, though we didn’t do much of that. I would certainly expect that we would the next trip here.
The good: Fairly Quiet. And that’s staying in the full service trailer area, which is more of a parking lot than a camp ground.
The bad: the loops are not clear on the direction of travel in this spot, and we had a fellow drag his trailer across the front bumper of my Jeep soon after I was backed in and settling the details of my placement. I’m not certain if he was traveling the correct way, but he didn’t have enough room to accomplish his mission and he definitely was traveling the opposite direction that I used to correctly back my trailer in.
Now he has a hole in his trailer which didn’t seem bother him as much as the twisted bracket on my bumper bothered me.
My brother and his wife tent camped on our site, and ended up swimming in rainwater overnight (the slope of the land didn’t help, but they have since also purchased an RV after this final tent experience).
This section also had no tree cover and was widely exposed to the elements.
I would definitely try this campground out again, but for now it was slightly disappointing.
I really, really expected to love this campground. It's one of (perhaps the) closest Oregon State Campground to Portland and I'd heard great things about it. It's also in the Columbia River Gorge, which is green, great, and beautiful. But the campground itself is just so-so. Okay sites terraced on top of each other right next to the road.
Pros: Great location, plenty of trees, and good prices ($17 tents and $26 for full hookup). Also flush toilets.
Cons: Right next to the road and sites are crammed in. Nothing really to do in the campground.
Tips: The walk-in tent sites look nice. Also, book well in advance. Very popular in the summer.
Smallish campground (15 or so spots) on a small "cliff" overlooking Cascade Locks. Spots are close together, surrounded by grass, with a small bathroom in the center of the lot. Tents are $25 per night, with several sites also available for a bit more for RVs with power and water. Reservations ($10 fee) are only accepted during the summer.
There's not much to do at all in the small campground, but there's a decent amount of places to explore right in the same area. Across a small street there's a playground, the Locks themselves, views of the Columbia River and even a museum.
Nice enough campground if you want to stay in the area for other activities, though no privacy at all between sites.