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This dispersed camping is free, huge bonus in my book. While searching for our perfect spot we did come across a few large parties, making us apprehensive that we would experience our ideal peaceful experience, but we were wrong to be. There were dozens of open sites that we had our pick of. A handful of cars drove by throughout the evening and night, but not an outrageous amount. Pretty dang good for very accessible NF camping spots. There are a good deal of trailheads near by, meaning you're never too far from a pit toilet or a bulletin board with information.
We visited in early September and found the weather to be very pleasant. Our view of Mt. St Helen's was obscured by the tall trees that offered our site seclusion and privacy, but we relished the view of the active volcano while driving to and from our site.
I was so excited to find a camping spot that was close enough to bike to. The hiker/biker sites are first come first serve, which was a little nerve wrecking.. We went late April though, to better our chances of finding a spot. We did and there was only one other person there. Though the way the site is set up… there's only one table and one firepit. So you have to be willing to talk to people. Unfortunately, we did not enjoy having to converse with a random man all night…..
We stay every year in May when when do our annual St. Helens climb. Nice bathrooms with wonderful shower, which we love after the climb. Close to a great restaurant, a bar, a gas station, trails, Yale lake, etc. The new owners are super friends and have done a lot of work on the property to add more sites. I always enjoy my stay there.
This campground is a very nice one to check out when adventuring in the lower portion of Washington. Much like its single site counterpart the options offered at this campsite are well thought and well placed. I noticed that the campground itself was very well maintained and offered many features including water spigots in common areas, clear walking paths to facilities and ample parking for the campers.
Each site was equipped with standard features including fire rings and picnic tables. But the real advantage to this location in particular is its proximity to some of the more lengthy trails in the park.
Initially I was a bit confused as to where the camp was, my cell signal was weak and I could not seem to find the campground until I finally gave up and just decided to go on a hike first. In doing so I was able to navigate to higher ground closer to the Beacon Rock and from there I pulled up a map to locate. My suggestion is with AT&T to have an offline map loaded when traveling to this area. While some areas do feature great signal others are more spotty like this one.
The campground was filled with campers and I spoke to a ranger when visiting who mentioned that group sites typically book in advance on weekends but can be more easily picked up on the fly during weekdays from Monday to Thursday with Tuesdays and Wednesdays being the optimum day for last minute travelers to the area.
Sites here can be a bit costly depending on the group size, but the additional offering the camp provides is the ability to rent all sites for those needing a large group. This must be done well in advance but can offer many benefits for larger groups. Much like other state facilities in Washington you will need to display your Discover Pass on each vehicle parked on property. One pass does not cover multiple cars upon a single use.
No frills RV-only park near Troutdale. Many RV pads are cracked and uneven. Location is right next door to a saloon and also has frequent police visits.
Weekly and monthly rates available. Daily rate not too expensive. Many if not most of the residents are long-timers.
Bathrooms, laundry facilities on-site. Not overly impressed, but in need of a spot at the mouth of the Gorge, you could do worse.
Ainsworth State Park is a gorgeous state park in the heart of the Gorge with great hikes and views of the Columbia river, all not far from Portland. The campsites, however, are located right next to the History Columbia River Highway, making for loud camping experience, though you are near all the great park activities. And when I say close, I mean you can see the highway from your tent.
Its location near Portland makes it very popular, and it is often full. Restrooms and showers available.
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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.