Exploring the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest means choosing between beaches and deserts, forests and volcanos, lakes and prairies. Camping in Washington is a chance to greet nature up close and sleep in some of the most beautiful land in North America. The biggest challenge? Deciding where to start.
The Cascade Mountains run down the center of Washington like a spine. A handful of highways cross the crest in parallel lines, all running from the evergreens of the west side to the wide open grasslands of the east. Camping in Washington is available along every route, like the state parks that dot I-90 and North Cascades National Park that hugs Highway 20.
Take Highway 2 over Stevens Pass to find old-growth trees around each spot at Money Creek Campground, plus a view of a classic metal train trestle. Fill each day with hikes through the Cascade forest, perhaps on a stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail where it passes the Stevens Pass Mountain Resort ski area. Head east of Stevens Pass to verdant Lake Wenatchee State Park for wooded campsites near the shores of a placid mountain lake and a stable inside the park offering trail rides through the summer. BYO kayak or rent one here.
Sometimes camping in Washington means getting off the beaten track to explore the quiet corners of the state. Take a forest road in Olympic National Park to find a green haven of mossy logs and curious chipmunks, or head north around Mount Baker, the Cascades’ northernmost volcano, for boat-in campsites around Baker Lake. In winter, the snowy expanse of Artist Point near Mount Baker' offers killer views of rugged glaciers for intrepid snow campers and backcountry skiers.
There are spectacular overnights to be had in the Pacific Northwest’s national and state parks, not to mention the remote U.S. Forest Service lands that blanket this corner of the country. Stock up on s’mores and firewood (when and where rules allow) and pitch a tent under the stars and go camping in Washington for the trip of a lifetime.
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Good little camp ground on post with almost everything you need. It is in the wilderness, on the lake, but it is also fairly close to stores and gas stations. Long term max is 28 days per spot. All hookups available trash laundry showers bathrooms fire pits as well as grills all in each spot
Nice family park for camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, and limited hiking in old growth and 2nd generation forest.
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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.
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Once entering one of the most iconic areas of Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge, you are are welcomed with open arms to the Heart O’ The Hills Campground, a beautiful primitive camp nestled only a few short miles from the ridge itself.
The first taste of Olympic from this direction, the campground is the perfect retreat for a day or even a week for those wanting to explore the many trails and features within a short driving distance of the northern entrance.
I had the privilege of visiting this location on my lengthy trip to the Pacific Northwest and as a Ranger For the Dyrt was given the unique opportunity to share not only my experience but also a special product by Banner and Oak which made my adventures within the park even better.
Heart O’ The Hills is a quiet location just south of the Port Angeles area and a few miles within the entrance gate. There are no reservations available for this unique campground so early arrival is suggested on weekends, especially during peak season.
I visited on a weekday in late fall and noticed there were numerous spots available to choose from. Empty sites are easily located by visiting the pay kiosk near the main restrooms of camp, here there is a paper slip system of making occupied spaces, very similar to that of the ones they use by the National Seashores.
Pricing for this camp is very reasonable at only$20 per night, or for those with the Senior Interagency Pass only $10. Unlike many kiosks which accept only cash you can make payment at this location by check as well which allows you an additional option. However keep in mind there are no credit card payments accepted!!
When I explored the camp I noticed two main styles of camping were available, smaller sites which catered to single vehicles and tent campers and larger sites which could easily accommodate larger rigs or double occupancy car groups. While there is a limit of 8 people per site, these larger sites would not feel crowded with 8-12 people in most instances.
Sites are equipped with standard amenities of picnic tables and fire rings. Throughout camp there are bear boxes with shared access for many sites. Additionally, I found that while this is considered to be a primitive campground there are water spigots located every few sites for shared usage. There is no electrical hook ups and at the time of my visit the restrooms were closed temporarily, with port-a-pottys instead located at this area.
Unfortunately by the closure of the restrooms I was unable to determine if there were electrical outlets or even showers at the this campground which did weigh heavily on my mind when staying here. I really wish I would have known, because those two features could take the stay from a great one to an extraordinary stay.
Just beyond the C loop of camp the Heart O’ The Hills Forest Trail can be found. The first of many trails you will want to explore at the park, this trail allows you a glimpse at the beautiful forest around you. Though this trail is nor ADA for those able to walk on slightly uneven ground this trail is one you will not want to miss.
Taking a walk down this trail it was so peaceful and I easily could have lost track of time just discovering the larger than life mushrooms, the massive ferns and the trickling streams around me, a far different setting than my native Texas home.
- Firewood is available at this location only seasonably. Should you arrive at camp and wood not be available you can return to the community of Port Angeles and pick some up for a reasonable price point.
- If you are going to be staying in this area and are not prepared for bear country, stop at the visitor’s stop when you come into the park and ask about their bear cans.
- In an effort to conserve paper, the park is working toward going paperless when it comes to maps, if you happen to be visiting this area download the online maps to your smart phone before visiting or take a photo when stopping at one of the visitor centers.
As a Ranger for the Dyrt, I am often given the unique opportunity to try products in the field which might add value to the camping and exploring experience as a whole. I was very fortunate to be able to evaluate some of the many items from the Banner& Oak Company along this adventure.
For this adventure I took the Pike solid back panel construction hat for a trip around the campground. I personally love hats and find them to be a travel must for men and women for a variety of reasons. On cool days they allow you to keep your body heat from escaping through your head, which is the area of our bodies which allows the most to escape. On a sunny day, a hat can keep you from getting to much glare or help with sunburn on your sensitive scalp region. A hat is a must for all travel.
The Pike is a hat which was named from the infamous Pike’s Peak in Colorado. It’s sturdy construction allows for comfort and coverage while allowing adjustability through a snapback.
On a more personal level, I found the hat to have great overall feel to it. The material used was perfect for the slight chill in the air and being able to secure the hat through adjustments came in handy as I moved from the calm of camp to the winds of the Hurricane Ridge. The olive color fit my personal style well, and while they do have other color options in the Pink including charcoal and maroon, the green tone feels very outdoorsy.
- Do not be afraid to shop both the mens and women’s sections for different designs. When doing so make sure you check the sizing but keep in mind some styles might suit your style more from your not standard shopping section.
- Hats are one of the more essential travel items so finding a hat which is comfortable in all situations is important. I suggest solid back panels for cooler months and vented or mesh backs for summer.
MY WIFE AND I MADE A TRIP OUT TO THIS CAMP GROUND IN FEBRUARY AND IT WAS AWESOME. LOOKING FORWARD TO WHEN IT OPENS IN APRIL OF 2020. THERE ARE ONLY 6 CAMPSITES NOT 21! VERY SECLUDED AND ROAD IN IS VERY ROUGH AND ALOT OF TREE'S DOWN ACROSS ROAD.
Nestled just short distance off the main highway through this area, the Klipchuck campground is remote feeling and quiet. Sites here are beautiful with tall trees and lush greenery. This campground was so beautiful and as the fog lifted in the early morning following a rain it was something out of a movie with the cascading sites lining the flatter areas and also the gentle climbing slopes.
Despite the nature of this site being semi-primitive you do not feel as though you are without as there is running water located at centralized spigots throughout camp and vault toilets scattered throughout. No matter the site number you select you will be within close proximity to walk to these features.
Each site is equipped with a parking space large enough for a mid to large size vehicle, with some large enough for larger RV units as well. I found on a quick drive through camp there were sites to accommodate all camping styles depending on your personal preference of size.
Standard site amenities include picnic tables and fire rings with clear area perfect for tent camping. Garbage collection areas are placed along each of the 2 loops, a great bonus feature not all forest camps offer.
Pricing was very friendly and could be deposited into a self pay station at the entrance. This is checked by a campground host daily. Additionally the campground host when I was there was extremely friendly offering great tips for adventures in the area within driving distance.
3 trails lead out of this campground making it the perfect setting for exploring, though the area does have bear awareness signs located throughout so it would be wise to come prepared for the possibilities of animal encounters. I suggest the scenic trail which has some amazing views of the forest and the many features of the landscaping around.
Perhaps my favorite feature of this camp is the constant sound of the water around you which makes it extremely peaceful. If you are interested in getting a bit closer to the water make sure to camp along the back side of the campground.
- Bring everything you will need to this site, there are no stores on property to purchase anything, including fire wood you will need to come prepared!!
- Consider one of the hikes from camp for a day trip instead of preparing to only hike at a trail away from camp.
I traveled the Cascade Loop and along the way found many campgrounds which I absolutely loved. Amongst those I found amenities varied as did price points.
Early Winters Campground appealed to my budget saving desires when I wanted to find something which was not completely removed and offered some basic amenities. Camping here was only $12 per night which was very budget friendly.
The sites were decently sized but seemed a but less secluded than some locations I had visited along the way. Mostly tent campers were here when I visited, I feel this is in large part due to the smaller pull in areas.
Fees can be paid at a honor box located at the entrance of the campground near the restrooms. Additionally, something to note is those who have the Senior Access pass are eligible for a 50% discount when their pass is displayed clearly on their dash. There is no water at this campground so keep that in mind when planning a visit.
The basic campsites are equipped with picnic tables and fire rings. They are surrounded by trees and many low laying shrubs which makes for great windbreak on a blustery day.
The biggest benefit I could see to staying at this location was the proximity to the trails which run through the area. Just a short walk from your campsite you can find the Methow Trails which is known primarily for its cross country ski access points but is also great for hiking during the warmer months. In some areas you can also do mountain biking on the trails, however there are signs posted as to where this is or is not approved.
- If you are wanting to stay here there is no reservation system, keep this in mind during peak season and arrive early to secure your camping location.
- If you are a person who travels with your horses you will not be able to stay at this location. Horses are prohibited.
- Bring everything you will need to this campground as there are not any services at the site. This includes firewood, come prepared!!