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Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, WASHINGTON

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Camping Washington Lake Chelan National Recreation Area
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Most Recent Lake Chelan National Recreation Area Camping Reviews
Platform Style Camping Pads Ideal For Scenic Views

If a single site could ever embody a feeling of being detached and isolated while also being surrounded by natures warm reception, the Lake Creek Campground would be that location. 

Having checked out Fox Creek only a short distance away from this location I thought it simply could not get better, however having arrived a bit later in the day I had missed out on the riverside location I had desired. I opted to drive upward toward the Chelan Recreation Area and try my luck as the road began to change to a more bumpy terrain. Just before arriving at the area, to which I certainly could not navigate with my small car, 

I found this location and was inspired to stop and see how it could differ from the last. I was elated to discover how the site was near empty in comparison and seemed to offer such a unique experience in comparison to others. 

Each site was distanced at a comfortable spacing from the last and provided a comfortable amount of room to move freely. I really enjoyed the layout of these sites, while they did offer a bit less tree coverage they more than made up for that in views. In the not so distant view there were mountains visible and the escarpment of parking level and camping level made for a beautiful dynamic for camping without interruption. 

A parking pad was located at the top with a few steps downward to the camping area. Though only a few feet higher than the lower pad, the barrier of the height formed a near soundproofing from the roadway or other campers. 

The camping pad was equipped with standard amenities of a fire ring and picnic table but more impressively the view of the river flowing just a short distance below was like a post card. The pad site was even and hard packed but had just enough give thanks to the pine needles which lined its top layer. Camping here is no frills, no water or electricity and only vault toilets. 

But with views like this who even seems to mind. It seemed like a steal for only$10 and though I had no cell service I felt safe as I saw a Forest Ranger pulling though to check on the location and make sure fees had been collected at the honor box. 

If you visit this location I recommend Site 6. After driving through camp there were several very impressive sites but this one had a magical feel to it as the sunset over the treeline and beams of light filtered through well into dusk. It also provided some amazing night sky views. 

Tips: 

  • You will need an America the Beautiful Pass or a National Recreation Pass, Discover Passes are not honored here as this is a national site not a state maintained site. 
  • Check the entry kiosk at the pay station, this will have a full listing of rules and regulations and will additionally have information about any possible burn bans in the area. 
  • If you are wanting to visit the Chelan Recreation Area and do not have a 4 wheel drive or high clearance vehicle I do not advise visiting from the entry point on this side. Instead enter on the Chelan Lake entrance side.
Remote Campground On River

When I was traveling the Cascade Loop I quickly learned that cell signal is something to be desired.  However it was through this common issue that I discovered a happy accident with Fox Creek Campground.    Nestled many miles down a well paved roadway winding through the forests a small sign indicated the turn in for a quaint campground maintained by the Forest Service.

A word of warning before you venture here, if it has been raining a lot you want to be aware that you might experience flooding in some of the campsites due to their proximity to the river.   But should you venture when it is not raining, this campground is one you would fall in love with quickly if you enjoy something a little off the beaten path.

Sites are available for only $10 and the no frills camping offers only vault toilets as amenities.  However each campsite is fairly even and has room to spread out without having to worry to much about your neighbors.  Each site offers the basics of a picnic table and fire ring in addition to lantern hooks.    Sites have clear marked paved parking areas and signage indicates there is no parking in non specified areas.

Much like other campgrounds in the area this location does not accept the Discover Pass however does require a Recreation Pass to be displayed.  This includes the America the Beautiful Pass.

The campsite I decided upon was well cleared for camping however offered the canopy of tall trees to keep the sunshine from beaming down.    The pack of the ground below was even and clear of debris which made for a perfect set up for my tent and with a fine covering of pine needles provided just enough cushion to make for a comfortable evening.

Something I did notice at this location that made it a bit more unique than other camps in the area were the Mosquito Bite Free Zone hangers.     I am not sure if they had been left by other campers or if they were provided by Forest Service but they were a great feature which seemed to really keep the bug away when I visited.

Being a part of the National Forest seeing the nature of the area was quite beautiful as the sunset passed through the trees and the sound of the water flowing quietly put me to sleep at night.

Tips:

* Firewood is not to be gathered at the campsite but can be purchased at the Silver Falls Guard Station nearby.   Otherwise you will want to bring wood with you when you travel this way because you will be quite a ways from town.

* If you are dependent on solar power, there are a few sites which have less tree coverage, however these are near the water and are coveted so arrive early to make sure you secure these.

* This area is considered to be closed waters and does not allow fishing even with license.   If you are looking to recreationally fish, you might check another campground in the area off the river.   Many of the river camps are not accessible for fishing.

When winter hookups are needed......

I am surprised to find how often we camp in the snowy winter months, empty campgrounds are a plus this time of year! Come summer you won't be able to get a reservation in this park, but in January it was wide open! We have stayed here for many years to enjoy the Chelan WinterFest Festival in January. The park is within walking distance of town and is perfect for the festival weekend. You may notice the pictures are of different trucks and campers as we have visited this park throughout the years! We have only stayed in this park once in the summer months, and that was for a skydiving visit. Good basic RV park style camping.

Hike into

My first ever solo trip and of course, I chose as far away from home in the US I could. This campground was the first I visited, I loved the fact I could reserve it only months in advance through recreation.gov, which eased my anxiety of traveling alone. No worries about getting there and not having a site to stay on. I chose the hike to site because I wanted a challenge and I’d never stayed at a campground that offered hike to sites before. It was a pleasantly short walk to my site. Upon arrival I noticed the platform for my tent, a picnic table and a fire pit. The site was divided from he nearby sites with trees and bushes which was really nice. The trails around the campground were amazing, some went into the forest and some went into the small “vintage” town of Newhalem which I thought was very quaint and neat. Another path from the hike to sites was to the river which I could fairly hear from my tent. This campground was super nice and clean and if I ever go back to North Cascades again, I’ll more than like stay here again.

Roland Point Camp

Accessible via hiking or (rented) boat.  This campground has beautiful locations for reading, hiking, and canyoning.  Bear boxes provided and a well-maintained pit toilet.

Even in the rain - this place is great!

My first time camping at Ross Lake was at Colonial Creek - which actually has access to Diablo Lake.  It was pouring down rain - typical for the Pacific Northwest, but we still had a blast.  Clean bathrooms, plenty of space for cooking, cleaning, playing card games.

One of my favorite annual hiking trips!

We do an annual hiking trip at Ross Lake.  Amazing hikes, glacier-fed lake - which is icy cold if you decide to hike all the way up to Desolation Outlook and need to cool down your body after the evaluation climb.  You can rent motorized boats to access even more campgrounds.  Canoe or stand up paddleboard.  There are always rangers refilling toilet paper and checking on the conditions of the pit toilets which I always appreciate and bear boxes to keep your food safe.

Way out there, loud river, bring bug spray!

This campground is easy to find but a long drive into the woods on a bumpy gravel road. I made it in a Camery but it was a bumpy ride. Closest store is 45 minutes away so make sure you bring everything you need including firewood. It gets pretty chilly as the campground is well shaded. The river is very loud so you really don't hear your neighbors. The bugs are terrible, I've never seen mosquitos that aggressive. Each site had a tent pad, picnic table, and fire ring. There are some spots closer together but plenty that are set apart enough that you have privacy. Beautiful campground. No cell reception. One group had kids who were older but we didn't see any other kids. Well taken care of vault toilets though there was no host when we were there. Four stars only because the bugs were so bad, everything else about it was perfect for what we were looking for.

Park Creek Campground

This campground is located on Baker Lake Road. It is on the opposite side of the road as the lake, across from Swift Creek campground. 

Park Creek campground takes reservations. We tried our luck with no reservations- on the Thursday before Labor Day Weekend- and we were able to score a spot for one night. There were several sites available when we stayed there, but it was full for the weekend. 

We chose a spot that seemed a little more secluded than others, and it turned out to be a sweet little spot.. There was a place to park our car, a picnic area, a spot for two tents(sort of…we got pretty close to each other) and river access.

 The campground has toilets and dumpsters, but no showers. There were two separate toilets close to us. 

We were able to gather lots of firewood in the surrounding woods, so had a nice fire. 

The great thing about this campground is its location. It’s right across the street from Baker Lake, and near some amazing hikes.

Marble Creek Campground

This campground is off Cascade River Road near-ish Marblemount. 

Marble Creek campground takes reservations. We tried our luck with no reservations and we were able to score a spot for three nights. There were several sites available when we stayed there, but it was during the week. 

We stayed in site 3, which was great because it was along the river and the camp host told us it was the only spot with direct river access. There was a place to park our car, a picnic area, a slightly elevated platform for our tent, river access down an embankment, and trees where we set up our hammock. It was a fantastic site. 

The campground has toilets and dumpsters, but no showers. There were two separate toilets close to us. The closest looked more run down but I found it to be clean and not smelly. 

There is also public river access, so we went for a cold dip both at our site and in the public area. 

We were able to gather lots of firewood in the surrounding woods, so had a nice fire. 

There are a couple of hikes nearby. We did Hidden Lake, which is a short drive to the 4 mile gravel road to the trailhead. The hike is incredible and you can actually see the whole mountainside you hike from the public access beach in the campground, which was pretty cool. 

I really liked the campground. The camp host was super nice and the spot was one of my favorites. I will definitely be returning.