Kachess Campground sits just off the forested northwest shore of Kachess Lake in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
Set in dense old-growth conifer forest and surrounded by high mountains, Kachess Campground is considered one of the most beautiful sites in the Cle Elum Ranger District.
Kachess is a prime location for fishing, swimming, boating, paddling and mountain biking in summer and early fall.
The campground is also a great base camp for day-hikers and overnight backpackers. Several access trails from the area give hikers the chance to create their own excursions, whether it be a day hike or an overnight trip.
Starting at the campground, the Kachess Lake Trail is a short loop next to the lake, enjoyable for hikers of all levels.
Anglers enjoy fishing for rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon from boat or shoreline. Box Canyon Creek is closed to all fishing from the mouth, 2-miles up to the falls. Check current WDFW fishing regulations for additional restrictions.
Kachess Lake Campground offers 150 sites that accommodate both tent and RV camping, including one designated group site that can accommodate up to 50 guests. The group site and 106 single family sites are available for reservation, and the rest are available on a first-come first-serve basis. Sites are equipped with picnic tables, campfire rings with grills, vault toilets. Drinking water is available. There are no electric hookups. One motorized boat launch, one non-motorized boat launch, a swimming area and picnic areas are also available to visitors.
Towering peaks, high-country lakes and old-growth forests provide visitors with a variety of landscapes. Kachess Lake, adjacent to the campground, is a reservoir that stores and provides water for irrigation for south-central Washington. The surrounding undeveloped wilderness, clean streams and diverse forests support an abundance of wildlife, including deer, porcupine, native fish and migratory birds.
The spectacular Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) can be accessed near the campground. One of the world's premier National Scenic Trails, it showcases some of North America's most fantastic scenery as it winds its way from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington.
ADA Access: N
You can enter into the park through the gate and camp right on the lake or turn just before the gate and hit some free spots! Best of both worlds! The lake is the perfect swimming temperature during the summer!
This camp ground was well laid out and very easy to find my camping site. The Camp sides had good space separating them. oh and the bathrooms didn’t smell. I loved staying here.
I won't expound on all the reviews. This campground is magnificent and a jewel for our state but there are a couple flies in the ointment (or citronella candle, if you will).
First is the walk-up or "first come-first served" service advertised by the forest service for this site. One loop (of about four total, I think) is devoted to walk-up campers, no advanced registration. This is a valuable service as many of our lives don't fit with weekend get-aways planned nine months in advance. Week-long vacations, yes! But, this wonderful spot is less than an hour from a major metropolitan area. It's packed every weekend during the short summer months of our state. It's really great that Cle Elum ranger district understands this and TRIES to accommodate it's visitor's needs. People willing to take a Friday off from work and drive up in the morning should be able to do so with a reasonable chance of getting a spot for the weekend.
Now for the issue… Many campers have figured out a little hack into the system. I drove up to the site early on a Friday to find about half of the walk-up spots paid for and reserved but completely UNOCCUPIED. No gear, no vehicle, nothing. I looked at the reservation slips on the posts to see the spots had been reserved in some case two or three days previously for nearly a week stretch. Several other sites it was the same story but a car was parked in the spot, an empty car. No gear, no tent, nothing. This was at 8 AM, mind you! The campground has rules about occupancy after paying for a walk-up site to try and counter people usurping their reservation system. I complained to the person stationed at the campground entry post. She said that despite the posted rules, they had been directed to honor reservations paid for walk-up spots, no matter if they are occupied or not. It's sad but unless you are willing to take a little drive from your place in the Seattle-Tacoma area on a Wednesday night and pay for a "first come-first served" spot for four nights turn around and drive back and then in again on Friday night with your party, you are out of luck in July and August at this lovely resort.
A second issue is the Bureau of Reclamation is planning a huge project for Kachess reservoir. Climate change has lead to annual drought and extreme fire hazard in the Yakima River and Kittitas Valleys. The project will result in the reservoir being lowered by up to 80 feet in the summer! This would render the boat launch at this resort useless and seriously impact the enjoyment of site. Stay tuned for more developments.
This is a big campground with lots of access to trails and water. We were there on a Sunday and Monday nights in July and pretty much had the place to ourselves, which surprised me. I imagine that on weekend nights it could get full. But it's nicely laid out, and lots of the sites have easy access to the lake, which is fun.
We love this site. We go there every year. There really is a lot to do. My sister in law takes her Jeeps and we go off roading there are so many trails to explore. The kids love the lake. Just an FYI… There are flush toilets in one of the campgrounds, but many have pit toilets. It can be really hard to find a site here. They book up quickly. We went last year to find a place in the campground and it was full. There is quite a bit of dispersed camping near the park if you are good with primitive. There was a really cool site up the dirt road to the left of the park with a pretty well developed site by a little stream. You have to take a narley little road to the left. But my minivan made it to the first part.
Because this site is so close to the Seattle-Metro area, it can get a little over-crowded at times. Reserve in advance for best campsites and guarantee of availability! We always stayed at the large group sites (here I am complaining about the crowds yet being the source of it! YEESH!) Plenty of space, a quick car ride to a sweet swimmin' hole with ability to jump off of rocks, but the best part is Lake Kachess. You are never a far walk from the beach and it is perfection!
Incredible spot with memorable views. This park is amazing to explore and the campground lets you stay close to the beauty. There are a few loops within walking distance of the beach that are best, otherwise you may have to take a longer walk to get to the water. It was mostly full in April a few years ago, but didn’t feel crowded, and it was extremely well maintained. Hiking, kayaking, swimming, etc. nearby. Close to long trails if you’re doing day hikes or backpacking.
We stayed here because it's the perfect base camp for our mtn bike ride. This spot was super clean and had everything we needed to be comfortable including nice bathrooms! I would encourage anyone to stay here!
My boyfriend, dog and I stayed at this campsite for the first time and we were impressed! The camp host and all the other rangers we met were helpful when we had questions, our neighbors were pleasant and generally quiet, and the location was the best part. We were just steps from lake access through a short trail that led from our campsite to the shore, and then a short walk to the flush toilets and the creek. The flush toilets BTW were very clean - I was impressed by this. Not smelly at all, and in the morning there was an employee already there stocking up the TP and hand soap! No lights in the facilities though so be sure to bring a headlamp with you. The only downside that one might have is that there is not much forested coverage as there was some logging that had taken place prior to our stay. This didn't affect our specific campsite much, but at other larger group sites you could tell there was less privacy as a result.
Overall - great stay, definitely plan on returning again!
The campsite was very clean, large and perfectly placed next to the water.