This article on free camping in Washington state is brought to you by Red Ledge. Red Ledge’s rebel windbreaker is made from ripstop nylon and finished with an ultra-waterproof coating. It’s the perfect companion on your next camping trip to the Pacific Northwest.
Finding a place to camp for free can be a logistical challenge, no matter where you are in the country. Luckily for Pacific Northwesterners and tourists visiting America’s upper left, there are plenty of free options for camping in Washington state, from the misty coastline to the moss-draped rainforests and craggy peaks.
With over 19 million acres of public land, Washington is one of the country’s top destinations for outdoor recreation. Those millions of acres include popular national parks, like Olympic and the North Cascades, where you’ll usually pay for camping and need a reservation. But they also include national forests and BLM land, where camping is free, unless noted otherwise.
Where to Camp for Free in Washington State
Campers on The Dyrt are all over Washington State campgrounds, and they’ve found plenty of free camping opportunities throughout the state. These free campgrounds in Washington are low on amenities without sacrificing the dramatic beauty you expect from the land of evergreens, alpine lakes, and epic hiking trails.
We’ve listed just 10 of the free campgrounds in Washington state. Remember, half the fun of camping in secluded, remote places (and the ones that are more likely to be free) is finding them for yourself. Grab yourself a map of BLM land and forest service roads in Washington state to discover even more free camping opportunities. Those willing to drive down bumpy forest service roads will be rewarded—just remember to bring enough gas and water!
(And when you’re moving on to free camping in Oregon, we’ve got recommendations there, too.)
1. Twentynine Pines Campground — Cle Elum, WA
This easy-to-access campground is located right on the Cle Elum River, and is free to camp at with a discover pass (including guests). The property offers 60 campsites with fire rings and picnic tables, as well as restrooms. That said, the camping is free here because Twentynine Pines sits on Department of Natural Resources land, so it is not frequently maintained. Campers should be prepared to bring all the supplies they may need for the duration of their camping trip!
“Aside from being extremely easy to find, I think one major benefit of this campground is that it is so close to town. Normally, we prefer to be the furthest distance away from civilization but at Twentynine Pine you still get that secluded woodys feel and right on the river! Very large camp area, about 60 sites to choose from.” — The Dyrt camper Jess G.
2. Cowlitz Wildlife Area — Randle, WA
The Cowlitz wildlife area is home to SW Washington’s best scenery, and offers year-round access for campers willing to brave the cold. At any given moment, there are between 16-30 campsites available for free to the public, with a paved access road to boot. Looking for a place to park your big rig? This campground offers RV spots with unlimited length requirements, so if you can make there, you’re free to camp in whatever you’d like. The maximum stay at Cowlitz Wildlife Area is 14 days, but at just over 15,000 acres, the wildlife area itself is worth exploring. Whether you’re looking for fishing opportunities or the chance to try out your wind-surfing skills, Cowlitz pretty much has it all!
3. Old Forest Service Campground — Lake Wenatchee, WA
Reachable by a .5 mile gravel road, this campground is managed by the USDA Forest Service and provides free camping off the beaten path to many Lake Wenatchee visitors. Although somewhat dilapidated, each campsite does offer a picnic table and fire ring, and is located just to the side of a small creek that cuts through the property. The campground is located off of Highway 2, on White Pine Rd. This Old Forest Service Campground is a great spot for those seeking slimmer crowds in good proximity to Lake Wenatchee.
4. Crawfish Lake Campground — Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Open seasonally, Crawfish Lake Campground offers 19 tent campsites located on the shores of Crawfish Lake. The campground is on the National Forest side of the lake, and offers excellent access to the shoreline as well as the surrounding amenities. Vault toilets are located on the property, but there is no water, so all campers are advised to bring their own. The lake is a great spot for fishing in the summer months, and is a popular destination for families and water enthusiasts.
5. Godman Campground — Wenacha-Tucannon Wilderness
Godman Campground is a paradise for free camping in Washington state, as it offers a variety of recreational activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including fishing, hunting, biking, and hiking. The Godman Trail that starts in the campground offers access to the West Butte Trail, which provides stunning views of the surrounding Wenacha-Tucannon Wilderness. Godman Campground is a tent-only camping area, although each site comes with a picnic table. This area can get very popular in the summer as it’s become more well-known in recent years, so get there early if you’re hoping to grab a spot!
6. Rocky Lake Campground — Colville, WA
Free camping in Washington state is easy at Rocky Lake Campground, where seven dirt sites are open to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. The campground is open seasonally, and all sites are equipped for tents only (or small trailers if you can get them back there). The lake itself is small yet gorgeous, and occasionally yields a trout or two to patient anglers. Most of the sites are located right near the boat launch, just steps away from Rocky Lake. Rocky Lake is located just minutes from Colville.
7. Big Meadow Lake — Colville National Forest
Big Meadow Lake is as good as it gets when it comes to free camping in Washington state, as it offers 17 campsites with picnic tables, fire rings, and tent pads. There are toilets onsite, but water must be carted in by all campers. While it can get slightly crowded in the peak season (mid-late spring), the campground is generally available, and offers excellent access to the lake as well as boat launches, interpretive trails in the area, and a dock that gives campers prime opportunities to catch some trademark Washington trout.
“Free. 17 sites, two different areas to choose from on either side of the lake. Accessible fishing dock. Vault toilets, picnic tables and fire rings. Trail around the campground that takes you threw the meadow and to a look out area which was pretty cool. The trail continues on to an old shelter that is also accessible by car.” — The Dyrt camper Jess G.
8. Old Cascades Highway Dispersed — Skykomish, WA
Located just off of the Old Cascades Highway, this dispersed camping area is a gorgeous spot hidden from view from the main road, with room for a couple of cars and a few tents. It’s a perfect site for families or smaller groups, and offers easy access to the river as well as local waterfall trails. There is a fire ring at this campsite, and although it’s best camped in the warmer months, this spectacular site is open year-round to all outdoor enthusiasts willing to brave the cooler temps.
9. Wickiup Campground — Pomeroy, WA
Another campground just outside of Pomeroy, Wickiup campground is a fan favorite for free camping in Washington state. Managed by the USDA Forest Service, this property is located near the Triple Ridge Area, and as a result offers excellent hiking opportunities within 2-5 miles from the campground.
Ranger Creek is the lone fishing source within 5 miles from the campground, but offers anglers ample opportunities to catch local species of trout. In addition to that, a cold water spring is located just 100 yards from the campground. Each campsite is equipped with a picnic table, and vault toilets are available onsite. Hikes in and around this area provide amazing views of the Umatilla National Forest!
10. Middle Waddell Campground — Olympia, WA
Another DNR-managed campground, Middle Waddell is a Discover Pass campground that is free for passholders, and offers 33 campsites in a relatively secluded location, many of which can accommodate RVs and ORVs. The campground offers vault toilets throughout the property, as well as water onsite offered by the owner. The Middle Waddell Trailhead provides access to the 89 miles of motorized trails that wind throughout the Capitol State Forest, making it a prime destination for OHVers and other interested parties. Campers are required to self-register on-site.
“Fairly large campground, free as long as you have a discover pass! Close to town yet still secluded in the woods. Tons of trails for hiking, horses and dirt bikes! Plenty of sites for trailers and tents. Vault toilets, picnic tables, fire rings and water hook ups. The camp host even had free bottled water for guest if needed. There was a creek near by with people panning for gold which was interesting!” — The Dyrt camper Jess G.
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