From resplendent old-growth forests and verdant rainforests to sandy coastal sanctuaries and freshwater lakes framed by sky-scraping peaks, Washington state’s unique landscapes supply pristine grounds for camping. Here are just a few tried-and-true favorites to consider. For more, check out our campground listings.
Pitch your tent at the base of Colonial Peak on the shores of Diablo Lake, a blue-green beauty with excellent opportunities for rainbow trout fishing. Tackle the 3.8-mile Thunder Knob Trail for an awe-inspiring viewpoint of the glacier-fed lake cradled by forested peaks of the North Cascades.
Five campgrounds are available; the Mountain Lake area offers seclusion, while the Southend area has tent spots on the shoreline. Summit 2,409-foot Mt. Constitution, rent a paddleboat or kayak, or fish for kokanee, cutthroat and rainbow trout in Cascade Lake.
Near the Beach
While the campsites are not located directly on the shoreline, several have ocean overlooks and beach access is available nearby. Explore the Olympic Peninsula’s southwest coast, where crabs, sea urchins, sea otters, whales and dolphins delight wildlife watchers and hiking trails wind through coastal forests.
Access to coastal hiking trails, fishing, crabbing, razor-clam digging and a 1850s-era lighthouse make Cape Disappointment (named in 1788 by an English sea captain who stumbled upon the peninsula after failing to discover the Columbia River) anything but disappointing. Feeling fancy? Book one of the state park’s 14 furnished yurts, which are also within walking distance of the beach.
Easy access to swimming, boating, fishing and other water activities makes this spot on the south shores of Lake Chelan ideal for families. Let the kids burn off energy at the playground, set up a Frisbee game on the grassy field or survey the park’s 127-acre pine forest. Find more things to do at Lake Chelan.
Kids adore the playground and basketball, volleyball and horseshoe courts, and the sea-critter-filled tide pools at Tongue Point Marine Sanctuary are fun for the whole family to explore. Tent sites No. 1–49 have awe-inspiring views of the strait.
Surrounded by Green Beauty
Ohanapecosh is the least crowded of the majestic national park’s three campgrounds. Nestled along a peaceful river on the southeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park, the site allows visitors to experience the wonder of an old-growth forest rife with 1,000-year-old firs, red cedars and western hemlocks. Learn more about Mount Rainier National Park.
The magic of a temperate rainforest surrounds this campground as visitors slumber amid ancient trees and emerald-green swaths of flourishing mosses and ferns. The 0.8-mile Hall of Mosses Trail is ideal for hikers of all abilities and offers a close look at the area’s wonders, including thriving epiphytes (plants growing on other plants).
Located within walking distance of Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, Seaquest State Park’s campground is a fantastic home base for exploring the land around Washington’s famous volcano. Other nearby activities include swimming and fishing at Silver Lake and hiking and biking on more than 5 miles of trails.
Views of Mount Rainier’s snowy summit and proximity to the national park’s super-scenic Sunrise area make a stay in this busy campsite worthwhile. Plan to visit in late July or early August to catch an eyeful of Sunrise’s colorful wildflowers.
Tucked within southwest Washington’s idyllic Blue Mountains, Tucannon is near several ponds stocked with trout by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. Sites are first come, first served at this intimate campground, so arrive during the less-busy midweek to claim the best spots.
Choose from multiple campsites at Pearrygin Lake, an angler’s haven that’s heavily stocked with rainbow trout. Visit in June and September for the best fishing; two boat ramps are available, and kayak and watercraft rentals are available at Silverline Resort.
Photo credit: Flickr/miguelvieira