Campers in a backcountry site in Washington State.
Getty Images: thinair28

Camping in Washington State: The Best Campgrounds to Consider


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When you're ready to do some camping in Washington State, this will be your guide.

For car campers, RV enthusiasts, and especially boondockers, camping in the Evergreen State just might be one of the most beautiful experiences you'll ever have. Between the lush rain forests, rugged coastline, and the wild scenic rivers you may just find yourself in a true woodland paradise.

The 42nd U.S. state sits atop the northwest corner of the nation right on the border with British Columbia and can call the amazing Puget Sound one of her most beautiful sights. Mountain ranges abound with the highest peak, Mount rainier, topping over 14,000 feet in height.

But it is the forests and wilderness areas that make this state such a sight to behold, and campers can take full advantage. Let's look at some of the best areas to take that family camping trip you've always wanted to in this geographically beautiful state.

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Washington State Parks

There are some 140 state parks in Washington State that are managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. As in most states, there is a fee to enter these parks, but many times those fees are waved for camping enthusiasts who have paid to use a campsite. There's a nice variety of camping experiences too. Many campgrounds offer traditional tent camping, but there are also rental cabins and yurts available in some locations. Most of the modern campgrounds offer partial or full hookups for RV camping, and most usually have at least one potable water source. Although we recommend reading the fine print for the campgrounds you're interested in visiting before assuming anything.

Some of the better known state park campgrounds include Moran State Park, Deception Pass State Park, Colonial Creek Campground, and Lake Wenatchee State Park just to name a few.

There are also several national parks and pristine national forests in Washington including Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park.

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For the purists who want more of a backcountry experience, there are plenty of recreation areas that offer trailheads that lead to pristine camping spots in the wilderness miles from civilization. Just keep in mind many of these spots are the definition of roughing it, most do not even have vault toilets. They also usually require a reservation far in advance.

Honestly, there are so many possibilities, but here is a link you can use to shorten the process. The Washington State Park Reservation System may be the best source for finding and booking all the best choices, but let's look at a few that get the most attention. As a camping state, Washington has many possibilities and these few should cover some of the options.

Moran State Park, Orcas Island

Waterfalls in a Washington State Park

Getty Images: russellillg

Moran State Park on Orcas Island is located in the northwest part of western Washington is the perfect adventure in the San Juan Islands. There are multiple freshwater lakes for fishing, canoeing and kayaking, or just to take a swim. There are well over 100 campsites available and some 38 miles of hiking trails through nature preserves to satisfy the birder in you.

Whether it's a day trip or an extended stay, Moran State Park has all the features most overnight camping enthusiasts want.

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Olympic National Park Campgrounds

With names like Hoh Campground, Kalaloch, Heart O' the Hills, Sol Duc Hot Springs, and Hamma Hamma you may think that you've landed in another part of the world. Olympic National Park covers nearly a million acres of the Olympic Peninsula and every inch it seems to be the perfect place to set up a tent. 

That's because it offers a little bit of everything to appeal to almost any camper's tastes. Like the ocean? There are plenty of sites that offer that saltwater smell and views of the ocean. Other campgrounds offer the stillness and mossy branches of the rainforest. Still others offer breathtaking views overlooking high elevations that you can lose yourself in for hours. 

Cranberry Lake Campground

Deception Pass State Park has some of the best campgrounds close to Seattle. Most campsites can be found at the Cranberry Lake Campground on Whidbey Island near the Deception Pass Bridge. However, on Fidalgo Island, Bowman Bay also hosts some great campsites.

Families can go fishing and swimming in Cranberry Lake while those desiring exploration can look for shells along miles of Puget Sound beachfront. If those aren't your thing, then hikers can trek through forests and out along bluffs for the perfect combination of challenging terrain coupled with amazing views to motivate you over that next hill.

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Hoh Rain Forest 

Hoh rainforest in Olympic National Park in Washington

Getty Images: Bkamprath

This can be a tough nut to crack since the Hoh Rain Forest Campground offers just over 70 campsites on a first-come, first-served basis. Situated on the Olympic Peninsula in the western part of Washington, the Hoh Rain Forest isn't just a great place to visit and camp, but an international tourist destination thanks to Olympic National Park. The unique environment found here is unlike few other places around the world. You may have to dodge some day use visitors thanks to the easy access from Seattle and Portland, Oregon, but there's no denying it's a beautiful place to camp.

Adventure in Washington State

Alongside of this very small list of great campgrounds, the national parks of Washington also provide great hiking trails including rainforests, rugged coasts, and high-alpine vistas. This is not to mention the rivers, streams, and lakes that make this state so popular for fishing and kayak enthusiasts. No wonder so many people flock to the Pacific Northwest for all their boating, fishing, hunting, biking, and hiking adventures year after year.

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NEXT: BEST CAMPING FOOD: IDEAS FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER, AND DESSERT

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