You may already know my love for hiking by now, but there’s something I love equally as much – camping in the summer! To spend a whole weekend outdoors with the sun shining down on my face is one of the best feelings in the world.
I’ve gone so many times that I have large bins full of camping items ready to go at a moment’s notice. It’s also super easy to bring my dogs along, saving me the hassle of finding someone to watch them. While it was hard to narrow it down, here are my five favorite places to camp in Washington state.
Olympic National Park
It’s hard to pick just one campsite here because the entire national park is beautiful. You can go hiking on Mt. Olympus or pick some wild blackberries while walking around. Taking up much of the Olympic Peninsula, there’s actually four parts to this – a rainforest, the Pacific coast, lush forested areas, and drier forested areas. So take your pick – it’s not often you can visit so many types of terrain within one weekend.
Moran State Park
Located on Orcas Island, this is one of the most scenic places I’ve ever camped at. Who wouldn’t want to camp on a lake that’s on an island? You’re literally surrounded by water, so you can swim, kayak, or just float to your heart’s delight. I love the small town feel of this island. Stop by Island Hoppin’ Brewery on the way home before you catch your ferry for a pint and chance to talk to the locals.
25 Mile Creek
This was the first campground I ever went to, and I fell in love with it. Located in Chelan, it’s about half an hour away from the main part of town and has good sized camp sites. My favorite part is that a river runs through it, which drowns out any noise from your rowdy neighbors. Lake Chelan is at the end of it, so you can choose from river rafting (not technically legal, but fun to attempt when there’s enough water) or swimming in the lake. There’s even a tiny grocery store should you run out of wood, or just need more supplies for s’mores.
Not only is this in a national park, but it’s on Mt. Rainier, Washington’s largest (dormant) volcano. Several hundred campsites are available here, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you can just show up – you need to book at least six months in advance to get a spot here. There’s plenty of hiking and swimming, making it a popular spot among families. A gift shop and small museum are available, and at night a ranger gathers young campers around to tell stories.
If you follow Washington’s coastline down to the Oregon border, you’ll run into the area of Long Beach. I love coming here because there’s so many trees that it feels private, but walk to the edge of the forest and you’ll be greeted with views of the Pacific Ocean. It can be a bit windy here, so bring layers and rain protection just in case. If you get tired of camp food, head into the town to try one of many locally owned restaurants – make sure to try the seafood!
If you’re looking for a comprehensive post on what to pack for camping, click here. While food can always be bought at a grocery store along the way to your destination if you realize you forgot some, you’ll want to make sure you have a tent or tarp in advance to protect you from the elements. A tent has the advantage of protecting you on all sides, gives you a little more privacy, and allows you to store some of your items in there for security.
A tarp is another alternative to a tent though. In high school, I went on a weeklong kayaking trip through the San Juan Islands, and we didn’t use a tent once. Even when it rained several nights, we never got wet. Tarps are very easy to set up and take up much less space in your car or backpack. I particularly like using one by Rolling Fox when I camp – it couldn’t be easier to use.
Where’s your favorite place to camp in Washington state?
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