This guest post was written by Susan Stephens. Susan Stephens is a travel writer based in Portland, OR, and a transplant from the Midwest. Her travel blog, Explorer Sue, is dedicated to helping people discover the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Have you ever camped in a rainforest? How about in the high desert? Or better yet, within yards of the largest body of water on the planet? You can experience all three right here (and then some) in Washington State. Camping in Washington State is one of the most memorable experiences you can have in the Pacific Northwest, with some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet.
If I could offer only one piece of advice when planning a camping trip in Washington State, it’s to reserve your spot as soon as you can! Many campgrounds sell out weeks to months in advance, especially during the busy summer months. So, it’s advantageous to do your research and find out early where you want to go.
On the flip side, there are also first-come, first-serve campgrounds throughout the state. These are more rudimentary than the paid, reserved campgrounds, but often just as beautiful. Rudimentary meaning there are no central bathrooms or showers, water or electrical hookups. Rather you will find basic outhouses, and no other services at all! A simple Google search will get you on the right track, depending on your needs.
Camping in the Mountains
Is there nothing more delightful than waking up at the foothills of the majestic Mount Rainier? The crisp mountain air, the crystal blue streams, the nearby prairie fields, and world-class hiking. Mount Rainier offers not only breathtaking beauty, but the town of Paradise (yes, that’s really the name) offers lots to do if you need a tiny bit of civilization mixed in with your nature.
Camping in Central/Eastern Washington
The scenery in the ‘high desert’ east of the Cascade Mountain Range can be just as dramatic as the mountains or rainforest, and there is a plethora of places to camp. Millions of years ago the glaciers did their part in carving out jaw-dropping landscapes made of chiseled cliffs, sweeping hills and expansive lakes. The Dry Falls area is one shining example of this. At one point long ago, it was literally the largest waterfall in the world. But even though the waters have subsided, the landscape continues impress even the most jaded of traveler.
Camping in the Rainforest
Olympic National Park is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Sleep under the stars while you explore the largest temperate rainforest in the continental U.S. Some of the better-known campgrounds in Olympic peninsula are Kalaloch and Sol Duc. These needs reservations, while the other campgrounds here are first-come, first-served.
Camping in a Yurt
Yurts are awesome because you don’t need to lug a tent around. It’s your own little circular oasis in the middle of nature. But you do need to bring your own bedding to put on the rudimentary mattresses included in yurts. Most yurts come with electricity, heat, a small table and chairs, and sleep anywhere from 3 to 8 people. Yurts are available at select campgrounds throughout the western part of the state.
Camping on the Beach
What can be better than the lull of the Pacific Ocean coaxing you to sleep? Better yet, gently rousing you out of it in the morning? Beach camping is probably my favorite, simply due to the scenery. The only downside is finding enough non-sandy ground with which to pitch your tent! Beach camping in Washington State runs the gamut from those needing reservations, to remote beaches where the camping is free and full of solitude.
The ‘Leave No Trace’ Philosophy
Nowadays, it seems everyone wants to do their part in reducing their carbon footprint. Camping is one of the best ways to do that! It’s really the best of both worlds: getting out and enjoying nature while using less of our natural resources (electricity, fuel, etc.) by not staying in a hotel is a win-win. In addition, some of the funds from your camping fees are funneled back into conservation efforts.
And while you are enjoying the great outdoors, you can take the ‘leave no trace’ concept further by keeping with general camping etiquette. Things like collecting your trash and putting them in designated refuse bins. Staying on designated hiking trails so as not to disrupt the ecosystem of our gorgeous land.
If you have a pet with you, keep them on a leash at all times. Be mindful of camp fire rules wherever you are staying (and put out fires as soon are you are done.) Leave what you find, respect the wildlife and be considerate of other visitors.
Doing all of these things ensures you and everyone else are able to enjoy Washington State’s epic campgrounds and parks for decades to come.