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12 Top-Rated Campgrounds in Washington State

Written by Brad Lane
Jan 16, 2019

Overnight adventures abound in the state of Washington. Lush rain forests, a rugged coastline, and pristine alpine environments wait to be explored, as do wild and scenic rivers, awe-inspiring archipelagos, and one of the most diverse petrified forests in the nation. Campgrounds in Washington easily appeal to every outdoor interest.

Camping in iconic national parks like Mount Rainier and North Cascades attract international tourists and resident tent-pitchers alike, and places to park an RV in Olympic National Park are as diverse as the surrounding landscapes. State parks in Washington also beckon for camping excursions, and destinations like Deception Pass and Lake Wenatchee are filled with their own unique scenic attractions. Plan your outdoor adventures with our list of the best campgrounds in Washington state.

1. Cougar Rock Campground, Mount Rainier National Park

Hikers on the Skyline Trail

Hikers on the Skyline Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On the southern flank of Mount Rainier, Cougar Rock Campground provides the closest access to the stunning Paradise area of the park. With over 170 reservable campsites available, Cougar Rock often fills up early and fast during the typical operating season of May through October. Campsites are close together at Cougar Rock, but the old-growth settings of western hemlocks and Douglas firs add an extra sense of privacy between the sites. An expansive amphitheater area at the campground offers educational programming throughout the season, and flushing toilets and potable water can be found nearby.

At the heart of one of the best national parks in Washington, Cougar Rock is sought after for its proximity to Paradise. The Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park is nothing short of aptly named, and with a 10-mile scenic drive from the campground, visitors can experience up-close views of Rainier and its many glaciers. One of the best hiking trails at Mount Rainier National Park can be accessed through Paradise, and the Skyline Trail traverses the mountain meadows, babbling brooks, and surreal alpine environment that defines this scenic region of the park.

2. Cranberry Lake Campground, Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass Bridge

Deception Pass Bridge

One of the most popular state parks in Washington, Deception Pass encompasses both Whidbey and Fidalgo Island and includes the historic bridge spanning the two. Exposing dramatic views where Skagit Bay meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Deception Pass was heavily developed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and inhabited by Coast Salish tribes well before that. Today, this sprawling state park entices visitors year-round with its abundant shoreline, generous tide pools, and a dense landscape to hike through.

An 80-mile drive from the city, Deception Pass is one of the best campgrounds close to Seattle and features over 300 campsites spread throughout three areas of the park. Catering to tent campers and RVs with partial hookups available, the most campsites can be found at the Cranberry Lake Campground on Whidbey Island near the Deception Pass Bridge. On Fidalgo Island, Bowman Bay also hosts campsites and offers easy access to the Civilian Conservation Corps Interpretive Center where visitors can learn more about the park.

3. Hoh Rain Forest Campground, Olympic National Park Editor's Pick

Spruce Nature Trail sign near Hoh Campground

Spruce Nature Trail sign near Hoh Campground | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On the Olympic Peninsula of western Washington, the Hoh Rain Forest is an international tourist destination and unique environment found few other places in the world. The Hoh Rain Forest Campground offers 78 campsites to aid in multiple days of exploring this lush and inviting landscape. Campsites are granted on a first-come, first-served basis, with flushing toilets and potable water nearby, and the real appeal of this popular campground is its proximity to iconic trailheads in the area.

In less than a five-minute walk, next to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, visitors can find themselves wandering the Hall of Mosses; visiting the Spruce Nature Trail; or taking a real adventure along one of the best hiking trails in Olympic National Park, the Hoh River Trail.

4. Lake Wenatchee State Park Campground, Leavenworth

Lake Wenatchee State Park in winter

Lake Wenatchee State Park in winter | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

A 20-mile drive from the Bavarian-themed mountain town of Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee State Park is a sterling spot for recreation throughout the year. Hiking, biking, and horse riding can be enjoyed on the park's many trails, and the shallow lagoon of Lake Wenatchee is great for young swimmers and first-time paddleboarders. Other recreation options on the five-mile-long Lake Wenatchee include fishing and non-motorized boating far from the shore.

The north and south campground loops at Lake Wenatchee offer over 150 campsites in total, accommodating both tents and RVs. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are extremely popular in the winter, and heated restrooms and warming shelters aid in winter camping.

5. Colonial Creek Campground, North Cascades National Park

Diablo Lake

Diablo Lake | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

As one of the best campgrounds in North Cascades National Park and accessed via the seasonal North Cascades Highway, Colonial Creek Campground is one of the most popular bases to explore this rugged region of Washington. With a public boat ramp and pier that allows visitors to access the aquamarine waters of Diablo Lake, popular recreation outlets at the campground include fishing, boating, and taking quick dips into the frigid water.

Numerous hiking trails can also be found stemming from Colonial Creek, including the hike up to Thunder Knob and one of the best hiking trails in the North Cascades, Thunder Creek to Fourth of July Pass. All 142 sites at Colonial Creek are best suited for tent camping or small recreation vehicles, and all campsites have access to flushing toilets and potable water.

6. Bowl and Pitcher Campground, Riverside State Park, Spokane

Bowl and Pitcher area at Riverside State Park

Bowl and Pitcher area at Riverside State Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Encompassing over 11,000 acres along the Little Spokane and Spokane Rivers, Riverside State Park is a centerpiece natural attraction of eastern Washington. Home to some of the best hiking trails and best campgrounds of Spokane, Riverside is split into different regions on the northwest side of the city. Appealing to a wide variety of outdoor interests including horse riding, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, and off highway vehicle operating, Riverside State Park offers something fun to do for everyone who visits.

The 32 campsites at the Bowl and Pitcher Campground are the most sought after within Riverside State Park. Accommodating tents and RVs with access to hot showers and flushing toilets, the campground provides immediate hiking access to the area's namesake feature – an impressive collection of basalt structures jutting from the Spokane River. Other popular areas in Riverside State Park include Deep Creek Canyon, Nine Mile Recreation Area, and Little Spokane River Natural Area, all accessed with a short drive from Bowl and Pitcher.

7. Salt Creek Recreation Area

Salt Creek Recreation Area

Salt Creek Recreation Area

Fifteen miles west of Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, Salt Creek is a county park that nearly outshines its national park neighbor. Encompassing almost 200 acres, including the eastern edge of Crescent Bay, Salt Creek offers constant views overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The campground is located near the Tongue Point Marine Sanctuary at the tip of the county park, where visitors can find some of the most diverse tide pools in the nation.

Over 90 sites comprise the two campground loops at Salt Creek, with year-round availability for most, including access to running water and flushing toilets. A must-do for any visit to Salt Creek Recreation Area, the Crescent Bay Beach is a stunning example of rugged Pacific Northwest shoreline and can be easily accessed with a short walk from the campground. For extra add-on adventure, the city of Port Angeles is a short drive away and easily earns its status as one of the best small towns in Washington.

Official site: http://www.clallam.net/parks/saltcreek.html

8. Ohanapecosh Campground, Mount Rainier National Park

Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier National Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

One of the best campgrounds at Mount Rainier National Park, Ohanapecosh is a great base for exploring the generous alpine environment that surrounds the tallest mountain in Washington. It is strategically located between the Sunrise and Paradise regions of the national park, and besides quick access to these aptly named areas, Ohanapecosh offers plenty to see and do within its immediate surroundings. The glacier-fed Ohanapecosh River carves its way through a canyon adjacent to the campground, and the nearby Grove of the Patriarchs Trail is a family favorite hike. Offering over 175 sites accommodating tent campers and RVs amid old-growth surroundings, Ohanapecosh provides flushing toilets and potable water within each campground loop.

9. Sol Duc Campground, Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls

Sol Duc Falls | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

With access to waterfalls, hot springs, and the heart of the Olympic wilderness, Sol Duc Campground easily tops the list of the best campgrounds in Olympic National Park. In conjunction with the National Park Service and the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, Sol Duc Campground has over 80 tent sites available and 17 spaces for RVs. Recreation is abundant, stemming from both campground loops at Sol Duc, including walking trails to the nearby Sol Duc Falls trailhead and adjacent hot-water mineral pools at the resort.

Advanced reservations are available at Sol Duc Campground and recommended during the summer season. Guests can also stay within the century-old, 1980s revamped Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort by booking a room ahead of time. The nearby Sol Duc Falls trail is one of the best hiking trails in Washington, and beyond the falling water of this scenic attraction, ambitious day hikers and permitted backpackers can reach the enchanting Seven Lakes Basin of the park.

10. Wanapum Recreation Area, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, Vantage

Petrified wood at Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park

Petrified wood at Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park

Thirty minutes east of Ellensburg, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park presents a dense collection of fossils on display. Overlooking the Columbia River and Wanapum Reservoir, Ginkgo is considered one of the most diverse fossil forests in the country and provides a landscape found nowhere else in the state. Inside the Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center and along the outdoor Trees of Stone Interpretive Trail, visitors can learn about the geological history and timespan that turns wood into stone and see for themselves the longstanding result.

The petrified forest areas of Ginkgo are day-use only, and camping can be found three miles east towards the community of Vantage at Wanapum Recreation Area State Park. Along the shore of the Wanapum Reservoir, the recreation area features 50 full-hookup RV sites and two hiker/biker areas. A public boat launch is a popular means of enjoying the water, and nearby concert goers at the Gorge Amphitheater often take advantage of the campground come summer. Flushing toilets and running water are available to all overnight guests.

11. Curlew Lake State Park, Republic

Curlew Lake

Curlew Lake

In the northeast corner of Washington, near the U.S./Canadian border, Curlew Lake State Park is a gem of the region thanks to its inviting outdoor areas and relaxing surroundings. On the shore of the five-acre Curlew Lake, this slightly off-the-beaten-path state park is popular for anglers looking to land trout, muskie, bass, or perch. Various wildlife that also fish from the lake include bald eagles, osprey, and herons. Large, open play spaces encourage lawn activities at Curlew Lake, and the adjacent Ferry County Rail Trail provides a great showcase of the scenic surroundings. For archaeology enthusiasts, the Stonerose Fossil Site is located eight miles from the campground and is open for public digging. The campground at Curlew Lake accommodates tents and RVs with over 80 sites available.

12. Moran State Park, Orcas Island

Mount Baker at dusk from Mount Constitution in Moran State Park

Mount Baker at dusk from Mount Constitution in Moran State Park

For an excellent adventure in the San Juan Islands, Moran State Park has it all. Hiking, biking, and horse-riding trails navigate throughout the marine park, and five freshwater lakes invite fishing, swimming, and non-motorized boating. The extensive campground at Moran features 124 sites spread out over four distinct areas of the park. Views and privacy vary between the different camp areas at Moran, and the South End Campground tends to be the most popular, with all sites positioned on the shore of Cascade Lake. A trail leads up to the peak of the towering Mount Constitution, a defining backdrop and attraction of Moran State Park, where three different mountain ranges can be seen from the summit.

Camping Reservations in Washington

For campgrounds within either three of Washington's national parks, reservations can be made ahead of time for select campsites through Recreation.gov. Similarly, campsites in Washington's state parks, if available for advanced reservation, can be booked through the Washington State Park reservation system. Check each park's official site for reservation information and special guidelines ahead of any visit.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

More Campgrounds in Washington: Nearly all of Washington's state and national parks feature great campgrounds. The campgrounds of Olympic National Park match the different ecosystems found throughout the area, and Mount Rainier National Park campgrounds give access to a surplus of alpine splendor. Campgrounds in the North Cascades feature plenty of vertical terrain, and the campgrounds close to Seattle provide a quick escape from the city. If Spokane is your base for travel, our Best Campgrounds close to Spokane article is right for you.

Adventure in Washington: Alongside great campgrounds, the national parks of Washington also provide great hiking trails. Mount Rainier hiking trails and North Cascades hiking trails will both test your legs, and the hiking trails of Olympic National Park tour a wide variety of worlds, including rainforests, rugged coasts, and high-alpine environs. Many of the best hiking trails in Washington can be found in all corners of the state, as can some of the best waterfalls and best hot springs.

For white-water enthusiasts, the top-rated rafting and kayaking adventures in Washington might be right for you, and for powder hounds, the state's best ski resorts deliver on fresh snow every winter.

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