The best camping in Washington.
Choose your own adventure in the incomparable Pacific Northwest with terrain that spans the Cascade Mountains to the forested islands of the Puget Sound.
Washington could easily be called the backyard of the Pacific Northwest. After all, outdoor fanatics from across the world flock here for its wealth of natural beauty. Unspoiled beaches, glacial mountain ranges, volcanoes, and evergreen rain forests take center stage. Plus, with five national forests and over 70 state parks, there's always something toRead more...
Washington could easily be called the backyard of the Pacific Northwest. After all, outdoor fanatics from across the world flock here for its wealth of natural beauty. Unspoiled beaches, glacial mountain ranges, volcanoes, and evergreen rain forests take center stage. Plus, with five national forests and over 70 state parks, there's always something to explore.
Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are just over an hour's drive from Seattle. They're some of the most popular spots in Washington state—and it's not hard to see why.
Mount Rainier might look like a snow-capped mountain, but it's actually an active volcano (don't worry, it's totally safe). Hike up the mountain for a big adventure, or just explore the old growth forests. On the Pacific side of the Puget Sound, you come to Olympic National Forest. Here, you can spot elk herds in the Hoh Rain Forest, hike Hurricane Ridge, or paddle the alpine lakes.
From there, you can hit the Olympic Peninsula for photo-worthy Pacific beaches. Bring a surfboard to catch some waves, kayak in the surf, or just make yourself a driftwood bench to enjoy a beer. Don't forget your binoculars—killer whales, gray whales and humpbacks are pretty common sights.
For larger-than-life adventure, step into North Cascades National Park. More than 100 alpine lakes, 300 glaciers, and 400 miles of hiking trails make this mountain wilderness a backpacker's dream. If you just want to chill on the water, head to Lake Wenatchee State Park. The glacial lake is a hot spot for hiking, SUP boarding, and canoeing with views of towering Glacier Peak.
Western Washington is where most of the action is, leaving the eastern region largely overlooked. Luckily, savvy travelers know to come here for sunny weather and solitude. Get psyched for the glacier-carved beauty of Colville National Forest, or canoe down the Columbia River.
Every type of camping you can imagine can be found in Washington. Think yurts, cabins, backcountry sites, and even kayak and bike-in sites. While most national park campgrounds are first-come, first served, Washington state parks usually accept reservations.
The majority of parks are open year round. Summer is fairly dry with comfortable weather, but many campgrounds get crowded in the high season. Plan your trip for early fall to beat the rush. Just remember to pack plenty of rain gear and weather-proof camping equipment—Washington is famous for its near-constant drizzle.
In the winter, temperatures fall to the 30s and 40s Fahrenheit. It might be chilly, but this is a great season for skiing and snowboarding. Consider planning a January trip to have a blast shredding the slopes of Mount Rainier.