The state of Washington is pretty much a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers. No matter what kind of outdoor activity you're passionate about, chances are you'll find an amazing place to pursue it there in the Pacific Northwest. Whether it's bombing down the side of a mountain on a bike, trekking to the summit of a 14,000-foot volcano, or paddling the the state's many rivers, lakes, and seashores, there are plenty of adventurous activities to keep you busy. And at the end of the day you'll also find some epic places where you can pitch your tent too. Washington certainly has no shortages of campsites, many of which feature truly breathtaking scenery. The biggest challenge is figuring out where exactly to stay while in the backcountry. So with that in mind, these are our 10 favorite places to go camping while visiting the state.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a true wilderness in every sense of the word. Remote, wild, and beautiful, it features lakes, rivers, and streams cutting through a dense forest while snowcapped peaks tower high overhead. The setting is perfect for hiking, rafting, and fishing during the warmer months of the year, and nordic skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
The national forest includes a number of outstanding campsites, ranging from Baker Lake to the North Cascades. But one of the best parts about visiting in a national forest is that dispersed camping is often allowed. This means travelers can pitch their tent just about anywhere they like and they won't have to pay any fees. Reservations aren't required either, making this a good option for those looking for a place to stay, even during the busy travel season. But dispersed camping also means that amenities like bathrooms, showers, and electrical hook-ups are nowhere to be found either. In other words, when you stay here, you can camp for free. Just don't expect any many amenities.
Moran State Park (Orcas Island)
Washington's San Juan Islands are a truly spectacular outdoor environment, offering everything a traveler could hope for. From the stunning scenery to the amazing hiking and paddling, the San Juans provide opportunities for adventure at every turn. They also happen to be an excellent destination for camping, with Moran State Park on Orcas Island especially standing out.
You'll need to hop a ferry just to reach Orcas Island, but once there you'll find plenty to see and do inside Moran. You'll also find 151 individual campsites spread out across five different locations, with accommodations for tent campers and RVers alike. Prices start as low as $12, and reservations are highly recommended, though some of the sites are first-come, first-serve at all times of the year.
Kalaloch (Olympic National Park)
Olympic National Park is one of the truly great outdoor playgrounds in the entire Pacific Northwest, offering excellent hiking, backpacking, paddling, and more. In fact, there is so much to see and do inside Olympic that you'll need to stay several days and nights just to take it all in. In order to do that, you'll want a great campsite, and they don't come much better that Kalaloch.
Located along the Pacific coastline, Kalaloch offers 170 campsites to choose from, each of which will provide a great place to pitch your tent for the night. Campers will have no problem accessing the ocean should they choose to do so, and the sound of crashing waves is a common one throughout the area. Prices start at $22, with reservations strongly recommended for the summer months.
Deception Pass State Park (Oak Harbor, WA)
It only takes one visit to Deception Pass State Park to understand why it it is amongst the most incredible outdoor areas in the entire state of Washington. Dramatic cliff faces, hidden coves, stunning skylines, and a famously high bridge can all be found with the park's boundaries. There is also nearly 40 miles of hiking trails to wander, multiple rivers and shorelines to paddle, and plenty of wildlife to spot too. Other activities include mountain biking, swimming, and boating, making this a truly great destination for multisport enthusiasts.
Deception Pass isn't short on camping spots either, offering 167 sites for tents and an additional 143 sites for RVs, spread out over three different campgrounds. Prices begin at $12 per night.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest (Vantage, WA)
For those looking for a completely unique environment to set up camp for a few days, look no further than the Ginkgo Petrified Forest. Located near the town of Vantage, the forest has been designated as a national natural landmark due to the large and diverse number of petrified trees that are found there. But the park also offers stunning views of the nearby by Columbia River, more than five miles of freshwater shorelines to explore, and 7,100 acres of backcountry to hike through.
The Petrified Forest, and adjacent Wanapum Recreation Area, offer 50 campsites to choose from, with options for both tent and RV camping. Prices start at $30 per night.
Ohanapecosh Campground (Mount Rainier National Park)
Mount Rainier National Park features four distinct campsites for visitors to stay in, but Ohanapecosh gets the nod for a number of reasons. First, it tends to be the least crowded of the park's campgrounds, yet it still offers excellent access to a number of great hiking trails. Surrounded by lush, old-growth forest and with a rushing river passing through its center, Ohanapecosh also happens to be quite scenic. And if that wasn't enough, there are nearby hot springs for soaking in too, creating a natural outdoor spa that is incredibly soothing after a long day on the trail.
With 188 campsites to choose from, this is also the largest of the campgrounds inside the national park, which helps to provide an even greater sense of seclusion. Prices start at $20 per night, with the season running from late-May to late-September.
Colonial Creek (North Cascades National Park)
The North Cascades National Park is yet another vast wilderness found inside Washington State, giving adventure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts another excuse to visit. The park is home to more than 300 glaciers, 127 alpine lakes, and over 400 miles of hiking trails. There are also plenty of old growth forests to explore as well, not to mention fishing, boating, and climbing, too.
Naturally, the park has some fantastic options for camping, including opportunities to both car and boat camp. But the hands-down best place to pitch your tent is Colonial Creek, which is conveniently located next to a nearby amphitheater and interpretive center, making it a good option for family camping. The campground sits on the shores of Diablo Lake as well, offering up stunning sunsets on most evenings. The campground features 142 individual sites with prices starting at $16 per night.
Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Washington's Lake Wenatchee State Park is a popular place with locals and visitors alike, but its campsites can get very crowded during the busy summer season. Skip the hustle and bustle there and head to the Glacier View Campground inside the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest instead. This campsite still sits on the banks of the lake, and yet it is secluded enough that it doesn't often get overly crowded. It also offers incredible views of nearby Glacier Peak, making it an even more appealing place to spend a few days in the backcountry.
The Glacier View Campground features 23 camping sites, and reservations aren't needed. That means you can often find an open space even during the summer months. And since its located on national forest service lands, you won't have to pay a fee either.
Salt Creek Recreation Area
If you're looking for plenty of amenities, not to mention a diversity of activities, while camping, add the Salt Creek Recreation Area to your list of places to visit in Washington state. Located on the Olympic Peninsula, this park includes a playground, a softball diamond, basketball and volleyball courts, and a horseshoe pit. Salt Creek also offers easy access to nearby hiking trails, opportunities to go fishing and kayaking, and decent surfing as well.
The Salt Creek Recreation Area is home to 92 campsites that can be reserved ahead of time for $28 a night. Reservations are not available in the months of November, December, and January however, with all of the sites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Some of the sites are specifically designated for RV camping and there is even horse trailer parking on the premises.
Steamboat Rock State Park
Steamboat Rock is a famous basalt butte that rises 800 feet in height and covers more than 600 acres of land. This prominent geological feature dominates the horizon at the state park that bears its name, beckoning hikers to walk to its table-top summit. The park also offers more than 9 miles of freshwater coastline to go along with 13 miles of hiking and biking trails as well. Boating, fishing, swimming, and rock climbing are amongst the other popular activities that take place in the park.
All told, Steamboat Rock State Park features 174 campsites (and three cabins), of which 136 are designed for RVs, with full-hookups in terms of power, plumbing, and so on. 26 of the sites are designated as "tent only," while the remaining 12 are primitive locations where access is only gained by boat. Reservations are always encouraged, particularly during the high season of summer when many Washingtonians and visitors arrive on the scene en masse.