The Best Campsites and Lodges Near Mount St. Helens

USA, Washington, Mount St. Helens as seen from Johnston Ridge Observatory and damage in landscape from eruption

Westend61/Getty Images

Mount St. Helens is located a significant distance from major metropolitan areas, roughly midway between Seattle and Portland. It is a hot spot for tourists—most of whom choose to rest and refuel in one of the many close-by cities, including Chehalis and Centralia to the north, Kelso and Longview to the south, and Castle Rock, which is the closest town to the entrance to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. But what if you aren't interested in staying in a surrounding town?

If you plan to spend more than a day enjoying the sights and recreation around the volcano, camping is an excellent option and provides the most convenient access. You will find a wide range of camping facilities in Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Seaquest State Park, where you can take advantage of beautiful lakes, arduous trails, and the peace and quiet of nature. These are some of the best campsites around the national monument for any and every kind of traveler.

01 of 09

Iron Creek

Tent in Iron Creek campgrounds

Michael B. / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Flickr

The Iron Creek campground is located right along the Cispus River and is perfect for anyone looking for beautiful scenery. There are 98 camping sites, with single sites starting at $24 to reserve. Since it's right on the river, it's an excellent spot for fishing—local fish include rainbow and cutthroat trout and whitefish. If you're traveling by RV, this location does have paved sites, but be aware that there are no RV hookups. The area also offers a wide, 1.5-mile trail called the Iron Creek Campground Loop. It can be hiked in any direction and is level enough for anyone to walk it, including children. It takes its hikers along the Cispus River and through parts of the forest, where travelers can glimpse the Douglas-fir and western redcedar trees. There is no running water at this site, and there are vault toilets for campers to use.

Forest Road 25, Randle, WA 98377, USA
Phone +1 360-497-1100
02 of 09

La Wis Wis

Photo of Ohanapecosch River at La Wis Wis Campground

Virginia Hill / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr

At the junction of the Clear Fork of the Cowlitz and the Ohanapecosh Rivers is the La Wis Wis campground. With 109 sites, this large area is open to both tent campers and RVers, although there is no paved area for the large mobile homes. Some areas are too small to accommodate RVs, so pay attention to signs around the campgrounds on where to park. Two trails originate from this campsite, both the Purcell Falls Trail #162A and the Blue Hole Trail #167—on the Purcell Falls trail, you'll be treated to a fantastic waterfall and rapids area, and on the Blue Hole Trail, you'll find access to the Blue Hole swimming hole, as the name suggests. Vault toilets and potable water are available here, as well as a picnic area.

Randle, WA 98377, USA
Phone +1 360-497-1100
03 of 09

Kalama Horse Camp

Kalama Horse Camp is a great home base for equestrian users. Located just beyond the western boundary of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, this site holds 16 campsites for equestrians with trailers only and 10 standard regular sites. This is a great spot for hikers as it connects to three different trails: Toutle Trail #238Cinnamon Trail #204, and Fossil Trail #242. This site gets heavy usage and offers its campers one vault toilet, one compost toilet, and no potable drinking water.

NF-81, Cougar, WA 98616, USA
04 of 09

North Fork

Smaller than Iron Creek but still on the Cispus River, the North Fork campground has only 32 single sites and an asphalt parking area for RVs. This campground is great for those with OHVs and mountain bikes, as it's relatively close to the multi-use Valley Trail, which stretches over 50 miles. You'll find picnic tables, grills, and potable water at this site—everything you really need to enjoy your camping adventure.

NF-5100, Entiat, WA 98822, USA
Phone +1 541-338-7869
Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Takhlakh Lake

Photo of Lake Takhlakh

Pat Strosahl / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

Takhlakh Lake is one of the more popular campgrounds, with its stunning views of Mount Adams across its namesake lake. The site features 46 single camping sites and seven double sites. For those coming in RVs, there are 53 back-in sites, although they're all unpaved. Visitors to these grounds will have the opportunity to hunt, fish, hike, and more, as the campsite offers access to the Takhlakh Loop Trail #134 and the Takh Takh Meadows Trail #136. It's also relatively close to the 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which eventually leads into the Highline Trail. There is no potable water at this site, so campers should come prepared with their own drinking water. It does, however, include vault toilets, picnic tables, a boat ramp, and fire pits.

Takhkakh Loop Rd, Randle, WA 98377, USA
Phone +1 360-497-1100
06 of 09

Walupt Lake

Photo of Walupt Lake

rnjacobs / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

The Walupt Lake campground is a popular high-elevation campground situated on its namesake lake. As the second largest lake in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, this is the perfect place for campers to swim, boat, fish, and more. There are 39 single-site campsites, three double sites, and 42 sites for RVers. Hikers will have access to three amazing trails, the Walupt Lake Trail # 101, Nanny Ridge Trail # 98, and Coleman Weedpatch Trail. There is no longer potable water at this location, but campers will have access to the standard amenities, including vault toilets, fire pits, grills, and picnic tables.

Randle, WA 98377, USA
Phone +1 541-338-7869
07 of 09

Goose Lake

Photo of dead trees sticking out of Goose Lake

Daniel Parks / CC BY-NC 2.0 / Flickr

A smaller campground, Goose Lake only has 18 single camping spots but is popular amongst campers for its namesake lake. It's an excellent location for fishing, swimming, and non-motorized boating. Nature lovers will enjoy the frequenting eagles and osprey in the area. Reservations for this site are on a first-come, first-serve basis and will cost $18 per night. If you're planning on dropping by during the day, it'll only cost $5 per vehicle. This park does get crowded fast, especially in the summer seasons, so keep that in mind before you make any travel plans. Goose Lake does not have any RV camping spots, so those coming by mobile home will have to find another place to park.

Forest Road 60, Carson, WA 98610, USA
Phone +1 360-891-5000
08 of 09

Peterson Prairie

Peterson Prairie is in a great location—it's very close to popular tourist spots such as "Natural Bridges" and "Ice Caves," it's on level ground and near a paved road, and it's located near a huckleberry field, making it a popular spot during huckleberry season. The grounds include 21 single camping sites, six double sites, and two sites that accommodate up to 50 people. There are also 27 RV sites, although there are no hookups on the grounds. Peterson Prairie is a lightly-used campground and has amenities including drinkable water and vault toilets.

NF-24, Trout Lake, WA 98650, USA
Phone +1 541-338-7869
Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Seaquest State Park Campgrounds

Picnic tables and grill in Seaquest State Park

© Steven Pavlov / CC BY-SA 4.0 / Wikimedia Commons

The campground at Seaquest State Park is conveniently located across the highway from the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake. The grounds have 52 campsites, 18 partial-hookup sites, and 15 full-hookup sites. Camp, trailer, and group sites are available, and services include cooking shelters, horseshoe pits, a playground, and comfort stations. This is a rare campground with five restrooms, four of which are ADA, and six showers on the property. If you don't feel like roughing it, you can rent one of the yurts onsite, furnished for guest use and complete with electricity and heat.

3030 Spirit Lake Hwy, Castle Rock, WA 98611-8706, USA
Phone +1 360-274-8633

Non-Camping Lodging Options

If you aren't interested in sleeping under the stars, a few non-camping options are available near the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument entrance. They might not be luxury accommodations, but they are still comfortable.

  • Red Lion Hotel - Kelso/Longview: If you want to enjoy a visit to Mount St. Helens without giving up your creature comforts, the Red Lion Hotel in Kelso is the closest deluxe hotel. The hotel features both fine and casual dining, meeting facilities, and a lounge.
  • Silver Lake Resort: Just a short distance from Interstate 5 and on the shore of Silver Lake, this modest resort offers incredible views of Mount St. Helens on clear days. Accommodations include motel rooms, cabins, and RV and tent camping spots.
  • Lakeview Vacations: Located near the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake, Lakeview Vacations provides a cozy cabin that sleeps four.
  • National Forest Cabin Rentals: Staying in a historic cabin or fire lookout can be a fun and unique lodging option. Such accommodations usually offer few amenities other than shelter, but provide easy access to recreation such as hiking, fishing, and berry picking.
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The Best Campsites and Lodges Near Mount St. Helens