Alright you work horses, its nearly the weekend, and you have no plans. You just finished the latest season of your favorite show on Netflix and have gone to a handful of Mariners games already this summer and you want to switch things up. Why not get your hands a little dirty and do some camping?
Washington is a big and beautiful state full of parks, campgrounds, and lakes. You might be saying to yourself, there are too many places to choose from. Luckily, we have compiled a list of our favorite campsites within two hours of Seattle and took the stress off your shoulders of finding the right campsite for the occasion. Many of the areas best campgrounds are in State Parks, which means you’re always going to have that natural and protected beauty that you are yearning for. Grab your gear, lace up those hiking boots and start your weekend getaway to any one of the 25 handpicked sites from five different regions. Did you remember to grab the bug spray? Good, now you’re ready to rock and roll.
Lake Wenatchee State Park: Leavenworth, WAGlacier fed lakes are some of the most beautiful natural bodies of water you will ever see! Although not your typical bright blue in color, Lake Wenatchee is as clear as day and very clean. Fishing is very common and there have even been rumors that you can catch a few salmon. Although campsites are not very private, the 155 sites are very spacious. Known to be very busy in the summer, there are many families and larger groups, but no loud partying by any means and tends to quiet down by around 10:00pm. Mosquitos can be a major problem for some campers at this park so make sure you bring, at the minimum, bug spray, and mosquito net if you have it.
NORTH PUGET SOUND
Verlot Campground: Granite Falls, WAIn between Mt. Rainer National Park and the Canadian Border, just off Mountain Loop Highway within Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest lies Verlot. This area has been showcased as one of the most stupendous in the country with its glacier covered peaks and old growth forests. On a clear day, visitors are able to see Mt. Baker, an active volcano but is perpetually snow-capped and has not erupted since 1880. The Mt. Dickerman Trail is the closest trail to the campground, however this three mile trail is just a snippet of the 1,500 miles throughout the national forest. This relatively quiet campground has 25 single tent sites and one double site and is much sunnier than its camping neighbor Turlo because of the more open tree canopy.
Denny Creek Campground: Snoqualmie, WAAlso located in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Denny Creek is known for its large and private campsites. The river that the campground lies on is wadeable and many hiking trails are close by all the sites. The friendly staff will always make sure you are enjoying yourself and are always stocked with firewood. One drawback of this site however, is being so close to I-90, which has the potential to be noisy. A mixture of 24 electric and nonelectric standard sites, give site 22 a try as well as other river adjacent sites, as it blocks out any highway noise.
Saltwater State Park: Des Moines, WAFirst and foremost, if you do not like the sound of airplanes, this is not the campsite for you. SEATAC is a short drive away, so you will see and hear Boeings coming in for landing. Stuck with a long layover? This makes for a good spot to relax and enjoy the beauty before hopping back on the plane. If you are able to get past the fact that it is near an airport, one will come to realize that there is so much beauty in this place. The beach is fantastic with countless areas to swim, tidal pools to traverse as well as a submerged artificial reef that is famous with the scuba diving community. This is a relatively small park with just 47 standard campsites and most everything you see here was built by the Civilian Conservation Corp. in the 1930’s.
Turlo Camground: Granite Falls, WATurlo is the first campground that you will come in contact with along the Mountain Loop Road from Granite Falls. This campground drops down from the highway and lies along the South Fork Stillaguamish River. Enjoy miles and miles of hiking and biking trails in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest ranging in difficulty and ascents. There are 18 sites, some of which have piped water available. Stillaguamish offers great fishing and was the first river in Washington designated to be fly fishing only for a portion of the year and early summer casts can yield great rainbow trout catches. Sites 15, 17, and 18 offer the best view of the River and the flowing waters can be heard best at sites 14-19.
Tinkam Campground: North Bend, WAThis campground is also located along the South Fork Snoqualmie River in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This area is forested with tall, towering, old growth Douglas fir and cedar offering relieving shade at all times during those hot summer days. Offering some of the most scenic views in all of the North Cascades, Tinkham is great for both families and campers of all background and experience. The 0.5-mile Tinkham Discovery Trail is an easy, family-friendly nature path that weaves through fallen, moss-covered trees to a small pond. At times, there are herds of goats that can be seen roaming the area. Pick from any of the 46 available sites and escape to this forest paradise!
Lake Serene: Gold Bar, WALocated in the Central Cascades about an hour and 15 minutes from Seattle is the challenging yet rewarding Lake Serene. Typically known as a day hike for some, camping is available as long as you are no closer than a quarter of a mile away from the lake (any closer and you’re breaking the law). The hike up to Lake Serene will take about 2 hours but the views are definitely worth it! If you are willing to make the extra rocky and steep 1/2 mile hike up further, definitely check out Bridal Veil Falls, they are breathtaking. Obviously, there are no marked or “official” campsites but previous campers sites can be found so don’t let this hold you back!
Wallace Falls State Park: Gold Bar, WAMake sure to pack your hiking shoes because the long hike to the falls is well worth it! There are actually two points where you can view the falls from: the lower and middle. The lower falls is a leisure 1 hour hike but the middle is a lot longer, 4.5 miles. Both views are beautiful so don’t feel like you are missing out of you can’t make it to the middle. Also, it is important to note that this is a very easy hike, so easy that a Chihuahua was seen leading its owners to the top! As far as camping goes, there are only two primitive sites and 5 cabins for rental. More of a day trip than anything, but can still be an overnight or weekend trip for the more experienced camper.
14503 Wallace Lake Rd, Gold Bar, WA 98251
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Bedal Campground: Darrington, WA15 miles outside of the town of Darrington in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie lies the remote 22 site campground of Bedal. More of a pristine setting than other campgrounds in Mount Baker National Forest, Bedal offers privacy and a couple extra surprises like a giant adirondack shelter built with old growth timber and views of mountain goats on White Chuck Mountain. Along with an abundance of hiking and biking trails, the campground is located along the Sauk River which serves as a good fishing spot and the rushing water can be heard at every site. There is no drinking water available so make sure to pack supplies accordingly!
Flowing Lake Park: Snohomish, WALess than an hour northeast of Seattle in the historic town of Snohomish lies Flowing Lake Park. Nestled in a forest setting in the middle of the Three Lakes chain, chose any of the 37 campsites or escape deeper into the woods to one of the four cozy cabins with full electric amenities and covered porch. All campsites are within walking distance of the lake and make for a great spot to fish, boat, and swim. Called the antique capital of the Northwest, Snohomish is a booming city in the summer months with various events going on in town including Kla-Ha-Ya Days as well as year round hot air balloon rides. We love this campground because it serves as a perfect last minute getaway spot for couples and families alike.
17900 48th St SE Snohomish, WA 98290
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Camano Island State Park: Camano Island, WAWith 6,700 feet of rocky shoreline and beaches, this 176 acre park offers a glimpse of the less developed Puget Sound area where Eagles can be seen perched on tall firs. Camano Island is sought out for its winding hiking and bike trails where campers soak in the sea breezes and Puget Sound scenery. All 88 campsites are first come first served and 5 cabins with views of the Saratoga Passage are available for overnight accommodations. Each cabin is 12-by-20-feet and is furnished with one folding futon couch that sleeps two, one bunk bed that sleeps three, and a table with five chairs. Between the hiking the trails, swimming and boating, the nearby 18-hole golf course, and views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier, this spot will keep you busy all weekend.
2269 Lowell Point Rd, Camano Island, WA 98282
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Deception Pass State Park: Oak Harbor, WAKnown for its beautiful beaches and stunning views, this massive 4,134 acre state park has 34,000 feet of freshwater shoreline and more than 75,000 feet of saltwater shoreline. Perhaps the most prominent structure in the park is the Deception Pass Bridge which connects Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island. There are three camping areas in the park (Bowman Bay, Cranberry Lake and Quarry Pond) for a total of 167 tent sites and 20 bathrooms scattered throughout. With over 37 miles of hiking trails throughout the park, expect to spend at least one day exploring the trails.
41229 WA-20, Oak Harbor, WA 98277
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Fort Flagler State Park: Nordland, WAThis 784 acre park is surrounded on three sides by over 19,000 feet of saltwater shoreline and is set atop a high bluff overlooking the Puget Sound. Olympic Mountain and Cascade Mountain can be seen in the distance from anywhere on the two miles of beach trails. This massive area has 112 campsites, 59 standard sites, 55 full hook-up spaces, two primitive sites, and 47 standard tent sites. There are also two group campsites that can accommodate 40 and 100 people. Enjoy everything from strolls on the beach and swimming to paragliding over the Puget Sound.
Dash Point State Park: Federal Way, WAIf you are looking for a great family camping environment, look no further! The beach, unlike most in the Puget Sound area, is actually very sandy, not rocky. There are 114 standard sites and offer a group camp that accommodates 96 (12 individual sites). Because Dash Point is in such a populated area, the beach can become quite crowded and resulting inlimited parking. Along with the beach, there are 11 miles of easy to follow trails the prettiest of which are between the campground and the beach. Dash Point is a perfect last minute destination for you and your family.
5700 SW Dash Point Rd, Federal Way, WA 98023
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Blake Island Marine State Park: Manchester, WAJust across the Puget Sound, lies a 475 acre island with 5 miles of saltwater shoreline that can only be reached by tour boat or with a private boat. Historically, this is a very famous island and was an ancestral camping ground of the Suquamish Indian tribe. The well known Chief Seattle was also rumored to have been born on Blake Island. In the early 1920’s, the island was owned by Seattle millionaire William Pitt Trimble and was formally known as Trimble Island where his giant estate stood until the 1940’s when a mysterious fire brought it to the ground. There are 44 standard sites, two primitive sites, and three water trail sites that are non-reservable and are first come first serve. The three Cascadia Marine Trail sites are available to canoers and kayakers only and are located on the west end of the island. Four restrooms are scattered throughout the island and hot showers are available until the water is shut off during the winter months. Along with the eight miles of hiking trails, Blake Island offers great views and the Olympic Mountains and Seattle Skyline.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park/ Wanapum Recreation Area: Vantage, WAIf you don’t mind the extra 10-15 minutes on the road, 3 miles south of the quaint little town of Vantage (population 70) right off I-90, lies Wanapum. This 50 site park offers full hook ups, which is great for RV’s, but if you are pitching a tent, unfortunately you will have to pay the RV price anyway. BEWARE OF STRONG WINDS (50 mph is not uncommon) so make sure to tie your small children to nearby trees (just kidding). However, warm weather, grand views of the Canyon River and HUGE campsites make up for any gusts of wind. A short walk will bring you to a park with large trees for shade, unsheltered picnic tables and a sandy beach for swimming and games. A popular place for concert goers in the summer months, weekdays will be much calmer and you may even have the beach to yourself.
Swauk Campground: Cle Elum, WAKnown for its huge Ponderosa pines and Western larches, this delightful campground offers 19 single tent camps and two double sites that can fit smaller RV’s. Sites 2 and 3 offer lush green camping areas with wildflowers everywhere. None of the sites offer hookups of any kind so prepare accordingly if you are taking your RV. Enjoy hiking, biking, and swimming at an elevation of 3,135 feet along with flyfishing in the Swauk Creek. Although closed for the moment for maintenance, it should be open soon enough!
Kachess Lake Campground : Easton, WAThis beautiful weekend getaway is set in dense old-growth evergreens and hedged by high mountains. The marquee trail proves that not all hikes have to be epic and challenging to be amusing. The trail is well maintained and hard-packed making it accessible for all campers, even those in wheelchairs! There are 122 tent sites (which do not have any hook-ups), one group site that accommodates 20-50 people, two boat launches, and one picnic area. If you are feeling dangerous, there is also a tall tree in the middle of the lake that people enjoy jumping off of!
Mount Margaret Backcountry: Skamania County, WAIf you are looking for some challenging camping and hiking the Backcountry of Mount Margaret, this will be your cup of tea. In order to camp in this area you must have a MMBC camping permit, which are available by advance online reservation only. Camping is limited to designated campsites with the party limit at four campers. Campsites may still be covered in snow as late as June and campers should be prepared to camp on snow. There are eight camps located in the Backcountry, each having a level, wooden framed, earth filled tent pad as well solar composting toilets. We suggest Bear Camp, which is located on Coldwater trail, as it is at an elevation of over 5,000 feet (hopefully free of snow) giving you pristine views of Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens. Water is available from a spring a quarter mile north of the camp and should be treated before drinking. However this spring runs dry in the late summer/autumn. Trust us, the views will leave you more breathless than the hike and climb.
Skamania County, WA
Reservation Fee: $6
Forest Recreation Pass: $5
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SOUTH PUGET SOUND
White River Campground: Ashford, WALocated in the northeastern section of Mount Rainier National Park and right at the foot of Emmons Glacier, White River has 112 no hook-up sites and is RV friendly (if you’re under 27 feet). Although the river is not fishing or swimming friendly, the sound of wild, rushing water is great. If you are looking for great views, make sure to claim a site in loop D. Beautiful hiking trails leading to views of Mt. Rainier as well as Emmons Glacier. This is very much a classical campground with no showers, running water, or cell service; a great place to get away from it all!
Seattle/Tacoma KOA: Kent, WAIf you don’t want to stray to far from the big city, KOA offers a friendly, easy camping experience to those that have not been camping for a long time. Breakfast is offered daily from 8-11AM for those campers that just feel like rolling out of bed and not cooking in the morning. With over 100 sites and available full hookups for tents and RV’s, finding the right campsite for you and your family. Enjoy time by the pool or fishing in the Green River on the eat side of the park. Being just minutes away from downtown Seattle, this makes for a great last minute easy camping trip.
Penrose Point State Park: Lakebay, WALocated on the shores of Puget Sound just southwest of Seattle lies a beautiful 165-acre marine park that gives campers the best of both forests and water. All 82 campsites are nestled nicely in the woods and offer shade at all times of the day. The park has two miles of saltwater frontage on the Mayo and Carr inlet that offer a variety of water activities including boating, swimming, water skiing, fishing, diving, crabbing and clamming! And if you want to stay out of the water, there are over two miles of biking and hiking trails. For the avid angler, Bay Lake, a popular trout fishing lake is just 1 mile from the park.
321 158th Avenue Kp S, Lakebay, WA 98349
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Ike Kinswa State Park: Silver Creek, WAOne of Washington’s most popular campgrounds that attracts families from all over the state. Not the kind of place you take the family for a last minute trip because it fills up quickly, so you will want to make sure and book your reservations well ahead of time! Kinswa has commendable fishing, boating, and sandy beaches that the kids can swim and play at. In the summer months, this is a fairly busy lake with lots of skiing and sailboarding. There are two boat launches and daily watercraft passes are a mere $7. This is boasted to be one of Washington’s most beautiful State Parks and is highly recommended.
Lake Sylvia State Park: Montesano, WAHalfway between Olympia and the Pacific shore lies quiet Lake Sylvia State Park, an area rich with logging lore and history. Legend has it, a local logger carved a giant wooden ball from a log and after rolling it into the lake, would stand atop the floating ball and walk it from one end of the lake to the other! There are four utility spaces with electricity and water along with 31 tent spaces and two primitive sites for hikers and bikers. Five miles of hiking and swimming in the calm Lake Sylvia make for a day or a whole weekend of fun.
Dosewallips State Park: Brinnon, WAThis is one of the few campsites in the coastal region that offers water supply to campers in the winter even after winterization is conducted. There are 70 tent spaces, 48 utility sites, three platform tents, twelve cabins, and one bunkhouse. There are also two group sites; River (accommodates 80) and Meadow (accommodates 20). The Rustic Ranger Bunkhouse is a beautiful ranch style house nestled in the forest and has one queen size bed, 4 twin beds and a fold out couch for sleeping (sleeps eight). For a not-so-roughing-it camping experience rent out the Bunkhouse or any of the 12 cabins!