Washington State is every avid campers dream, due to its immense geographical diversity. With deep temperate rainforests in the West, and multiple mountain ranges peppering the landscape, never-ending joys await in natural features such as hot springs, tide pools, and alpine lakes.
Approximately 60% of Washington’s residents live in and around Seattle, located next to Puget Sound, and surrounded by lakes, mountains, and islands as far as the eye can see. With many of the most stunning natural features of the state found on the Pacific Northwest Coast and this inlet of the Pacific Ocean, we’ve concentrated our reviews on this – our favorite – part of Washington State.
And to give you a more varied set of campground options, we’ve broken the campgrounds down into sections of interest: the Olympic Peninsula, Northern Washington, Deception Pass State Park, North Cascades National Park, camping near Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park, Spokane, and Eastern and Southern Washington. From tent camping to yurts, there are options for every camper, so read on to hear our pick of the top 10 campgrounds in Washington.
Olympic National Park is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. With nearly 3 million visitors a year the facts speak for themselves: you don’t even need to take our word for it! Olympic National Park is located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, and spans multiple different ecosystems, from the incredible peaks of the Olympic Mountains to old-growth forests and temperate rainforests.
There are so many places to visit in Olympic National Park that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Some of our top picks are: Hurricane Ridge (for skiers and hikers), Lake Crescent (for trails and swimming), Ruby Beach (check out the gorgeous natural rock formations, including sea stacks and arches), and the Hoh Rain Forest.
If we had to choose our top pick for camping in Olympic National Park, it would be the Hobuck Beach Resort. Hobuck Beach resort Is located on the Makah Reservation near Near Bay, run by the Makah Tribe. This is the perfect location for those of you who are really looking to get away from it all. Nearby the campground is Cape Flattery, the north-westernmost area in the contiguous United States.
What better way to feel like you’re really at the edge of the world, staring off into the vast Pacific Ocean, trying to spot a whale swimming nearby. From the campground, you can also explore Shi Shi Beach: one of the highlights of the Olympic Coast. There are many activities to be done here, including exploring the beach, surfing the waves, spotting wildlife, or getting to meet the members of the local Native American community. The north end of the campground has space for 300 tent campers, and in the south, they have 16 cabins and 10 RV sites.
- Get to meet the Makah tribe
- Wildlife viewing from birds to whales
- RV, tent, and cabins
- Hot water showers and bathrooms
- Full hookup
- Evergreen trees block ocean views in some sites
- Sites are quite close to each other
Moran State Park is located on Orcas Island, in Puget Sound’s San Juan Islands. With over 5,000 acres of forests, wetlands, bogs, hills, and lakes, the amazing variety of terrain and ecosystems here are enough to keep you satisfied for even a longer camping trip. Within easy access to this campground, you have many trails where you can do activities including biking, hiking, and horseback riding.
Some of the most popular trails include The Cascade Falls trail, located nearby the campsite, where you can go to take in the magnificence of the largest waterfall in the San Juan Islands. You can also hike 6.7 miles up Mount Constitution, to take in the view atop Orcas Island’s tallest mountain.
We’d recommend watching the sunset over the Puget Sound one evening, to witness the low northern light retreating and dancing over the Puget Sound, and the layers of stunning islands and mountains. At this campsite, you’re also within easy reach of the beach and lake, where you can chill out after a long day exploring the stunning natural habitat.
Moran State Park has 3 separate campgrounds located on the northern, central and southern shores of Lake Cascade. These lake campgrounds can accommodate all sizes of groups, and have a variety of different sites, from primitive camping to full-on clamping sites. We would recommend camping at the southern end: Cascade Lake’s South End Campground.
This campground is right next to the water, and thus the action. Not only will you get the most stunning views of the lake and mountains from this campground, but you’ll also be right next to the water, for your next adventure on the lake, whether it be swimming, canoeing, or kayaking.
- Stunning views
- Lakeside access
- No hookups
- No showers
- Limited RV sites
3. Little Gee Lake
Little Gee Lake is one of a small number of free campgrounds in Washington State. Although it’s not technically a campground, you can come here for free backcountry primitive camping in multiple different sites, for up to 14 days for free. This is one of our favorite options for a more rustic camping experience in Washington State: if you don’t need all the bells and whistles on your camping trip, Little Gee Lake might be the right pick for you.
To get to this free dispersed camping, located in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, you drive about 150 yards past Little Gee Lake. Here you will come to an opening that has stunning views of the surrounding forest. Consider this option if you really want to immerse yourself in nature, don’t mind bringing along an extra kit-like camping shower, and like the idea of primitive camping.
- Primitive camping so no amenities
- No reservations
The Deception Pass State Park is the most popular State Park in Washington, receiving the highest number of visitors per annum. There are many opportunities for camping in Deception Pass State Park, where you can really soak in the rugged natural beauty of the Pacific NorthWest. Surround yourself with mysterious coves, rugged cliffs, incredible sunsets over the water, and an impressive high bridge to explore.
With miles of easy walking along the beach, next to the lake, you can stroll along, looking for wildlife viewings such as orcas in the distance, otters and sea lions playing in the shallows nearby, or eagles flying overhead. You can also climb and hike up above the sloping sands, for breathtaking views out to the layers of mountains and islands. For hiking, Deception Pass State Park is a great option. For family groups, consider walking the West Beach Sand Dunes, an easy hike at 1.2 miles.
This State Park has 167 tent sites and 143 utility spaces over 3 campgrounds. Wherever you choose to set up camp, we’re sure you’ll have a stunning stay. Deception Pass State Park spreads over 3,854 acres and has a 77,000-foot saltwater shoreline on three lakes. The park is located on two separate islands, Whidbey to the south and Fidalgo to the north. The Canoe Pass and Deception Pass connects the two islands, so you’ll have endless opportunities for exploration. We’d recommend staying on-site 38, in the forest loop, for a bit of peace and tranquility.
- Bathrooms and showers
- Hundreds of different sites to choose from
- Have to pay for shower facilities
- Some of the sites are quite uneven
On shores of Diablo Lake, this remote and scenic campground is nestled in old-growth forest, in the North Cascades National Park. Some of the sites are even right on the lakefront of Diablo Lake, for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming. But beware, these activities are not for the faint of heart, the water can be ice cold! If you’re willing to risk it, we think you’ll find the experience to be invigorating.
There are many other activities within easy reach of this campground, such as hiking on the popular Thunder Knob Trail which starts on site. With 94 campsites to choose from, you’ll be able to find your basic camping requirements, especially seeing as the entire campground offers drinking water, flush toilets, and garbage removal. There are many wildlife sighting opportunities from this campground, but be careful! Some bears do inhabit the area, so make sure your site and belongings are bear-proofed.
- Flush toilets
- 94 campsites
- No showers
- Basic amenities
- Bears nearby: beware!
This campground is unique, rugged and remote. Located at the top of the North Cascades National Park, this primitive campground sits at the northern end of Ross Lake. At an elevation of 1600’, this campground sits at the US- Canadian Border, nestled right up in the mountains.
This is one of our favorite primitive camping options in the State of Washington: remoteness and ruggedness of the natural landscape suit primitive camping perfectly, making your vacation a real back-to-nature experience. With many hiking trails nearby and boat launch on this lakeside location, the campground is perfect for fishing enthusiasts. With 75 campsites to choose from, you’re bound to find your ideal mountainous location, if you’re willing to put up with the lack of amenities.
- Lakeside access and boat launch
- Stunning views
- Rough road
- Primitive camping so no amenities except for vault toilets
Maury Island Marine Park is convenient to access, you can get here in just an hour from Seattle by ferry, an easy road trip away. Maury Island Marine Park is located on Maury Island, a little peninsula on Vashon Island. From here you can soak up the stunning views of the East Passage, Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Mountains for miles of hiking possibilities.
The site also has a fascinating history. It holds significance in Native American beliefs and mythology and is referenced in a legend about “snake people” who arrived from the mainland. The Park offers many opportunities for wildlife viewing, for species such as great blue herons, kingfishers, bald eagles, orcas, chinook salmon, and bull trout.
The Maury Island Marine Park campground has easy beach access, and from it, you can join loads of Maury Island Marine Park hiking trails. The campground also has 6 primitive campsites for tent camping, so you’ll get a feeling of real isolation and tranquility as you camp here. But remember to book online in advance as the sites can fill up fast. You can park about a mile from the campsite, a short walking distance, and for the more adventurous campers, it can even be accessed by kayak!
- Wildlife viewing
- Views out to Mt Rainier and Puget Sound
- Primitive camping so limited amenities
- Not free like many primitive campgrounds – $30 per night
Fay Bainbridge Park and Campground is just a short ferry ride from Seattle, with beautiful views back to the city. This is a great option for those biting Seattle, looking for a short getaway, or locals looking for a weekend trip away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
This family campground is located just a short walk from the beaches of Puget Sound, meaning you’re in the perfect place for playing or swimming in the water with your loved ones. From the 17-acre making camping park, you can enjoy views of the Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, and Mount Baker, with many options for day hikes.
This campground has 14 tent campsites, 26 RV campsites (with full hookups) and 3 camping cabins. However, probably due to its accessibility, this campsite can get rather busy, so remember to reserve online.
- Close to Seattle
- Full hookups for RV
- Restrooms are sometimes closed throughout the winter
- Can get busy, book online.
9. Cougar Rock Campground
Mount Rainier National Park is located just southeast of Seattle, so it is eminently accessible. People often go on day trips from the city to visit the rugged beauty of this National Park. This state reserve surrounds the glacier-capped 14,410ft Mount Rainier. This Park is unmissable, especially in spring and summer as you can hike through wildflower meadows, taking in the vast beauty of snowy Mount Rainier.
The Cougar Rock Campground is our favorite pick for the best place to stay within the state park boundaries, located at its southwest corner. From here, you can easily explore Paradise, the park’s most popular point of interest. A quick climb up Cougar Rock offers you breath-taking views out to Mt Rainier from this NPS campground. You can also access the Wonderland Trail nearby for all your hiking and biking needs.
This NPS campground offers 173 campsites and is limited in terms of amenities, don’t pick this option if you’re looking for luxury. There are no showers, so remember to bring a camping shower, and there’s no hookup for RV. However, with the rugged landscape views, staying in this campground is an experience that can’t be missed. It also offers reservations, which most State Parks don’t, so this is a great option if you want to plan and book all elements of your camping trip.
- Incredible views
- Many campsites to choose from
- Basic amenities: no showering facilities
- No hookup for RV
10. Mount Spokane State Park
This campground is a great option for those looking for an accessible mountainous camping experience. At just an hour northeast of Spokane, you can get out into the sticks in no time. One of the largest of the Washington state parks, Mount Spokane has 100 miles of trails on the Selkirk Mountains, covered in thick forest. We would especially recommend the Quartz Mountain Trail.
In this park, you can view and climb parts of Kit Carson, Day Mountain, and Mount Spokane. Despite being such a monumental state park, the campground is small, quiet, and isolated, with only 8 campsites. With 79 miles of bike and horse-friendly trails and a skiing and snowboarding area near Spokane for the winter, there are many activities to keep you amused.
For a unique stay, consider sleeping in the fire lookout, atop the rocky summit of Quartz Mountain. Here, at 5,129 feet, you can wake up to stunning views of the Selkirk Mountains, northern Idaho panhandle and the Spokane Valley.
- Stunning views
- Mountains to hike, climb and ski
- Limited amenities
- Not open year-round: only July-September
Eastern and Southern Washington
Although Eastern and Southern Washington can sometimes be ignored when it comes to planning camping holidays, they both have a lot to offer. Just east of Seattle is the quaint and quiet surreal town of Leavenworth, a “Bavarian” village nestled in the mountains, complete with its own “ye olde Starbucks”.
Eastern Washington has great camping and can mean a less wet camping trip than some of the northern alternatives. We would recommend Steamboat Rock State Park, containing an 800-foot-tall basalt butte that spans 600 acres. In the Spring it’s an invigorating experience to observe this natural phenomenon, surrounded by wildlife and wildflowers.
For Southern Washington, we would recommend looking into Seaquest State Park for amazing views of Mount Saint Helens, lush forests, a boardwalk around Silver Lake, and a visitor center for interpretive exhibits, and ranger talks.
Lush temperate rainforests, immense wooded mountain ranges, and rugged coastline earn Washington the nickname of “the Evergreen State”. If you’re looking for dramatic, mountainous scenery and breathtaking views, there really is no state better for your next camping trip than Washington.
And the extensive options aren’t just reserved for the natural scenery: there are also campgrounds to suit your every need, from primitive camping in remote mountain climbs, to RV and tent camping on beaches with full amenities, you’ll find an option to suit your needs in our recommendations of the 10 best campgrounds in Washington State.