Ultimate Camping Guide: Washington
Washington State is a very diverse state that provides a range of camping opportunities for all interests, from mountains and forests to great bodies of water and beaches. With many campgrounds, national state parks, campsites for tent campers and vehicle campers, and backcountry trails for those hiking backpackers out there. This article should cover a good amount of questions for those who are yet to visit Washington state for camping, or will give extra information for those we are looking for it!
Where to camp in Washington State
Here is a list of some great spots for camping in Washington:
- Mount Rainier National Park – With popular campgrounds Ohanapecosh and Cougar Rock.
- Cascade Mountain Range
- Olympic National Park – Some places of interest include Shi Shi Beach, Kalaloch Campground and Hoh Rainforest.
- Beacon Rock State Park
- Lake Wenatchee State Park
- Camano Island State Park
- Columbia Hills State Park
- Scenic Beach State Park
What to pack for camping in Washington State
What you pack all depends on the type of camp you wish to embark on. For those wishing to go hiking along Washingtons nature trails, lightweight gear is preferable to make your carrying easier. Our UNA 1-person tree tent is perfect for those solo hikers – for 2 people, the Flite 2-person tree tent is the way to go.
For campers who like to go up against nature and love to wilderness camp, more heavy duty equipment is preferable to hold up against anything mother nature throws at you, as well as keep you warm on those cold nights. The safari vista 3-person tree tent is one of our best tree tents for just that. In fact, all of our safari range are great for those who love to be out in the sticks, setting up base camp and making the trees your home.
Essentials that all campers should carry with them include: A sleeping bag, an air mattress (this one should be your first choice), sun protection for beach camping, rain protection for unpredictable weather, a first aid kit, plenty of food and water supplies and trash bags to ensure you leave no trace you were camping (or just to respect the developed campgrounds you are camping on)
What to consider before camping in Washington State
There are a few things to consider before you go ahead and book your spot in a campgrounds, or hop in your car and go for it.
Some campgrounds operate on a reservation system whereas others may be first-come-first-serve; ensure you do your research beforehand. In most cases, first-come-first-serve camp grounds have very limited amenities and facilities or even none at all. Most are primitive campsites or dispersed campgrounds. Depending on the time of year, you may be wishing to head out during camping season, so if you are wanting to head to an established campsite, with recreational opportunities, coin operated showers or electric hook-ups for your vehicle – check if you can book a reservation and try to do it as far in advance as possible.
Check online for a State Park Pass or similar permits, these can often save you money and can make your camping experience a whole lot easier.
Before you head to your campsite or preferred camping location, check to see the laws on fires or dogs and if they are allowed.
Check bear canister regulations and other considerations concerning wild animals, Washingtons wilderness is a hub for wildlife, so making sure you pack the appropriate equipment that is legal and necessary is key to a no-hiccup experience.
Washington state camping tips
For tent campers or vehicle campers that are considering venturing through Washington State, here are a few tips to make life easier:
Reserve your camping spot months in advance, especially if you are planning to camp during peak season, particularly in summer, as I mentioned previously
Arrive early to the first-come-first-serve sites to ensure you get your desired camping spot, also to make some friends early on if that’s something you’d be into.
Consider the seasons, summer is busy, but spring and mid-summer/fall may be quieter, depending on how well your tolerate other campers.
Bring your own water, as many sites do not have a water source or the water is irrigation run off and therefore not consumable, however this will add a lot of weight to be mindful of what you pack and lay our your priorities!
Leave no trace, respect the local wildlife and always dispose of your trash properly. Try to leave your pitch as it was before you came, or even in a better state than previous.
Pack food in bear containers; you can bring your own or rent from park rangers in many places.
Consult tide charts if you are camping on the beach/near the saltwater shoreline.
Frequently asked questions
Is it legal to camp on the beach in Washington?
Most of Washington States beach is wilderness beach, so in most cases it is. However, double check your location and ensure you aren’t encroaching onto dispersed campground, as in this case you would need to purchase a pass.
Are campfires allowed in the Washington state?
Some state parks are at a level 3 campfire ban, which prohibits the use of wood or charcoal but allows gas or propane self-contained camping stoves and fire pits. Most are at a level 4, which prohibits any kind of open flame.
Can you camp during the off season in Washington state?
Yes you can, however be mindful of the temperature conditions, which can sometimes be as high 50s in the day, and low 20s in the night,
Do you need a permit to camp in Washington state?
To camp in the state parks, a daily or annual pass is required. There are also wilderness camping permits for backcountry camping, just check your desired location and ensure you do the right thing.