While the number of national parks in the state of Washington is comparatively low to a state like California which is home to nine, Washington’s three national parks pack quite a punch. They have a variety of flora and fauna and range from snowy mountains to the rugged Pacific Coast. Here is a guide to camping in Washington’s three parks: Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Olympic National Park.
Mount Rainier National Park
A mere 54 miles from Seattle, Mountain Rainier National Park is an easily accessible spot to visit—on clear days, Mount Rainier is even visible from the city. The 14,410-foot icon is the main attraction of this park with activities ranging from bicycling to hiking and climbing. The active volcano is also the most glaciated peak in the U.S., spawning five major rivers. Drive to the Sunrise Lodge for gorgeous views at 6,400 feet.
There are three RV campgrounds in Mount Rainier National Park: Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, and White River.
- Cougar Rock is located at an elevation of 3,180 feet in the southwest section of the park. It has 173 sites that fit RVs up to 35 feet and trailers up to 27 feet. Water, flush toilets, a dump station, and fire grates are available.
- Ohanapecosh is located at a lower elevation of 1,914 in the southeast section of the park. There are 188 sites with water, fire grates, and flush toilets available. These sites fit RVs up to 32 feet and trailers up to 27 feet.
- White River is at the highest elevation of 4,400 feet in the northeast section of the park. There are 112 sites with water, flush toilets, and fire grates; sites fit RVs up to 27 feet and trailers up to 18 feet.
North Cascades National Park
Located three hours from Seattle, North Cascades is relatively secluded with one main highway that runs through the park (which is closed throughout the winter). Backpackers and mountaineers flock to the world-renowned peaks as well as those looking to experience one-day trails.
The Pacific Crest Trail crosses in the east section of the park. With over 500,000 acres to explore, this park offers a variety of activities such as biking, hiking, camping, climbing, bird and wildlife viewing, and horseback riding. Head to the Ross Lake National Recreation Area in the north unit of the park for boating and fishing.
For a special adventure, visit the Stehekin Valley located at the headwaters of Lake Chelan, the third deepest lake in America. Stehekin is only accessible by foot, boat or plane but the journey to this remote community is worth it for the majestic surroundings. You can reach Stehekin by taking the Lady of the Lake ferry across Lake Chelan.
Most car camping in North Cascades is on a reservation system through Recreation.gov. Five campgrounds are available for car parking.
- Goodell Creek Campground is the main campground with both upper group and lower group campgrounds. There are 19 sites available with drinking water, garbage service, vault toilets, and a covered picnic shelter.
- Newhalem Creek Campground has 107 sites and can accommodate large RVs. This campground has potable water, a dump station, garbage and recycling service, and flush toilets. Gorge Lake Campground is on the smaller side with only 8 sites. This is a primitive campground meaning no electrical or hook-ups and it is necessary to bring your own water.
- Colonial Creek Campground has 93 sites but is not considered large RV-friendly. This campground has a dump station, flush toilets, garbage and recycling service and potable water available.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park, located in the Olympic Peninsula in the northwest corner of Washington, displays a diversity of Washington’s natural beauty from high peaks to forests to the coast.
The park is open year-round for activities like hiking, fishing, and tidepool and wildlife viewing. In the winter, drive up Hurricane Ridge (the road is open weather permitting) for snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, tubing and more.
There are nine campsites suitable for RV camping: Fairholme, Heart O’ the Hills, Hoh, Kalaloch, Mora, Ozette, Sol Duc, South Beach, and Staircase. Kalaloch and Sol Duc are the only campgrounds that accept reservations in the summer, all other campgrounds are first-come, first-served. All campgrounds have flush toilets and potable water on site.
- On your way up Hurricane Ridge, Heart O’ the Hills Campground has 105 total sites and can fit RVs up to 21 feet and some sites 35 feet. There is no dump station.
- Fairholme Campground neighbors Lake Crescent and has lakeside campsites as well as a nearby boat launch. It has 88 total sites which can accommodate RVs up to 21 feet.
- The Hoh Campground is situated in temperate rainforest, surrounded by mossy ancient trees. It has 78 total sites and can fit RVs up to 21 feet, a few sites up to 35 feet.
- Kalaloch Campground allows for oceanside camping with some sites overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There are 170 total sites that fit RVs up to 21 feet and a few 35 feet.
- Mora Campground is in a coastal forest two miles from Rialto Beach, some sites offer views of the Quillayute River. There are 94 sites which fit RVs up to 21 feet and some up to 35 feet. Adjacent to Lake Ozette, this small campground has only 15 sites, suitable for RVs up to 21 feet. Unlike the others, this campground only has pit toilets.
- Sol Duc Campground has 82 total sites located in old-growth forest on the river. Sites fit RVs up to 21 feet and some 35 feet. You can read more about camping in the Sol Duc Valley in our article here.
- Positioned on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, South Beach Campground has beautiful views and beach access at its 55 sites. Sites can accommodate RVs up to 21 feet and a few 35 feet. No potable water is available at this campground.
- Staircase Campground near the Skokomish River is situated in old-growth forest. It is open year-round but primitive in winter. Potable water and flush toilets are only available during the summer season. There are 49 sites that can fit RVs up to 21 feet and some 35 feet.
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