Best Washington Campgrounds for Families
This week my fellow outdoor bloggers and I are highlighting our favorite campgrounds in North America. Since we at Odyssey Outdoors have camped with kids all over Washington state for the past 10 years, we’ll start by bringing you our favorite Washington campgrounds for families.
Cape Disappointment State Park: Magnificent Cape Disappointment is not only a picturesque place to camp, complete with crashing waves on a 27 mile beach, and postcard-perfect lighthouses, but it’s also the place where Lewis and Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean. Here you can enjoy world class kite flying, a fascinating Lewis & Clark interpretive center, great flat campground roads for bike riding, hiking trails, beachcombing, and the summer vacation feel in the town of Long Beach. For a gourmet camping dinner, we love going to the fish mongers on the pier in nearby Ilwaco and then grilling up the catch of the day at our campsite. Also be sure to check out the interesting coast guard museum in nearby Astoria, Oregon. Cape Disappointment is where the Columbia River flows into the Pacific Ocean which, please note, creates dangerous conditions for swimming. For more info, check out the official state park website.
Cougar Rock Campground at Mt. Rainier National Park: Cougar Rock is one of our favorite campgrounds, nestled at the base of majestic Mt. Rainier, the tallest US peak outside of Alaska. Driving from Cougar Rock to the Paradise base area might just be the most scenic 20 minute car ride of your life. Once at Paradise, there are many family friendly hikes like the Nisqually glacier loop and the Myrtle Falls stroll which take you through alpine meadows, typically flowering in late July and August. The campground itself is nicely wooded, providing privacy in many of the campsites. Make dinner in the campground, then head up to paradise for an evening stroll and ice cream at the Paradise Inn after all the day visitors have gone home. You can also walk kids down to the river near Cougar Rock and see the cloudy glacial runoff coming off the mountain. For more information, check out the Mt. Rainier National Park website.
Dosewallips State Park: Dosewallips has a ton going for it. What really makes Dosewallips shine, aside from the cool name (pronounced Doe-See-Wall-Ips), is world class clam digging and oyster harvesting. Hood Canal clams and oysters appear on the menus of fine restaurants around the world, and they’re yours for the price of a shellfish license and a little hard work. Also cool, there’s a short hike to a gorgeous nearby waterfall where kids love to play, and kayaks can be rented for paddling Hood Canal. The campground is clean and flat, great for bike riding with kids, but not many trees in between campsites. The campground also has cold, fast-running Dosewallips river running through it, so be sure not to book a campsite right on the river if camping with kids. Check out the Dosewallips State Park website for more information.
Lincoln Rock State Park: Located to the east of the Cascade Mountains, in the summer you’re almost guaranteed to get sun at Lincoln Rock. The park is situated right on the Columbia River, in a part of the river that resembles a lake, being just above Rocky Reach dam. The campground has a designated swimming area and boat launch for waterski and fishing boats. The campground is well maintained and has tennis courts, a great playground, roads for biking and a snack bar. There are trees in some campsites that provide a respite from the sun. The campground is nestled deep in fruit growing country, and a visit to local farm stands can make for excellent local camping meals. Friends will thank you if you return home with a box of world class peaches, apples or cherries to share! Check out further details at the official state park website.
Mora Campground in Olympic National Park: Mora is a beautiful campground on the Olympic peninsula, enveloped in lush, towering evergreens, only 2 miles from stunning Rialto beach and miles of craggy Northwest coastline. You can enjoy hiking on lovely wilderness beaches (know your tide times so you don’t get stranded), the incredible Hoh rainforest, and take a day trip up to Neah Bay, the most Northwestern point in the contiguous US, and visit the incredible Makah museum. On the way, check out the boardwalk hike to Cape Alava, which is good for older kids, and if interested, a Twilight book tour in nearby Forks, WA.
Odlin County Park: Odlin is a sweet little campground in a stunning bay on Lopez Island. It’s quiet, serene, and some campsites are right on the quietly lapping shore. At night, marvel at the phosphorescence in the water. At low tide, spy the crabs and other low tide creatures. The campground has a boat launch and if you have a skiff, make sure you pick up a crab pot and a shellfish license, and be prepared to eat the best Dungeness crab of your life. Also enjoy touring around Lopez Island by car or bike, with its picturesque rolling pastures and magnificent coastline. Visit kid-friendly Iceberg Point for some beautiful scenery and whale watching in season. Although there is fresh drinking water at Odlin, be prepared that there are no flush toilets, only pit toilets, if that is a sticking point for anyone in your group.
Ohanapecosh at Mt. Rainier National Park: Ohanapecosh has many loyal fans, situated on the drier, sunnier side of Mt. Rainier. The campground is conveniently situated near some of the park’s best kid friendly hikes such the old growth Grove of the Patriarchs and the cool Box Canyon loop hike. Also check out the beautiful Ohanapecosh river which runs through the campground, and take the stunning drive to Sunrise, one of the main base areas of Mt. Rainier. Hiking at Sunrise is truly spectacular and somewhat different from Paradise, with more of a remote, tundra feel to it.
Salt Creek Recreation Area: Salt Creek might just be one of the prettiest places on earth to watch a sunset, with a 180 degree view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. The splendor of aquatic creatures at low tide is unparalleled at Salt Creek. The mussels are so thick in some places, you can’t move forward without treading on them. You’ll probably see lots of seastars, sea urchins, sea anenomes and the like at low tide. In addition to the tide pools, there’s a great beach next door, Crescent Beach, where some folks like to surf. Note that the campground can get windy at times as many of the tent sites are on a bluff overlooking the ocean.
Deception Pass State Park: Many people adore Deception Pass so I didn’t want to leave it off this list. However, to be frank, the jet noise from the nearby naval air station is so deafeningly loud that you cannot hear the person sitting next to you at the campfire. There is no way to know when the jets are going to fly training missions. Save Deception Pass for a day trip, as it has some very picturesque trails and beaches, but for camping, we’ll be heading elsewhere.
Check out more of the best campgrounds in North America from our fellow bloggers:
Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies – The Best Provincial Park Campgrounds in Southern Alberta
AKontheGO – Alaskans Share Their Favorite Campgrounds
Kid Project – Sandflats Recreational Area, Moab, UT
Brave Ski Mom – Best Campgrounds in North America: Western Colorado Edition
Climb Run Lift Mom – Camping at the City of Rocks
The Campsite – Top 5 Backcountry Campgrounds in Banff National Park
TravelingMel – Yellowstone Campground Review
Adventure Parents – Classic Campsites: Murphy Hogback Campground, Canyonlands National Park
Val in Real Life – North Americas Best Campgrounds: Elkmont
GA Family Camping – Best Campground In American Cloudland Canyon
Our Boler - The Best Of West Coast Camping
AdventureTykes – My Top 5 Favorite Campgrounds in the Moab Area