The pandemic has changed the way people travel. And one of the biggest shifts is a greater focus on open-air trips. Far from a fad, getaways that combine scenic beauty, family-friendly activities and relaxing vibes are here to stay. (After all, we could all use a little R&R every now and again, err always.) This brings us to one of the most popular means of getting out and immersing yourself in nature. Camping—whether it’s a quick overnight or a week-long vacation.

Surely, you already know there’s terrific camping in Colorado, California and New York. Perhaps, you’re even aware of the many campsites in Texas and Florida. But what’s your familiarity with the best camping in Washington? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a roundup of the best spots to spend the night underneath the stars. What’s cool is that it’s not just tents. You'll also find RV parks, car camping (Google “car campgrounds near Seattle”), glamping setups and more unique options such as yurts. The accommodations, of course, come secondary to the gorgeous scenery that’s all around.

According to Pitchup.com, the most popular location types for camping are beaches, mountains and forests (in that order). Where does this trifecta of beautiful backdrops exist? Yep, you guessed it, all this—and more—is waiting in the Evergreen State.

So pack up your food (please bring more than just s’mores supplies), reusable water bottle, bug spray, fave all-terrain gear, extra clothing, stuff to keep the kids entertained and products for your pup (provided the campground is dog-friendly) and head out west for some unforgettable camping in Washington. Oh, and because pitching a tent and trekking are basically a match made in outdoorsy heaven, don’t forget to consult this handy hiking checklist before hitting the trails.

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Best Camping in Washington OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
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1. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Olympic National Park is known far and wide for its glacier-capped Mount Olympus. Trekking to the summit stands out as a Herculean task that requires quite a bit of grit. But it's worth it, all to explore the fortitude-testing peaks, old-growth forests and 70 miles of rugged coastline. Big, deep and oh-so blue, Lake Crescent offers ample opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Marymere Falls Trail is one of the most popular and accessible day hikes at Lake Crescent. Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall is a magical and moderately difficult route that passes sea stacks and tidal pools. In the realm of divine treks, few compare to Hoh River Trail, which winds 18.5 miles and ends at the Blue Glacier. Along the way, there are many scenic spots to stop and turn-around points, so you def don’t have to do the whole thing! To unwind, seek out a quiet campground right by the Quillayute River or set up your tent near the mineral hot spring pools.

Where to camp in Olympia National Park:

Hoh Rainforest Campground

  • Type: 72 sites, including one group site and one ADA accessible site.
  • Amenities: Potable water, flush toilets, secure food storage, fire rings, picnic tables
  • Open: Year-round

Mora Campground

  • Type: 94 sites, including one accessible site
  • Amenities: Potable water, flush toilets, fire rings, picnic tables
  • Open: Early June to late September

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort Campground

  • Type: 82 tent campsites and 17 RV campsites.
  • Amenities: Potable water, flush toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, paved access, three mineral hot spring pools, freshwater swimming pool
  • Open: Late March to late October

When to go: Spring through fall. Keep in mind that June, July and August get super busy. Aim to arrive before 10am and, even then, anticipate long entrance lines and limited parking at both visitor centers and popular trailheads. Olympic National Park sees upwards of 140 inches of rain in the winter.

Best Camping in Washington MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
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2. MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

The crown jewel of Mount Rainier National Park? It’s obviously glacier-capped Mount Rainier, which sits 14,410 feet above sea level and holds the title of the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States. It’s a rather arduous trek to the 14,410-foot summit and takes fortitude, endurance and training. There are also five major rivers, alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, glimmering lakes and icy glaciers. Another standout feature (or, rather, features)? The myriad hiking trails for every skill level. The short and sweet Trail of the Shadows only takes 20 minutes, so it’s great if you're traveling with anyone who might appreciate a quick walk to see mineral springs and a replica of an early homestead cabin. The Nisqually Vista Trail is a solid and beautiful bet for beginners. If you have trekking experience but don’t quite feel ready to tackle some of the more arduous peaks, give the Rampart Ridge Trail a try. Of course, the car campgrounds and primitive walk-in sites for tents only deserve a shoutout, too. While real-deal mountaineer types can obtain permits for off-the-beaten-path backcountry camping that all feels very pioneer in spirit.

Where to camp in Mount Rainier National Park:

Mowich Lake Campground

  • Type: 13 tent pads for primitive walk-in sites (tents only)
  • Amenities: Tent platforms, picnic tables, secure food storage
  • Open: Late May to late September

Cougar Rock Campground

  • Type: 179 sites
  • Amenities: Potable water
  • Open: Late May to late September

Ohanapecosh Campground

  • Type: 179 sites
  • Amenities: Potable water
  • Open: Early June to early October

When to go: Warm, dry weather, clear roads and trails and colorful wildflowers make summer the best time to visit Mount Rainier National Park.

Best Camping in Washington CAT
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3. NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK

Located less than three hours from Seattle, North Cascades National Park will delight your senses with an ecologically diverse alpine landscape that’s truly like no other—not just in Washington, but the entire country. Expect an enrapturing mix of dramatic peaks, glimmering lakes, verdant valleys and more than 300 glaciers. It’s a spellbinding place to go fishing, boat, birdwatching and climbing. Of course, backpacking and hiking are widely popular pursuits given the almost indescribably beautiful setting. Want to get up and close with the glory of Mother Nature? There are an abundance of scenic hiking paths that range from accessible trails to beginner-friendly strolls to expert-level conquests. You can take tackle many of the Newhalem Area Trails in under an hour. Thunder Knob Trail is a popular moderate 3.6-mile adventure with views of Diablo Lake. If you have a half-day to spare, consider embarking on the Easy Pass Trail. That’s not all! We haven’t even talked about the drive-in campgrounds along State Route 20 and sites on the banks of the Skagit River that accommodate small to mid-size RVs.

Where to camp in North Cascades National Park:

Goodell Creek Campground

  • Type: 19 sites for tents or smaller RVs
  • Amenities: Vault toilets
  • Open: Late May to mid-September

Gorge Lake Campground

  • Type: 8 sites for tents or smaller RVs
  • Amenities: Vault toilets
  • Open: Late May to mid-September

Newhalem Creek Campground

  • Type: 13 tent-only sites
  • Amenities: Potable water, flush toilets, trash service, secure food storage
  • Open: Late May to mid-September

When to visit: The most popular period to visit stretches from April through October. Summer brings the driest conditions and the biggest crowds. The winter months tend to be wet with heavy snowfall and limited access to roads and trails.

Best Camping in Washington LAKE CHELAN NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
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4. LAKE CHELAN NATIONAL RECREATION AREA

The 61,949-acre Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is a destination of unparalleled beauty, year-round wildlife peeping, outdoor recreation and tech-free adventures that’s just three hours from Seattle. To that end, cell phone reception doesn’t really exist. So turn on that OOO reply and dive headfirst into full-on, distraction-free outdoorsy mode. Fishing and boating in the summer give way to skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. While hiking remains a year-round pastime. Most seasoned hikers would recommend starting with something relatively easy like Imus Creek Trail or even a moderate hike such as the Rainbow Loop Trail and working your way up to Twisp Pass Trail. The camping options, which range from lakeshore sites Bridal Veil Falls to permitted backcountry camping amidst the untamed wilderness, reinforce the far-away-from-the-stress-of-daily-life mentality of this remarkable place.

Where to camp Lake Chelan National Recreation Area:

Lakeview Campground

  • Type: Tent sites
  • Amenities: Potable water, flush toilets (seasonal), vault toilets (year round), secure food storage
  • Access: Lakeside, boat or foot access only
  • Open: Year-round

Cottonwood Campground

  • Type: Standard sites and tent-only sites
  • Amenities: Potable water, vault toilets
  • Open: Late May to early October

When to go: People visit Lake Chelan National Recreation Area year-round. However, the best time for hiking, backpacking and finishing (so basically all the stuff you’d go to do) is April through October.

Best Csmping in Washington LAKE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
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5. LAKE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL RECREATION AREA

Every once in a while, we stumble upon a locale that lures history buffs and outdoor junkies alike. Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area in Northeast Washington does just that. Massive ice age floods set the stage for the incredible geologic landscape that’s evolved over thousands of years. Native Americans, early settlers, traders and trappers are just some of the people who have lived in this fruitful area. OK, now, back to the present. Lake Roosevelt itself is ideal for swimming, boating and fishing. There’s some pretty cool and not at all challenging stuff to discover on dry land, too. You don’t need a lot of time to complete the Mission Point Trail or marvel at the river views. For covering such a short distance, the Old Kettle Falls Town-Site Trail is packed with history—old building foundations, sidewalks and fruit trees—and ends at a swimmable beach. Snoozing at a lakefront campground with a boat launch ensures you won’t miss out on even a moment of time on the water.

Where to camp at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area:

Kettle Falls Campground

  • Type: 74 standard nonelectric campsite sites, by reservation only
  • Amenities: Potable water (seasonal), flush toilets (seasonal), electric Hookups, dump station, picnic tables, fire pits, water access, boat launch
  • Open: Year-round

Evans Campground

  • Type: 44 standard nonelectric campsites
  • Amenities: Potable water (seasonal), flush toilets (seasonal), dump station, picnic tables, fire pits, water access
  • Open: Year-round

Fort Spokane Campground

  • Type: 68 individual sites
  • Amenities: Potable water
  • Open: Year-round

When to go: Since so much of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area revolved around the water, it’s best to visit in the summer when it’s sunny and dry and you can really enjoy all the lakefront action.

Best Camping in Washington DECEPTION PASS STATE PARK
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6. DECEPTION PASS STATE PARK

Washington's most-visited state park for so many reasons, Deception Pass State Park provides day-trippers with resplendent scenery (think secluded coves, dramatic cliffs and windswept dunes associated with the extensive Puget Sound coastline) and an enviable array of activities—notably collecting shells along the beach, boating at Cornet Bay and soaking in the spellbinding views from the iconic bridge. With stunning sunsets and after-dark stargazing, you won't want to leave at the end of a day filled with swimming, collecting shells and hiking. Down to spend the night? Reserve one of the 172 tent sites. Traveling with pals or family members? There’s a group camp for up to 50 people at the Cornet Bay Retreat Center!

Where to camp in Deception Pass State Park:

Bowman Bay

  • Type: 18 tent sites and two utility sites
  • Amenities: Potable water, toilets, showers, campfires
  • Open: Seasonally

Quarry Pond

  • Type: 7 tent sites and 49 utility sites
  • Amenities: Toilets, potable water, showers, campfires allowed
  • Open: Year-round

Cranberry Lake

  • Type: 147 tent sites and 83 utility sites, some ADA accessible
  • Amenities: Toilets, potable water, showers, campfires allowed
  • Open: Seasonally

When to go: Crowds descend upon family-friendly Deception Pass State Park in the summer to enjoy the gorgeous weather and plethora of waterfront activities.

Best Camping in Washington CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT STATE PARK
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7. CAPE DISAPPOINTMENT STATE PARK

A negative-sounding name for what is by all accounts a really spectacular spot, Cape Disappointment State Park does the exact opposite of disappoint (to be fair, it’s called that because of Captain John Meares’ foiled freshman voyage to find the Columbia River). This 2,023-acre Pacific Northwest legend on the Long Beach Peninsula commands attention with its Pacific Ocean frontage, lighthouses, craggy cliffs, crashing waves, saltwater marshes, sparkling freshwater lakes and old-growth forests. It’s also steeped in both maritime and U.S. military lore (raise your hand if you learned about Lewis and Clark in school). There are a few great hiking trails. If you want to soak in all the coastal beauty that’s on display, strike out on Cape Disappointment North Head Trail or Northhead Lighthouse Loop Trail for a shorter but still scenic walk. Many visitors call clam-digging at Benson Beach a highlight. While anglers frequent the North Jetty in the hopes of catching salmon and crab. Did we mention Cape Disappointment State Park has a mix of traditional camps, partial-hookup sites and yurts are up for grabs?

Where to camp in Cape Disappointment State Park:

Cape Disappointment Campsites

  • Type: 137 standard campsites, 50 full-hookup sites, 18 partial-hookup sites with water and electricity and five primitive hiker/biker campsites
  • Amenities: eight restrooms (two ADA accessible), 14 showers (four ADA accessible)
  • Open: Year-round

Cape Disappointment Yurts

  • Type: Yurts
  • Amenities: Furnished with bunk beds that sleep three, a full-size futon, floor lamp, small end table and heater, heated, picnic table, fire pit with grate and an ADA-accessible deck
  • Open: Year-round

When to go: Cape Disappointment State Park is open year-round (and so are its campgrounds). There are tons of winter activities, from cross-country skiing and snowmobiling to skijoring and tubing. In the spring, summer and fall, waterfront recreation and hiking really shine.

Best Camping in Washington LAKE WENATCHEE STATE PARK
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8. LAKE WENATCHEE STATE PARK

Situated just 16 miles from the enchanting Bahavian village of Leavenworth, which puts it pretty much smack-dab-in-the-middle of Washington, Lake Wenatchee State Park has long been a household name in the Pacific Northwest. For travelers from across the country who might not be as familiar, we’ll give you the scoop. The glacier-fed lake for which the park is named delivers big on the recreation front. In the summer, take advantage of stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, windsurfing, kayaking and boating or turn your attention to land-locked pursuits such as climbing, biking, horseback riding and hiking. Hidden Lake Trail and Lake Wenatchee North are both relatively easy, top-rated trails. Lake Wenatchee State Park is a snow-covered playground in the frosty months with a glorious sledding hill and groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Don’t forget about winter tent camping—heated restrooms and warming shelters are available.

Where to camp at Lake Wenatchee State Park:

South Campground

  • Type: Standard, non-electric sites for tents and small RVs
  • Amenities: Potable water, toilets, showers, picnic tables, concession stand, amphitheater, playground, boat ramp, volleyball
  • Open: Year-round

North Campground

  • Type: Standard non-electric sites and 42 partial-hookup sites for large RVs
  • Amenities: Potable water, flush toilets, showers, picnic tables, playground
  • Open: Year-round

When to go: People who love snow tend to visit Lake Wenatchee State Park in January, February and early March. Those who prefer waterfront fun, tender to plan trips in the summer months.

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