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Reserve now for spring 2019 at these 5 popular Washington campgrounds


With the chill in the air, the long nights, and the bare trees, it may not seem like the best time to think about summer camping, but if you want to get your family a spot in one of these dreamy campgrounds, you’d best start planning now.


Below are four outstanding campgrounds in national parks and national forests. These take reservations up to six months before your first night. The reason we mention this now is that Memorial Day is roughly six months after Thanksgiving, hard as that may be to believe.


(Other systems have different timelines. State parks open for reservations nine months in advance. For San Juan County Parks, it’s 90 days.) Also listed here: Salt Creek Recreation Area, a Clallam County campground on the rugged coast of Juan de Fuca Strait. It takes reservations for the summer starting Jan. 1.

 If your life is too complex to grab a spot at one of these popular campgrounds, don’t despair. We have listed some alternatives. It is possible to reserve a fine summer camping space on a summer weekend without months of lead time. Just not at one of these places.

One more note: alas, driving time estimates do not apply to summer Friday afternoons in the Seattle area.


Salmon La Sac

15311 Salmon La Sac Rd, Ronald

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Driving time from Seattle: Two hours

From your site, you will be able to see woods and peaks and hear the river. The campground is nestled between the Cle Elum and Cooper Rivers. Kids can explore the woods and riverbanks, or else take up bikes, scooters, unicycles or whatever wheeled transportation is handy and glide around on the campground’s wide, smooth pavement. If you have the urge to explore, there’s wonderful hiking in just about every direction from this campground.

Booked up? Try one of these other nearby getaways: Kachess or Denny Creek.



North Cascades National Park

Driving time from Seattle: Two and a half hours

This is a pleasant, forested campground just off Highway 20. There’s a visitor’s center three miles away, and trails which allow you to check out the nearby Skagit River and Newhalem Creek. The area is full of wonders, including Diablo Lake (and the Diablo Lake dam), and mountain trails for all levels, whether you are herding preschoolers (check out Thunder Knob) or trying to keep up with teenage jocks.

Booked up? Try nearby Colonial Creek South Campground or explore the Baker Lake area from Panorama Point.



Ohanapecosh Road, Randle

Mount Rainier National Park

Driving time from Seattle: Three hours

The setting is lovely, with old growth trees growing between each site and a rushing river snaking through the campground. The Ohanapecosh Visitor’s Center is home to the best Junior Ranger Program in all the land. There are many spectacular trails nearby. You can hike to Silver Falls and Ohanapecosh Hot Springs without leaving the campground, Grove of the Patriarchs is a six-minute drive away and it’s about 45 minutes to get to the meadows and wildflowers in Paradise.

Booked up? Try one of these family-friendly Mount Rainier campgrounds: La Wis Wis or Silver Springs.



Olympic National Park

Driving time from Seattle: Three and a half hours

Camp among windblown trees next to a broad sandy beach on the Pacific Ocean. If you can tear your family away from the surf and dunes, Kalaloch makes a good base to explore the Hoh and Queets rainforests and other attractions on the west side of Olympic National Park.

Booked up? Most other campgrounds in the area are first-come first served. You could try and make an ocean getaway at Cape Disappointment State Park or Grayland Beach State Park.


Salt Creek Recreation Area

3506 Camp Hayden Rd, Port Angeles

Driving time from Seattle: Three and a half hours

This Clallam County campground takes reservations for the current calendar year only, so the earliest you can sign up is Jan. 1. Come here on a low tide weekend for some of the best tide-pooling anywhere. There’s also a World War Two gun battery to explore. Plus, this spot is a fine base for exploring the northern reaches of the Olympic Peninsula.

Booked up? Try Clallam County’s other waterfront haven: Dungeness Recreation Area. You could also check out Sequim Bay State Park.


More advice on finding campgrounds:

Reservations for state parks open nine months in advance. Here is a list of great places.

If you can’t reserve too far in advance, here are some places to check out.

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