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Washington State Park Camping: 11 Have-It-All Spots to Reserve Now

11 spectacular places for a tent or RV adventure -- plus backups in case they are full.

Summer is here, and if you haven’t already booked a camping trip, it’s not too late! While Washington state park campgrounds usually book out quickly, if you can be flexible with days, you may catch a break and land a spot. Most have both tent and RV sites (check out this mom’s tips for making RV camping a success), and all are summer bucket list-worthy.

Here are 11 dreamy options for state park camping. All have good facilities and most are in expansive, have-it-all locations.  And for more info on state parks, there’s a guidebook for that.

Deception Pass State Park

41229 State Route 20, Oak Harbor

Driving time from Seattle: One and a half hours.

Washington’s most visited state park has miles of salt water shoreline, beautiful forests, including a large stand of old growth, and tranquil freshwater lakes. Then there’s Deception Pass itself, a narrow waterway between Whidbey and Fidalgo islands with ferocious tides that create whirlpools and standing waves. A gracefully curved pair of bridges carry people 180 feet above the churning water and provide some pretty impressive photo opps.

Booked up? On Whidbey Island, Fort Ebey and Fort Casey state parks both have lovely camping and access to spectacular beaches.

Deception Pass State Park

Tide pools at Deception Pass State Park

Camano Island State Park

2269 Lowell Point Road, Camano Island 

Drive time from Seattle: One hour.

On the west side of the island that does not require a ferry, you’ll find Camano Island State Park, a beautiful expanse of forest, hiking trails, and striking views along the Saratoga Passage. Check out Cama Beach, just a mile north (you can hike the trail to this neighboring state park), and take a peek at the row of cabins from the 1930’s fishing village. Those are also available for rent, but book out fast.

Booked up? Head north to Larrabee State Park near Bellingham.

Moran State Park

3572 Olga Road, Olga

Driving time from Seattle: Three and a half hours.

After a scenic ferry ride through the San Juan islands, you drive over hills and around a big bay until you come to a forested refuge. Moran State Park, the fifth biggest of Washington’s state parks, is largely covered with old growth Douglas Fir forest. The massive park offers five camping areas, five freshwater lakes for swimming, and tons of stellar hiking. Its five camping areas are situated around two of the park’s freshwater lakes. There are many hikes to be had here, the most epic of which is to the summit of Mount Constitution, the highest point in the San Juans. (If you’d rather not hike, there’s a road there too.) Atop Mount Constitution, you’ll have a 360-degree view, and on clear days be able to see all the way to Canada. The observation tower features interpretive displays and a staircase to (yep!) more views.

Booked up? If you want to be on Orcas Island, there are some private campgrounds. If you’re inclined to venture elsewhere in the archipelago, there are three San Juan County parks, each reservable 90 days in advance: Shaw County Park, San Juan County Park and Odlin County Park

Mount Constitution

Mount Constitution, Moran State Park / Photo: Allison Holm

Spencer Spit State Park

521 A Bakerview Road, Lopez Island

Driving time from Seattle: Three hours

Spend a weekend on Lopez Island, camped by an endless beach. Kayaks and SUP’s are available to rent: the perfect means to explore the coastline. And the island’s flat roads are a bicyclist’s dream. Be sure to check out Shark Reef Sanctuary, where you can (most likely!) spot seals basking in the sun.

Booked up? If you want to stay on Lopez, try Odlin County Park, a San Juan County Park, which is reservable 90 days in advance. If you are up for exploring another island, try these San Juan County campgrounds: Shaw County Park and San Juan County Park.

Shark Reef Sanctuary

Shark Reef Sanctuary, Lopez Island / Photo: Allison Holm

Penrose Point State Park

321 158th Ave SW, Lakebay

Driving time from Seattle: One and a half hours.

Tucked into the side of Carr inlet, in the part of South Puget Sound where the inlets, islands, and peninsulas swirl around each other in a fingerprint pattern, this park offers calm waters, forested trails, and a beach that expands to a teeming mudflat at low tide.

Booked up? Try these serene Puget Sound retreats: Scenic Beach State Park or Dosewallips State Park.

Lake Wenatchee State Park

21588 SR 207, Leavenworth

Driving time from Seattle: Two hours

It’s a great launching point to explore the spectacular Leavenworth area (the peaks! the larches! the lederhosen!), but your family could also have an action-packed weekend staying within the park boundary. The lake has a sandy beach and a great swimming beach for kids, and there are trails for hiking and biking.

Booked up? If you want to explore the Leavenworth area, Wenatchee Confluence State Park is another option, or the Eightmile Campground in Okanogan-Wenatchee national forest (where there are also first-come first-served sites). If you don’t need to be in the Leavenworth area and are looking for a woodsy lakeside retreat, try Millersylvania State Park, or Silver Lake Park, a Whatcom County run facility that opens its reservations three months in advance.

Wenatchee Confluence State Park

333 Olds Station Road, Wenatchee

Driving time from Seattle: Two and a half hours

This park’s spectacular location, where the Wenatchee River flows into the Columbia, mixes natural areas with serious recreation. The trail system connects to a bridge over the Wenatchee River and leads to the Horan Natural Area — a teeming wetland preserve. Also check out the 10-mile Apple Capitol Recreation Loop trail that runs along the scenic banks of the Columbia.

Booked up? Try Lincoln Rock State Park  and Beebe Bridge Park, a first-come first-served campground run by the Chelan Public Utility District.

Fort Flagler Historical State Park

10541 Flagler Road, Nordland

Driving time from Seattle: Two and a half hours

Located near Port Townsend at the tip of Marrowstone Island, this park is a great place to spend a long weekend. With over three miles of shoreline, clam-loaded tide flats, and old Douglas firs, it’s got a bit of everything. Check out the collection of historical military buildings and bunkers, or pop into the museum. There are two main campgrounds: one in a sunny meadow between the beaches, and another perched on a bluff amid the firs.

Booked up? Try Fort Worden Historical State Park, or Dungeness Recreation Area, which is run by Clallam County.

Lake Chelan State Park

7544 S. Lakeshore Road, Chelan

Driving time from Seattle: Three hours

This is one of the busiest campgrounds in the state, and many of those who come here are repeat visitors. Some have been coming for decades, and for good reason. Washington’s largest natural lake, and the third deepest in the U.S.A., Chelan’s turquoise-green water and mountain surround never gets old. There’s a great swimming beach, boat rentals, and prime hiking.

Booked up? Try Twenty-Five Mile Creek State Park, or maybe the City of Chelan’s Lakeshore RV Park, which has tent spaces as well as RV hookups.

Cape Disappointment State Park

244 Robert Gray Dr, Ilwaco

Driving time from Seattle: Three and a half hours.

Set where the Columbia River meets the Pacific, Cape Disappointment sprawls along the Long Beach Peninsula, boasting  tidelands, sand dunes, old growth forests, and spectacular views everywhere you turn. Check out the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, fly kites, have a sand castle building contest, or tour the lighthouse.

Booked up? Try Grayland Beach State Park or Ocean City State Park.

Steamboat Rock State Park

51052 Highway 155, Electric City

Driving time from Seattle: Three and a half hours.

Ice Age floods over the last 13,000 years created this stunning and dramatic canyon. Today, the state park features three campground areas, freshwater shoreline, and plenty of hiking, biking, and horse riding opportunities.  Steamboat Rock itself is a 650-foot tall plateau with high basalt walls, looming over the lakeside campgrounds. It’s a quick, hard scramble to the top, with panoramic views as the prize.

Booked up? Try Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, or, if that is full, try Spring Canyon, in Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. You can make reservations there six months in advance.

Happy camping! And for booking more last minute campsites, check out this list of favorites. 

About the Author

Fiona Cohen

Fiona Cohen lives in Ballard with her husband, two teenagers, a big vegetable garden and an absurd cat. She is the author of "Curious Kids Nature Guide," and is working on a new nature book for kids, to be published by Little Bigfoot in 2022.