20 Best Places to Camp Within Two Hours of Seattle, WA

Seattle, Washington skyline.

Break out your Swiss Army Knives and Leatherman tools, because it’s time to go camping! The best thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is hands down the abundant surrounding nature. Nowhere else in America has the kind of diversity in climate or animal life. You can climb up to the stop of glacier-plugged volcanoes or hunch over humble tidepools. Eagles and coyotes in the mountains and we get to participate in the majesty of it all. 

The downside to all of that majesty, however, is picking exactly which slice of it to see with your limited free time. 

Don’t worry about combing through the catalogs, we have here the 20 best places for camping without having to stray too far from home. 

 

The Pacific Northwest is full of dense evergreen forests.

 

1. Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is one of the most diverse places in Washington. If you have the opportunity to visit this pristinely protected plot of American park ground, it’s positively paramount you participate.

You can access the coast as well as kayak on famously beautiful Washington lakes and rivers. The shoreline is also host to some excellent tide-pooling. Come find weird starfish and rare sea snails, as long as you follow their outlined tide pool etiquette.

 

Pros:

  • Tons of events, camping, and diverse locales
  • Ranger led programs, and year-round activities
  • Freshwater and saltwater access.
  • Some of the best camping in the state

 

Cons:

  • Could be overwhelming for newcomers

 

2. Mount Rainier National Park

This is your chance to face down Mount Rainier. This active volcano is the single most glaciated peak in the lower 48, and it’s worth seeing up close.

Mount Rainier National Park is naturally home to tones of wilderness hiking, exquisite camping, and mountain climbing. This national park is a camper’s delight. You can visit the national park in the warmer or colder months, and you’ll see two totally different sides to the same coin.

 

Pros:

  • The most robust camping experience you could ask for
  • No permits required for day hiking
  • Get up close and personal with one of the most famous mountains in the country

 

Cons:

  • A permit is required for overnight camping

 

3. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Mt. Baker National Forest almost has too much to do. Luckily their website is a handy tool that breaks it all down for you. 

There’s bicycling, OHV riding, camping, scenic driving, hunting, winter sports, and water activities, and that only scratches the surface. Their website neatly catalogs all of the park activities, whether they’re open or not, the current weather, and where you can find each of them.

If you know what you’d like to do, but not quite where to go, maybe pick this national forest, and allow your weekend to unfold in front of you. 

 

Pros:

  • Neatly organized website points you to all of its activities

 

Cons:

  • There’s so much to do, it may be hard to figure out where to begin

 

4. Deception Pass

Deception Pass’s intimidating name hasn’t scared off visitors. It’s Washington’s most-visited park. 

This park was brought to life by the hands of the Civilian Conservation Corps and still stands to this day. Roosevelt’s army of nature preservationists built something that brings simple pleasures to millions of people every year.

Those efforts manifest now as one of the most beautiful parks in the state, white water kayaking, saltwater boating, access to Rosario Beach, and robust beach exploration.

 

Pros:

  • Full of activities on land and sea
  • Stunning landscapes

 

Cons:

  • The most popular park in the state, so you’ll be sharing the space with lots of folks

 

5. Lake Wenatchee State Park

Great for climbing or staying at sea level. Lake Wenatchee offers everything from mountain climbing to stand up paddling.

You can take guided horseback rides or hikes through the highland forest. 

Enjoy winter activities like cross-country skiing, dog sledding or snowmobiling, if you’re not up for scaling your way to the top of a mountain during the cold months. 

Grab a recreational license and do some fishing and shellfish harvesting, or just settle in with a book in your tent, and take it all in.

 

Pros:

  • Winter camping comes with heated restrooms
  • The park is open all year
  • Amenities for group gatherings

 

Cons:

  • One of the two kitchen shelters are first-come-first-served.
  • Here there be bears

 

7. North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park is home to the Stehekin Valley. Stehekin means “the way through,” and it brought travelers through Washington and into the Cascade Mountains. 

Today, you can take a boat out on the water and travel that same historic route. Transport yourself to the past and imagine what it must have been like to travel through this beautiful slice of America.

The North Cascades National Park has preserved the spirit of this passageway, and you can still only make the voyage by boat, no roads will cut through to this fascinating page of living history.

 

Pros:

  • The trip through the Stehekin is unlike anything else 

 

Cons:

  • Keep an eye on your food
  • There’s no cellphone reception, be sure to bring a calling card with you

 

Mount Ranier, Washington.

Mt. Rainier dominates almost the skyline around Washington’s abundant nature.

 

8. Seattle Tacoma KOA

Simply the best way to camp along the Green River. The Seattle Tacoma KOA site is easy, well maintained, and fun.

No matter what kind of camper you are, you’ll find something to do in this KOA campsite. There’s a game room full of breakfast in the mornings, wine tastings, community fire pits, and all manner of public gathering spaces. It’s easy to meet new people that love getting out under the sky and relaxing just like you.

You can set up your tent or RV in one of their many sites, and wake up to a hot breakfast served on the campground.

 

Pros:

  • Easy camping  helped along by the KOA facility
  • KOA campsite connects to Seattle bike and trail system
  • Access to public transportation

 

Cons:

  • No hiking

 

9. Issaquah Village RV Park

Issaquah Village RV Park is just 15 minutes outside of Seattle.

Once you’ve settled in with your RV and gotten everything hooked up, you can take a short stroll down the path right outside of the RV park to check out downtown Issaquah. 

Make sure the family doesn’t miss the Snoqualmie Falls or the Snoqualmie Pass if you’re staying a few days.

This RV park has everything a family taking a long RV trip may need, including a 24 coin laundry, a playground for the kids, and free WiFi. 

 

Pros:

  • Close to Gilman Village and Lake Sammamish State Park
  • Full hookups in all 56 sites
  • Free cable

 

Cons:

  • Not much in the way of wilderness

 

10. Fay Bainbridge Park & Campground

This modest 17-acre seaside camping park is designed to get you in and get you camping.

Despite the size of the campgrounds, you won’t be battling for elbow room. There are only a handful of individual sites here in Fay Bainbridge. You have your selection of 14 tent sites, 26 RV sites with full hookups, or one of three cabins.

Making reservations is simple, and locating the campground is a breeze. Just set down your thing, and dash back outside to bask in the glory of Puget Sound.

 

Pros:

  • Small campsite you won’t have to battle for space in

 

Cons:

  • Water level in the winter may shut down the restrooms

 

11. Joemma Beach State Park

If you catch Joemma Beach State Park from above, you might think you’re looking at a labyrinth. Don’t let that aerial view scare you away, though. Once you’re in the thick of it on the ground, the landscape reveals its secrets.

This is a park that’s meant to be explored on foot. The paths wind through a modest 100 acres, and you’ll want to comb through every single inch of it. 

If your wanderlust can’t be quenched by searching on foot, then bringing a watercraft and using the on-site boat launch will continue the adventure. 

 

Pros:

  • Great for exploring the beach, the hiking trails, and the water
  • Intimate birdwatching and wildlife viewing

 

Cons:

  • If you’re not up for an adventure, this is not the park for you

 

12. Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Are you looking for a place to get your winter activities in? Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest has winter sports in spades. You can take on everything from mushing to tubing down the side of a hill.

With over four million acres of forest and water sprawled out over the eastern slopes of the Cascade range, there’s bound to be something for you and your crew in this beautiful national park. 

If you’re not on the lookout for a specific distraction, you can take part in the plethora of events the forest-park will put on. You can volunteer to help clean-up the mines and directly contribute to restoring Washington landscapes, or you can come through just to celebrate the diversity of the wildflowers dappling the forest. 

 

Pros:

  • A massive swath of forest full of any kind of recreation imaginable
  • Constantly has an event of some kind in progress

 

Cons:

  • If you’re caught out in the forest when the restrooms close, you’ll have to do your dark business in the woods/.

 

13. Verlot Campground

Verlot Campground is surrounded by an old-growth forest. The undisturbed ecosystem is a snapshot into an alternate Earth. 

The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is a chance to really get yourself knee-deep in the nature you’ve been separated from for so long. There are several salmon species that make their temporary homes in the tributaries here in the shadow of the active ice-capped volcano.

 

Pros:

  • Home to a unique ecosystem due to the complex nature of old-growth forests
  • View of Mt. Baker
  • Easy access to a variety of fishing

 

Cons:

  • You’ve got to be vigilant about your firewood usage to avoid introducing invasive species

 

14. Tinkham

At first brush, Tinkham’s campsite seems like it might not offer much, but the simplicity is one of its hidden amenities. 

You come to Tinkham for quiet hiking on the multiple trails and the half-mile Tinkham Discovery Trail. You come to Tinkham for peaceful and diverse fishing. You come to Tinkham to see how many different species of bird, fish, and mammal you can spot in the quiet.

Children love poking around the campgrounds for interesting insects, and fantastic flower and fungi. 

 

Pros:

  • ADA accessible campsites
  • Awe-inspiring views of Mt. Baker on clear days
  • Diverse ecosystem
  • Access to drinking water

 

Cons:

  • No electrical hookups
  • No flushing toilets

 

Mt. Baker, Washington.

Get a view of Mt. Baker without dealing with the knee-deep snow.

 

14. Camano Island State Park

Cradled gingerly in the arms of Whidbey Island, is Camano Island and its state park. This island state park is home to a short breezy hike, birdwatching, and beautiful views of the Puget Sound. 

There are also opportunities for boating, crabbing, and saltwater fishing. Once you’re all seaside-ed out, you can settle into your campsite with your tent or RV, and cook up your catches.

 

Pros:

  • Interpretive hiking, and lots of island saltwater activities
  • Cabins and tents to choose from
  • Beautiful community-supported park

 

Cons:

  • Some campsites may close in the winter
  • No sandy shorelines here

 

15. Lake Sammamish State Park

Lake Sammamish State Park means beach day! 

You don’t have to stray far from Seattle to get here, and you don’t have to bring a boat to get out on the lake. There are two lakefront beaches to choose from once you get here, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse at a bald eagle while you work on your sandy beach vibes.

 If your group is less aquatic, there’s ample geocaching, hiking, and room for biking, and community events hosting by the state park.

 

Pros:

  • Dogs are welcome in the park
  • Plenty to do, and close to home

Cons:

  • Dogs aren’t allowed on the swim beaches

 

16. Fairholme Campground

The glaciers of the past methodically carved out this idyllic lake. Following the slow brutal work of the glaciers, a landslide ambled down the mountains and totally isolated Lake Crescent. Today, that means one of the most beautiful lakes in Washington, and a first-hand look at natural selection if you catch one of the Crescenti trout and compare them to their cousins on the other end of the landslide.

 

Pros:

  • A breathtaking lake that’s sure to give you a new appreciation of the world’s natural processes.
  • The choice between primitive camping and cabin resorts. 

 

Cons:

  • Not much to do other than relax by the lake

 

17. Larrabee State Park

Larrabee State Park is home to some unique trainspotting vantage points. You’ll have up to 16 opportunities each day to catch Amtrak or the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.

Once you’re done snapping pictures of the trains, take a stroll down to the main attraction, the shoreline. The cliff sides and tidepools make for some choice spots to seek solitude.

Before you tuck yourself into your tent, you may want to wind yourself down by biking through some of the forest trails.

 

Pros:

  • Kids will get a kick out of the trains
  • Over a mile of saltwater shoreline

Cons:

  • Trains come through at night

 

18. Ohanapecosh Campground

You’ll find this campground on the southeastern side of Mount Rainier National Park. This campground is a great spot to focus on the mountain. It is the focal point of the skyline here, and most visitors to this area will want to make a beeline straight towards it. 

Bring some food and your awe, and Ohanapecosh Campground will give you an unforgettable weekend.  

 

Pros:

  • Pure and simple camping
  • Close to the majesty of Mount Rainier

 

Cons:

  • No electrical hookups
  • Not much in the way of recreation
  • Bears are known to roam around here 

 

19. Orcas Island

If you take the trip out the Orcas Island, you’ll be treated to any kind of camping you can imagine. If you’re looking to really get into it, you can take the primitive camping approach. There are tent cabins, tent camping, and RV sites. 

Orcas Island is flexible and scenic. If you’re looking to do some whale watching on Orca Island rather than on the San Juan Islands, you’re in luck. If you want to make it out to the San Juans, you’re also in luck.

 

Pros:

  • An island camping experience away from the mainland gives you the chance to slow your roll
  • You’re not sacrificing any camping quality by making your way out to the island

 

Cons:

  • You’ll have to take the ferry to get out to Orcas Island
  • Despite its name, Orcas aren’t as common here as you would imagine

 

20. Mora Campground

Just two miles away from Rialto Beach, Mora Campground is a quiet retreat with all you need to have a peaceful time away from the buzz of your daily life.

There are 94 campsites with easy access to potable water and flush toilets. Each campsite has a fire ring for easy cooking, or just to have the comfort of a nice fire nearby, and a picnic table. You’ll be keeping it lo-fi out here because there aren’t any electrical hookups to distract you from the tranquility. Set up camp and take a short walk to the beach, or if you’d like to do some tide pooling, take a slightly shorter walk to Hole-in-the-Wall. 

 

Pros:

  • Highly ADA accessible.
  • Close to the beach while remaining tucked in the woods

 

Cons:

  • Tidepools aren’t always accessible
  • Dumpsite fee is not included in park access fee

 

Final Verdict:

The Olympic National Park is an absolute no-brainer. The park is practically dripping with outdoor activities. Any camper would have a blast here. There’s day hiking, backpacking, boating, and night sky viewing worth driving all the way across the country for. If you can make it out to Olympic National Park and you’re on the fence, just pack up your stuff and head straight there without another thought. And if you want to turn your camping experience up a notch, check out our selection of the best canvas tents for camping in the Pacific Northwest!

 

Bonus tip: Bone up on some primo solo-camping tips and learn more with this awesome video!

 

 

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    Riley Draper

    Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.