Summer sees the rain clouds disappear and the sun peak our for months at a time in the Pacific Northwest. Seattleites flock to the lakes, forest and coast to soak up a little warm weather, but they can’t always go far; time or not wanting to drag the little ones far from home can play into their plans. Have no fear! There are loads of great campsites within a 1-3 hour drive of the city that you and your little ones dive into. You could be swimming and roasting a few marshmallows as early as next weekend.
Camano Island State Park, just a 90-minute drive north of Seattle, is a great spot to introduce your kids to tent camping. It does get a lot of foot traffic and frequently has Scout troops headed up for a little time in the great outdoors, so be prepared to make a few new friends. For those looking for a little break from roughing it on the ground, you can head over to Cama Beach State Park to check into a 1930s refurbished cedar cabin or bungalow. No one every said parents had to rough it 100% of the time when they camp. Sometimes you just have to ease into it gently.
Twanoh State Park features one of the warmest salt-water beaches in the state on the shores of the Hood Canal. Swimming, volleyball, hiking, boating, and harvesting oysters and clams are popular past times when you aren’t just sitting back and relaxing while you watch the kids enjoy the beach. The campground offers up restrooms, one shower, picnic areas, and two covered kitchen centers with electric hook ups.
Deception Pass State Park is an easy drive from Seattle, and even Vancouver, B.C. It also claims to be the most popular park in the state. With views from the bridge, easy hikes for families, and harder hikes for seasoned climbers, it’s no wonder these campsites book up fast in the summer. Luckily there are more than enough to go around. August fills up the fastest, but you can still find a site in June and July most years, even on the weekend. Call in advance to be sure though! Mini of Kirkland, WA loves to base her family of boys at the Bowman Bay campsite. The site is smaller than the 2 other campgrounds in the park with less utility campsites available.
Little Kachess takes you east of Seattle into the Cascade Mountains near Cle Elum, WA. Sites are surrounded by old evergreens and tall mountains to make this the picture perfect spot to bring your kids. Matt of West Seattle says if you can go during the week you can snag yourself a spot right on the water. “There’s a perfect wading area for kiddos. Our favorite!” Canoe and kayak enthusiasts will love Little Katchess as powerboats are not allowed in these waters; they must go to Lake Kachess to rev their motors. Be aware that Lake Kachess and Little Kachess are irrigation lakes, meaning the water level may vary depending on when you visit. This does allow for ample sandy beaches for the whole family to enjoy throughout the summer.
Glacier View Campground is one of the more rugged campgrounds you may never think to bring your kids. Its location on south shore of Lake Wenatchee gives you a killer view of Glacier Peak, one of the 5 active volcanoes in the state of Washington. There are about 2 dozen walk-in sites, boat access, picnic tables, and access to some decent hiking. Nicole of Bellevue, WA loves to bring her under 6-year-old crowd to this spot for the “privacy of the camp sites and access to the lake.”
No matter where you head, whether it be a remote campground, or a popular spot to meet you with other families, you are sure to have an amazing time exploring the lakes, forests and mountain trails of western Washington. Where is your favorite place to pop up your tent in the summer?