Washington is one of our favorite states to explore. With three national parks, acres of national forest and one of the most beautiful coasts, it has something for everyone. One trip is never enough and one location is never enough. Camping is a great way to experience this state. With tons of hiking and mountain biking, a well planned road trip will get you to where you want to go and it will help with the budget.
Some of our favorite places in Washington have camping nearby. While we love the national parks, we also like exploring off the beaten path. As always please remember to practice Leave No Trace.
The Best Free Camping in Washington
Wenatchee caught me by surprise. We were told it is the Bend, Oregon of Washington. We headed that way to explore the trails that are nearby and came across some epic boondocking. The town is trying to revitalize itself. With fun events in the summer and mountain biking and hiking close by, it is doing a great job. If you get there in the spring you will be frolicking through wildflowers as far as the eye can see.
One of the best hiking areas in the state that isn't associated with a national park is Leavenworth. This is home to the famous Enchantments and other incredible alpine lakes. Plus the small Bavarian town of Leavenworth is fun to grab a beer and a brat!
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
This is a great area for a quiet nights rest. Get deep in the forest or find a spot that has views of the surrounding peaks. Just south of North Cascades National Park, it is a great stop before heading there or this national forest is a good destination in itself for hiking and being in nature.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Gifford gets you into an area with great mountain biking and access to exploring Mount St. Helens National monument. With amazing hiking trails and views of the most destructive eruptions in US history. There are two access points. North side and the south side. Make sure to check access before heading that way if you are trying to get there before August or after October.
Washington Rest Stops
If you are driving along Highway 5 and need a place to sleep and then be on your way, the rest stops are a great place to do it. They provide up to 8 hours of parking for individuals. Just make sure to park in the designated areas. They have signs for 15 minutes, 1 hr and 8 hour. If you are towing and are quite long, you can park in the semi area. However, that area is a bit louder. This is only if you are needing one nights rest because you are getting somewhere fast. You are not allowed to stay multiple nights. Some of the rest stops have free dump and water stations for RVs, which came in handy!
As a reminder, a fire pit is not a trash can. Nor is it someone else's responsibility to pick up after you or your dog. 75% of the time, we pick up other people's trash at campsites. Public lands does not mean you have the right to destroy or disrespect it.