5 Camping Destinations from Seattle

02 December 2015

With only a handful of vacation days at our disposal, we make the most of our weekends with mini adventures outside the city. And with the incredible Pacific Northwest scenery surrounding us, we rarely pass up an opportunity to stake our tent and save a bit of cash. We have so many favorite spots in the state, which made narrowing our list quite the feat. But, for the sake of avoiding a novel, we parsed it down to five. So, here you have it: our top five camping destinations from Seattle. (Note, by camping, I mean car camping. Though, these spots are also known for their plentiful hikes and backpacking options, too.)

I've got a serious love for glacial waters. We spent most of 2015 chasing glacial areas of the Northwest, from Alaska to Banff and a few in between. Being a stones throw from Seattle, the North Cascades region is a beautiful destination to get my fix. We've camped in Gold Bar, Index, and within the national park on various visits. Of them all, I have to say, we loved camping along Colonial Creek most (it's within the park) because of the close proximity to Diablo Lake, Thunder Knob trailhead, and a scenic mountain drive.

From camping oceanside at Doe Bay to hiding away in the canopy of Moran State Park, Orcas Island has an undying list of weekend to-dos. Orcas is not to be missed. This island is, hands down, one of my most favorite places in the Pacific Northwest. Be sure to make roundtrip ferry reservations out of Anacortesspots always fill up fast! Although, being stranded on Orcas wouldn't be the worst...

On the eastern edge of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest sits the 50.5-mile Lake Chelan, surrounded by a desert climate with endless mountain scenery and top-notch wine country. It's quite a hike from Seattle but well worth the drive if you have time for a long weekend getaway. Because of the drive, this is one place I would consider making a three-day weekend trip. The surrounding Cascades fill the lake with glacial water, which give visitors incredibly clear views to the very bottom of the lake. We recommend setting up camp at Lake Chelan State Park and waking up to glorious views of the sun rising over the lake. (Bonus! See if site 59 is available; it's a favorite of ours.)

Like the Lake Chelan area, Yakima boasts an arid climate with more vineyards and orchards than you can imagine. It's also known for the winding Yakima River, our favorite summer tubing destination for a real-life lazy river excursion. Every summer we pitch a tent riverside and rent tubes for $10 a pop. Along with a few of our friends, we tie up our tubes with bagged wine and summer jams, and let the current gradually carry us three hours downstream.

The Columbia River Gorge is absolutely breathtaking. There's no wonder it's dubbed a National Scenic Area. State Parks and privately-owned car campsites line the Columbia River on both the Oregon and Washington sides, and the Mt. Hood National Forest Dept. keeps a lengthy list of backpacking campsites too, if you'd rather go rogue. In addition to the unreal views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood, campers are spoiled silly with sweet treats that grow in the regionfrom berries to apples, and everything in between. Not a bad place to set up camp.

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