Know Before You Go: Successful Camping in the PNW

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Yeah, I know. You probably clicked on this post and thought….”Emily, why the heck are you posting about camping in OCTOBER??” Before you kick the idea of non-summer camping to the curb, I want to let you in on a secret. You don’t have to sleep in a tent to camp…*gasp*!  In Washington, there are countless options year round for escaping the routine of regular life and breathing in that fresh air. Even now, Berty and I are on the search to find a yurt or a cabin to reserve during the Christmas season.

I recently stumbled across this article which explains why winter camping is so awesome. Some highlights include having a campground pretty much all to yourself, having easy access to winter sports like cross-country skiing and snow shoeing, and ultimately feeling like a badass for sleeping in the cold! It’s another adventure! When I was younger, we would kick-off the summer camping season on Memorial Day weekend and end it around Labor Day. Since Berty and I have been married, we’re excited to make our own traditions planning trips out in the forest; not only in the summertime, but all year long!


We hope this post would encourage you to check out campsites and other areas near you for their Winter (or even non-summer, it’s still only October…) activities. If you are thinking about getting away for a few days, here are tips on how to plan and execute a successful camping trip in the Pacific Northwest.

Before The Trip:

      • Are you thinking about camping in a Washington State Park? You need to buy a Discover Pass. It’s a $99 fine for not having one displayed in your car, so just do it. Day passes are $10 and year-long passes are $30.
      • WSP’s website has a fabulous tool for reserving campsites. Not only does it have the option for regular campsites, but if you’re feeling fancy (or just really want to sleep in a warm bed), you can also rent yurts, cabins, or cool old shelters. It gives you the option to filter by date, area, number of people, and pretty much anything else. Do you and 8 friends want to spend a whole week of February in Southeast Washington fishing? WSP probably has a place for you.
      • Does your site have water? Electricity? Bathrooms? Better check that out before not packing the toilet paper….
      • BEARS? 
      • Check the weather. And bring raincoats, always. If you are tent camping, it’s a good idea to bring a few tarps too. Stick one under your tent and one above to keep your abode cozy and dry.
      • If you need some helpful tips on what to bring, check out my Packing Pinterest board for tons of ideas. Also, writing this, I’m inspired to make a post about what we pack for camping trips, so stay tuned for that. I’ll post a link here when that exists.

During The Trip:

        • Find hiking trails near your campground. The most reliable sites are Washington Trails Association, WSP Trails Guide, and AllTrails (which is also an app!)
        • Take pictures! You don’t need to have a really expensive camera to take breathtaking photos. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful even without an editing process or VSCO filters, so point-and-shoots, or even phones, will do just fine.

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After The Trip:

        • If you’re feeling a little overachiever-ish, rate your hiking experience on trail sites. This will help others hikers know what to expect.
        • TELL ME ABOUT IT! I want to hear about where you camped and how you liked it! Comment below
        • Plan another one.

Where do you go for campsite suggestions? Where have been your favorite spots in Washington? Any other camping tips or tricks we missed? We want to hear from you!