What are some easy, family-friendly campsites in Washington State?
April 2, 2017 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Will be taking the family on a road trip across Washington state and into the Idaho panhandle this summer. We are mainly relying on Airbnb and the like for lodging, but would like to do some camping for a few nights. More details inside....

We will be visiting from overseas and will have no tents or other equipment. I would like suggestions of places of where the basics are either provided at the campsite or can be rented nearby (avoiding the need to backtrack too much to return it later). For example, I've noticed a few Washington State Parks have yurts available to rent. This might be a good option if I can find availability.

We will be driving the stretch between Seattle - Spokane, so diversions from that route to break up the drive somewhat would be ideal. Rainer National Park looks fantastic, but the equipment rental places I have turned up seem more geared toward people mounting expeditions to the summit rather than just doing a couple of days of casual car camping with the kids.

I know there are quite a number of mefites in PNW, so I would love to hear your thoughts!
posted by clark to Travel & Transportation around Washington (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A few things to help you clarify your goals:

1. You'll be coming in the summer. I know the PNW is known for its rain, but once you cross the Cascades you'll be in
hot desert / farmland
. From my home about .5 miles from Puget sound in Seattle it's no more than a 2 hour drive to get past the Cascades (107 mi / 172 km from Seattle to Ellensburg). Much of the great summertime camping is not on your way.

2. Summertime is, of course, peak camping time. Many popular places will be completely booked for weekends by now. But midweek you may find availability still but you'll need to book soon!

I would recommend a call / visit to the Seattle REI store. They have a Ranger Station in the store where we have consistently gotten great advice about hikes and campsites, plus they can book reservations and make sure you have the right passes.

If you do find a good candidate for camping:
* REI rents gear and they have a store in Spokane as well so... maybe they do one-way rentals? (It's a long shot.)
* You also can buy perfectly serviceable gear at big box stores (Walmart, Target) for surprisingly little money.

(also if your family likes REALLY GOOD hamburgers you can walk from the REI store to Lunchbox Laboratory... I must be hungry right now)
posted by rouftop at 9:24 AM on April 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Recreation.gov will list cabins you can rent. You would need to buy some cheap sleeping bags but everything else is supplied.
posted by ITravelMontana at 12:41 PM on April 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

What's a family-friendly campsite? I never understand this.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:15 AM on April 3, 2017

What is your driving route from Seattle to Spokane? I-90 is the most direct path; Rainier is way the heck out of the way (~3 hours south of Seattle/I-90). Something to consider. The places I know of that rent yurts and cabins are not along that route (again, as far as I know, but it's always changing and I could be wrong).

Depending on how many nights you're wanting to camp and the size of your travelling party, it would probably be easier just to buy a cheap 4-person tent ($60?) a disposable cooler for food and cast iron skillet for cooking. You could get all of this at Wal-Mart/Fred Meyer for a fair price and donate the tent to Goodwill if you were concerned about waste.

ANYWAY. As far as actual sites are concerned, your planned route is important. There are a ton of fun spots through the mountains on I-90 and a couple up to the Columbia river. Are you concerned with the easiest path to Spokane, or are you wanting to get there in such a way that you go past as much cool stuff as possible while also going in a generally eastward direction?
posted by Tevin at 6:52 AM on April 3, 2017

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