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Washington state is easily one of the very best RV summer destinations. The weather is great during the warmer months, and there are tons of amazing things to see and do. If you plan on camping in Washington this summer, be sure to use the tips below to make your trip the best it can be. 

Check Out These Must-Visit Spots

First things first, let’s talk about the must-see spots. These places really can’t be missed while camping in Washington, so be sure to add them to your to-do list and plan your travel accordingly. 

North Cascades National Park

Because it’s so far north, many people skip over North Cascades National Park. Don’t. It is absolutely stunning. The bright blue color of the water against the green of the trees is an awe-inspiring sight indeed, and we had some wonderful hikes in this park.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is easily in my top three national parks. This place is just gorgeous and is a must-see while camping in Washington.

I adore that it is home to some beautiful beaches (Ruby Beach is perfect for playing with driftwood and watching the sunset) as well as an actual rainforest (be sure to hike Hoh Rainforest!) and some amazing mountains.

There’s a little bit of everything here, and that makes it extra special in my book. 

Mount St. Helens 

Mount St. Helens is a beautiful place with an intense story. The land surrounding the volcano is home to multiple visitor centers, including the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center run by the Washington State Park System, the Johnston Ridge Observatory run by the US Forest service, and others. 

The kids enjoyed learning about the 1980 eruption in the visitor centers we stopped at, and they both earned Junior Ranger badges. We also really enjoyed hiking the Ape Cave lava tubes in the national forest.

Kids standing in front of wildflowers and mountain at Mount Rainier National Park, a must see spot while camping in Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Another national park that should not be missed while camping in Washington? Mount Rainier National Park. The place was in full bloom when we visited in late July, and the contrast between the colorful wildflowers and the snow-capped mountains was incredible. 

Note: Mount Rainier is requiring timed entry passes this summer, so be sure to plan ahead and grab your pass ASAP!


Of course, we must mention Seattle. This major Washington city is the place to go if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of a major metropolitan area. Here you’ll find some of the best museums in the US, as well as some lovely green areas and some delicious food. 

We really enjoyed visiting the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, checking out Pike Place Market, playing at the “Artists at Play” playground with a view of the Space Needle, and looking at the sculptures as we strolled through Myrtle Edwards Park

Grab a State Park Pass

Another thing you really should do when camping in Washington? Head to some of the amazing state parks there. This state is absolutely gorgeous, and the many state parks scattered throughout do an excellent job of showcasing that beauty.

If you plan on heading to the state parks often (and you should), we highly recommend buying a Washington Discover Pass, which will give you free admission to all of the state parks (and a few other awesome spots). The pass is a mere $30 and was definitely a worthwhile investment for our family, as we visited a number of great parks. 

Some of our favorite Washington state parks included:

  • Larabee State Park, where we hiked through gorgeous evergreens to get to Clayton Beach. There we collected tons of sand dollars and had a wonderful time checking out little crabs. 
  • Olallie State Park, where we hiked a gorgeous trail through the trees to view some beautiful waterfalls. The kids loved climbing in and on old stumps along the trail.
  • Rainbow Falls State Park, where we took a super short hike down to the river and enjoyed playing in the small rapids and taking a refreshing swim. 

Check Libraries for Freebies

We were very surprised to find that many libraries in Washington offer free passes to nearby museums. We utilized this in Bellingham to visit the Mindport Exhibits, and our friends took advantage of the Seattle Public Library System visitor library card to grab tickets to MoPop. I also know the King Country Library System offers a visitor pass and a number of Seattle area museum passes. 

Just know that if you decide to go this route, you will need to plan in advance, as the passes are snatched up as soon as they are made available. 

Invest in a Reciprocal Museum Membership

Washington is chock-full of awesome museums that are a perfect way to enhance your trip while camping in Washington. While some of them (such as the ever-popular MoPop in Seattle) are not included on any reciprocal lists, many are. Take a look at what museums you might want to visit during your time in Washington and then pick up a reciprocal museum pass that will give you access to as many of those as possible

Kern County Museum in California offers an excellent option that will allow you to visit ASTC, NARM, Time Travelers, and ACM museums at a discount or sometimes for free. 

Head to Canada

One super cool thing about spending the summer camping in Washington is that as long as you head far enough north, it can be very easy to pop over to Canada. We stayed at Birch Bay Thousand Trails and visited Canada many times during our stay. 

Here’s what we recommend doing just over the border. 

Stanley Park

This is a beautiful green space right in the middle of Vancouver. Our kids LOVED visiting the various playgrounds at the park and strolling through the rose garden. I only wish we had bought tickets for the summer outdoor theater production they had going on at the time. 

Science World

Science World is an awesome hands-on science center in Vancouver. It is a part of the ASTC reciprocal program, so as long as you have an ASTC pass, you won’t pay a penny to get in. You’re sure to love playing and learning together as a family. 

Boy playing in a trolley at Burnaby Village Museum

Burnaby Village Museum

As a huge fan of living history museums, I was so excited to see that the Burnaby Village Museum was 100% free! Despite the fact that we didn’t have to pay to enter, the park was meticulously maintained and the interpreters and docents were just wonderful.

We got to taste a scratch-made cracker made in a historic kitchen, ride a historic carousel, and chat with a fellow history enthusiast. I definitely recommend this place to anyone who loves history!

Otter Co-Op Water Park

Finally, I have to mention the Otter Co-Op Water Park. This is a medium-sized water park that is run by the Township of Langley. There is a large water playground for the younger kids, complete with small and medium sized slides.

A lazy river runs around the park, and three large water slides provide thrills for the older set. The park also boasts a wave pool, a swimming pool with diving boards, and a hot tub. 

We had a blast here, and the low cost of admission made this doable even on a budget!

Know Where to Find Camping

Of course, you will need someplace to stay while camping in Washington. While many private campgrounds are pretty pricey in this part of the country, it is still possible to camp on a budget. Here are our recommendations. 

Thousand Trails

First and foremost, we highly recommend investing in a Thousand Trails membership. Even if you only get a zone pass that includes the Washington parks it will help you save money.

There are a number of TT parks in Washington, meaning it’s easy to hop from one to the next and never even have to leave the system if you don’t want to. This is even more true if you add the Trails Collection to your pass.

During our time in Washington, we stayed at the following Thousand Trails and Encore parks: 

  • Little Diamond 
  • Tall Chief
  • Mount Vernon
  • Oceana
  • Paradise
  • Birch Bay
  • Chehalis

All have been good stays, and some have been absolutely wonderful experiences. We especially love Tall Chief for its proximity to Seattle, Birch Bay for its proximity to the Canadian border, and Oceana for its location right on the water. 

Free Camping 

It’s also good to know that there are several free spots for camping in Washington. Some are run by the Army Corps of Engineers, some by the Forest Service, some by the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife or the Dept. of Natural Resources, and still others by the State Forest Service.

Note that some of these spots do require the aforementioned Discover Pass to be displayed. 

Hopefully this is enough to get you started as you plan your camping in Washington adventures. Hopefully our experiences help you enhance your trip so you can have a magical summer in one of the most beautiful states in the country!

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