In our family, summer time is all about camping. Despite our busy summer schedules, we try to make time for at least a few camping trips each summer, usually to one of the state parks in our area.
Recently, we completed our first camping trip of the season: a weekend trip to Deception Pass State Park with my sister, niece, and their spouses. We had a great time taking a break from the city and experiencing the outdoors with family. And my daughter and I especially had fun trying out my new selfie stick (yes! I finally broke down and got one!).
As many Washington state families may know, we live in a pretty amazing state. The diversity in climate and geography of the state allows for some wonderful state parks. Most of our explorations have focused on the Western part of the state, mainly because we live in Western Washington. But there are plenty of great state parks in Eastern Washington too.
Here are our favorite picks for Washington state parks to camp at this summer:
Moran State Park
This state park is located on Orcas Island, one of the collection of islands in the Puget Sound known as the San Juan Islands. You’ll need to take a ferry to get there, but once on the island, you’ll be rewarded with some wonderful ocean views. Being on an island means you’re not really at risk of coming across any large animals, and the small towns on the island are fun to explore. There are three main camping areas, centered around Cascade Lake, but there is also a camping area located near Mountain Lake, to the west of Cascade Lake. The highlight of Moran State Park is Mount Constitution, which allows you to see a panoramic view of the San Juan Islands.
Deception Pass State Park
Only a few hours drive from Seattle, Deception Pass State Park is an easy option for a weekend camping trip. The state park itself is located on two islands: Whidbey Island on the south and Fidalgo island on the north. You can access the park by ferry boat from Mukilteo on the mainland to the town of Clinton on Whidbey Island. Otherwise, you can drive north to Burlington (a much cheaper option!), and then head west on Route 20 to Fidalgo Island. This will take you across the Deception Pass bridge, which offers scenic views of the Puget Sound. The park has campsites on both Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island, and has several miles of beaches.
Cape Disappointment State Park
For those interested in a bit of history, head to Cape Disappointment State Park, located in the southwestern corner of Washington state. Cape Disappointment was where Lewis and Clark spent their final days of their expedition across the American continent. The state park is located at the point where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, and one of the highlights of the park is their lighthouse. There are campsites available, as well as yurts and cabins. Next to the lighthouse are light-keeper residences that have been converted to vacation houses. A helpful tip for visitors to Cape Disappointment: bring a windbreaker or a jacket. Even in the summer months, the wind can get pretty strong next to the water, so it’s good to wear layers.
Lake Wenatchee State Park
As much as I love camping near beaches, I do enjoy the tranquility of camping in the mountains from time to time. Lake Wenatchee State Park is located within the Cascade Mountain Range, just north of the town of Leavenworth. There are two camping areas, located near the eastern banks of the lake. There are trails throughout the park that you can hike or ride your bike through. My favorite part about this park was taking an early morning hike to the lake with my son, and seeing the sunrise and mountains reflected in the clear blue water. What a sight!
Manchester State Park
Last summer, I did my first solo camping trip with my son. We headed over to Manchester State Park on the Kitsap Peninsula for a night, and had a fun time exploring the former fort site turned state park. The park itself is not that big, it only covers 111 acres and has just 2 miles of hiking trails. There is only one camping area with 35 tent sites and 15 utility sites. But the thing I like about the park is that many of the former military structures are there, including a torpedo warehouse that now serves as a picnic area. Manchester State Park is an easy ferry ride from West Seattle, and nearby Port Orchard is a nice town to visit for a lunch or breakfast.
We love exploring state parks as a family, and we’re lucky that Washington state has a fair number of state parks available for us to visit. Not only is it a great excuse to be outdoors, but it also lets us get to know our state better.
What’s your favorite part about visiting state parks? And what state parks have you visited recently? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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