Washington

12 Best Washington Coast Camping Spots for a Peaceful Trip

by Jacklyn Grambush
Updated September 29, 2022

best camping washington coast
Second Beach, Olympic National Park. Photo: Beau Rogers

In case desert, city, mountains, and rainforest don’t offer enough adventure, the state of Washington also offers a fabulous section of the Pacific coast that’s ripe with camping opportunities.

Though most of the recommendations below for camping on the Washington coast are all on the actual coast (meaning next to the Pacific Ocean), a few other spots have also been added as long as they’re by bodies of saltwater like the Salish Sea or the Puget Sound.

All in all, camping on the Washington “coast” (by this extended definition) means sleeping under the stars on the outskirts of the Olympic National Park or on an island. Either way, you can look forward to stunning mountain, ocean, or island views, that salty smell in the air, and stunning sunsets on the West Coast.

Don’t forget to do your research: get the right permits and passes for camping, fishing, and shellfish harvesting, be prepared for changing tides, and remember that weather tends to be a little cooler on the beach. To get you started with your planning, here are twelve Washington Coast camping spots to look forward to.

Olympic Peninsula Camping

1. Cape Disappointment State Park

washington coast camping - Cape Disappointment State Park
Photo: Sebastian Brinkman

Why you should camp here: Steeped in history, explore where the Pacific Ocean meets the Columbia River on the border between Washington and Oregon.

  • Location: Cape Disappointment State Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, car camping, hike/bike, cabins, yurts, vacations houses
  • RV hookups: Full and partial

Don’t let the name scare you off! Named after a failed search to find the Columbia River in 1788, modern campers are unlikely to find the same disappointment along Cape Disappointment State Park’s two thousand plus acres on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Though swimming in the ocean is not advised, the park does offer boating, clamming, crabbing, fishing, beach exploration (including two lighthouses), and 8 miles of hiking trails. History buffs will be additionally excited by the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and military bunker ruins. Nearby, campers can also find the Fort Columbia Interpretive Center and Surfside Golf Course.

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Related Read: 12 Romantic Getaways in Washington to Take Your Sweetheart

2. Ocean City State Park

washington coast camping - Ocean City State Park
Photo: John T. Callery

Why you should camp here: Located near the popular beach town of Ocean Shores, this campsite will allow you to enjoy nature without feeling too far from town.

  • Location: Ocean City State Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, car camping
  • RV hookups: Full including electricity, water, and sewer

Great for birding, clam digging, fishing, and beach exploring, the 257-acre Ocean City State Park is open year round. Other than the dunes and shore pine, exploration may take you to the nearby North Bay Natural Preserve. Feel free to drive on the beach as long as you respect the 25 mph speed limit.

Nearby, Ocean Shores offers 23 miles of fresh waterways for swimming and boating, an 18 hole golf course, an arcade, the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino, shopping, horseback riding, and more.

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Related Read: 12 Spots to See Gorgeous Fall Colors in Oregon

3. Pacific Beach State Park

washington coast camping - Pacific Beach State Park
Photo: Flickr

Why you should camp here: Enjoy the only campsite on this list with free Wi-Fi.

  • Location: Pacific Beach State Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, car camping, yurts
  • RV hookups: Partial

Just south of the Quinault Reservation, the smaller 17 acres park means fewer campers. Only a half hour drive from Ocean Shores, Pacific Beach State Park is a great option for anyone who wants to be nearby without having to camp among the crowds.

Like other coastal campsites, this park also offers fishing and clamming along its 2,300 feet of ocean shoreline.

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Related Read: 9 Best Hikes in Washington State for Epic Outdoor Adventures

4. South Beach Campground

washington coast camping - south beach campground
Photo: Maggie Tacheny

Why you should camp here: Beach camp just an hour from the continent’s only temperate rainforest.

  • Location: Olympic National Park
  • Reservations: No
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, car camping
  • RV hookups: No

Located in Olympic National Park, the South Beach Campground is just off scenic Highway 101 and perched on a bluff offering stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Open only during the summer on a first-come, first-served basis, this campground has picnic tables, fire pits, and flush toilets — but no potable water. Water is available at the nearby Kalaloch campground dump station.

Head down to the beach to explore part of the 65 miles of wild coastline protected by Olympic National Park or drive further into the park to hike the famous Hoh River Trail and experience Washington’s rainforest.

Related Read: A Winter Guide to Visiting Olympic National Park

5. Second Beach

washington coast camping - second beach
Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: A perfect beginner’s experience for hiking to your campsite.

  • Location: Olympic National Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Backpacking
  • RV hookups: No

Want to try your hand at backpacking? The forest trail to this campsite is just under three quarters of a mile. There are a few forested sites, but most options are on the beach. Make sure that you get a Wilderness Camping Permit, that you have a group of no more than 12, and that you set up camp above high tide to avoid waking up in a wet tent.

A pit toilet is available where the trail meets the beach, but otherwise, make sure you know the appropriate way and places to dispose of human waste. For example, don’t leave it too close to the two streams that are your water source while camping in this area. Make sure to filter or boil your water; iodine is not effective here.

Keep an eye out for whales, seals, bald eagles, and tide pools as you enjoy this mile of sandy beach in the Olympic National Park.

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Related Read: Ultimate Itinerary: The Great Pacific Northwest Road Trip

6. Mora Campground

washington coast camping - mora campground
Photo: Amy Meredith

Why you should camp here: Location, location, location! Take your pick of activities less than an hour from rainforest, mountain, beach, and town.

  • Location: Olympic National Park
  • Reservations: Yes, during peak season
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs (mostly up to 21 feet, a few up to 35 feet), car camping
  • RV hookups: No

On top of practical amenities such as flush toilets and potable water, Mora Campground offers 94 sites in a lush forest near the Quillayute River, with the crash of ocean waves in the background.

About an hour from the Hoh Rainforest and the Olympic mountains to the east, this campground is also only 2 miles from Rialto Beach and the picturesque Hole-in-the-Wall hike along the Olympic Wilderness Coast.

Alternatively, you could head less than 20 minutes to La Push on the Quillayute Reservation for surfing, fishing, or whale watching. Vampire fans may like to visit the town of Forks, less than 30 minutes away.

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7. Cape Alava

washington coast camping - cape alava
Photo: Flickr

Why you should camp here: Backpacking that’s still easy enough for beginners while getting some decent distance from your car.

  • Location: Olympic National Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Backpacking
  • RV hookups: No

In one of the more remote parts of the Olympic National Park, Cape Alava is on one corner of Ozette Triangle.

One side of the triangle is along the coast (connecting Cape Alava to the nearby Sand Point campsite to the south) while the other two wooded sides of the triangle connect the two beach points to the parking lot. Each side is around 3 miles long, so you can do the whole loop during your stay for the total 9.2 miles, or you can simply hike from the parking lot to Cape Alava and back for closer to 6 miles roundtrip.

History buffs will want to hike up to Wedding Rocks to search for Indigenous petroglyphs or even check out the nearby Makah Cultural and Research Center which exhibits artifacts retrieved from the Ozette Archaeological Site.

Don’t forget your Wilderness Camping Permit, bear canisters, and tide tables. Pit toilets are available at the site; otherwise, pack out toilet paper and bury your waste. Water can be sourced from nearby creeks and will need to be filtered or boiled. Consider camping during the offseason to truly discover this area’s wild side.

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Related Read: 11 Sweet Camping Spots Near Fort Bragg, California

8. Salt Creek Campground

washington coast camping - salt creek
Photo: Flickr

Why you should camp here: Explore the Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary.

  • Location: Clallam County Parks
  • Reservations: Some sites during peak season
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, car camping
  • RV hookups: Full with potential seasonal limitations

The Salt Creek Campground offers 92 campsites year-round on 196 acres. Amenities include a softball field, volleyball court, and basketball court. With beach access, Salt Creek offers tide pooling, hiking (including trails to WWII bunkers and equestrian trailheads), surfing, kayaking, and some of the state’s best shore diving – not to mention stunning views from the bluffs. In fact, a majority of the sites offer panoramic views of the adjacent Marine Life Sanctuary.

Though still on the Olympic Peninsula, the Salt Creek Campground sits on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (instead of the Pacific Ocean) just a little over 20 minutes from Port Angeles. The largest city on the Olympic Peninsula (with a population around 20k), Port Angeles is also where you can catch the ferry to Victoria, B.C.

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San Juan Islands Camping

9. Cranberry Lake Campground

washington coast camping - Deception Pass State Park
Photo: Flickr

Why you should camp here: Discover what makes this state park Washington’s most-visited park.

  • Location: Deception Pass State Park
  • Reservations: Yes, for some sites
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, car camping, hike/bike
  • RV hookups: Partial

This campsite is on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound, just south of the San Juan Islands. Surrounded by old growth forest, Cranberry Lake is the largest campground on the 3,854 acres of Deception Pass State Park, which was developed specifically for visitors by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.

With access to both the freshwater of Cranberry Lake and the saltwater of the Sound, campers can boat, crab, dive, fish, swim, and white-waterkayak. There are also trails for hiking, biking, and horse riding, not to mention the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT).

Keep in mind that due to a nearby Naval Air Station, U.S. Navy jets sometimes fly over the campground.

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Related Read: The 9 Best Beaches in Oregon to Enjoy the Pacific Vibes

10. Jones Island Marine State Park

washington coast camping - Jones Island Marine State Park
Photo: Danita Delimont

Why you should camp here: Only accessible by boat, this is a great place for kayak campers to explore.

  • Location: Jones Island Marine State Park
  • Reservations: Only for group campsites
  • Campsite type: Tents, human- or wind-powered watercraft arrival
  • RV hookups: No

For those who truly want to get away, hop in a boat and dock at the 188 acres of Jones Island Marine State Park. The island has no residents and no garbage service, so make sure to pack out everything you pack in. Keep in mind that drinking water is only available May through September. Illegal feeding of wildlife has caused deer to grow increasingly dependent on being fed; please do not worsen the situation by feeding wildlife during your stay.

Enjoy 4 miles of hiking trails, explore the family orchard left from the island’s first resident, and settle into one of 24 primitive campsites. Make sure to do your research on the moorage dock (which is not installed year round), reefs, charted rocks, and adverse weather which may cause rough water conditions.

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11. Mountain Lake

washington coast camping - Moran State Park
Photo: Lucy Autrey Wilson

Why you should camp here: It’s hard to beat camping by a freshwater lake at the base of a mountain on an island surrounded by saltwater.

  • Location: Moran State Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, car camping, hike/bike,
  • RV hookups: No

Located on Orcas (pronounced “OR-kiss”) Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands, Moran State Park pretty much has it all. The largest lake in the park, Mountain Lake is about halfway up Mount Constitution. You can hike the rest of the way up for astounding views of the San Juan Islands, or stay closer to camp by hiking the 4 mile loop around the lake.

The lake itself can be enjoyed in a kayak or canoe. Campers can also fish and swim here, while enjoying more wildlife a little farther from road traffic. Enjoy the cooler temperatures of this area thanks to the combined water and elevation.

For those who want to explore more of the 5,424-acre state park, options include more than 30 miles of hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, and equestrian trails.

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Related Read: 13 Outdoorsy Things to Do on the Washington Coast

12. Rolfe Cove

washington coast camping - Matia Island State Park
Photo: Vikki Hunt

Why you should camp here: Boat in to camp next to a Wildlife Refuge.

  • Location: Matia Island State Park
  • Reservations: No
  • Campsite type: Tents
  • RV hookups: No

Arguably the most remote option on this list, Matia Island is a bit smaller than Jones Island at 145 acres. However, Matia Island, which is also only accessible by boat, is part of the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge; other than the 5 acres at Rolfe Cove including the campground, loop trail, and beaches, the island is closed to public access in protection of habitat and wildlife.

Enjoy clamming, crabbing, diving, and saltwater fishing. Note that there is no drinkable water or garbage service on the island, so bring your entire water supply, and pack out what you pack in. Additionally, open fires and pets are not allowed on the island.

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