Washington

9 Amazing Lake Camping Sites in Washington

best lake camping washington
Photo: Lake Wenatchee State Park // Valerii Tereshchenko, Getty Images

Washington is chock full of awesome lake camping destinations — and some of them are rarely (if ever) crowded.

The state of Washington is home to myriad lakes, each one with its own unique attractions and recreational opportunities. From the glacial canyons out east to the alpine lakes of the Cascades and the coastal lagoons of the Olympic Peninsula and the northwestern islands, the options are nearly endless.

The list below is a compilation of the best lake camping in Washington. While there are many other great lake camping destinations across the Evergreen State, this list features some of the most popular campgrounds as well as a few excellent lakeside campgrounds far removed from the well-trodden tourist trails.

1. Fairholme Campground

Fairholme Campground Washington Lake Camping
Photo: Angela Dukich, Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Easy access to a serene setting in Olympic National Park.

  • Reservations accepted: No
  • Best season: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: No

Fairholme Campground sits at the western end of Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park. It’s off Highway 101 and less than 20 miles from the city of Port Angeles so it’s an easily accessible campground — but it’s also completely entrenched in nature.

Lake Crescent is a large, glacially carved and isolated body of water home to its own unique population of Crescenti trout. As such, anglers often come to the lake anxious to catch the distinctive fish. There are also numerous trails around the lake, including longer routes that stretch deep into the national park.

2. Ike Kinswa State Park

Ike Kinswa State Park Lake Camping
Photo: Sarah Klein, Getty Images

Why you should camp here: A convenient and quiet spot between I-5 and Mount St. Helens.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: Yes

Ike Kinswa State Park in Lewis County is one of the most popular lake campgrounds in Washington for its relative proximity to Interstate-5 and the quiet escape it provides along the forested shores of Mayfield Lake. It is named in honor of an indigenous member of the Cowlitz Tribe who once lived in the area.

There are multiple boat launches, a kids’ swimming area, hiking trails, horseshoe pits, and dozens of picnic shelters for camper use. The lake is an excellent place to fish for bass, trout, and kokanee salmon.

This campground is also a popular basecamp option for those looking to explore the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument since it’s only about an hour-long drive to the visitors center.

3. Bonaparte Lake Campground

Bonaparte Lake Campground Washington
Photo: Slava Alekseev, Getty Images

Why you should camp here: Year-round fishing in the scenic and rugged far north of the state.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Summer, Fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Cabins
  • RV hookups: No

Bonaparte Lake is a popular fishing location for its year-round accessibility, which means it’s a big ice-fishing destination for PNW anglers. You can catch several types of trout here, plus bass and kokanee. The state record tiger trout was caught in this lake in 2015 — it was nearly 18.5 pounds!

The Bonaparte Lake Campground is at the southern end of the lake in the Okanagon Highlands. There are also cabin, but they’re at the adjacent Bonaparte Lake Resort, where there’s even more room for tents and RVs. Between the campground and resort, there are multiple boat launches as well as boat rentals and a small convenience store. The amenities make it one of the best campgrounds in Washington for first-time campers.

4. Lake Wenatchee State Park

Lake Wenatchee Campground Washington
Photo: Getty Images

Why you should camp here: A wealth of year-round outdoor recreation options at a scenic lake.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: Yes

Tucked away in the mountains north of Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee State Park is surrounded by a smorgasbord of outdoor recreation and exploration opportunities. The glacier-fed lake offers all manner of waterborne activities in the summer and it turns into a frozen sno-park during the winter.

Camping is available year-round. You can hike, boat, backpack, snowshoe, snowmobile, mountain bike, and much more. In the summer, there are usually ranger programs for adults and kids on everything from stargazing to plant identification and history.

There are a few other campgrounds in the immediate area, too. If you’re seeking a more secluded camping experience on the lake, follow the South Shore Road past the state park until you hit Glacier View Campground.

5. Buck Lake Campground

buck lake campground
Photo: Flickr

Why you should camp here: Remote BYO-everything campsite (sort of near) a cool cowboy town.

  • Reservations accepted: No
  • Best season: Summer
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: No

Buck Lake Campground is in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, where there’s nary a hint of civilization. There’s room for tent campers and small RVs, but campers over 20 feet long won’t fit, and motorized watercraft aren’t allowed on the lake. The only amenity is a backcountry toilet, so be sure to bring your own water (along with everything else.)

As such, come here expecting serenity. The nearest amenities are 30 minutes away in the town of Winthrop, which is actually a pretty cool recreated cowboy town.

You can spend your time at the campground lakeside or venture out onto the numerous hiking and mountain biking trails in the area. Road and mountain biking are especially popular here, and several stores in Winthrop rent bikes and run cycling tours during the tourist (i.e.: summer) months.

6. Moran State Park Campgrounds

Cascade Lake Camping Washington
Photo: Lucy Autrey Wilson, Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: An island paradise with ample recreation opportunities.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, Summer, Fall (open Winter)
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: No

Moran State Park is like a Pacific Northwest island resort. The park is more than 5,400 acres and has more than 150 campsites across multiple campgrounds on the eastern arm of Orcas Island. The park’s main hub at Cascade Lake has boat rentals and a snack bar as well as ADA-accessible amenities and facilities.

There are three campgrounds around the shores of Cascade Lake, and visitors can also hike or drive to Mountain Lake, Summit Lake, and several other inland bodies of water. And since the park stretches to Rosario Strait shoreline, there are limitless opportunities for paddling and boating (and a chance to see migrating whales.)

Of course, there’s plenty to do on land, too. A hike up to the summit of Mount Constitution will provide you with unparalleled views of the surrounding islands, and there are dozens of miles of hiking, equestrian, and biking trails running throughout the park.

7. Lake Chelan State Park

lake chelan pnw road trip
Photo: Fen Kuntz, Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Lake camping in one of Washington’s most popular summer towns.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: Yes

Lake Chelan is a gargantuan lake that measures 50.5 miles from point to point and is the third-deepest lake in the United States at a depth of 1,486 feet. The state park is below the outside elbow bend near the southern end of the lake.

Set with long stretches of sandy shoreline, a calm lagoon, and an on-site cafe, there’s little reason to leave the campground once you arrive. You’ll find watercraft rentals and amenities galore elsewhere around the lake, as well as miles of mountain hiking trails. The town of Lake Chelan has tons to do too, ranging from helicopter and e-bike tours to river floating, wine tasting, and all manner of summer community events.

8. Sullivan Lake

Sullivan Lake Camping Washington
Photo: Keith B. Winn, Getty Images

Why you should camp here: A remote campsite surrounded by epic wildlife viewing opportunities.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Summer, Fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs
  • RV hookups: No

Way up high in the northeastern corner of the state near both the Idaho and Canada borders lies Sullivan Lake, an outdoor wonderland often overlooked. There are three campgrounds around the lake itself (West Sullivan, East Sullivan, and Noisy Creek campgrounds), and several more up the road along Sullivan Creek.

There’s a long list of fun things to do in and around Sullivan Lake. You can find all the usual watersports and lakeside activities here, as well as an exceptional amount of wildlife viewing; moose, grizzly bear, bighorn sheep, and gray wolves live in the area. You can often see megafauna on the adjacent Hall Mountain, or on the scenic International Selkirk Loop roadway. (If you’re traveling in Summer 2021, remember that the Canada-US border may be closed for COVID-19 precautions.)

9. Steamboat Rock State Park

Steamboat Rock State Park
Photo: Zack Frank, Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Family fun, relaxation, adventure — it’s all here at this popular park.

  • Reservations accepted: Yes
  • Best season: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Campsite type: Tents, RVs, Cabins
  • RV hookups: Yes

Steamboat Rock is an enormous basalt butte that rises above Banks Lake and Devils Punch Bowl, which fill much of the park’s glacier-carved canyon. There are dozens of full-hookup RV campsites and padded tent sites along the shoreline as well as dozens of primitive sites (sites without amenities) at Jones Bay and Osborn Bay.

The butte’s plateau is free-range for exploration and with 50,0000 feet of shoreline, there’s plenty of space to roam. This year-round park features boating opportunities, winter activities like ice climbing, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing, and trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.

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