Just as technology has drastically changed over time, especially in recent years, the definition of what exactly camping is has morphed in the modern era. For real campers, those of us who forgo towing a trailer of technology in favor of simply carrying with you whatever you can, strap on your backpack and pick up your tent, because we’re headed into five of the best camping areas the Pacific Northwest has to offer!
1) Timothy Lake
A personal favorite of mine, you won’t have to drive but an hour from Portland to arrive at one of the best campsites in one of the best regions for camping in the country. Boasting numerous small, gorgeous sites, from Meditation Point to Gone Creek, you’ll find stunning views of Mt. Hood without having to view your neighbors! Hike around the lake and pitch a tent where you like, or stay in a sanctioned site, but be sure either bring or boil your own water. From free to $17, your experience will have you back next season, guaranteed!
2) Mima Falls
The southeastern corner of Washington’s Capitol State Forest hides the 5-site Mima Falls campground, a hidden jewel in the crown of the Pacific Northwest’s already formidable camping venues. Bring ‘em if you got ‘em; having your horses with you will help you navigate the miles of scenic trails interlaced throughout this northwest rainforest; or, walk an easy 5 to the 90 foot falls itself. The most priceless feature of camping at the falls (just south of Olympia), it’s free!
3) Western Lake and Snag Lake
Put them together, and you have 10 free sites that nobody even knows about, until now! Head north from Astoria, cross the border, and pull off to say goodbye to your friends and family on the way there, because you won’t be coming back! Private and pristine, but they still provide you with picnic tables! Gas motors aren’t permitted, and won’t stop you from throwing some rainbow, brook, or cutthroat trout on the BBQ for dinner. Bring your pets and poles with you, and pack your garbage out.
4) Keeps Mill
Pass Government Camp and head into the Mt. Hood National Forest to get to Keeps Mill, with 5 fine sites and no fire grills, you’ll be roughing it alongside some of the most killer kayaking the northwest has to offer. At the intersection of Clear Creek and the White River, you’ll never run out of water (if you boil it yourself), and climb your way to views that you should almost sit down for! At $10 per night, you’ll feel like you robbed somebody!
5) “Guerilla Camping”
Some of the best campsites in the Pacific Northwest are…your own! Legal in some areas, you could simply pull off to the side of the road and set up camp, finding a private site leagues better than most you would have to pay for. Hike in a ways and find your own personal paradise that will keep you and your family returning every year for the sense of personal, primal power that you’ll find traversing this great part of the country. Don’t like doing what they tell you? Go where others don’t dare legally tread and find places only the natives have been, but while drinking from wild streams doesn’t bother me, be careful that cougars and bears don’t bother you! Always free, always fantastic!