If you are wondering where to boondock in Washington, then there are many terrific answers. You can find unique places to camp along the convoluted waterways of Puget Sound, which runs from north of Seattle to Olympia. You can also find great places for boondocking in Washington on the San Juan Islands. There are terrific places to go camping for free in Washington around Olympic National Park as well, especially in the Olympic National Forest. Near Vancouver and the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, southwest Washington holds some gems for boondocking. You can often find snowy locations around Mount Rainier National Park to go free camping clear through the early summer. With so many wonderful choices for boondocking in Washington, it can be challenging to pick a favorite, so you will want to go often.
Boondocking Sites in Washington
Cowlitz Wildlife Area
There is free camping in Washington available at the Cowlitz Wildlife Area at the south end of Riffe Lake near Mossyrock. This is a fantastic area to go hiking through wetlands and coniferous forests. Bald eagles frequent this area. Check the forecast before heading to this location as it can flood.
Lake Wenatchee Campground
Boondock in Washington at Lake Wenatchee Campground in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. These sites are located a short distance off Highway 2 on White Pine Road. This wilderness area is only open from July 31 to April 1 because raptors use it for nesting. Climbers especially love staying at this campground near Leavenworth.
Big Hill Campsites
The road to Big Hill Campsites near Entiat in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest can be tough to negotiate, but the reward is a beautiful place to stay. There is a pit toilet, but no water is available. This campground at 6,800 feet in elevation is an excellent place to go wildlife watching.
Hunting, fishing, bicycling, and hiking are all available near the Godman Campground in the Wenacha Tucannon Wilderness within the Umatilla National Forest. This campground near Dayton offers room for three trailers and five tents. Due to this campground’s high elevation, it is only open from late April to late September.
Rocky Lake Campground
Camp on Rocky Lake’s shores at Rocky Lake Campground near Colville. This is an excellent place to go trout fishing. The scenery from this high-elevation campground is stunning, and there are fabulous hiking trails nearby. You will not find any services at this campground that is open from the fourth Saturday of April through early October.
Big Meadow Lake Campground
Big Meadow Lake Campground is in Colville National Park near Colville. This site offers interpretative trails to hike along. Some of the trails are paved, so they are easily accessible to everyone. There is excellent fishing in the lake. This campground is near the Hess Homestead Cabin Day Use Area. Stay at this campground from the end of April through Halloween.
Indian Race Track
There are boondocking sites in the Indian Race Track area of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Historically, this area near Red Mountain was used for huge Native American gatherings during the summer, so it can be a great area to go artifact hunting. The Pacific Crest Trail runs near these campsites, and there are other nearby hiking trails. You need a permit to camp in this area near Trout Lake.
Camp Muir serves as the basecamp for those wishing to climb Mount Rainier, but you can choose to camp here without climbing the mountain. The 8.6-mile hike to this campground starts at the upper parking lot next to the Paradise Visitor Center. After camping at this site, consider sledding your way out, but be careful that you stay on the trail as the land slopes toward a glacier field.
Where to Boondock in Washington
There are many fantastic options where you can boondock in Washington. Consider camping in one of Washington’s nine national forests. You can also find sites within many of the national wildlife refuges. The Washington Department of Natural Resources also has sites available at many of their wildlife management areas.
Free Camping in Washington
When preparing for your boondocking trip in Washington, consider the weather. You may have a weather app on your cellphone, but you may have little or no service in remote areas. Therefore, consider getting a weather radio that is hand-cranked or solar-powered.
Consider if your vehicle is prepared to go into the area where you want to camp. If you have a larger RV, then some forest service roads may not be easily accessible. Since you may be going into a remote area where your GPS may fail you, consider getting a good map of the area. If you do not already have one, then a compass that can be operated offline can also help keep you on track as it is easy to get turned around.
While one of the best parts of boondocking is the chance to unplug, you must leave an itinerary with someone who is not going on the trip. This helps others find you if something happens. In most cases, unless help is within sight, it is best to stay with your vehicle. Consider packing along some extra supplies if you cannot leave the site exactly when you planned.
Scientific studies show that getting away is an excellent boost to your morale. Reconnecting with nature allows you to see things you would otherwise miss. Since most people choose to boondock with friends and family, it can also be an excellent opportunity to reconnect with those you love.
Before you head out on your trip, check out our blog for all you need to know about boondocking. It is filled with helpful tips to make free camping in Washington even more enjoyable.
The best way to go boondocking in Washington is in an RV. If you do not have one, rent one on RVshare.com.