Pitch a Tent! 6 State Park Campsites to Stake Out
It’s been a long few months, parents, but we made it through. One of our rewards? It’s time to break out the s’mores because a few state parks just opened for camping June 1. So if loading the car with your tent, sleeping bags and a fully-stocked cooler sounds like what you and the kids need right now, here are a few spots where your crew enjoy the outdoors.
Easily one of the most popular state parks in Washington, Cape Disappointment will be open for camping at 50% capacity starting June 1. When you pitch your tent here it’s easy to see why so many people love it. Not only is it close to the city, but it’s got views that are hard to beat, in every direction. Plan to explore the nearly eight miles of trails while you’re there and wander through what’s left of Fort Canby. And although you won’t be able to take a tour inside, the lighthouse makes for a fun hike. Be sure to pack binoculars for the kids, a fishing rod if you’ve got it and a metal detector too. Who knows what you’ll see (or find) when you’re out exploring!
Good to know: Although campsites are open, the interpretive center and other amenities are not.
244 Robert Gray Dr.
Sure, you can spot Blake Island from the ferry out of Elliot Bay. Maybe you’ve even taken Argosy Cruise’s Tillicum Excursion to the island for a salmon dinner. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be an easy boat camping destination this summer too. With a quick bay crossing, you’re worlds away from the city with plenty to do. The kids will find sandy shores to with driftwood and rocks a-plenty. Bring buckets, sunscreen and your curiosity on this one. Exploring beyond the known becomes the mission on this trip. The elusive west side, where you’ll find the tent camping sites, has Olympic Mountain views that are hard to beat. Our advice is to get there early, especially on the weekends, as campsites fill up fast and they’re all first come, first served.
Good to know: Blake Island is only accessible by boat.
P.O. Box 227
Manchester State Park
If you’re looking for an out-of-the-way spot that isn’t too far from the city, put Manchester State Park on your list. It’s a water sports mecca thanks to its 3,400-feet of saltwater shoreline where you can launch kayaks, SUP or swim. Families can also hike the short 2-mile trail that runs along the inlet. It’s where you’ll find remnants of military casements long abandoned. The large grassy area is great for soccer or throwing the Frisbee, and there’s a horseshoe pit and volleyball court to keep the good times rolling, too. Finally, it’s hard to miss the old torpedo warehouse that’s been transformed into an event venue. It makes a great backdrop of family pics on a sunny day.
Good to know: Shave off drive time when you take the ferry to Southworth, from the Fauntleroy dock in West Seattle.
7767 E. Hilldale R.
Port Orchard, WA
Twanoh State Park
If your kiddo is part fish, you won’t want to miss Twanoh State Park. With the warmest saltwater beaches in the state, families can wade away the summer days at this 182-acre state park in the Hood Canal. When you’re feeling waterlogged, lace up your hiking boots and enjoy a scenic hike along the Twanoh Creek. Or slip on your rain boots and take the tots out to hunt oysters along the shore. Don’t forget your shellfish license because this park is known for its oyster bounty. There are plenty of campsites to choose from here, but if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle, try tent sites 17–24. They’re set apart, but still have easy bathroom access for those toddler “dancing” moments.
12190 E. State Route 106
If remote is what you’re looking for, but you’re not sure your crew is ready for primitive camping, head to Jarrell Cove. The bursting-with-amenities campsite is just up the ramp from the out-of-the-way dock on Harstine Island. It’s a hot spot for lawn games and short hikes where you might find snakes and salamanders. The cove itself is protected enough to paddle board or kayak around without having to worry about wakes and currents making things tough on little kids. The campsites fill up quickly under typical conditions, so reserve a spot soon. Then, load up the lawn games alongside the tent and sleeping bags. There’s plenty of room to play!
E. 391 Wingert Rd.
Pacific Beach State Park
The beach is calling and you must go. This ocean-side state park, with 20 standard ocean-side campsites, is the perfect spot to get away from it all. The expansive sandy beach (no rocks about it) means the kids can build sandcastles all morning long. Then pull out the kites and explore the dunes during the afternoon. Bird watching is also a favorite activity here. At night, plan to roast marshmallows on the beach (campfires have the green light) before heading off to bed, listening to the waves crash outside.
49 Second St.
Pacific Beach, WA
Good to know
1. Site fees are standard for all state parks. It’s $12 per night for a primitive site and between $27 and $37 for a standard.
2. Playgrounds at state parks are still closed, as are yurt, cabin and multi-family camping site rentals.
3. Plan to bring your own toiletries (think: toilet paper, soap and hand sanitizer) with you as there may be reduced or limited services.