Washington’s winter landscape provides an endless opportunity for adventure. From the rainy Olympic Peninsula, to snowy Mt. Baker, to the dry eastern half of the state, there is no shortage of outdoor destinations. And while you may think you can only explore these while camping during the summer months, you’d be wrong!
Washington is home to an amazing array of winter camping destinations where you can enjoy fewer crowds, easy reservations, and a solitude that only comes with camping during the offseason.
We’ve compiled our 10 favorite spots for winter camping in the Evergreen State to help you find the perfect destination for your next trip!
In this Guide
- Washington Winter Camping Destinations
- Winter Camping Preparation & Must Know
Washington Winter Camping Destinations
The following are our 10 favorite places for winter camping in Washington. These span the entire state and included developed campsites as well as a few backcountry options. Use the map below to explore and read detailed descriptions in the section below.
Camping Option: Tent & RV sites
Heading to central Washington you’ll find Bridgeport State Park, located on the Rufus Woods Lake (just upstream from the Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River) this is a quiet and tranquil place for winter camping. While freezing temperatures are always a possibility, you won’t have to contend with deep snow banks and are much less likley to experience rainy weather compared to the western half of the state.
Campsites include 14 tent sites along with 20 RV sites with water and electric hookups. Several of the campsites are located right on the water, with beautiful views to the orchards beyond the reservoir.
While it might be a bit cold for boating during the winter months, fishing is still popular and there are plenty of hikes along the trails within the state park.
Camping Option: Tent, RV, & Yurt Camping
For a fun and family friendly winter camping experience close to Seattle, check out the Tolt MacDonald Park & Campground. This year-round camping destination has 16 RV sites with water and electric hookups, 22 tent sites, and our personal favorite, six yurts available for rent.
The yurts are all equipped with two futons, a bunk bed, basic heat, electricity, picnic table, and fire ring. You’ll get to cross the park’s famous 500-foot suspension bridge to reach the yurts, which is a pleasant walk from the parking area. If you have tons of gear, we recommend bringing along a camping wagon, or borrowing one from the campground host.
There are several great trail networks that leave directly from the park and explore the banks of the Snoqualmie River and nearby wilderness.
Camping Option: Tent, RV, Backcountry, Yurt
Heading to the Olympic Peninsula, where you’ll find tons of excellent winter camping, consider pitching your tent or parking your RV at Twanoh State Park. Located on the shores of the Hood Canal, this underrated park is the perfect place to base yourself for a winter trip on the Olympic Peninsula.
The campground here can accommodate RVs (22 sites with full hookups) and tents (25 sites), as well as one site directly on the water and part of the Cascadia Marine Trail.
The park underwent a large renovation in summer 2023, and many of the facilities have been upgraded making this a great destination for your winter camping trip. Outside of exploring the canal, there are several hiking trails through the forest in the park that are worth exploring.
Camping Option: Backcountry
For one of Washington’s quintessential winter camping experiences head to the iconic Mount Rainier National Park. You’ll find a variety of winter camping options here, but there are a few basics you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Camping on snow is permitted throughout the park with the following conditions:
- There must be a snow depth of at least 2′ or 5′ at Paradise
- You must be at least 300′ from roads, trailheads, and park facilities
- You must be at least 100′ from water
The most popular place for winter camping in the park is the Paradise region of the park. There is a large parking area available and you can hike just 300′ in to find areas to pitch your tent. This is a popular area for camping, so odds are you’ll have a few other groups with you in the area.
However, sharing is a small price to pay for the incredible views you’ll get from this famous section of Mt. Rainier National Park.
For the more adventurous, you can snowshoe or ski further into the backcountry to find a bit of solitude. Just be sure you’ve come properly prepared with the correct equipment, experience, and that you’ve checked the forecast and avalanche conditions. You’ll also need to register for a Wilderness Permit before heading out.
Camping Option: Tent & RV Camping
For easy winter camping directly on the Hood Canal, consider a trip to Potlatch State Park. The well-run campground at this state park doesn’t require any advance reservations during the winter season, which makes this a great destination for a spontaneous trip. However, be sure to check the weather forecast, as it can be seriously WET here.
If you do find a few days with good weather during the winter months, you’ll find an excellent campground which has 38 standard sites along with 35 partial hookup sites. Note that water is turned off for all the campsites from November 15th – March 1st.
As with Twanoh State Park, which is a short distance away, you’ll also find a single campsite for those arriving by boat on the Cascadia Marine Trail.
There aren’t many hiking trails in Potlatch State Park, as the main attraction are water activities on the Hood Canal.
Camping Option: Tent, RV, and Yurts
For a rugged Pacific coastline winter camping trip in Washington, Cape Disappointment State Park should be high on your list. This spectacular state park sits at the mouth of the Columbia River on the Long Beach peninsula. While Pacific storms are common here during the winter, the campground stays open year round, making for an excellent destination.
In addition to the large campground (137 standard sites, 50 full hookup, 18 partial hookup) you’ll also find cozy yurts available for rent. These are perfect for a winter “glamping” experience and come fully furnished and heated. The yurts are located within walking distance to the beach, making them a popular option year-round.
Campers will enjoy over 8 miles of hiking trails within the park as well as the stunning beach access and ability to explore tidal marshes, access to Baker Bay, and an excellent interpretive center with exhibits on the history of the area.
Camping Option: Backcountry
If you’re looking for a great introduction to backcountry winter camping, with a spectacular view to boot, then consider heading to Artist Point in the Mt. Baker Wilderness Area. During the winter months, the road leading up to the Artist Point parking area is closed to vehicles, making it a perfect place to bust out your snowshoes and XC skis. It is about 2.5 miles each way from the parking area to Artist Point, which should take about 1.5 hours depending on conditions.
Once you’ve reaching the top of the road, you can continue on further into the national forest. We recommend heading towards Huntoon Point, which is another .3 miles. Here, you’ll enjoy stunning views of Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker.
You’ll need an overnight parking permit to park at Mt. Baker ski area and you’ll also need to bring some blue bags for packing out your waste. Be sure to also check the weather forecast, as this isn’t a place you want to get caught in a storm!
Camping Options: Tent & RV Camping
This popular summer lake destination is just as magical in winter, but without the huge Seattle crowds. Located just north of Leavenworth, the lake transforms in the winter months with miles of snowshoe and cross country ski trails. As such, you’ll need a Washington Sno-Park permit to park at the trailheads.
The two campgrounds at Lake Wenatchee State Park remain open throughout the winter, and all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The facilities remain open during the winter, so you can look forward to heated bathrooms with running water and plowed roads – a great way to experience winter camping!
Camping Option: RV Camping
Another popular Washington state park that is arguably better to visit in winter is Deception Pass. This is the most visited state park in the entire state, but during the winter months things quiet down considerably, making it an excellent time to explore this gem. Only Quarry Pond, one of the park’s three campgrounds, remains open during the winter, though. About 30 sites here are available for reservation, with the othe 30 first-come, first-served.
You can expect the weather to be fickle, with windy and wet conditions likely throughout most of the winter months.
Hiking on both islands is excellent during the winter, and you can expect to have trails mostly to yourself. The boat launch also remains open, but be sure to check conditions before heading out.
Camping Option: Tent & RV Camping
This unique, southeastern Washington destination is the perfect off the beaten path winter camping destination. Not only does the 20-site campground stay open year-round, there are also a few unique options to consider during the winter.
While the two teepees are only available during the summer, the Tamarack Cabin is available year-round and sleeps up to four guests. Although it isn’t winter camping per se, it is still a great way to experience this remote corner of the state.
Even during winter you’ll be well positioned to explore the Blue Mountains while camping at Fields Spring State Park, with miles of hiking/snowshoeing trails available. The best part is the lack of crowds, especially during the off season, which will let you have this extrodinary destination all to yourself!
Winter Camping Preparation & Must Know
Winter camping, especially in Washington, comes with some extra preparation and gear compared to your typical summer camping trip.
Check out some of our top gear picks to make your trip more comfortable:
- Four season tent: If you’re camping in a snowy, cold environment, a four season tent is an absolute must. This version from REI offers a great value.
- High insulation sleeping pad – You’ll typically want a higher R-value (warmer) sleeping pad for winter camping. This version from Exped is sure to keep you warm.
- Hand warmers – Sometimes the simplest items have the biggest impact. A few pairs of hand warmers can make all the difference on your winter camping trip.
- Wool Socks – Keeping your feet comfortable and toasty is essential for any winter camping trip. We recommend the wool mountaineering socks from Darn Tough.
In addition, give the video from Outside Magazine below a watch for essential tips on winter camping:
Have a great trip!
We hope we’ve provided all of the information you need to plan the perfect winter camping trip in Washington and we know you’ll find the perfect campsite for your upcoming adventure!
Be sure to let us know in the comments below if you have any questions and be sure to tell us about your trip!