Washington Parks: Camping We Will Go

When you live someplace as magical as the Pacific Northwest, you try to enjoy it as much as you can when it isn’t raining. We plan 3-4 camping trips every year. This summer’s trips (in addition to the Westport trip I already wrote about) included:

Our annual trip to Mt. Rainier National Park with our very good friends. I’ve discussed our awesome Mt. Rainier trips before. This year was a little different because we stayed in the park instead of the National Forest outside. Little dude did a junior ranger program and earned a badge AND a patch! We hiked a new-to-us trail that was just over a mile and simply stunning. We had a younger friend with us and his little legs may not have kept up with the more strenuous Natches Peak hike we did last year.

Deception Pass State Park – arguably one of the most beautiful parks in Western Washington, thus one of the most popular. State Parks are often good choices when traveling with kiddos because there are flush toilets and showers you can use. We spent as much time as we could on the beach, throwing rocks, running after the tide and watching sunsets. National Forests tend to have less facilities – pit toilets, etc. – but as a result are often quieter, as more families choose more developed campgrounds.

I’m already planning our camping trips for next summer! We have a fail-proof system. Some pointers to share:

  • Packing: We keep a large plastic bin with all of our camping gear in it. It includes camping pots, pans, plastic dishes, utensils, coffee, French press, travel towels, napkins, toilet paper, first aid kit, a few small card/board games, crayons, etc. When we return from a trip, simply wash anything that needs to be washed and put the bin away. Knowing I just have to grab the bin, any food we have planned on in a cooler, our cots, tent and sleep bags makes camping prep super easy and less than 30 minutes to get out the door!
  • Food: We coordinate with our friends for meal planning. We keep small boxes of cereal on hand in our camping bin so breakfast/quick snack is always covered. For lunches, we divide and conquer fruit, bread, cheeses, peanut butter, jelly, deli meats and chips with our friends. Everyone brings something and we pool it together. For dinners, we plan on something more extensive. We’ll have a spaghetti night or taco night with everyone contributing something (meatballs, garlic bread, salad, etc). Meal sharing this way is not only fun but a great way to cut down on how much you have to bring. Sometimes we go fancy – I’ve made a lasagna in a dutch oven over a campfire before.
  • Making reservations: We generally reserve our spots in Feb. for the summer. Everyone else has the same idea in the summer and it’s darn near impossible to find great spots if you haven’t reserved ahead of time.