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Andrea M. Gómez
Tim Fitzharris / Radius Images
1. Cape Disappointment State Park, Southwest of Ilwaco
The campground launches you into 1,880 pristine acres at the end of the Long Beach Peninsula. Wander 27 miles of beach, or go clamming or fishing. Sites 104 and 105 have great beach access. $19; 360/902-8844; book at parks.wa.gov/reserve.asp
2. Lone Fir Campground, Okanogan National Forest, Northwest of Winthrop
A wooded spot along Early Winters Creek offers a cool base for exploring the northern Methow Valley. On hot days, head to the swimming beach at Pearrygin Lake State Park, near Winthrop. $12; no reservations; 509/996-4003.
3. White River Campground, Mt. Rainier National Park
Keep an eye out for mountain goats near this campground (accessed from the White River entrance) on Mt. Rainier. For wildflowers, hike 3 miles to Glacier Basin or 4.2 miles up, up, up to Summerland via the Wonderland Trail. $12 (plus $15 park entrance fee per vehicle); no reservations; 360/569-2211.
4. Curlew Lake State Park, Northeast of Republic
This 5.5-mile-long lake in the state’s northeastern corner is famous for its trout fishing and swimming. Bring your passport and take a day trip to the historic mining and railroad town of Grand Forks, British Columbia, 27 miles north. $17; no reservations; 360/902-8844.
5. Moran State Park, on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands
After you summit 2,400-foot Mt. Constitution or conquer the park’s bike trails, cool off by Cascade Lake at this shaded campground. Skip the long car-ferry lines and walk on with your gear; the Orcas Island Shuttle ($6 one-way; www.orcasislandshuttle.com) runs all summer long. From $20; 360/902-8844; book at parks.wa.gov/reserve.asp
6. Penrose Point State Park, Southwest of Purdy
On the Key Peninsula, Penrose is the best of two worlds ― Northwest forest and Puget Sound beach, with a Frisbee-perfect lawn connecting the two. The group campsite near the playfield and beach can sleep up to 50 people. $19 (from $40 for group site); 360/902-8844; book at parks.wa.gov/reserve.asp (group site: 888/226-7688).
7. Salt Creek Recreation Area, West of Port Angeles
Awe-inspiring views over the Strait of Juan de Fuca and colorful tidepools at Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary make this a standout. Choose a spot with a view over the strait―we like site 63. $18; clallam.net or 360/928-3441; book by mail (details on clallam.net).
8. Doe Bay Resort, on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands
The best spot at the eclectic, 38-acre Doe Bay Resort with its 27 sites on Orcas Island isn’t a crunchy cabin, one of the yurts, or a Buckminster Fuller–like dome. It’s a simple tent site called Seal Landing: The grassy bluff on the point of Otter Cove has a front seat to sunrise, and it’s just steps from the new soaking tubs, a sauna, and a cafe serving organic, locally sourced food, from scallops to foraged nettles. From $45, including spa access; doebay.com
9. Second Beach, Olympic National Park
Hemmed in by rugged headlands and bookended by natural arches with keyhole views, Olympic National Park’s broad Second Beach—reachable by a quick 0.7-mile hike—is the coast’s crown jewel. Pitch your tent on the sand and unzip to views of seals, bald eagles, and the Quillayute Needles, a half-dozen surf-battered islets. $5, plus $15 park entrance fee and $2/person/night; no potable water; nps.gov/olym
10. Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park, South of Florence
Feel like a desert explorer on 2 miles of sand dunes that stretch from your campsite to the Pacific. Or cool off in the park’s two freshwater lakes. To avoid ATV noise, stay away from H Loop. $17; 541/997-3641; book at reserveamerica.com
11. Silver Falls State Park, Northeast of Sublimity
A great base for exploring Oregon’s largest state park. Don’t miss the 7-mile Trail of Ten Falls, a misty trek among waterfalls, ferns, and wildflowers. Take a dip in the swimming area at Silver Creek. $16; 503/873-8681; book at reserveamerica.com
12. Wallowa Lake State Park, South of Joseph
Lots to do: swimming, boating, fishing, and a gondola tramway (from $24) that runs to the top of 8,150-foot Mt. Howard. Visit the nearby town of Joseph, famous for its bronze castings. $17; 541/432-4185; book at reserveamerica.com
13. Bull Prairie Campground, Umatilla National Forest, South of Heppner
The ultimate fishing lake abuts this campground in the Blue Mountains. Hang a hammock under ponderosas, cast a line from a dock, or ramble along the 1-mile lake trail. Check out the Morrow County Fair and Oregon Trail Pro Rodeo, 36 miles north in Heppner (Aug; fair $3, rodeo $8; morrowcountyoregon.com). $14; no reservations; 541/676-9187.
14. Oxbow Regional Park, East of Gresham
Just 20 miles east of Portland, this campground in the Sandy River Gorge is the ideal place to swim, kayak, canoe, fish, or explore the park’s 1,200 acres of old-growth forest. On the last Sunday of every month, check out Dirt Time (free; 503/797-1850), a program that teaches basic wildlife tracking. $15 (plus $5 park entrance fee per vehicle); no reservations, except for group sites (503/797-1850); oregonmetro.gov or 503/663-4708.
15. Strawberry Campground, Malheur National Forest, South of Prairie City
This tiny gem (11 campsites) is located at 5,700 feet in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Fish at trout-stocked Little Strawberry Lake, a nice 6-mile round-trip from the campground trailhead. $6; no reservations; 541/820-3311.
16. Fall Mountain Lookout, Malheur National Forest
Fire towers were built specifically with windows looking out in every direction. So at cozy Fall Mountain Lookout, a 14- by 14-foot room and catwalk atop a 20-foot scaffold in Malheur National Forest, that means unobstructed gazing at the Strawberry Mountains and the John Day Valley. It’s accessible by car and has electricity, a fridge, stove, heater, and lights—and was recently refreshed with a new coat of robin’s-egg blue paint. $40; late May–Oct; book at recreation.gov
17. Lost Lake Resort and Campground, Hood River
Watch dawn turn Mt. Hood a glowing pink from the “F” Loop at Lost Lake Resort and Campground—shore sites 1–31 stare the volcano in the face. A fishing license lets you troll for Walter, the rumored 50-pound trout with a beard made of thousands of dollars worth of lures. The 2-mile, 1,400-foot thigh burner up Lost Lake Butte Trail rewards with 180° views of Hood and Mt. Adams. $30 for lakefront sites; late May–Oct; no reservations; lostlakeresort.org
18. Cape Blanco cabins, Port Orford
At the westernmost point in the state, Cape Blanco State Park’s ocean views are wide open. Come morning, trails to the beaches and bluffs are mostly empty, and the line is short to the old lighthouse with its sculptural Fresnel lens. All four cabins have the basics (bare beds with vinyl mattresses, fire rings, covered porches) but Hawk has the best water view. $39; oregonstateparks.org
19. Hells Gate State Park, Lewiston
Take in Lewis and Clark country from this grassy, shaded campground along the shores of the Snake River. Hike an easy 1.5 miles south to the basalt rocks, a 150-foot-tall ancient lava formation. From $12; 208/799-5015; book at parksandrecreation.idaho.gov
20. Point Campground, Near Stanley
At Sawtooth National Forest’s Point Campground—especially tent sites 11–17—wake early to see the morning light on the striated Sawtooth Range and 9,000-plus-foot Mt. Heyburn and Grand Mogul. Nearby Redfish Lake Lodge serves up civilization with boat rentals and a restaurant with trout and wild game on the menu ($$). $15; late May–mid-Sep; book at recreation.gov
21. City of Rocks National Reserve, Malta
From site 22, near Lookout Rock, you get a sweeping view of the 14,000-acre City of Rocks in southern Idaho. The “city” is hundreds of granite monoliths, some more than 600 feet high, that rise out of a gently rolling sagebrush landscape. Take in a desert sunrise, watch the rock climbers as they spider up the planetary formations, and keep your ears peeled for the song of the reserve’s 142 species of birds, including mountain bluebirds and warblers. $23; book at reserveamerica.com
22. Porcupine Campground, Chugach National Forest, West of Hope
On a bluff on the northern part of Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, this campground has great ocean views. In mid- to late summer, watch for beluga whales. $14; 907/224-3374; book at recreation.gov
23. Wonder Lake Campground, Denali National Park
Set near Wonder Lake, this is one of only a handful of campgrounds inside Denali, and it’s the one with the best views of Mt. McKinley. No cars are allowed into Denali, so take the Camper Bus ($32; reservedenali.com) from the park’s Wilderness Access Center. It’s beautiful but buggy, so pack insect protection. $16 (plus $5 reservation fee and $20 park entrance fee per vehicle); 907/683-2294; book at reservedenali.com
24. Camp Homer, Homer
A quiet alternative to the generator-filled sites along the Homer Spit, Camp Homer (6 miles inland from town) offers 15 tent pads amid a field of fireweed that produces shoulder-high blooms from late July through August. The fuchsia “walls” shield your view of other campers; some sites include vistas of 10,000-foot Mt. Iliamna, an active volcano. A shower house and covered cooking pavilion are scheduled for spring completion. $20; mid-May–mid-Sep; camphomer.com
25. China Beach Campground, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
Get a taste of the wild coastline of Vancouver Island at China Beach, situated at the southern end of the Juan de Fuca Trail. From the campground, follow trails to the two beaches for sea otter sightings. $11.75 U.S.; bcparks.ca; book at discovercamping.ca
26. Nairn Falls Provincial Park, North of Whistler
Just a half-hour north of Whistler, this campground is a good base for exploring B.C.’s "Sea to Sky" region. Request a campsite overlooking the Green River. $11.75 U.S. (plus $4.65 U.S. reservation fee per night); bcparks.ca or 604/986-9371; book at discovercamping.ca
27. Sunshine Coast Trail, From Desolation Sound to Saltery Bay
You don’t have to hike the entire 112-mile Sunshine Coast Trail to stay in one of its 12 huts. Many are easily accessible from nearby logging roads. The most spectacular digs are the winterized (i.e., cozy) Tin Hat hut, built in 2011, which sits high on a ridge facing the Salish Sea, Vancouver Island, and the B.C. coast. You may share the sleeping loft with a few other campers, but the chanterelles you find in the forests below are yours to keep. Free; no reservations or potable water; sunshinecoast-trail.com