Need a Romantic Getaway? Try These Car Camping Destinations for Two
These weekend getaways will give you some quiet one-on-one time.
California, Oregon, and Washington are some of the most scenic states for camping. If you’re looking to get away for a romantic weekend, consider car camping along the Pacific Coast for intimate experiences ranging from hiking and snowshoeing to just relaxing one on one.
From wide, open deserts to dense forests to snowy mountains, you and your partner can explore the vast expanse of the West. Does it get any cozier than car camping amid cool winter weather?
If you prepare your car properly and find the right campsite, you can ensure a getaway that’s as romantic as it is adventurous. Grab an air mattress, wool blanket (or even better, a heated blanket), and warm clothes, then head off the grid. Due to the possibility of snowstorms or avalanches, many national parks and camping areas are closed from October to March, so we chose locations that are open either year-round or during the winter months. Before you choose a destination, be sure to double-check its website to ensure there are no closures or warnings.
Time alone in a cozy car near a scenic lake, lush forest, or under open skies is sure to provide a memorable experience. We picked the best spots for a romantic weekend getaway in nature, from the rustic desert environs in Joshua Tree to the coastal beauty found on Washington’s Orcas Island. Keep scrolling for some of our favorites.
Explore the redwoods and waterfalls by way of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park’s campground. The area experiences moderate winters and little to no snowfall, making it safe to explore even in the dead of winter. Pack a picnic and enjoy a scenic view together of the awe-inspiring redwoods.
Famous for its rock formations and desert scenery, Joshua Tree is a must-visit national park in California for romance under a starry sky. For an optimal remote experience, rent one of Cabana‘s decked out vans that features a bed, bathroom, and kitchenette. Emma Green, head of marketing at Cabana, recommends bringing your own harness and rock climbing shoes if you plan to scale the rocks on warmer days in winter. Cabana also offers lessons with a certified rock climbing instructor and brunch during your stay.
Park in the Mammoth Mountain RV Park and grab your snowshoes for a trek to Mary and George lakes. Even if you want to camp in your car, you have access to the visitor center and amenities like a heated indoor pool in the Mammoth RV lodges. Or, relax in the Wild Willy’s hot springs before cozying up in your car.
Yosemite National Park has no shortage of beautiful wildlife, and when the forest is blanketed in snow, you won’t want to miss seeing El Capitan or Half Dome. Hike the Nevada Falls Mist Trail or Columbia Rock Trail for the best views. The 15-mile-plus Half Dome hike to El Capitan will bring you and your partner even closer together. Just remember to wear hiking boots with a strong grip.
Emigrant Springs State Heritage
Emigrant Springs features easy, flatter hikes than other locations, allowing you and your partner to focus on each other rather than strenuous hikes. While this state park is close to Interstate 84, it quiets down in the winter and has fewer visitors than peak season in the summer. Camp out at Point RV park to wake up to a view of Emigrant Lake.
Mike Windsor, avid hiker and travel photographer, tells me that Mount Ashland as one of his favorite sites to visit because of Pilot Rock. He recommends finding a dispersed campground near the Mount Ashland Campground for easy access to Pacific Crest Trail where you can hike and spend alone time with your partner in nature.
You don’t want to miss Silver Falls’ incredible waterfalls, which are at their strongest in the winter. With multiple trails that feature multiple waterfalls, especially Trail of Ten Falls, this location is best for hikers who want to combine both scenery and exercise. You can park at the Silver Falls State Park Campground to have access to the trails. Once you’re done, enjoy a night of stargazing.
Umpqua Lighthouse State Park
One of the more popular sites in Oregon, Umpqua boasts lake views, sand dunes, and mountains to explore. Set up camp at the Lighthouse Campground and take the trails to the beautiful Lake Marie.
Lisa Bellefond of the Washington State Parks Foundation recommends camping in the South Campground of Lake Wenatchee to see the “Switzerland-like views.” The snow-capped peaks contrast with the blue lake, and if you want a preview of what your visit will look like, take a virtual tour of the site and plan your trail route ahead of time.
Located in the Olympic National Park, the Mora Campground is near both lush forestland and the Quillayute River. You can take a short hike to the river, or drive around the bend to La Push where you can enjoy a beach walk. Be sure to arrive early for a first-come, first-served camping spot. This spot is ideal for the couple that want to be both immersed in the forest and also on the beach.
If you search “car camping in Washington,” Orcas Island will be one of your top hits. The location is friendly to both car and tent camping, but requires you to take the ferry to the Puget Sound’s San Juan Islands. Go to Moran State Park to set up and hike the Mount Constitution Loop Trail for the most romantic views.
Potlatch State Park
If your partner loves the beach, bring them to Potlatch State Park for a weekend away. Potlatch is located right on the Hood Canal with views of the ocean and forest. This site is less secluded and close to the town of Shelton, but the scenery is captivating enough for short hikes and looking out from your car.