5 More Tips for Camping in Washington State

Even more of my best camping tips so you have the best trip ever
Discover the best camping tips for Washington State with my top 5 guide! From mastering the layering game to gourmet campfire cooking, ensure your adventure is unforgettable. Read now!

Here’s the funny thing about living in a cabin in the North Cascades: I don’t go camping nearly as much as I used to! Recently, I realized this and decided that this is the summer of getting back into camping — even if it’s just a few miles down the road (since I can do that sort of thing)! We recently went on an excursion and, while on the trip, I figured it was definitely time to share even more of my tips for camping in Washington State. Whether you’re just visiting or a Washington local, I hope you find these camping tips helpful! Leave a comment and let me know what other outdoor adventure posts you want to see, too.

A Local’s Guide to Camping In Washington State: 5 More Tips!

Don’t forget, this is my second post about camping in WA state. Check out the first batch of tips for even more.

1. Embrace the Layering Game

Alright, let’s talk about the elephant in the room – Washington weather. It’s like that one friend who’s always late, but insists they’re “on their way.” You never really know what you’re going to get. For example, it is the end of June and we are finally experiencing summer weather. So, tip number one: embrace the layering game.

Mornings can be chilly, afternoons warm and evenings back to a crisp cold. And that doesn’t even factor in elevation! Start with a moisture-wicking base layer (because nobody likes a sweaty camper), add an insulating layer like fleece, and top it off with a waterproof jacket. Don’t forget a hat and gloves – they might seem overkill, but trust me, you’ll thank me when you’re not freezing your buns off around the campfire.

Need to upgrade your gear? Check out my favorite women’s summer hiking gear.

Discover the best camping tips for Washington State with my top 5 guide! From mastering the layering game to gourmet campfire cooking, ensure your adventure is unforgettable. Read now!

2. Know Your Campsites

Washington is brimming with amazing campsites, but not all are created equal. Some spots are first-come, first-serve, while others require reservations months in advance. This is especially true for areas like The Enchantments where there is a lottery process to gain access. If spontaneity is your thing (like ours), aim for less popular sites like those in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. But if you’ve got your heart set on a prime spot in Olympic National Park, make sure you book early… very early.

And like I mentioned in my first post about camping in Washington, you can always disperse camp. This is our preferred style of camping because it’s much more flexible and the best way to avoid crowds of people (and the sweet sweet sounds of RV generators).

But if you’re set on camping in a designated campground, be aware of the amenities each site offers. Some campgrounds come with the works – restrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits – while others are more primitive. It’s all about what kind of experience you’re after. And regardless of where you’re camping, be bear-aware and store your food properly!

Discover the best camping tips for Washington State with my top 5 guide! From mastering the layering game to gourmet campfire cooking, ensure your adventure is unforgettable. Read now!

3. Pack Smart, Not Hard

When it comes to camping, we typically go in our van so I have my full kit (outlined fully in this post). Before we leave, I always give everything a once over to make sure it’s still working properly and that it’s actually in the bins. The one time we didn’t do this, we ended up not having the camp stove and that was less than ideal, as you can imagine.

Speaking of my camping kit, I recently upgraded it to include these wipes from Biom. It’s been an amazing addition because I can use them to clean up small messes when I’m cooking at camp. Plus, as someone who hates being sticky, they are awesome for cleaning up my hands and saving water at camp. Highly recommend! I might even get a second set for the car…

I also recommend using multi-purpose items like a spork (spoon-fork combo, anyone?) and a bandana (trust me, it has a million uses). Your tent should be lightweight but sturdy and a good sleeping bag is worth its weight in gold. Also, don’t skimp on the first aid kit – blisters and bug bites suck. Make a batch of my homemade mosquito repellent to take, it really works!

4. Master the Campfire Cooking

Camping cuisine doesn’t have to be limited to hot dogs and marshmallows (though they are classics for a reason). With a little prep, you can whip up gourmet meals even at camp. I actually pride myself on being an excellent camp chef, so let me know if I should start a series about what I cook!

Invest in a good portable camping stove (the one linked is hands down the best) and prep as much as you can at home. For example, I always chop veggies, marinate meats, and pack everything in reusable containers before we leave. I also try to plan meals that use similar ingredients. For example, if we have tacos for dinner, the leftovers can be used to make a breakfast scramble that is served on tortillas.

And for dessert? Try campfire banana boats – split a banana, stuff it with chocolate and marshmallows, wrap in foil, and heat until gooey. You’ll thank me later.

5. Navigate Like a Pro

While GPS and smartphone apps are handy, don’t rely solely on them—Washington’s dense forests and remote areas can make signal spotty at best. We always bring a map of the area and a compass— but make sure you know how to use them. And before you head out, let someone know your itinerary and expected return time.

It’s also wise to download offline maps and trail guides. These can be lifesavers if you’re out of cell range. And always have a backup plan in case you need to alter your route due to unexpected weather or trail conditions. Navigating smartly ensures you spend more time enjoying the scenery and less time wondering where you took a wrong turn (and minimizes stress). This tip actually extends beyond camping in Washington state, too!

Discover the best camping tips for Washington State with my top 5 guide! From mastering the layering game to gourmet campfire cooking, ensure your adventure is unforgettable. Read now!

Bonus Tip: Have Fun and Be Present

Last but not least, remember to have fun and be present. It’s easy to get caught up in capturing the perfect Instagram shot, but don’t forget to soak in the beauty around you. Listen to the birds, breathe in the fresh air and make memories that’ll last longer than any photo. Remember to drop your shoulders and relax your tongue from the roof of your mouth.

Discover the best camping tips for Washington State with my top 5 guide! From mastering the layering game to gourmet campfire cooking, ensure your adventure is unforgettable. Read now!

So there you have it – my top 5 tips for camping in Washington State. Whether you’re exploring the misty forests of the Olympic Peninsula, marveling at the stars in North Cascades National Park (my backyard!), or chilling by a lake in Mount Rainier’s shadow, these tips will help you have a fantastic trip.

Got any camping tips or epic Washington camping stories? Share them in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you!

Photography & styling by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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2 Comments

  1. 6.28.24
    Brenda said:

    Thank you for sharing the recommendations. I would love a post on some of the things you cook while camping!

    • 7.2.24
      Joanna said:

      I can totally do that! Stay tuned!