Planning a last-minute camping trip? Some ideas

It’s almost the Fourth of July weekend. Around here, that’s when summer really starts. Happily, the forecast for the holiday and the weekend are both looking very promising.

If you’d like to head out for a camping trip, but don’t have reservations, here are some ideas.

Go early. With the holiday on Thursday, many campers could be turning the holiday into an extra-long weekend. If you arrive early at a campground, you have a much better chance of getting a spot. If your whole group can’t go, consider sending a single person ahead early to save a spot.

Consider a non-official site. The Forest Service has many areas that you can camp that aren’t official sites. The Mountain Loop Highway is a good example. These sites won’t have any facilities, so be prepared to bring or treat your own water. And know that you won’t have a toilet, so know how to properly deal with human waste. Drop by a ranger station to check on details. Ranger stations are fabulous resources. And if you need one, you can get a Northwest Forest Pass for parking at trailheads.

Consider your options. We have a list of places to camp in the county here. Many of these sites have first-come, first-served sites. State parks fill up quickly, but many of them also have first-come, first-serve sites. Check here to explore your choices. National parks will also fill up quickly, but if you can go early, they do have first-come sites. Details: Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park and Olympic National Park.

Consider backpacking. If you’re the backpacking sort, this should be a good weekend for it. Many areas on the west side of the Cascades still have some snow. Areas to the east are more likely to be melted out. Of course, they’re also more likely to be hot. The WTA has trip reports that can help you find out what’s covered in snow and what’s not.

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