Dispersed Camping Washington
By Sara Sheehy
There is nowhere else in the United States quite like the Pacific Northwest. In the “upper left” state of Washington, you’ll find mountain ranges that stretch to the sky, lush and moody rainforests, and a wild coastline that holds such beauty that you’ll forget that you’re within a morning’s drive of Seattle’s city lights.
Washington is chock full of great spots for boondocking and dispersed camping. So grab your tent or RV, stock up on good eats, and head to one of these campsite gems in Washington State.
Where to Find Dispersed Camping in Washington
Public land, rest stops, parking lots, oh my! Washington has a wide variety of free campsites. Some are best suited for a quick night’s sleep when you’re passing through, but others are begging for you to settle in for a week or more and enjoy the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Washington earns its nickname of “the Evergreen State” honestly—it has a lot of trees! If you rely on solar, keep a close eye on our Campendium community reviews to ensure your chosen location has enough sun access to keep you charged up and ready to go.
A Note About the Department of Natural Resources Campgrounds in Washington
Washington’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages 80 campgrounds through the state that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Though these campgrounds are free to use and are listed as such Campendium, a Discover Pass is required.
A Discover Pass gains you access to DNR properties for recreation and camping alike. The annual pass costs $35 and can be purchased online. On Campendium, these campsites have a “permit required” icon at the top of the page.
Free Camping on the Olympic Peninsula
Gorgeous old growth forests await on the Olympic Peninsula to the west of Seattle. Olympic National Park is a traveler’s favorite, filled with waterfalls, rainforests, beaches, and glaciers. Yes, that’s all in one park! There are no free campgrounds inside the park itself, but just outside is a jackpot of great sites.
Check out Forest Road 29 in Sappho for beautiful forest views and fast cell service. South of the park, in the Olympic National Forest, the secluded Campbell Tree Grove Campground offers excellent access to hiking trails.
Free Camping in the Cascades
The Cascade Mountains stretch from British Columbia, Canada to northern California, cutting a beautiful path through Washington. In the north part of the state, you’ll find solitude and few roads cutting through the landscape. Check out Hozomeen Campground, a popular waterfront spot right on the Canadian border.
A bit further south and closer to Seattle, you’ll find more people and some of the prettiest landscapes in the state. Ranger Creek Airstrip is big-rig and tent camping friendly, and each site has a picnic table and firepit. The memorably-named Tree Phone Campground is a hidden gem in Ahtanum State Forest.
Free Camping on the I-5 Corridor
If you’re moving through Washington from north to south or vice versa, the most direct route is on the I-5 corridor that stretches from the Oregon/Washington border straight through to Canada.
Free camping along this corridor can be tricky to find, but not impossible. Just south of Olympia, Washington’s capital city, the Maytown Rest Area is clean and quiet. North of Seattle, the Tulalip Casino offers up to three nights of free camping and all those sought-after casino amenities. Not far from the Canadian border, the Silver Reef Casino offers free parking and a dump station with fresh water.