Camping in Florida can be miserable. It’s hot, muggy, and the mosquitos–lots of mosquitos. When we moved out to Washington, I was most looking forward to getting outdoors more often. Living in the Seattle area, we are just a few hours from two mountain ranges, the Olympics and the Cascades, Puget Sound, San Juan Islands, the Pacific Coast, Washington wine country, and the little “German” village of Leavenworth. And Mount Rainier. Can’t forget about her.
The long, warm summer days, unfortunately, do not last long, so if you want to enjoy everything the state has to offer, spontaneity is typically not your friend. Want to visit Orcas Island in July? Better book a year in advance. Want a spot at a campsite near Mount Saint Helens this summer? You’ll need to reserve a spot 6 months before your desired camp date.
Since we moved here in late-November of this year, I guess that just means we have to wait a full year to explore the summer hot spots? That’s not going to fly with us. It is July, and it is still a chilly 50 degrees at night–we are camping!
I am the type to be sitting at dinner with my husband on a Wednesday, and ask, where should we go this weekend? This travel style doesn’t exactly match the booking rate of the area. When a friend recommended Hipcamp, I knew this was our solution, but I was still a little weary.
Hipcamp is like Airbnb but for camping. You can book campsites, treehouses, cabins, yurts, primitive backcountry sites, car camping, airstreams, tiny houses, etc. across the US. In their search form, I put “Washington” in the “Find camping near…” bar, put in dates for the upcoming weekend, and hit search. An interactive map and list of many options appeared, but here is the real test–I went to “Filters” and selected “Pets”. The dogs come with us, obviously. Still plenty of options! I’m loving it already.
We selected a campsite near the Pacific Coast called “Ultimate Camping Trip “it’s in’tents””. The name almost sold me alone, but then I saw the large canopy tents, location on the banks of a soothing, rushing river, and only a short drive from the beach and Olympic National Forest. But wait, it gets better–it’s only $25 per person per night. Sold! I booked it immediately.
We arrived late on Friday, about 9:30pm, but it was still light enough to pick out a site and get a fire going. We picked site 5, which is elevated a bit and on the edge of the grounds, so we felt secluded enough but still had a view of the river. Our site came with a large canopy tent (not sure if that’s what it’s called–check out the picture and help me out), queen size air mattress, small table and chairs, two cots, plenty of pillows and blankets to keep us warm, a fire pit, and little outdoor kitchen. I think most would call this glamping? But it felt homey, not pretentious.
The campground is family owned and operated. The grandkids drive around on a lawnmower in the evening checking to see if you need ice or more firewood. On Saturday night after a long day of hiking, the owner came by and asked if we’d like any smoked salmon since they had extra. I love surprises–especially when they come in the form of delicious food.
We spent our days hiking forest trails and exploring Rialto beach and our nights grilling hotdogs and making s’mores over the fire. We listened to the rushing river as we fell asleep.
We learned that our dog, Austin, Mr. lover of the covers, prefers to do camping wrapped up in a blanket in the tent. And our other dog, Bindi, was scared of the popping campfire. But overall it was the best first PNW camping experience, and we can’t wait to explore more–luckily we can do that on a whim with Hipcamp!
Not sponsored by Hipcamp. Loved the experience so much, I had to share!
Jen at The Places We Live says
Very cool! I’m on my second Hipcamp stay now and I’m really enjoying it. Interesting idea