Eastern Washington is a magical place to go camping. From thick forests to towering mountains, there is no shortage of breathtaking scenery to explore. We love exploring this area and always look forward to returning. If an adventure to this neck of the woods is in your plans, you’ll want to keep reading.
Today, we’re sharing eight of the best spots for camping in Eastern Washington. Which one is the right spot for you? Let’s look and see!
What’s Considered Eastern Washington?
Eastern Washington is the region of Washington State east of the Cascade Range. This mountain range runs north-south through the state and almost perfectly splits the state in half. The landscapes on each side of the mountains are completely different.
The region includes cities like Spokane, Walla Walla, and Yakima, as well as vast areas of rural land and national forests. It has a much drier climate than the state’s western portion. Many people (us included) are surprised to find out that it is actually mostly arid desert. Summers in Eastern Washington can be intense compared to the milder temperatures and rains in the state’s western region.
What Is Eastern Washington Known for?
Eastern Washington is known for its various natural and cultural attractions, making it a popular destination for visitors seeking to camp. One of the region’s most prominent features is the Columbia River, which flows through the area and provides essential water resources.
You can experience the river by boating, hiking along its banks, or enjoying water sports like fishing and kayaking. There’s so much to do on and around the river.
This region produces various crops, including apples, wheat, cherries, and grapes. It is the “breadbasket” of the state, thanks to its fertile soils and favorable climate for farming. You can experience the area’s agricultural heritage by touring local farms and orchards, sampling produce, and attending farmers’ markets. We found that the local prices for these crops were cheap and they tasted fabulous.
Eastern Washington has become a wine-producing region. There are more than 100 wineries in the area. Its sunny, dry climate and rich soils make it an ideal place to grow grapes. Local wineries have won numerous awards for their creations. Be sure to stop and tour a local winery, taste new wines, and learn about the winemaking process. We bet you’ll be delighted by the quality and variety.
Pro Tip: Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails on these 7 Easy Hikes in Washington for Enjoying the Pacific Northwest.
8 Best Spots for Camping in Eastern Washington
There are many camping locations in Eastern Washington, but some are better than others. Here are some of the best spots you should consider calling home during your visit.
1. Steamboat Rock State Park, Electric City, WA
Steamboy Rock State Park is in Central Washington, near Grand Coulee. It has three campgrounds offering 164 full-hookup sites, 26 standard campsites, and 44 primitive campsites. However, primitive camping isn’t fancy, and no water is available at this site. While most sites require reservations, the primitive sites function on a first-come, first-served basis.
The park’s campsites nestle among sagebrush and Ponderosa pine trees, offering a serene and peaceful setting. Most sites sit near the lake, providing easy access to water activities like swimming, boating, and fishing. The park also has hiking and biking trails, a playground, and a volleyball court.
Steamboat Rock State Park is open year-round, although some amenities may be unavailable during the off-season. The park is trendy in the summer, so making reservations as early as possible is best if you want to camp in this Eastern Washington location.
2. Marcus Island Campground, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
Marcus Island Campground is a hidden gem in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. It lies in Washington’s northeast corner, on a small island in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt, a reservoir created by the Grand Coulee Dam.
The campground offers 22 primitive campsites with picnic tables, fire rings, and bear-resistant food storage lockers. There are no showers or flush toilets on the island, so visitors should plan accordingly. It is dry camping, so have a power plan and always obey the generator hours.
Visitors can enjoy water activities like swimming, boating, and fishing. If that’s not enough, hike on one of the island’s trails or take a trip to the small beach area. If you bring a watercraft, there’s a boat launching location.
3. Pioneer Park Campground, Newport, WA
Along the state’s eastern border, north of Spokane, is Pioneer Park Campground. While some sites were once first-come, first-served, that’s no longer the case. The park is now 100% reservable during the camping season, from the Friday before Memorial Day until the last Monday in September.
There are only 17 campsites, which can be a problem during the peak season. One Campendium user Hannah said, “We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Pioneer Park. It is a smaller campground, making it feel very private and quiet.”
Sites can accommodate rigs of all sizes, and no matter which you choose, groves of ponderosa pines will surround you. It makes it easy to stay cool as pines create plenty of shade.
4. Haag Cove Campground, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
Haag Cove Campground is in Kettle Falls, Washington, in the state’s northeast corner. This quiet campground sits on the west side of the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. The National Park Service manages it, and you must have a reservation for this camping site in Eastern Washington.
There are 18 sites sitting along the open near the lake. While some pines are throughout the area, the campground is relatively open. As a result, there’s minimal privacy between the sites. Additionally, this is a busy spot on holidays and weekends. If you want to stay here, you must plan to ensure you can snag a site.
This is another dry camping location, but the views make the lack of amenities worth it. Many recreational opportunities are available at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, including boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
Pro Tip: After exploring Eastern Washington, head west and camp at one of these 9 Best Parks for Camping on the Washington Coast.
5. Potholes State Park, Othello, WA
Potholes State Park is in Central Washington but still east of the Cascades. It’s east of Yakima and offers more than 120 campsites. The park is on the banks of the Potholes Reservoir, a popular spot for boating, fishing, and water sports.
The campsites are suitable for tents, RVs, and trailers. They offer amenities, including picnic tables, fire rings, and access to potable water, showers, and flush toilets. The park also features a playground, a horseshoe pit, and a volleyball court.
6. Lincoln Rock State Park, Wenatchee, WA
Lincoln Rock State Park is east of the Cascade Mountains in the central part of the state. It offers more than ninety campsites. Twenty-seven are standard tent sites, thirty-five are partial-hookup sites, and thirty-two are full-hookup sites. This campground is extremely popular during the summer, so you’ll want to make reservations early.
The park offers everything you could ask for in a campground; hiking, fishing, boating, and swimming. There are several miles of hiking trails, many offering stunning views of the Columbia River. There are showers throughout the campground to help wash off after a day of adventuring.
7. Lake Chelan State Park, Chelan, WA
Lake Chelan State Park is east of the mountains and has 138 campsites, 103 of which are standard campsites, 18 partial-hookup sites, and 17 full-hookup sites. There are five restrooms with showers. Sites are large enough to accommodate almost any size rig. However, these camp sites in Eastern Washington are extremely popular, and reservations fill up quickly.
Whether you’re interested in hiking, swimming, or fishing, there’s something for everyone at this park. The campsites are well-maintained and offer plenty of privacy, making it easy to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
There’s also a playground for kids, a volleyball court, several picnic areas, and fire pits for cooking and relaxing. Camping at Lake Chelan State Park is an incredible way to experience the great outdoors and make memories that will last a lifetime.
8. Crescent Bar Recreation Area, Quincy, WA
Crescent Bar Recreation Area has 55 campsites for RV and tent camping. It is located on Crescent Bar, a large spit of land that sticks out into the Columbia at one of the river’s sharp bends. There is a little resort community with a couple of golf courses and many vacation condos.
These spacious and private campsites offer a tremendous amount of shade and sit along the Columbia River. Not only do you get to enjoy a beautiful natural setting, but there’s plenty to see and do. We lucked out and got a campsite right on the Columbia River.
The recreation area offers a boat launch and fishing dock. In addition, there’s a swimming area perfect for cooling off at the end of the day. There’s also a playground to entertain the kids and the nearby Quincy Lakes Wildlife Area to enjoy bird watching.
While the park is open year-round, some amenities aren’t always available. The park remains open during the off-season (January 1 to April 14), but they shut the water off to protect the plumbing. Additionally, water availability during the middle of April is contingent on the weather cooperating.
The sites are well situated and positioned, giving everyone a spectacular view. If you have the chance, this is one park you want to take advantage of. We spent two lovely weeks here along the Columbia, watching the Naval fighter jets zoom by in claps of thunder.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Eastern Washington?
The best time to visit Eastern Washington will depend on your plan. The busiest time of year is during the summer, from June through August. The warmer weather makes it the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and spend time hiking, fishing, or boating.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors in cooler temperatures, visit during the fall. It’s the harvest season, and the leaves are changing. It’s the perfect time to visit wineries and orchards and taste the local produce. Fresh apple cider, anyone? Yes, please!
Winter in this region can be cold and snowy. While some people may not like the snow, it’s great for skiing and snowboarding. You can hit the slopes and warm yourself up by visiting a local winery or brewery for a tasting.
Visiting in the spring can allow you to see wildflowers in bloom. However, the weather can be unpredictable. There’s a mixture between rain and sunshine, which can make it challenging to plan your adventures. If you visit between March and May, have a backup plan for outdoor activities.
Camp in the Beauty of Eastern Washington
Camping in Eastern Washington is an incredible way to experience the natural beauty and tranquility of the region. There are a range of state parks and recreational areas available. Visitors can find the perfect setting for their camping adventure, whether they’re interested in hiking, swimming, fishing, or relaxing outdoors.
From the stunning views of Lake Chelan to the peaceful banks of the Columbia River, Eastern Washington offers a diverse range of landscapes and activities for all types of campers. So why not pack up your gear and head out to explore the beauty of Eastern Washington on your next camping adventure?
Have you ever gone camping in Eastern Washington? Tell us where you camped in the comments!
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Tuesday 30th of May 2023
Granite Lake, Park at the confluence of the Snake river and Clearwater river near Clarkston, Washington. Nice full facility, camping spots along the river, with great views, and almost always excellent weather. This campground is adjacent to excellent bike trails along the snake river, crossing over to Lewiston, Idaho, crossing back over and going all the way to.Asotin WA. Great fishing can be had as well in the area and rivers.
Sunday 21st of May 2023
Scenic mountain campgrounds are not limited to the Cascades and NE WA. SE WA also has the northern extension of OR's Blue Mtns. and Umatilla NF. Those following the Lewis and Clark Highway (US 12) can take paved highways south to Fields Spring State Park or to the Forest Service's Tucannon campground. Fields Spring SP has 20 dry campsites with picnic tables and fire pits, plus an RV dump, flush toilets, and hot showers. Tucannon cg. has 18 dry campsites, with picnic tables, fire rings, and pit toilets. There are numerous scenic hiking trails in the forest and along the Grande Ronde and Tucannon Rivers. There are several other USFS cgs. in the forest, but they are off unpaved roads. Incidentally, these rivers have great trout and salmon (in season) fishing. And a side benefit to RVing in this area is the vineyards, orchards, and wineries of the Walla Walla valley. The valley is famous for its red wines, including cabernet, syrah, and malbec, and a wine tour brochure and map are available at the visitor's center in Walla Walla. And, for those not into sampling red wines, this small city of 40,000 has two colleges and the ubiquitous craft brews found in every college town!