There is nothing better than the feeling of finding the perfect campsite after you’ve spent hours driving endless back roads. If you like remote, scenic campgrounds with more wildlife than other campers, visit any of these free campgrounds for an ideal camping experience!
Best Free Campground in the Olympic National Forest, Washington
Campbell Tree Grove Campground is simply amazing. It is remote, free, peaceful, and located in the Quinault Rain Forest at the edge of Olympic National Park. It’s easy to imagine fairies living in the hollows of the many moss-covered logs. The campground is heavily wooded with giant 500 year old Douglas Fir and Western Cedar trees, and most camp sites are adjacent to the West Fork of the Humptulips River. Of course the water is cool, but a dip into one of the many serene pools surrounded by cascading falls, is a magical experience.
This is a primitive campground, but during the summer months a helpful campground host is available to answer most questions that you might have. She also keeps the campsites and outhouses in a nearly pristine condition. Each site has a picnic table, grill and fire pit. In fact, during most of our two week stay (in July) the only campers were ourselves and the campground host. Be sure to plan ahead, as there is no water available at the campground other than the river. Bring a water filter, or bring plenty of water jugs with you. The nearest store and gas station is nearly 30 miles away, and there is no cell service. This is true camping!
Directions to the campground from Humptulips, Washington: At the intersection of Highway 101 and Kirkpatrick Road, take 101 south 14.2 miles to Wynoochee Lake Recreation Area sign (Donkey Creek Rd/FR 22). Turn right onto Donkey Creek Road and drive 8.2 miles to the campground sign at Forest Road 2204. Turn left at sign and go 15.1 miles to the campground on the right.
Best Free Campground in the Cascade Mountains of Washington
If your looking for a free campground in the Lake Wenatchee/Leavenworth area of the Washington Cascades, Soda Springs is an excellent choice. Far away from the crowded camp sites in Lake Wenatchee State Park, but close enough to drive and swim or picnic there for the day, the campground offers 5 large sites with picnic tables and fire pits with grills. The Little Wenatchee River is just below the campground, and a short walk down a fairly easy trail will take you there. There are numerous trails and little wooden bridges meandering by the river and the streams that flow from the Little Wenatchee. One of the best things about Soda Springs is not only the peace and quiet, but there really is a Soda Springs! Bubbling, natural, clean carbonated water comes right up out of the ground. Bring a bottle or two to fill, as people used to walk for miles to this spot and drink the water for good health.
Directions to the campground from Leavenworth, Washington: Drive north on Highway 2 to SR 207, follow 207 around the north side of Lake Wenatchee to FR 65. Go west on FR 65 to the campground. It is 9 miles northwest of the Little Wenatchee Ranger Station.
Best Free Campground in the Oregon Cascade Mountains
The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway in Oregon is stunning. If you’d like to spend some time here and enjoy the incredible beauty, Crane Prairie Reservoir is the perfect place to camp for free. This is not an “official” campground, but there are dispersed camp sites with fire rings. While there are no picnic tables or outhouses, you can enjoy your own piece of nearly private beach right on the water. Go for a swim, fish, or bring your kayak and enjoy the serenity the reservoir has to offer. During the two weeks we stayed at this campground, we watched a family of beaver swim by most evenings, saw numerous deer, and saw more types of birds than I can ever remember seeing anywhere. Both bald eagles and golden eagles had nests in the trees right above our tent, and we enjoyed watching them soar across the water to try and steal the osprey’s catch. Great Blue Herons and, of course, Sand-Hill Cranes were seen frequently. Fresh drinking water can be found at nearby Rock Creek campground.
Directions to Crane Prairie Reservoir camp sites:
Turn on the unmarked dirt road about 1/8 mile south of Rock Creek campground. It is a maze of winding roads, but just follow toward the reservoir. About 1/4 to 1/2 mile in you will begin to see camp sites. There is a rock blocking the road at the end, but it is easy to drive around it to camp further in, and along the beach. Drive down the beach and then up and around. Definitely not recommended for RVs. This is primitive tent camping at its best!
Please remember to always take away all of your trash at any of these campgrounds. If people continue to leave garbage, more than likely we will not have these wonderful places to camp at in the future.