There’s something hypnotic about a campfire. The snap-crackle-pop of seasoned wood, the unmistakable smell of wafting smoke and the rhythmic dance of flames in the darkness.
But the warm glow of the firelight is just part of the allure surrounding the camping experience, a lifestyle that pulls millions of Americans from the comfort of their recliners into the less-comfortable – but much more appealing – outdoors.
As anyone who has attempted to make a weekend reservation knows, state and federal campgrounds are mighty popular places these days. Sites are booked months in advance, with summertime getaways typically planned during the dreary depths of winter.
Part of camping’s widespread appeal is the truly egalitarian nature of the pastime. Driving into a campground – anywhere, at any time – might be a beat-up minivan containing a family of four, a dog or two, a battered tent and assorted sleeping bags. And behind them in line might be a snooty retired couple, comfortably ensconced in a luxury recreational vehicle with a price tag that dwarfs many starter homes.
Different, sure. But rivers and streams, rugged trails and paved pathways are equal opportunity endeavors. The outdoors is the same for everyone. Mother Nature doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t play favorites.
Like any popular hobby, camping has experienced massive change and continues to evolve – and not every phase of the evolution will be welcomed by die-hard outdoorsmen. For example, younger campers are demanding wi-fi access and wouldn’t think of heading to a campground without being connected, according to one national survey. That survey showed the millennial set consider smart phones nearly as essential as toilet tissue when launching a camping excursion.
Those folks clearly are too dependent upon technology or have yet to discover intestinal distress in primitive conditions.
Those in the Plateau region have easy access to camping, with a menu of options within easy striking distance. Nationwide, campers are accustomed to traveling a couple of hours, at least, to reach their destination. In this corner of the South Sound, plenty of options are easily reached. Here are just a few examples of nearby public spaces; there are more – like the popular Ohanapecosh campground on Rainier’s south side – and private campgrounds, as well.
Looking for tent camping opportunities? This park has it. The same goes for trailer and RV sites, complete with power, but no sewer service or water hook-ups. Additionally, there are yurts for rent, making life easy.
Kanaskat-Palmer boasts 320 acres on a small, low plateau in a natural forest setting. The park has two miles of shorelines on the Green River, but rafting and kayaking down the river gorge is for expert-level enthusiasts only. Shoreline activities include nature appreciation, trout fishing and picnicking.
The park offers one large reservable kitchen shelter with water, electricity and two standing barbecues. Three picnic shelters and 49 unsheltered picnic tables are available first come, first served. Picnic shelter reservations may be made by visiting online or calling 888-CAMPOUT (226-7688).
The park is about 10 miles from downtown Enumclaw on Veazie-Cumberland Road.
Heavily treed with lush groundcover, this campground – wedged between the White River and state Route 410 – offers natural beauty that’s hard to beat.
But there’s little in the way of amenities for those looking for more than basic comfort in the outdoors. While the campsites are designed to accommodate trailers and RVs, there’s no water, electricity or sewer hook-ups.
The park is about 33 miles east of Enumclaw, past Greenwater but before Crystal Mountain.
A popular attraction at The Dalles is “the big tree,” a Douglas fir that measures more than 9 feet in diameter and is believed to be approximately 700 years old.
Much like The Dalles, this campground sits between the highway and the White River. And, like The Dalles, it easily accommodates trailers and RVs, but sites are not equipped with power, water or sewer connections.
Well-spaced campsites sit in an old-growth forest in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
The campground is about seven miles past The Dalles Campground.