SFR: Family Camping options...


Be the guide...
Before kids, most of my camping was done via back packing in to remote spots. Well now that I have young kids, I need to start them out 'car camping' (drive-in camp sites, but still sleeping in a tent) and work my way back to 'real camping'...

So i'm asking for some good suggestions as to where I could take 3 boys (ages 2, 3, 5) for some car camping within 2 hrs or so of Snohomish\Monroe. We just moved to the area, so I haven't been out scouting for spots much yet...

The more rustic the better. A streamside or lakeside spot would be prefered.(the boys will be watched by my wife and I closely, so as long as it's not cliffs and white water, I feel safe being by water...). I'm not a huge fan of state park campgrounds full of RVs and crowded camp sites. But if the location is worth it, I may consider it.

I have a small boat, so a lake would be cool and easier to fish with the boys I think. But I do love dry fly fishing small streams...

Some thoughts have ranged from various 'remote' campgrounds down forest service roads off of Hwy 2 or up around Darrington \ Mt Loop Hwy. But then part of me thinks hitting the beach would be more fun for them and we could do some beach fishing and sand castles...

Thanks for any suggestions. PM's welcome :thumb:
I just returned from a family camping trip to the Icicle Creek (River?) Canyon just outside of Leavenworth - stayed at 8 Mile Campground. We were a group of 8 adults with 3 kids (ages 4 months to 1.2 years) - so we ended up doing a lot more sitting around the fire sharing war stories of early parenthood than climbing or fishing (the two 'official' reasons for the trip). My wife and I did manage to fish the Icicle a bit -- as other threads have recently discussed, this is not a stream of big fish, but the little rainbows are fun nonetheless. It's also close to Fish Lake (30 minutes maybe) which both name and recommendations from friends would suggest is a reasonable destination (though we didn't make it there this trip).

Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
Not to famaliar with the area up north. I'm kinda partial to the Naches area. A lot of campgrounds and off road camping. Can be noisy up the Little Naches with the off road activity. You can access to the Naches, Little Naches, Bumping & American Rivers.
Cooper Lake, off I-90, north of Salmon La Sac is kind of nice too, as is the Teanaway River, east of Cle Elum.

I'm sure that others will have some suggestions.
Hey Chad, check out Padilla Bay state park, it's about 2 hrs north. We've camped there on Memorial Day weekend once and it still wasn't too bad. There is one section that seems a bit crowded without much privacy, but there are also a few sections that are bordered with trees and brush that had quite a bit of privacy for a state park. Your within a 3-5 min walk from the bay. I can't tell you what fishing is like because I didn't fish, but I've heard that you can clam there when the tide is out. If my memory serves me right, the sand was good for sand castles too.


Active Member
Sat away from Padilla....some type of muck in the mud. Deception State Park is an awesome place.....lots of walking trails and beach walking. Saltwater fishing from shore can be good, You have Cranberry Lake in the State Park area...big lake...RB and Brown trout, Bass, Perch,....the lake is about 100yds from the beaches of the saltwater. You can rent paddle boats, canoes, Kayaks, etc. or bring your own boat. Then outside the park (?) you have Pass Lake ...Fly fishing motorcraft. large Rainbow and Brown trout exist in this lake plus a lot of 12-20" brutes. They have some more remote camping spots within the cars..on foot only. But not far are the conveniences of restrooms/ can be messy. I have a 10 year old and 5 year old and this has been are favorite spot for years.....Eastern WA just scares me with all the critters that smaller kids don't realize are dangerous.
Ohanapecosh (sp?) on the SE side of Mt. Rainier. Best camping in the state. Can be busy since it is close to Paradise. Lots of hiking, fly fish the Ohanapecosh (sp?) river. Best time of year to go is after Labor Day through September and before Memorial Day.

Hillbilly Redneck

wishin i was fishin
I went on a field trip with my boy's kindergarten class to Padilla Bay last month. I'll vouch for the mud.
You might check out Bedal campground up the Mt. Loop Hwy. The road is washed out not to far up from there so you'll have to access it from the Darrington side. Bedal is right on the upper Sauk. Was thinking about camping up there myself. Of course it's only 15 miles from home. Before kids, my wife and I used to camp up there. I remember one time driving back home, taking a shower, making a couple batches of margaritas and heading back up to the campsite. I love roughing it.


Be the guide...
Thanks for the tips so far!

I'm familiar with the I-90 stuff (since I just moved from NBend), so I'd prefer to try something farther north. Same for the Mt Rainier suggestion. I did Ohanapecosh as a kid (found some suprisingly big fish in a canyon section that required some dangerous rock wall scaling... ).

I'm leaning toward the Wallace River St park because it is so close to me and offers access to nearby lake and river fishing options.

Someone also mentioned Lk Wenatchee, and that sounds tempting too...

But then I've been hearing reports (not good reports, but sounds fun anyway) of peole taking their kids crabbing\clamming, and I know my boys would really love that, and I can get in some beach fishing that I almost never get to do...

I think Deception Pass would be great, but I think the campsites are booked solid...
There are a number of private campgrounds in the area of Deception Pass. Right off of Highway 20 there is a place called Pioneer Trails RV campground. They have a buch of tent sites and covered wagons for campers to stay in. It may not be remote but, our 4 year old has loved going there each of the last 3 years. He now asks when we are going back. They are never full and there are some short trails and a playground for the little ones. They have a website that shows the covered wagons and cabins. PM me if you need more info.
Here's a couple, although they may be a bit out of your range--Ft Flagler on Marrowstone Island. There is beach fishing for silvers, SRC and flounder...some crabbing off the docks on from a boat in the harbor.

Another is the old Cushman State Park site on Lake Cushman. I haven't been there since it's changed hands, but the kokanee and rainbow fishing can be pretty good. There are also some bass in the lake, if you're inclined that way. Then Staircase campground on the North Fork is nearby
and offers some stream fishing.


Within two hours I would either try the camp lat the campground located on the west shore of Lk Wenatchee or check out the camping on the Lil Wenatchee River. I haven't checked the regs to see if that one is open but we always had fun camping right on the river. Nor have I been up there in a few years.


Active Member
Re: Deception Pass...They have many campsites open for first come first serve...These cannot be reserved and there is actually a fair number of them 20 plus.
You will never get them on a Fri/Sat...but if your up there Wed or Thur..or Sun/ Mon you have a very good chance.....We have gone up several times on Thursdays and have always had choices on campsites...even though they were booked full.
If you have not been to Lopez Island in the San Jauns I would suggest you give it a try. The island has many things to offer, all of the things you mentioned. Humel lake has some fair fishing, plus you have the beach as well as hikes, all close to one another. Email me if you would like more details.


Active Member
Up here in the great north of Skagit county, Baker lake is cool, lots of forest service campgrounds on the lake, some free, most pay. Fishing is hit or miss for trout, there's some big boys in there, lots of kokanee. Or up on the upper Skagit river at Newhalem, the National Park folks have some first rate campgrounds, some nice easy trails for kids, check out the visitor center at the Newhalem site, and it's not very crowded either. I've been up there a few times chaperoneing school kids with the mountain school program the Mount Vernon school district and the North Cascades Institute put together. You can fish the Skagit or go explore some little tribs or go upriver a few more miles and fish the lakes behind the two dams. Or maybe if you have a couple of free days pack every one up and go on a cruise and check out a few of the places everybody else has mentioned.