Just Go to North Cascades National Park - Campgrounds – Just Go Travel Studios

Just Go to North Cascades National Park - Campgrounds

North Cascades National Park Washington

Given the small size of the park, the sheer number of North Cascades National Park campgrounds really is amazing.  There are so many to choose from.  While many are accessible by car, there are also a number of options that are accessible only by boat or after a short hike.  Whatever your method of travel, you will be camping in one of the most beautiful parts of the country!

It’s really hard to decide what the best campground in North Cascades National Park is for you, but our hope is that this guide will help you decide what to do.

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS: OVERVIEW

There are ten total campgrounds inside of North Cascades National Park, outside of the backcountry campgrounds.  Many are centered along the State Route 20 (which travels through the center of the park), but there are also a number near the Lake Chelan / Stehekin area (to the southeast) and the Ross Lake area to the north.  The latter two areas are more remote and will take a bit of work getting to, but reward those who are willing to make the effort with quiet and seclusion that can otherwise be hard to find in our normal lives.

Unsurprisingly, you’ll want to make sure you get reservations ahead of time if at all possible.  Reservations open well in advance (usually six months), but since there are only about 90 days of actual camping time in most of the campgrounds, they fill up very quickly.  Not every campground takes reservations (see below for further information).

While reservations are the best way to go if you are a planner, many of the campgrounds offer first-come, first-served slots as well.  Because some people stay multiple days, these usually require you to arrive at the campground early in the morning to have your best chance of getting a spot. 

Once you get into the park, getting supplies for your camping vacation can be hard to do.  Your best bet are the larger towns outside the park, such as Chelan Falls (to the south), the Skagit General Store (located in the park west of Diablo, which also has good coffee!) and Winthrop to the east of the park.

If you need camping gear, then Winthrop, WA is a great option.

North Cascades National Park Itinerary

Our downloadable guide for North Cascades National Park has an extensive amount of information on the best hikes, what to pack, places to stay and what to do while visiting North Cascades National Park. 

 

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - HIGHWAY 20 AREA

Highway 20 through North Cascades National Park

Map of Highway 20 in North Cascades National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

Colonial Creek Campground:

 

  • Location: The Colonial Creek Campground is located on Highway 20, 11 miles east of the North Cascades Visitor Center. Directions from the North Cascades Visitor Center to Colonial Creek Campground.
  • Accessible via:
  • Reservations: Offered May through September. Colonial Creek Campground Reservations. Capacity: 135 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / Yes.
  • Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The Thunder Knob trail starts on the north side of the campground. This easy-moderate trail is a 3.6-mile round trip hike that climbs 428 feet to a peak that overlooks Diablo Lake and Jack Mountain.  The Thunder Creek Trail leaves from the south side of the campground.  This hard trail climbs nearly 2500 feet but has amazing views of the valley and glaciers when you get to the peak.
  • Additional details: The Colonial Creek Campground is routinely considered to be the best campground in North Cascades National Park because of the wilderness location and proximity to water, mountains and great hiking. The campground is situated in a large forest, with a few campsites located along the beautiful Lake Diablo.  The sites are generally small.  Because of the heavy woods, there is some privacy but the campground is generally quite dark.   There is beach access from the campground, but it is generally a bit of a walk and involves climbing over dunes, which can be challenging for children or if you are not used to climbing up hills of sand (like me!).

Gorge Lake Campground:

  • Location: The Gorge Lake Campground located on Diablo Street just off Highway 20, 7.3 miles east of the North Cascades Visitor Center. Directions from the North Cascades Visitor Center to Gorge Lake Campground.
  • Accessible via:
  • Reservations: None (though there are rumors that reservations will be available in the 2019).
  • Capacity: 8 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The Pyramid Lake Trail starts just east of the campground (on Highway 20). This moderate, 4.2-mile round trip hike climbs over 1500 feet through the forest and ends at a small lake.  If you are up for more of a challenge, the Sourdough Mountain Trail is a hard, 8.0-mile round trip hike that climbs over 5000 feet on the way up to a peak with some of the most amazing views on the park.
  • Additional details: The Gorge Lake campground has access to Gorge Lake and the campground also has a boat ramp. This is a small and quiet campground without many services, but if you are looking to be on your own (or close to it), this is a good place!

 

Newhalem Creek Campground:

  • Location: The Newhalem Creek Campground is located on Highway 20, immediately north of the North Cascades Visitor Center.  Directions from the North Cascades Visitor Center to Newhalem Creek Campground.
  • Accessible via:
  • Reservations: Offered May through September. Newhalem Creek Campground Reservations.
  • Capacity: 107 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / Yes.
  • Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The North Cascades National Park Visitor Center is located right near the campground. This is the main visitor center with a short video and rangers for assistance.  There are several quick trails near the campground, including the 0.3 to 2.0-mile Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail (which follows the Skagit River) and the and the 1.8-mile River Loop Trail which moves through thick forest and is a great walk to end the day.
  • Additional details: The campground is located right near the visitor center on the Skagit River and is a 20-minute walk to the town of Newhalem. The campground is large and shaded by large, dense trees.

 

Goodell Creek Campground:

  • Location: The Goodell Creek Campground is located on the north side of the Skagit River on Highway 20, immediately north of the North Cascades Visitor Center.  Directions from the North Cascades Visitor Center to Goodell Creek Campground.
  • Accessible via:
  • Reservations:
  • Capacity: 19 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers. Flush toilets are located at nearby Newhalem Campground.
  • Nearby: The North Cascades National Park Visitor Center is located just south of the campground and is a must-see if you are visiting the park. The same trails that are at the Newhalem Campground are also easily accessible from the Goodell Campground, including the 0.3 to 2.0-mile Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail (which follows the Skagit River) and the and the 1.8-mile River Loop Trail.
  • Additional details: This campground is very small and offers a bit more quiet (and less traffic through the campground) than nearby Newhalem Campground. Being near the bank of the Skagit River, it is a great place to enjoy fishing in the evening.

 

 

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS – ROSS LAKE AREA

Ross Lake Area map, North Cascades National Park

Map of the Ross Lake Area in North Cascades National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

Hozomeen Campground:

  • Location: The Hozomeen Campground is located in the northernmost point of the park on Ross Lake and is only accessible by boat from the United States or by car from Canada. The road to the campsite is rough, so the park advises you to make sure you are carrying a spare tire.
  • Accessible via: Car and boat.
  • Reservations:
  • Capacity: 75 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: In addition to great boating on Ross Lake, there are also several hiking trails include the Hozomeen Lake Trail. This hike climbs 1410 feet and is moderate to difficult throughout the 7.1-mile, round trip hike.  The trail ends at Hozomeen Lake which is a great spot for picnicking. 
  • Additional details: The Hozomeen Campground is primitive, but with 75 campsites there is quite a bit of room. Also, any trash that you produce needs to be carried out of the park. 

Hozomeen Campground, North Cascades National Park

Hozomeen Campground, courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives

 

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS – LAKE CHELAN / STEHEKIN AREA

Lake Chelan map
Map of the Lake Chelan Area in North Cascades National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service
Lake Chelan Area Map, North Cascades National Park
More detailed Map of the Lake Chelan Area in North Cascades National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

 

Camping in the Lake Chelan / Stehekin Areas require backcountry permits.  These can be obtained at the Golden West Visitor Center.  Permits are not required if you are camping at one of the lakeside campgrounds.

Tumwater Campground , High Bridge Campground and Bullion Campground:

  • Location: The Tumwater, High Bridge and Bullion Campgrounds are located at the end of Stehekin Valley Road and are accessible via the shuttle.
  • Accessible via: Boat followed by shuttle.
  • Reservations:
  • Capacity: 6 sites total (2 at each campground).
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The Agnes Gorge Trail leaves from High Bridge. This moderately-difficult trail is 4.4-miles (round trip) and climbs uphill on the way to a view of the gorge. 

Harlequin Campground:

  • Location: The Harlequin Campground is located near Rainbow Falls at the head of Lake Chelan.
  • Accessible via: Boat followed by shuttle.
  • Reservations:
  • Capacity: 7 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The Rainbow Creek Trail is nearby, which offers great hiking to the northeast of the campground. The Rainbow Loop Trail climbs 2,400 feet on the way up to an amazing view of the Stehekin Valley and Lake Chelan.

Purple Point Campground:

  • Location: The Purple Point Campground is located at the head of Lake Chelan and is one of the more accessible campgrounds in the area.
  • Accessible via:
  • Reservations:
  • Capacity: 7 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The Purple Creek Trail is accessible from the Golden West Visitor Center and provides a nice (albeit long) loop to Moore Point. Since you are on the lake, fishing and boating is popular here.  The easy Imus Creek Interpretive Trail is an easy 1.2-mile round trip hike that climbs about 500 feet and gives a great view of Lake Chelan.

Lakeview Campground:

  • Location: The Lakeview Campground is located near the Golden West Visitor Center
  • Accessible via:
  • Reservations:
  • Capacity: 10 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Flush and no showers.
  • Nearby: The Purple Creek Trail is accessible from the Golden West Visitor Center, as is the Chelan Lakeshore Trail, which travels along Lake Chelan for up to 10 miles.

Lake Chelan, North Cascades National Park

 

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - CAMPING ACCESSIBLE BY BOAT

For details on campgrounds accessible by boat, check out the North Cascades National Park website on boat-in camping.  4 boat-in campgrounds exist along Lake Chelan, and Ross Lake has a whopping 21.  Diablo Lake has an additional 3 boat-in campgrounds.

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - GROUP CAMPING

For details on group camping at Goodell Campground and Newhalem Campground, refer to the North Cascades National Park Group Camping information on their website.  The Harlequin, Lakeview, Bridge Creek and Cottonwood Campgrounds also offer group camping, and information can be found on the North Cascades National Park Stehekin Campground page.

CAMPING OUTSIDE NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK

If you are unable to find a place to camp inside the park, there are quite a few options outside of the park.  One option is boondocking, and for tips on where to boondock near North Cascades, check out this site on free campgrounds near Marblemount, WA.  You can look around and find the best free campsites nearby in Washington or all parts of the country.

FURTHER INFORMATION ON NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS

North Cascades National Park poster

 

 

Related Posts

Just Go to Mount Rainier National Park – Grove of the Patriarchs
Just Go to Mount Rainier National Park – Grove of the Patriarchs
Everyone comes to Mount Rainier National Park to see one of the tallest peaks in the United States, but while visiting,
Read More
Just Go to Mount Rainier National Park - Skyline Trail to Panorama Point Hike
Just Go to Mount Rainier National Park - Skyline Trail to Panorama Point Hike
Of all the great hikes in Mount Rainier National Park, the Skyline Trail to Panorama Point is, in our opinion, one of th
Read More

Older Post Newer Post


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published