Just 30 miles or so east of Seattle is an outdoor lover’s dream come true. From hiking to paddling, to fishing and camping, it all starts in North Bend. Here are your best options for your next visit, for camping near North Bend WA.

I love camping because it’s a great way to spend quality time with your family and friends. It’s a wonderful break from the business of every day and reminds you of what is most important in life. It’s also less expensive that many other options!

Best camping locations near North Bend: Denny Creek Campground and Middle Fork Campground are the best established campsites!
camping near north bend wa

Camping Near North Bend, WA

Camping options just about anywhere include primitive campgrounds, developed campgrounds, and dispersed camping areas.  And North Bend is no different.

Developed Camping Near North Bend WA

Developed campgrounds are well-maintained and usually have picnic tables, fire rings and restroom facilities of some kind.

1. Middle Fork Campground

  • Location: Snoqualmie National Forest, near North Bend
  • Number of sites: 39
  • Reservations required: Yes

The Middle Fork Campground provides a peaceful, scenic setting, surrounded by fragrant forest and is positioned alongside the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. It’s a fantastic, if popular, destination for outdoor lovers.

While the campground ensures basic facilities like well-maintained vault toilets and drinkable water, it does not provide RV hookups or shower facilities. It’s also important to note that not all campsites have picnic tables available.

The campsites are spacious, secluded, and mostly shaded, with numerous sites conveniently located near the river. It can be rather crowded on beautiful weekends however, and the sites nearest the road are rather noisy as well.

This is my favorite place for camping near North Bend WA. I love this campground for the river and mountain views. Also because there are a range of recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching.

The best trails nearby are, from easiest to most difficult, Oxbow Loop Trail, Middle Fork Trail, Stegasaurus Butte Boot Path and Mailbox Peak Trail.

Middle Fork Campground

2. Kachess Campground

  • Location: Lake Kachess
  • Number of sites: 150
  • Reservations required: for some sites yes, for others first come first serve

Kachess Campground is a popular camping destination at Snoqualmie Pass and is known for its access to and stunning views of Kachess Lake and the surrounding wilderness.

The campground has sites for tents and RVs, and is equipped with picnic tables and fire rings. It also offers several amenities, including flush toilets, showers, and a dump station.

Kachess Campground is a beautiful and well-maintained camping destination. Like many lake campsites, it can be pretty crowded on summer weekends and fairly loud in the evenings as well.

I like this one despite the crowds, because the lake is beautiful and big. Even if the campground is crowded, you can easily find space for yourself on the water. The best hikes nearby include Franklin falls, Mirror Lake and Snow Lake.

Kachess Lake

3. Tinkham Campground

  • Location: Mt Baker Snoqualmie Forest, exit 42 off of I-90
  • Number of sites: 46
  • Reservations required: Yes

An absolutely beautiful area, but possibly too close to the freeway for total peace and quiet. The campsites are along the South Fork Snoqualmie river, which is great for fishing and also helps to block some of the noise.

There are fire rings, picnic tables, flush toilets, drinking water and also bear-resistant food lockers.

I like this one because it’s not as popular and therefore slightly less crowded than many others nearby, but still has your basic amenities. The best hikes nearby include Dirty Harry’s Balcony, Annette Lake, and for the experienced hiker, Granite Mountain Lookout Trail.

Coffee mug sitting on tree stump with campfire behind it

4.Denny Creek Campground

  • Location: exit 47 off of I-90
  • Number of sites: 24 reservable sites
  • Reservations required: yes

Denny Creek Campground is a popular camping destination for families and is known for its stunning natural beauty and convenient location at Snoqualmie Pass.

The sites are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and electrical hook-ups at some of them. There are several conveniences, including flush toilets, potable water, and a dump station.

This is a great place to camp with little ones or first-time campers. The nearby trails are fairly easy and well-maintained, perfect for beginner hiking.

Denny Creek campground is near several hiking trails, including the Denny Creek Trail, which offers a scenic hike to several waterfalls, a water slide and natural pools.  Franklin Falls is also very close by and an easy trail for families and beginners.

Primitive Camping Near North Bend WA

Primitive campgrounds don’t offer as many amenities as maintained campgrounds and what you’ll find varies significantly depending on the campground and the season.

Iron Horse State Park

Iron Horse State Park is located in Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, and is known for its unending beauty and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities.  There are four campgrounds in the park, Alice Creek, Carter Creek, Cold Creek and Roaring Creek. 

5. Alice Creek Campground

  • Location: Iron Horse State Park
  • Number of sites: 4
  • Reservations required: no

Alice Creek Campground is a primitive campground. Campsites are first-come, first-served, and there are no reservations. There’s a picnic table and a fire ring as well.

The best hikes to do close by are Annette Lake, and for the experienced hiker, McClellan Butte trail.

6. Carter Creek Campground

  • Location: Iron Horse State Park
  • Number of sites: 23
  • Reservations required: no

Carter Creek Campground is a rustic campground at Snoqualmie Pass, very near Tinkham Campground.  Campsites are first-come, first-served, and have a picnic table and fire ring.

The campsites are situated in a wooded area along Carter Creek, providing a peaceful and secluded camping experience. The campsites are primitive however, and do not have running water, electricity, or cell phone reception.

The best hikes to do close by are Dirty Harry’s Balcony, Annette Lake, and for the experienced hiker, Granite Mountain Lookout Trail.

marshmallows roasting over a campfire

7. Cold Creek Campground

  • Location: Iron Horse State Park
  • Number of sites: 3
  • Reservations required: Discover Pass required

This campground can only be reached by hiking along the Palouse to Cascades Trail. It’s on the shore of Lake Keechelus and does not have your basic facilities.

Contact the ranger station in North Bend and obtain a map, as well as up-to-date information on the site.

8. Roaring Creek Campground

  • Location: Iron Horse State Park, milepost 2109.5
  • Number of sites: 3 sites
  • Reservations required: no

Roaring Creek Campground is close to Lake Keechelus and is a charming primitive campground. It does have a vault toilet and a picnic table. While you can hear the noise from the freeway here, there are generally very people in the area.

A Discovery Pass is required to park here.

Developed vs Primitive Camping

What is Primitive Camping?

A primitive campground and a developed campground offer contrasting camping experiences due to differences in facilities, amenities, infrastructure, crowding, privacy, and accessibility.

A primitive campground is characterized by minimal conveniences and facilities, providing a more rustic and basic camping experience. It sometimes features essentials like fire rings, picnic tables, and pit toilets.

However, access to running water, showers, electricity, or modern restroom facilities may be limited or absent.

Primitive campgrounds are often located in remote or less accessible areas, requiring hiking or off-road travel to reach. The campsites are typically more secluded, with greater spacing between them, offering a sense of privacy and solitude.

What is camping in developed campgrounds like?

On the other hand, a developed campground offers a more comprehensive range of facilities and amenities, catering to campers seeking a higher level of comfort and convenience. This is my preference if given a choice.

Developed campgrounds provide designated campsites with amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and benches. They also often have access to potable water, flush toilets, showers, and sometimes laundry facilities.

Additionally, some developed campgrounds even have additional amenities like playgrounds, swimming areas, visitor centers, and organized activities.

The infrastructure within developed campgrounds is more developed, with paved roads and defined parking spaces, accommodating various types of vehicles, including RVs and trailers.

Due to their popularity and accessibility however, developed campgrounds may be more crowded, especially during peak seasons, and the proximity between campsites may reduce the level of privacy and seclusion compared to primitive campgrounds.

The choice between a primitive and developed campground ultimately depends on personal preferences, desired level of comfort, access to amenities, and the type of camping experience you’re looking for.

Primitive campgrounds offer a back-to-nature experience with fewer facilities and greater seclusion, while developed campgrounds provide a more convenient and amenity-rich environment, often within easily accessible locations.

Campsites You Need to Hike to

For beginning backpackers, or those who want to stay close to civilization, you can camp at the beach or here are a few campgrounds that require a little more effort to reach.

9. Mirror Lake

  • Location: Snoqualmie Pass, exit 62
  • Number of sites: about 10
  • Reservations required: no

This one requires a Northwest Forest Pass for parking in the extremely small “lot.” The trail is a little over 1 mile in each direction, connecting briefly with the Pacific Crest Trail and passing Cottonwood Lake on the way.

It’s a great beginner backpacking destination, as well as a good choice for families with small children. No facilities, but the view is spectacular. Bring ear plugs, bug spray and arrive early.

camping near north bend wa

10. Annette Lake

  • Location: Snoqualmie Pass, exit 47
  • Number of sites: about 10
  • Reservations required: no

Many people hike to Annette Lake to try out their new backpacking equipment since it is only 4 miles in and generally less crowded than Mirror Lake. There’s a pit toilet available and fire rings at every site.

Although campsites were available on both sides, lake access is easier on the left.

camping tent and hammock in the sunshine

Reasons for Camping North Bend WA

Camping offers a unique set of advantages over other accommodations, making it a popular choice for nature lovers. The beauty of North Bend camping is that it isn’t all that far from the city. So you get the feel of nature but the security of civilization.

Time in Nature

Firstly, camping provides a direct and intimate connection with nature that contributes to good health. When camping, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of Washington state.

You can breathe in the fresh air, listen to the soothing sounds of wildlife, and enjoy breathtaking views that are often inaccessible from traditional accommodations.

Freedom and flexibility

Secondly, camping allows for a sense of freedom and flexibility. Unlike staying in hotels, you have the freedom to choose your location, whether it’s a secluded spot deep in the wilderness or a designated campground with facilities.

This flexibility lets you tailor your experience to your preferences, whether you desire solitude or a social atmosphere with fellow campers.

Inexpensive

Another advantage of camping is the affordability it offers. Compared to the costs of booking hotel rooms or renting vacation homes, camping is often more budget-friendly.

Camping equipment can be a one-time investment, and many public campsites offer reasonable rates for overnight stays. This accessibility makes camping a fantastic option for people with various budgets, allowing you to enjoy outdoor adventures without breaking the bank.

More active time

Additionally, camping promotes physical activity and outdoor recreation. Hiking, fishing, swimming, or simply exploring the surrounding areas encourages everyone to stay active and appreciate the natural world.

These activities not only provide exercise but also contribute to a sense of adventure and discovery, fostering personal growth and a deeper connection with nature. Even in winter!

Opportunities for growth

Furthermore, camping fosters a sense of self-sufficiency and survival skills. Not just for kids! Setting up tents, building campfires, and cooking meals over an open flame requires some level of resourcefulness and adaptability.

You often develop practical skills and gain confidence in your ability to navigate outdoor challenges, enhancing your overall self-reliance and problem-solving capabilities.

Community

Lastly and possibly the best, camping allows for quality time and bonding with family and friends. By disconnecting from the distractions of modern life, such as screens and technology, you can focus on building relationships and creating lasting memories.

Campfire conversations, shared meals, and outdoor activities provide opportunities for meaningful connections and quality time spent together, fostering stronger bonds and cherished experiences. This is what the best memories are made of.

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    Things to Do Nearby

    North Bend is a charming town with a variety of activities and attractions to enjoy.

    It’s a gateway to hiking heaven, with an abundance of hiking trails that wind through stunning landscapes. One popular trail is the Mount Si Trail, known for its challenging yet rewarding climb to the summit. The summit has breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Cascade Mountains.

    For those seeking adventure, North Bend is here for you. The Snoqualmie River provides a great opportunity for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. You can go rock climbing on the challenging crags of Little Si or enjoy exhilarating mountain biking along the Raging River Trail.

    Additionally, North Bend is a great place for paragliding, offering breathtaking aerial views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

    Whether you prefer a leisurely outdoor activity or an adrenaline-pumping adventure, North Bend has something for everyone.

    FAQs on Camping in Washington

    Where can I camp for free in WA?

    In Washington state, there are several options for free camping, including public lands and dispersed camping areas.  You can find dispersed camping areas in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, among others.

    Is Boondocking legal in Washington state?

    Boondocking, which refers to camping in self-contained vehicles or tents outside of designated campsites, is allowed in certain areas of Washington state. Generally it’s allowed where dispersed camping is permitted.

    What is the difference between boondocking and camping?

    Boondocking is the same as dispersed camping on public land.

    Wrap-up: Campgrounds near North Bend WA

    These 10 terrific camping options near North Bend, WA, provide a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life, to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

    Whether you prefer a riverside retreat, mountainous landscapes, or lakeside serenity, North Bend, WA has something for you.