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New Ways to Explore Washington State Parks

Caption: Winter Camping at Millersylvania State Park

Written by Dave Helgeson

Editor’s note: The following article is reprinted with permission from the Northwest RVing Blog hosted by MHRV (Manufactured Housing and Recreational Vehicle) Show Association.

The MHRV Show Association, producers of the annual Seattle RV ShowPuyallup RV Show and Enumclaw RV Show have enjoyed supporting Washington State Parks for many years. While COVID–19 has prevented us from supporting them with complimentary exhibit space at our shows along with sharing a portion of our gate sales, we would love to point our readers to several helpful online sites that have recently developed.

The first site that we would like to share is a complete listing of which parks are open or closed this winter. This link saves would-be campers considerable time and trouble going to each individual park’s website to determine what amenities are available during the winter. The site clearly lists which parks are open for overnight camping, if potable water is still available and where, if the dump station is still operational, if campsites can be reserved, which campground loops / spaces are still open, what amenities are “weather dependant”, etc. 

For example, if you were to go to the camping page for Larrabee State Park you might find it unclear as to whether the park is open for camping year around. However, a quick click on the State Parks 2020-2021 Winter Camping and Day-Use Schedule Link clearly shows camping is allowed and which sites are open during the winter (see below).

ocean and land
Fort Flagler State Park

Another website that debuted in late 2019 is from the Washington State Parks Foundation. The foundations mission is to ensure a vibrant Washington State Parks system for generations to enjoy. The website consists of four main information sources: an interactive map, park pages, trip reports and virtual tours. The interactive map features a clickable statewide map. Users can zoom in to certain regions and find all the parks in the area. At the individual park page, visitors can discover what amenities each park has and links to connect to camping reservations. The website also provides virtual tours of each Washington State Park from the comfort of your home. The site allows you to scroll numerous panoramic images for each park: you can look left, right, up and down. You can also click different colored icons (yellow and blue) within each image to be taken to the next image. Using the website you can explore a little before you visit the park and enjoy the real thing! The website currently hosts over 105 virtual tours.

parks logo

John Floberg of the Washington State Parks Foundation said he was especially excited at the development of the trip reporting element. This new feature, powered by valuable word-of-mouth from users, is expected to grow in functionality and become increasingly valuable for helping park fans to locate that hidden gem or steer families towards the perfect Saturday trip. It allows anyone the opportunity to post insights and reviews about their favorite state park following an easy registration process. “We know how important it is to have features and information that enhance the park user experience, from the wonderful website of the state parks agency to the online resources at waparks.org.” said Floberg. “We’re all used to asking friends and neighbors for recommendations or turning to social media. Now, those word-of-mouth trip experiences can be collected, responded to, and made available to all in one place.

Using these two websites, year-round RVers have no excuse for not planning a winter camping trip at one of Washington’s many beautiful state parks.

Author: Dave Helgeson, DaveH@northwestrving.com Dave Helgeson is the MHRV show director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.