How to car camp around Washington

Learn the best practices when going car camping in Washington state.

Picture this around you: lush green forests, snow-dusted mountains and peaceful quiet. That’s just another day in Washington state–the outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. From the Olympic National Park to the Cascade mountain ranges, there’s so much stunning scenery within a short drive from Seattle, just waiting for you to set up camp.

Car camping

At GeerGarage, we’re Washington-adoring locals passionate about the planet and adventuring outdoors. Boondocking or dry camping – whatever you call it, car camping is one of our favorite low-hassle ways to connect with other outdoor enthusiasts and soak in Washington’s wilderness.

Forget lugging around a heavy backpack or setting up a tricky tent; with car camping, it can be as easy as driving your vehicle into nature and sleeping inside it.

Here, sharing drives our outdoor gear rental community. Ask your Lender for their insights on local outdoor camping spots and activities their equipment would suit. Until then, read these tips to fuel your next car camping adventure.

Learn the lay of the (car camping) land

Before you pack up your hatchback and leave Seattle’s city lights behind you, make sure you know where you can car camp legally. There are designated campground sites all around Washington in national parks, forests and beaches available for car campers. La Push Beach, anyone?  

What if you want to camp off the beaten track?

At the time of writing, dispersed camping is allowed in Washington national forests as long as it is one mile from developed campgrounds and picnic areas. Be aware of the site-specific rules and regulations before you set up camp. Campsites cannot be erected in the middle of a clearing or within 100 feet of any water source.

In most state parks and national forests, campers are required to display required permits or passes (such as Wilderness Permits or Discover Passes) to gain access.

Do not overstay your welcome; in Washington, you cannot stay at the same campsite for more than 14 consecutive days within a 28-day timeframe.

Proof your plan

A bit of planning can make your car camping trip go a long way. Washington residents LOVE to hike and camp; show up to a campsite without a reservation, and you might be disappointed. 

Some Washington state parks and forests accept reservations up to nine months in advance, which is crucial if you want to car camp around national holidays like Labor Day and Independence Day. (And don’t forget your Discover Pass – $10 for one day, $30 for a year!) For spontaneous car campers, try going further out from the city and find a hidden gem. You’ll find fewer crowds at campgrounds mid-week too.

Camping on the coast? Keep track of the tides of the beach you want to visit–you do not want to camp on low tide levels and have your car salt-soaked or washed away! 

Get the right gear

With the right gear, there is no need to ‘rough it’ while car camping. Bring those comfortable camping chairs and a cooler full of food and drinks. Cars are great for keeping the smell of delicious snacks away from hungry coyotes and bears too!  However, buying all the gear for a comfortable car camping trip can quickly become expensive.

Renting car camping gear is a great option for those who don’t plan on camping frequently (such as first-time campers) or spending $1000+ on buying complex technical pieces. Not only is it more affordable than purchasing equipment outright; with less storage and wastage it’s better for the environment, and an easy way to prioritize our planet.

At GeerGarage, we’re committed to making gear accessible for everyone to participate in outdoor activities, without cost barriers or climate guilt. Lenders can make money by renting their unused gear to like-minded outdoor enthusiasts. With competitive rental prices, the GeerGarage platform makes awesome, affordable car camping just a couple of clicks away.

Adventure is where you park it

Car camping is an accessible and sustainable option for anyone looking to explore the great outdoors. What better place to do it than in Washington state? With the Rockies in our backyard, we’re home to some of the most tranquil, expansive and unique natural landscapes in the United States. What are you waiting for? Click rent and get car camping today!

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