We’re a camping family. When we haven’t slept outside for a while, our senses long for it. I can’t wait to smell ponderosa pine in the air and campfire smoke in my hair, awaken to the moody call of a varied thrush and see the look on my son’s face as he tastes a gooey toasted marshmallow s'more.
There’s just one hiccup that you may be familiar with — we haven’t made campground reservations! Or the ones we made didn't work out because of weather or other commitments.
You may think spontaneous campers don’t stand a chance at a last-minute adventure these days, but fortunately for my family (and yours, fellow procrastinators!), spontaneous camping is still quite possible — you just have to know where to go. And here's the great news — some of the Northwest’s best campgrounds for families are first-come, first-served, including many options in our national parks.
Read on for our procrastinator-tested camping tips and top picks for no-reservations campgrounds, and at the end, find our pro tips on planning for last-minute camping.