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Camp on the Sunny Side: 8 Eastern Washington Camping Adventures

Petrified forests, biking paths, basalt canyons, Lewis and Clark trail and more

Lauren Braden

Published on: May 12, 2020

Columbia Hills State park
Columbia Hills State Park | Credit: Tara Schmidt via Flickr CC

Sunny side camping adventures

Editor's note: Most Washington State Parks reopened for day use May 5, and campgrounds in some state parks reopened June 1. Camping reservations at not-yet-opened parks are being accepted for July 1 and after.

East of the Cascades, camping season starts early in spring and lingers late into fall for one big, blazing reason: sunshine. In this land that’s part desert, part open forest, the clear sapphire-blue sky stretches for miles overhead. Rivers twist their way through narrow basalt canyons as they race to shallow lakes that sparkle in the sun. Rolling hills dotted with sage and wildflowers are crisscrossed with gentle hiking trails. The Eastern Washington landscape is warm, dry and very different from its western counterpart.

Camping over the mountains is delightfully different as well. Imagine your family waking up from a tented slumber to watch morning sunlight polish the surrounding basalt cliffs, or noshing on s’mores around an evening campfire on a desert plateau beneath a massive sky full of bright stars.

Where to go? We've uncovered eight of the best sunny camping adventures for families in Eastern Washington.

Tips: If you go, pack extra sunblock and wide-brimmed hats to protect your kiddo’s skin and eyes from the sun’s rays. You’ll want to be aware of the increased possibility of encounters with ticks, rattlesnakes and poison oak over here too, all hazards that are seldom worried about in the Western Cascades and Olympics. Be prepared for the chance of windy evenings by packing along things to weigh down your tablecloth and tent. 

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