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No Reservations, No Problem: A Panic-Free Guide to Camping on the Fly

Best no-reservation family campgrounds around Puget Sound

Lauren Braden

Published on: July 22, 2022


Last-minute camping

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, 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 some options in our national parks.

Ready for our top picks for no-reservation campgrounds? One quick note: Do check your destination for fire restrictions, which tend to expand as we go through summer.

First up: Rock Island

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