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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, 2021

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

Beacon Rock: You can climb it. Credit: Jeff Gunn/Flickr CC

Beacon Rock State Park in the Columbia River Gorge

Find it: Beacon Rock State Park is located near the town of Skamania on the Columbia River Gorge.

Details: This park used to be first-come, first-served, but just last summer began taking reservations for its 26 tent sites and five full-hookup sites for RVs. We kept it on the list because it has fairly good weekday availability remaining for August, likely due to its more recent change to reservations. (Make one quick!)

Day hikers flock to Beacon Rock State Park for the steep 1-mile hike to a stunning panorama of the Gorge atop Beacon Rock, which is actually the core of an ancient volcano. This trail has lots of stairs and abrupt drop-offs; while there are handrails, it may be unsuitable for very small children. Other park trails loop through the forest, along the river shoreline and across wildflower meadows.

Plan B: Cross the bridge at Cascade Locks over to Oregon for Viento State Park, which has reservable sites but decent weekday availability for summer 2021.

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