The Best Campground at Mount Rainier?

Summer will be here before we know it and campground reservations will soon be at a premium!

Those were the days!

Because I’ve spent more than half a century exploring and enjoying the glory and grandeur of The World’s Most Magnificent Mountain, Mount Rainier, . (people sometimes ask, “What’s The Best campground at Mount Rainier?”

Answer: That depends.

National Park offers visitors three auto campgrounds – Ohanapecosh, White River, and Cougar Rock. For some, “best” means comfy. Fully equipped with running water, hot showers, laundry facilities and lots of creature comforts. To others, “best” means rustic. Peace and quiet. A beautiful setting on a rushing river surrounded by an incredible old-growth forest.

Ohanapecosh falls into the latter category. Been camping here for years. It’s our favorite campground at Mount Rainier National Park. Hands down.

Perched on the southeast flank of the park, Ohanapecosh is roughly twenty minutes and eleven miles up the road from the quaint mountain burgh of Packwood. It’s about three 3 miles north of the park boundary on highway 123. It offers several loops, though only a few are open during the off-season. (A Loop is our favorite.)


Most people say “Ohanapecosh” means “standing at the edge” or “clear water.”  Some say it means “Standing on the Lip of a Rock,” referring to a certain rock where men stood to dip net fish.

Ohanapecosh River

Whatever its meaning, the sprawling, 188-site Ohanapecosh  campground at Mount Rainer often gives first-time visitors the impression that they’ve fallen into a vast vat of verdure.  Lichen leaks from boughs and bower.  Giant conifers litter the forest floor like fallen behemoths.  Sunshine skips across so many shades of emerald that the landscape looks like Oz, especially near Silver Falls.

Near A Popular Trail

One of the park’s most popular trails, the Silver Falls Loop is a pleasant three-mile walk from the Ohanapecosh campground to a thundering gusher.  It’s one of the first trails to melt out in the spring and is a favorite for families, seniors, youngsters, and pretty much anyone who’s vertical and breathing. It’s an easy hike to and from Ohanapecosh and a great introduction to the treasures and timelessness of an old-growth forest.

A perennial park favorite, the Silver Falls Loop trail is an easy hike out of the Ohanapecosh Campground.

The Ohanapecosh campground is rustic. It has flush toilets but no hot water. The road through the campground has been recently re-paved. A nice place for bicycling with the fam. Each camp site has a picnic table and a fire grate.

Tip: If you’re tent camping, be sure to select a campsite that’s fairly level rather than one in a divot or a downhill slant. If you don’t, you’re liable to wind up in a floating mattress if it rains during the night.

Hours & Cost

Ohanapecosh is usually open from later May to early October, depending on weather. $20 a night as of this writing. Reservations required during peak season. Otherwise, it’s first come, first-served.

Other tip:

Avoid peak season (late summer through Labor Day) if you can, especially if you’re allergic to uber crowds. Every site in the campground will be packed during this time frame. Ditto any summer weekend when the forecast is for clear skies and sunshine. If you want to avoid crowds and soak up some solitude while decent weather is still likely, the best time visit Ohana is after Labor Day or during the week (don’t tell anyone).

For more information, click on Mount Rainier Campgrounds or call: (360) 569-2211.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s