Thursday, July 5, 2012

Camping Under the Volcano

From southern Oregon to central Idaho, and running the length of Washington State, volcanoes have played an active role in shaping the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. They give us incredible geological formations to explore and nourish the soil to promote the lush growth that creates our beautiful environment. 

There’s something both magical and mysterious, too, about camping in the shadow of a “living” volcano. The night skies seem close enough to touch, the sight of an open crater gives us a chance to feel the power of awe, and the determination of nature to return after a cataclysmic eruption such as Mt. Saint Helen’s puts things in a more balanced perspective. 

Here’s a short list of some of our favorite RV-friendly campgrounds that can give you the chance to get up-close and personal with some of the most majestic landscapes in the Northwest:

•Craters of the Moon
Lava Flow campground is nestled behind a cinder cone. Of the 51 sites, there are a few good sites for larger RVs on a first-come, first-served basis. No hookups. 

•Crater Lake
Forested Mazama Campground, located about seven miles from Rim Village (Crater Lake viewing spot), has nearly 200 sites, a few with hookups. There is running water, flush toilets, and fire rings. Reservations: 888-774-2728

•Mount Hood
Oregon’s highest peak is located east of Portland. Tollbridge Park, bordered on one side by the Hood River, offers 85 gorgeous campsites (20 with full hookups) and 100 acres of natural beauty. Reservations: 541-352-5522

•Mount St. Helens 
Lewis & Clark Campground is s special 600-acre area – one of Washington’s last remaining old growth forests. The nine utility sites (60-foot maximum length site) are available only a first-come, first-served basis.

•Mount Baker
Silver Lake Park (in Sumas, about 45-minutes east of Bellingham) is close to everything Mount Baker offers. Situated on a lake that offers rowboat rentals and great fishing, as well as horseback riding stables, the scenic park has more than 60 RV sites with hookups and is one of the few open year-round. For reservations: 360-599-2776

•Mount Rainier
White River Campground, at the grand dame of Northwest Volcanoes, sits in the somewhat less-visited northeast corner of the park near the stunning meadows of Sunrise. It’s also at 4,200 feet, which means an alpine feel and even the chance to spot mountain goats. There are restrooms, but no power and no showers (at any Mt. Rainier campgrounds). RV length max is 32 feet. Reservations: 877-444-6777.

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