Red tent in a snowy campsite near a lake with mountains in the distance

Warm-up to winter camping

Want to try winter camping? State parks and Sno-Parks offer overnight options

Whether you’re five, 95, or anywhere in between, freshly-fallen snow makes everything bright and exciting! Waking up in a snow camp can dazzle you at a whole new level!

If “curious” describes you better than “diehard,” several Washington Sno-Parks offer gentle introductions to winter camping while providing refuge with heated bathrooms, kitchen shelters, roofed cabins and miles of groomed ski and snowshoe trails. 

So come on out to our parks, get your noses cold and warm them up in a toasty tent, hut or RV.

A couple sits on a picnic table bench in front ouf a stone outdoor fireplace
Winter campers make breakfast by the fire at Lake Wenatchee State Park. Photo by Ranger Paul Tomas.

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Every winter, Lake Wenatchee State Park turns one day-use area into a campground. Bring shovels, dig a campsite, pitch your tent and stake it with stakes and snow anchors or snow-filled stuff sacks. Take turns clearing pow off the tent if it falls overnight!

Feeling the chill? Make s’mores in the kitchen shelter and shower in the heated restroom and

The groomed ski and snowshoe trails and sledding hill make this a sparkly playground, and the new ice rink at the neighboring Nason Ridge Sno-Park trailhead offers free skate and hockey equipment rentals!

Lake Wenatchee sits 20 miles west of Leavenworth, where a hot meal awaits after your winter campout.

Campsites are $20 a night and $10 per extra vehicle, plus Sno-Park permit.

A snow-covered hut surroudned by snow-covered trees
Puffer Butte Warming Hut sleeps four and overlooks Blue Mountain vistas.

Fields Spring State Park

If you haven’t experienced the Blue Mountains in winter, Fields Spring State Park in southeastern Washington is a must-do. The park has three overnight options:

Tamarack Cabin near Wohelo Lodge sleeps four people and has a mini-fridge, bathroom with shower, microwave, coffee pot and parking spot. Don’t forget to bBring towels, sleeping gear and linens. Then, check out the big sledding hill and hike to see spectacular views on 10 miles of trails. Loaner snowshoes may be available. Call ahead!

Puffer Butte Warming Hut sits at 4,500 feet and sleeps four. The hut provides a winter backpacking intro without the tent-camping part. Be sure to bring sleeping bags, sleeping pads, food and beverages. The stove is stocked with firewood –a warm welcome after the 2-mile uphill trek. Reserve this hut through the park at 509-256-3332 for $25 a night.

Note: the warming hut is open to the public all day and for emergencies 24/7.

Tent camping: Drive to Fields Spring’s campground, located near the bathroom and day-usewarming hut, and stake your tent. You’ll be doing some digging – even to park since the area is not plowed. Sites are $20 a night plus Sno-Park permits. Extra vehicle - $10.

A lake in winter is surroudned by snow. There is a small island with evergreen trees in the distance.
Sno-Parks get cold. Make sure you’re geared up to stay warm and dry! Photo by Ranger Paul Tomas.

Lake Easton State Park 

This lakeside park between Seattle and Ellensburg is a jumping off point for several Sno-Parks.

 Lake Easton State Park offers camping in the day-use area near the playground. When choosing a spot for your tent, watch for trees dropping snow bombs – they hurt! After dinner (there’s potable water for cooking available from the spigot at the back of the day-use lot), treat yourself to a shower in the heated bathroom.

Lake Easton allows RV camping in the parking lot. Sites are $12 a night, plus Sno-Park permits. Extra vehicle - $10. For a longer snowshoe or ski, hop on the neighboring Palouse to Cascades Trail.

Hut, Sweet Hut

Looking for views of Mount Rainier on a snowshoe or cross-country ski? Mount Tahoma Trails Association huts (pictured below) have reopened for day use and overnights!

Ski hit with snow on roof overlooking Mt. Rainier on a clear day
High Hut offers dramatic views of Mount Rainier. 

Pack food, beverages, sleeping gear. Hike 4 to 6 miles depending on the hut, and settle in. Or book different huts on consecutive nights for a multi-night adventure! You’ll need reservations to stay ($15 per person), but you can pop in for the day to warm up. Sno-Park permits to park.

RV camping

RVers, don’t feel left out! We’ve got you covered (pun intended).

Most Sno-Park parking lots are RV-friendly. A few exceptions include Hyak, Gold Creek and Cabin Creek, which don’t allow overnight parking. Several Sno-Parks charge RV campers $20 a night, plus Sno-Park permits.

Swauk Campground has a shelter, fireplace and trails that link to Pipe Creek and Blewett Pass. Cold-weather RVers also like Crystal Springs.

Winter Recreation staffers urge RVers to take emergency preparation seriously and use microspikes in icy parking lots. Campers are not allowed to salt the lots. Overnighters can light campfires in containers six inches off the ground, but not under awnings.

What to bring:

You’ve probably heard about the 10 essentials, but winter weather can take your gear needs up a few notches. Check out this winter gear list and more tips from REI.

A group of people sit around a campfire while snow falls.
RV campers ring in a happy, snowy new year at Crystal Springs Sno-Park. 

Originally published December 14, 2022

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