Camping For FREE In the Washington Rainforest
When traveling in the PNW, a handy item to consider is the Discover Pass. Not only does it allow access to all of the State Parks, but it also unlocks the limitless possibilities of FREE camping throughout the state of Washington. I stumbled upon many campground which could be utilized throughout the state by simply having the pass, something which is somewhat of a secret they don’t share with you when you first visit the state itself.
Picking up this pass guarantees you unlimited access to these facilities for one calendar year and is only $40.
One of the many locations I found along the way was the HOH OxBow Campground, a semi improved campground just a short distance from the entrance to the Olympic National Park’s unique rainforest. When it comes to FREE camping in the area this is one of the more easily accessible sites with a quick turn out right off the 101.
Staying in this area you can expect larger campsites with picnic tables and fire rings and a single vault toilet for the location. There are around 10 campsites at this location and if you are traveling with friends each of these has plenty of room for 2-3 rigs or cars.
I found this site does fill however there are also some smaller pull outs over by the fishing area if you are looking to stay in your smaller vehicle. I pulled in later in the evening and needed a location for the evening which was relatively close to the rainforest, the next day’s adventure. It was pouring so camping in a tent was out of the question. I found a single parking/pull off area and discovered that you can stay here as well so it was perfect.
The next morning I woke to a chilly morning but no rain and decided to walk around and explore and was welcomed into the natural beauty of the area. From where I was parked there was a small walking trail which departed the campground and ran alongside a river and to some spectacular views. A small boat launch was perfect for canoes or kayaks and is a popular area for fishing in this region.
This site allows up to 7 days at a time, as do many DNR Managed Lands. You can stay here with a Discover Pass but must display it on your front dash at all times. Camping items must be attended to at least once every 24 hours otherwise you will be considered to have abandoned them, so don’t use this as a home base and explore a longer hike without checking in.
Because this is a limited service site you will be required to pack in and out all of your trash as there are no pick ups or trash cans. You also cannot collect fire wood from the area and must bring your own.
Something I really did appreciate about this location was the overall peace which came from exploring it. Though it was just off the roadway, I heard absolutely no road noise. I also noticed posted signs prohibiting ATVs from the area to keep the peace and quiet.
Bring everything you will need for camping as this is a Primitive Campground and offers no store options. Should you forget something I suggest visiting Forks which is a short distance north along the 101.
Make sure you bring a raincoat. This area is known as a rainforest for a reason, it receives over a hundred inches of rain each year and usually this comes in the form of a constant drizzle. While you might be tempted to bring an umbrella but this can prove to be more cumbersome than helpful.
Download offline maps before coming to this area, especially if you have AT&T, service through this area is very limited and sparse.
Points Of Interest To Check Out:
Ruby Beach - Also known as Driftwood Beach this location is just south of the campground and offers great views of some unique aspects of the Washington coastline. You will most enjoy seeing the many creations people leave on the beach from the washed up logs from the surrounding forest.
Forks - This community is a unique place to visit in the state as it has been a part of the film industry for several projects, most famously known as the area for which they filmed Twilight. In addition to some familiar locations you can find a few interesting places to stop in town which have a lot of historic value.