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Get Outdoors! Camping & Hiking Trips

Ew, Camping! Alternatives to tent camping to reserve NOW

Camping isn’t for everyone.  These options will get you out into nature and the outdoors — but you won’t wake to mud sloshing around your tent.

Alternatives to tent camping in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia:

Yurts. At Washington’s 412-acre oceanfront Grayland State Park, sleep in a 16-foot-diameter heated yurt outfitted with a queen-size futon, an end table and heater (a fine choice for a first camping trip with a baby or toddler). Or try Cape Disappointment’s yurts, which offer bunk beds that sleep three, a heater, floor lamp and an end table — and you’re never far from spectacular Washington Coast views of the Pacific Ocean. Read more about renting a Washington State Parks yurt. Or research on the BC Parks yurt page and the Oregon State Parks homepage. Renting a yurt on the Oregon Coast is the best of all worlds, and locals know it — these round-a-bouts are booked up fast.

U.S. Forest Service cabin, cottage, guard station or lookout. Some are more like mountainside or prairie chalets, complete with running water and flush toilets (but look carefully — some of the running-water perks are only available in summer). Others are more vintage-Victorian or pioneer days (complete with outhouse) but offer propane cookstoves, fridges, heat and light.

Airstream trailer. Silver Cottages offers a unique (although expensive) stay. Prices start at $849/three nights but includes delivery, setup, sleep spots for four occupants (i.e. two adults, two kids or one adult, three kids) in 31-foot silver Airstream trailer, complete with kitchenette, fridge, microwave, dinette, heat and air. Sleep in Bellingham, San Juan Islands and Lakedale Resort.

Officers’ Quarters. Take shelter in one of the dozen homes lined up in a row, tidy and upright. As they were once officers’ quarters of the early 1900s, you’ll find lovely crown molding, bannisters and loads of vintage touches. Read more about Washington vacation houses on the Washington State Parks website, which also lists lighthouse keepers’ quarters.

Teepee. Fields Spring State Park offers the only two teepees in Washington State, and one even offers an indoor/outdoor carpet floor. Yes, you have to bring your own sleeping bags and pads, but you don’t have to set up the tent! Oregon offers teepees at Owyhee park.

Log cabin. Sleep pioneer-style in a real log cabin — right on the Oregon Trail. Read more about the Emigrant Springs Totem cabins.

Beach house. Once a 1930s fishing resort, the Cama Beach cottages are now rented out by the Washington State Parks. Snore inside a retro cedar bungalow that overlooks the Puget Sound and Whidbey Island. Only a 90-minute drive from Seattle, this is a sweet nearby getaway. However, unless you book a bungalow rental, you’ll still cook outdoors. The upside from your kids’ perspective? That means s’mores for sure.

Treehouse. Want to sleep IN the trees, not under the trees? Check out Vertical Horizons Treehouse Resort for a B&B in a tree. Parents of teens (16 and over) can look into Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island — these orbs float in the trees, like little alien pods. Pretty cool. Here’s a YouTube video about staying in a sphere treehouse.

Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.


  • Amy

    We love yurts!! We’ve stayed in many of the Oregon coast parks in both tents and yurts. The worst part about tent camping is setting up and taking down the tent. Cabins also eliminate the tent issue and we’ve stayed in them at Silver Falls (Oregon) State Park. Book early or snag a night mid-week on short notice.

  • Micha

    A little info in Cama Beach, reservations are hard to come by and you must call 9 months in advance or 18 months for groups. I’m very fortunate to have a super organized friend who plans our annual trip to Cama Beach. It’s a great place to stay and the bathrooms are nice, recently built, clean and close to the cabins.