Out west there are boring campgrounds that are about as much fun as sleeping in a dirt parking lot and then there are great places to camp that truly are a memorable experience. The no frills utilitarian campgrounds far outnumber the few amazing places to camp, especially when automobile access is involved. The paved road campgrounds do tend to be utilitarian and the campsites are usually packed close together, but there are exceptions that raise the level one notch. When a paved road campground offers plenty of open space in a majestic setting, that is a campground that is worth making note of. One such place definitely is the Ohanapecosh Campground at Mt Rainier National Park, so be sure to chalk this one high on the list!
If you have ever dreamed of sleeping deep in an old growth rainforest environment, then Ohanapecosh is the campground for you! This campground is nestled under towering fir and pine trees that are draped with moss, so this is a very picturesque place to be. The ground is covered with pine needles, just like a carpet and the aroma of this forest is pine fresh even on a rainy day.
The Ohanapecosh Campground has over 180 campsites that are suitable for RV campers or tents. Because the campsites are spread out and this ancient forest is so thick, a visitor will not feel cramped up. The moss hanging from the trees helps to hide the other campers and it deadens the noise. Even when at full capacity this campground can actually be quiet enough to hear the birds chirp.
The summer and early fall temperatures are comfortable at this elevation on Mt Rainier. The warm temperatures are what gets the ferns and moss growing, so by mid to late summer this campground really achieves the classic Pacific Northwest rainforest look. It goes without saying that it is best to be prepared for wet conditions, but this is one great place to listen to the rain drops gently bounce off the tent at night!
The Mt Rainier Ohanapecosh Visitor Center is located next to the campground, so finding trail maps to points of interest in this ancient forest is easy to do. The facilities are up to the level that one would expect at a premium campground and everything a camper needs can be found in this place. Campsite reservations should be made ahead of time during the peak summer season. When the Ohanapecosh Campground is full there is no need to fret, because a similar big campground can be found next door in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The National Forest La Wis Wis Campground is located in the same deep moss covered rainforest environment, but this campground is closer to the river, so it may actually be a better choice if you have fly fishing in mind.
No matter which of these neighboring campground you may choose, the Mt Rainier moss covered rainforest is a great place to camp late summer. The sounds of the forest and the gentle rain drops are as peaceful as can be, so fully expect to fall in love with this place. For this reason, it is best to book a few days in a row when making reservations at Ohanapecosh!
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