When touring the northwest, the busy National Parks should not always be looked upon as being the primary destinations. The National Forests, Recreation Areas and State Parks of the northwest have plenty of room for a great escape and these destinations usually offer a better value than the National Parks, especially as far as camping is concerned. Overcrowding is a problem at the National Parks and campsite reservations have to be made well ahead of time, so those who casually pass through will rarely find an empty spot. This is where the neighboring public lands come into play, because sometimes a gem of campground will be discovered in the lesser known places that the mainstream tourists overlook.
For those who yearn to explore the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument in Washington, camping off-site is the only option. There are several National forest campsites and a few RV campgrounds to choose from around National Monument borders along Highway 504, but the best option by far is a small state park that is very easy to overlook when passing through.
Seaquest State Park is located on Highway 64 directly across the street from Silver Lake and the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument Visitor Center, so this is great little spot to set up a basecamp. Seaquest State Park only covers about 500 acres and most of this park devoted to campground space, so this park is designed to accommodate Mount St Helens visitors. There actually is a highway underpass tunnel from this campground to the visitor center, so it does not get much more convenient than this!
During the summer season, Seaquest State Park turns into a lush Pacific rainforest environment. Those who are familiar with Washington already know all too well that the chance of rain is nearly always higher than the odds of having a sunny day in this state. For this reason, it goes without saying that waterproof gear will be necessary when camping at Seaquest and a rain suit will come in handy too. As expected, drizzling rain came down during my entire camping venture at Seaquest, which actually was pretty cool to experience. The sound of rain drops falling through the tall trees at night actually is like music to the ears.
Seaquest State Park offers more than 50 campsites and full RV hookup sites are available. The facilities are well maintained and there are showers on site, although the daily rainstorms kind of serve the same purpose. The pedestrian tunnel to the Mount St Helens Visitor Center is also the gateway to Silver Lake, which is a large body of water at the base of the big volcano. Silver Lake offers swimming, boating and fishing, so there are plenty of fun activities to experience close by. Best of all, the fees are quite reasonable for camping in this cozy spot, so be sure to keep Seaquest State Park in mind when planning a Mount St Helens adventure!
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