Finding a new way to roll in 2020: RVing at state parks

RVs at Flagler - Sunset

Fort Flagler RVers luck out with a colorful sunset on the sound. Photo by Dave Helgeson.

Oct. 21, 2020

Living the RV life in Washington State Parks: Travelers find a pandemic-era bubble in nature

As 2020 unspooled, many travelers scrapped traditional vacation plans. Some looked to nature and camping for the first time. Most sought to salvage their summer while staying safe from COVID-19.

Enter the recreational vehicle.

In 2020 RV sales increased by 7.1% over 2019 – even with COVID-related factory closures – with more than 80% being first-time buyers. Rentals also skyrocketed – 650% over 2019! RV sites at many Washington state parks stayed full all summer.

Many Washington state parks offer RV campers flat sites, pull-throughs and easy back-ins according to Dave Helgeson, Show Director for MHRV’s Seattle and Enumclaw shows. Most state parks that offer RV camping have dump stations, water, power and, of course, community.

RV in a campsite

A family enjoys a sunny afternoon in camp at Grayland Beach State Park. Photo by Lisa Daniels.

When asked about their favorite state parks, Washington RVers listed the following destinations:

  • Dosewallips State Park– Set on the forested eastern Olympic Peninsula, where freshwater meets saltwater, shellfish is plentiful and elk wander through camp.
    • Full hookup (water, sewer, power) and partial hookup sites (water, power)
    • Maximum length 40 feet
    • Only sites 21-29 have water from Dec. 1 to March 1
    • Several sites on the Dosewallips River
  • Fort Flagler Historical State Park– A historic military fort on the tip of Marrowstone Island in North Puget Sound, where families explore the beach and old gun emplacements and batteries.
    • Full hookup sites
    • Maximum length 50 feet
    • 50-amp sites available
    • Sites next to the beach and within walking distance of historic buildings
  • Grayland Beach State Park– A beach park set behind a grassy dune with easy access to the Pacific Ocean.
    • Full and partial hookup sites
    • Maximum length 60 feet
    • 50-amp sites available
    • Sites have large paved driveways, with a few adjacent to rental yurts
    • Famously friendly RV crowd
  • Ocean City State Park– A smaller, more intimate park set as close to the Pacific Ocean as it gets.
    • Full hookup sites
    • Maximum length 50 feet
    • Sites a few steps from the ocean — perfect for dog walking, kite flying and storm watching
  • Steamboat Rock State Park– A gem located in an Ice-Age flood carved scabland near Grand Coulee with a soaring table rock.
    • Seasonal and year-round full hookup sites
    • Partial hookup sites
    • Maximum length 50 feet
    • 50-amp sites available
    • First come first served in winter
    • Sites have views of Banks Lake
  • Wenatchee Confluence State Park– A bicyclist’s haven on the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers, a short ride from downtown Wenatchee, with access to wetland, bike loops and scenic drives.
    • Full hookup sites
    • Maximum length 60 feet
    • Social atmosphere and RV community
Image graphic - Travel Tips
Children and adults on sand with toys

A family plays on the beach at Fort Flagler, a few steps from the RV campground. Photo by Emily Helgeson

Dave Helgeson belongs to a five-generation RV family. He reminds RVers to book state parks in advance, as utility sites fill fast.

“With state parks, you need a plan,” he said. “Don’t be discouraged if all the hookup sites are booked.”

Helgeson suggests learning to dry camp – to RV camp without utilities, which he says, opens a wide world of self-contained possibilities when utility sites are all booked. Additionally, certain parks remain open for dry camping when they move to a winter schedule.  

Additionally, Helgeson encourages greenhorns to practice driving, backing in and parking – preferably in an empty part of a big box store parking lot and before that first camping trip. Two-way radios come in handy as the passenger directs the driver from outside the RV.

Belfair pull-through site

Pull-through campsites like this one at Belfair State Park provide easier parking for newer RV drivers.

Winter tips:

As winter descends, seasoned RVer and Grayland Beach fan chrisphillippi509 wrote via Instagram:

  1. Leveler blocks can freeze to the ground.
  2. Keep a sack of de-icer in the rig.
  3. Prepare for winter maintenance, including snow removal from the roof.

Other advice came from Darin via Facebook: “Turn off the lights at night. Bring garbage in or take it to the trash. Crows and ravens are watching you.”

A final word came from Susan via Facebook: “Check out smaller, more out-of-the-way parks that don’t draw huge crowds. Curlew Lake, Potholes, Conconully are great parks with lots of room for RVs.”

Parting shot

RV blog Ft Flager with RVs late afternoon Emily Hegelson

Motorhome campers enjoying the scenery at Fort Flagler State Park. Photo by Emily Helgeson.

When RV campers take their rigs to Washington state parks, they experience the joys of camping, the comforts of home and a self-contained safety bubble, even on the road during a global pandemic.


Learn More

Have a favorite state park adventure?
Tell us about it and share your stories on our story share page.