Four Washington State Outdoor Adventures You Must Experience
By Quincy Henry, Campfire Coffee
Hi, I’m Quincy. Co-owner and CEO of Campfire Coffee in Tacoma, WA and I’m excited to share a list of outdoor adventures my family and I love, hope you do too. Before we get to that, it’s probably safe to assume that as a collective, we can agree that not much good has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately for our family, we’ve been through some of the worst this pandemic had to offer – I’m not bringing this up to annoy anyone, but I’m bringing this up because throughout the weirdness that has gone through a pandemic , there was a small silver lining.
As outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of all things camping and hiking, Whitni (my beautiful wife and Campfire Coffee business partner) and I were hopeful that due to travel restrictions , people should explore the natural world that exists, literally, in their own backyard. Together Whitni and I run a coffee business with a mission to get more people outdoors and we couldn’t be happier to help newcomers to this space find places to take their family who were accessible and filled with wonder and good times outdoors. Personally, I think park systems are the best public resource next to library systems and more people should take advantage of them.
Our origin story
It was only a dream. Well, that’s the storybook way of looking at it. We were actually trying to figure out what to do next after suffering an unexpected layoff and an unexpected on-the-job injury back to back. With the 3 kids, 2 cars and a mortgage, the journey into the future was unclear, but a long drive-through conversation through the mountains of Utah and eastern Oregon after the vacation of Thanksgiving led us to this simple but exciting idea: open a cafe that is outdoors (easy enough) with a social goal of bringing diverse groups into nature (not so easy). But how?
We didn’t have much. The little we had wasn’t going to be enough either. So in May 2019 we launched a go fund me and wouldn’t you know it, we raised $10,000 in less than a month. People were rooting for us! At that point, we had decided to roast our coffee using a campfire as a heat source (what?) and we knew that the social mission was important. If for nothing else we love camping and being in nature, exploring campgrounds and parks wherever we can and wanted to see more diversity, but we understood the barriers in front of many people, whether they be financial or cultural, or both.
We roast coffee over a campfire, as people did for hundreds or even thousands of years before industrial roasters became a thing. This lost art of fire roasting is difficult to master but the taste is so worth it. Imagine a cozy roast coffee, sitting around the fire pit, sharing laughs and memories. It’s Campfire coffee. We met the Port of Seattle team when we were the coffee supplier for the International Arrivals Facility opening event in March.
Our list of must-see campsites
So if you’re in Washington State as a visitor or resident looking for GREAT places to explore that aren’t Mount Rainier, here’s our picks list. Oh – big disclaimer here – it’s worth mentioning that we’re camping with toddlers so while we LOVE going deep into the woods, we also try to be practical about what we do and where we do it. The following list might not excite you if you’re the type of person looking to hike lonely and scattered around the base of a mountain before reaching the summit. It’s for people who want to get out, explore, have fun and enjoy the outdoors casually.
Dash Point State Park
(Federal Way, WA)
With 141 campsites, cabins and multiple trails spread over nearly 400 acres, Dash Point is our destination. We actually use Dash Point as our annual camping spot for the first trip of the season because although it’s squarely out in the wilderness with all the camping activities from hiking to watersports, it’s actually only ‘about five minutes from a town in either direction. These towns: Federal Way’s Twin Lakes neighborhood and Tacoma’s Browns Point neighborhood have all the amenities you need in case you forget something. We also live nearby, so for us the usefulness of the park is a way to solve the problems of our camping routine.
We love that you have nearby grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, and a fire station just a short drive or walk away. But Dash Point quickly fills up with those looking to walk to the beach and launch a kayak or canoe, dig up seashells, or bring the whole crew to one of the many picnic shelters, so book your campsite early!
Cape Disappointment State Park
Don’t let the name fool you. Cape Disappointment State Park is probably the best kept secret in the entire Pacific Northwest. Although it’s one of the farthest in the Puget Sound area (about a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle), it’s definitely worth it. Cape Disappointment is also expansive with over 2,000 oceanfront acres featuring sparkling sandy beaches, incredible views, deep caves, large spacious campsites, yurts, cabins, an interpretive center and a grocery store, Cape Disappointment is a nature lover’s dream and a family campsite. fancy.
What we really love about Cape Disappointment is the little things. On the one hand, you switch off completely. Forget about trying to get ANY type of cell service here, because it just doesn’t happen. In addition, the facilities are recent and well maintained. There’s nothing quite like taking a hot shower in a nice, private setting – it’s almost like glamping. And this little convenience store right in the middle of the park is great too – you can buy firewood, pizza, and any camping trinkets you may have forgotten. The interpretation center is also a pleasant place to hike and learn about the park and its surroundings, in addition to picking up some souvenirs.
Lake Wenatchee State Park
This place is just amazing. Everything from the drive along the river to the park itself is a quintessential Pacific Northwest camping experience with its cascading mountain setting nestled on a five-mile-long alpine lake.
We love fall camping here, especially around Oktoberfest time when the Bavarian town of Leavenworth comes alive. Even though the pandemic has altered what Oktoberfest looks like in Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee State Park also serves as a great refuge from all the revelry that Oktoberfest usually brings. You’ll wake up to beautiful fall colors amidst acres of evergreen trees and that crisp mountain air can’t be beat. In the winter, be prepared because at nearly 4,000 feet, it’s cold and often snowy, making for great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. This is also bear country, so be prepared if you head to the trails of this 492-acre park. Summer is great for getting the kayaks or boat out and for beginners there are rental options for stand-up paddlers. You’ll want to be a little more prepared if you’re going here with little ones or have any needs that need attention as services and amenities are all in town and it’s about 10 miles down the road.
Lake Chelan State Park
Don’t take my word for it, the Washington State Parks website says it best: Generations of families return to the lake each year; they even try to book the same campsite they have been using since the 60s and 70s. That alone should tell you that Lake Chelan is simply majestic. A beautiful large blue lake surrounded by mountains and hills and just like the other parks on this list, it’s a great family campground not only for its beauty and variety of activities, but it’s not too far of the town of Chelan if you need services. Lake Chelan offers fantastic hiking trailers and, with a 50 mile lake, all the water activities you could imagine. We really enjoy the waterfront campsites here where you literally pitch a tent on the shores of the lake. It can make for some interesting nighttime trips to the bathroom as wildlife is abundant in this park, but it’s well worth the effort.
Much like Dash Point, Lake Chelan State Park is a short drive from the town of Chelan, which has great restaurants and shopping, but one of the coolest parts of making Chelan your camp family base is heading to the town of Manson on the other side. from the lake and visit the Blueberry Hills Farm and Restaurant in Manson about 30 minutes away. Go for breakfast but get there early as it tends to get quite busy!
Help other explorers
Campfire Explorers Club is a non-profit organization registered in Washington State that we started at Campfire Coffee to help us achieve our great adventure of making outdoor recreation and education accessible to more people, by especially those who have been excluded from being able to explore and enjoy. our natural world because of financial or other obstacles. We have begun supporting other organizations that share our vision for a more equitable and accessible natural world.
In 2020 and 2021 the Campfire Explorers Club:
- Raised $20,000 for three youth outdoor education organizations
- Free allocation of five camping trips to families
The club accepts donations of used recreational equipment, recreational land and small monetary donations under $500.
All photos are copyright Campfire Coffee
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