Selecting the right campsite can be more an art than a science. It is, indisputably, one of the most important parts of your trip—this is your home for the weekend, the base for all of your whitewater adventures, the background for half of your group photos and every candid shot of your best friend accidentally lighting his own towel on fire. The right campsite can make or break a trip. But how do you pick the best spot to pitch your tent or park your car after a day in the rapids of a North Cascades River?
The most memorable campsites have a great view. Whether that view is an alpine vista or a bend of rushing whitewater, it’s the picture window of your weekend living space, wrapping every memory of the campsite with a sense of awe at just where you are sitting. Plus, all those camping pictures look a thousand times better with one of Washington’s ice-covered volcanoes or turquoise mountain rivers in the background.
You’ll only have a thin pad between you and the ground, so you want a surface that’s nice for sleeping on. After a day of whitewater you’ll think you are exhausted enough to sleep anywhere, but enough rocks can keep even the weariest rafter awake. Try for grass, smooth dirt or—if it’s early season and high in the mountains—snow.
A flat spot is the best place to pitch a tent. Make sure you aren’t camped at the lowest point of a valley or ravine, especially here in the Pacific Northwest where rain is almost a given; a puddle will form beneath your tent and can soak through the tent floor. Camping on a hill isn’t ideal, but if the only spot you can find is a slope pitch your tent or park your car with your head on the uphill side.
4. Bathroom proximity
If you’re too far away from the campground toilets you might start your midnight trek to the bathroom, hear a few too many rustles from the pitch-black undergrowth, and give up on the excursion entirely. Pick a site that isn’t so close you can smell the toilets but still gives you easy nighttime access.
This is key, especially at minimalist or backcountry campgrounds. Make sure your campsite has potable water so you don’t have to haul in your own water jugs. After a day in the whitewater the last thing you want to do is haul more of the river back to camp.
Large, well-spaced trees are important to your campsite selection process for a number of reasons: they provide shelter from both rain and sun, make great anchors for hanging hammocks or clotheslines, and support your network of blue tarps when the inevitable Washington rainstorm blows in. As an added bonus, most of our local evergreens smell great.
Now that you’re ready to select your post-rafting campsite, book your whitewater experience with us today!