Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a little-known treasure in a remote and rugged area of southern Washington. It covers 1.32 million acres and includes old-growth conifer forests that are home to the endangered spotted owls, glaciers, and spectacular volcanic peaks including the famous Mount St. Helens that erupted in 1980. The stunning views and mild temperatures make this forest a favorite for wilderness lovers, hikers, and photographers. Be sure to bring your fishing pole because the fishing is some of the best in the state.
Camping in Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Gifford Pinchot National Forest offers plenty to see and do. A flexible and convenient way to visit on your schedule is to travel by RV. You can move freely and always have food, a restroom, and a shelter during inclement weather. If you do not own an RV, you will be able to find a rental perfect for your needs by visiting RVshare.com.
Peterson Prairie Campground
Peterson Prairie Campground is located near Trout Lake close to the huckleberry fields. This park is popular during the huckleberry season when pickers come from all over the state to pick huckleberries. The campsites are leveled gravel with plenty of shade created by the surrounding trees. This campground provides easy access to the ice caves and natural bridges and provides clean drinking water and vault toilets. Each site comes with a fire ring and a picnic table. The camp is at a higher elevation, so the climate stays cool during the hottest part of the summer.
Lower Falls Campground
Lower Falls Campground is in Cougar, right on the Lewis River where you can enjoy fishing for trout or whitefish. It is tucked in a grove of trees, so you can enjoy a serene feeling of seclusion. If you enjoy hiking, you're all set because this campground is home to the Lewis River trailhead. You will also have easy access to several waterfalls in the area. There are no hookups in this campground, but the sites do have campfire rings and picnic tables. The park also has composting toilets and water for drinking.
If you like to rough it, check out Tillicum Campground. This is another excellent spot to stay during the huckleberry season. It is remote and shaded. It is also the trailhead for Squaw Butte Trail. The campground has electric hookups, drinking water, and showers. They allow pets and have nice restrooms. The sites have picnic tables and fire pits, and the campground is ADA accessible.
Activities in Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Full of outdoor activities, Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a huge area of Washington. You will see spectacular views of beautiful mountainous regions like Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. Be sure to visit the Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument and learn about the eruption back in 1980.
This national forest contains around 21 different lakes. Most of the lakes boast excellent fishing, including Goose Lake, which touts the best fishing in the entire state of Washington.
If you are traveling through the area during huckleberry season you are in for a treat. These berries grow in vast fields and do not have thorns. They are used to make jam or pies, but they are also good right out of the bucket. In the spring, enjoy a vast variety of wildflowers. If you enjoy bird-watching, this may be your chance to see a Northern Spotted Owl.
Because the forest is so vast, there is little light pollution, which means that it is an amazing place to see stars. There are also usually several dozen geocaches hidden in Gifford Pinchot National Forest at any given time.
How to get to Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Address: 42218 NE Yale Bridge Road, Amboy, WA 98601
Fee: Day Use Fee $5.0
Gifford Pinchot National Forest extends over 1.32 million acres, so there is an unlimited number of outdoor activities to enjoy. Explore volcanic peaks, glaciers, high mountain meadows, and old-growth forests. Enjoy hiking trails with stunning views of Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. Enjoy fishing at Goose Lake, touted as one of the best fishing areas in the state. Traveling by RV makes it possible to wander at your leisure and enjoy all that this Pacific Northwest gem has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gifford Pinchot National Forest
What is the closest town to Gifford Pinchot National Forest?
Amboy is the closest town to Gifford Pinchot National Forest. There are restaurants, places to stay, and stores where campers can stock up on supplies in town.
Does Gifford Pinchot National Forest offer free camping sites?
Yes, Gifford Pinchot National Forest offers free camping sites. Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the forest. Campsites have no amenities, so campers must bring everything with them, and must pack everything out when they leave.
What is the best time to visit Gifford Pinchot National Forest?
Fall is the best time to visit Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The weather is still warm in early fall, and the snow has melted in most places. The trees are ablaze with fall color, and the summer crowds are gone for the season.
Is there a limit to how long you can camp in Gifford Pinchot National Forest?
Yes, there is a limit to how long you can camp in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. There is a 14-day limit for camping in the forest, and then you'll need to pack up camp.
Do you need a permit to fish or hunt in Gifford Pinchot National Forest?
Yes, you need a permit to hunt in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. If you are 15 or older, you will need a fishing license to fish in the park as well.