Let’s get right to the point – there’s a ton of free camping on the Olympic Peninsula.
Although many campers stay at a paid Olympic National Park campground, there are countless free campgrounds, dispersed campsites, and even free casino boondocking just outside the park’s boundaries.
Today, I’m going to tell you all about these free campsites (including my personal favorites).
Related Post: The Best Dispersed Camping in Washington
Please always follow the 7 Leave No Trace principles when dispersed camping, especially packing out all of your trash, including human waste.
Best Free Camping on the Olympic Peninsula
Jump to the free campsite you want to learn more about:
- Bear Creek Campground
- Coppermine Bottom Campground
- Cottonwood Campground
- Hoh Oxbow Campground
- Lyre River Campground
- Minnie Peterson Campground
- Sadie Creek Campground
- South Fork Hoh Campground
- Upper Clearwater Campground
- Yahoo Lake Campground
- Campbell Tree Grove Campground
- Lena Lake Campground
- Quinault Beach Resort & Casino
Or, use our Olympic Peninsula dispersed camping map to browse the area’s best free campsites.
Free Campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula
My favorite place for free camping on the Olympic Peninsula is one of the 10 free campgrounds operated by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
These small primitive campgrounds are conveniently located throughout the Olympic Peninsula, many just minutes from Olympic National Park.
All are first-come, first-served and you can stay for up to 7 days at once. Most are accessible year-round, including winter. Although free, they do require a Discover Pass. A Discover Pass costs just $30 per year (or $10 for a single day).
Bear Creek Campground
Bear Creek Campground is located along the Sol Duc River. It has 16 total campsites.
RVs up to 30 feet are welcome, although you can probably squeeze in something slightly larger. I regularly see a mix of vans, RVs, trailers, and tents camping here.
The atmosphere is peaceful and heavily forested. Although the tranquility is nice, the shade makes Bear Creek a poor choice for boondockers who rely on solar. The river is just steps away, making this campground popular among anglers.
Bear Creek Campground is about an hour from Port Angeles and just 15 minutes from Forks. It’s conveniently located for exploring Lake Crescent, Cape Flattery, Shi Shi Beach, and other popular Olympic National Park attractions.
Vault toilets are available in addition to picnic tables and fire rings. There is no running water or garbage service.
Coppermine Bottom Campground
Stay at Coppermine Bottom Campground if you prefer to camp a bit off the beaten path.
This free Olympic Peninsula campground (with Discover Pass) is located next to the Clearwater River about halfway down Hoh Mainline Road.
It has 12 spacious campsites. These fill up fast, especially on summer weekends. Tents and RVs up to around 30 feet are welcome. Reaching this campground does require a 1.5 mile drive down a single-lane gravel road.
Coppermine Bottom is the epitome of Olympic National Park free camping. It’s secluded, peaceful, and absolutely beautiful. That said, it receives limited sunlight (not best for RVs with solar) and has poor cell reception. It also gets quite buggy during the summer and muddy after heavy rains.
Vault toilets are available. Each site has picnic tables and fire rings. There is no potable water or garbage service.
Cottonwood Campground is one of two free DNR campgrounds (Hoh Oxbow is the other) just off Highway 101 near the Hoh River.
It has 9 campsites each with plenty of privacy. Although the Washington DNR website suggests a max RV length of 30 feet, several sites have room for much larger rigs without disturbing others.
Reach the campground by driving east on Oil City Road from Highway 101 until you reach H-4060 Road where you turn left. Much of the access road is unpaved but it’s never very rough or bumpy.
Although Hoh Oxbow Campground is arguably more scenic, I like Cottonwood better. The campsites are much more private and also a lot more spacious. It’s a great place for camping with dogs.
No amenities are available except for vault toilets. Each campsite has picnic tables and fire rings. No running water, garbage, or RV hookups are available.
Hoh Oxbow Campground
Hoh Oxbow Campground is one of my favorite places to camp on the Olympic Peninsula, free or otherwise.
It has 8 campsites total. These are set in a dense, mossy forest tucked away against the beautifully blue Hoh River, just 15 miles south of Forks, right off Highway 101.
Several of the campsites are nestled alongside the river. These sites are best for tent camping as the campsites are set below the parking area. A few non-river sites are suitable for RVs and trailers up to 30 feet.
Hoh Oxbow is one of the most popular free campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula. It fills up quickly in the summer thanks to its close proximity to the national park. Use nearby Cotton Campground as a backup in case this one is full.
Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring. A vault toilet is also available. There is no running water or garbage service. Highway 101 is close so expect some road noise (most is drowned out by the river).
Lyre River Campground
Another one of my favorite free campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula, Lyre River Campground is located north of Lake Crescent along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
I love this small, quiet campground because of its location right next to the Lyre River just before it empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The river itself is beautiful (it even has a fishing platform), a short hiking trail starts in the campground, and you can even walk down to scenic Murdock Beach.
Lyre River Campground is just 30 minutes from Port Angeles, yet it’s a lot less busy than most other Olympic Peninsula campgrounds. The Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway (Highway 112) isn’t very popular with tourists, but it’s incredibly beautiful.
The 11 campsites are well spaced and most are quite private. The majority are located alongside the river. Campsites can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 20 feet (perhaps slightly longer at the largest site).
Two vault toilets, potable water, and a day-use shelter are available. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring. There is no garbage service.
Minnie Peterson Campground
Minnie Peterson Campground is located in the same general area as Hoh Oxbow and Cottonwood campgrounds.
It sits near the Hoh River along a peaceful creek at the edge of the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic Experimental State Forest. A small general store is located nearby.
Minnie Peterson is notable for its proximity to the Hoh Rain Forest section of Olympic National Park. Because of its ideal location, it fills up quite fast, usually by early afternoon during the busy summer months.
The campground is quiet and peaceful. Although Upper Hoh Road is close, traffic generally dies down by evening. There are 9 campsites total. About half accommodate RVs up to 30 feet.
Minnie Peterson has a vault toilet. It has picnic tables and fire rings at each campsite. No running water or garbage service is available.
Sadie Creek Campground
Sadie Creek Campground is located along the Juan De Fuca Highway, just west of Lyre River Campground.
It’s a little different than other DNR campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula. While most have relatively private campsites, Sadie Creek’s 6 campsites are a lot closer together and much less private.
In fact, Sadie Creek is much like a large gravel parking lot (although it is surrounded by quiet woods). This lack of privacy in addition to easy access to an extensive network of 4×4 trails (open to hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, ATVers, and more) typically draws a much more social crowd of campers than other free campgrounds.
The campground is also popular for RV boondocking thanks to its spacious campsites (all have room for RVs and trailers up to 30 feet). It’s also the least shady of all the DNR campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula, making it ideal for boondockers with solar power.
Sadie Creek Campground has a vault toilet, ATV loading ramp, and horse hitching post in addition to the standard picnic tables and fire rings. No potable water or garbage service is available.
South Fork Hoh Campground
South Fork Hoh Campground is one of the best places for free camping near Olympic National Park.
Located just outside the park’s boundaries, it’s an ideal basecamp for exploring the western section of the park. It’s especially popular with those planning to hike the nearby South Fork Hoh Trail.
The campground is beautiful, primitive, and relaxing. The 7 campsites are all shaded and quite private. The Hoh River is just steps away.
Some of the campsites are suitable for RVs up to 30 feet. You must access the campground via a gravel forest service road, but this is generally well-maintained and suitable for all vehicles.
South Fork Hoh Campground has vault toilets. It has picnic tables and fire rings at each campsite. It doesn’t have garbage service or potable water.
Upper Clearwater Campground
Upper Clearwater Campground is a very peaceful place to camp near Olympic National Park.
It has 7 campsites that are spread apart for privacy. Like most WA DNR campgrounds, this one is quite shady and isn’t ideal for RV campers that want solar.
The secluded forest setting is part of the Clearwater Corridor Natural Resources Conservation Area. Several campsites sit along the banks of the Clearwater River. A great summertime swimming hole is located nearby.
Although Upper Clearwater Campground does fill up most nights in the summer, it’s generally a little less busy than other nearby free campgrounds. Some campsites will accommodate small RVs and trailers (up to around 24 feet).
This campground has one vault toilet. Each campsite has picnic tables and fire rings. There’s also a day-use shelter at the campground. No potable water or garbage service is available.
Yahoo Lake Campground
Perhaps no other free campground near Olympic National Park is as peaceful as Yahoo Lake Campground.
The main reason for this is its remoteness. It takes quite a bit of driving on gravel roads to access (it’s about 7 miles past Upper Clearwater Campground, itself quite remote).
But the real reason Yahoo Lake is less busy than other nearby campgrounds is that it offers only walk-in camping. You must hike about 500 feet from the parking lot to the lakeside campsites.
Once here, you’re greeted with 2 absolutely gorgeous campsites with very few other campers around. It’s an ideal spot for fishing, although your better off fishing in a canoe or kayak than from the shore.
Amenities include a simple vault toilet. Picnic tables and fire rings are available at both campsites. Don’t forget to hike the loop trail around the lake while here.
Free Dispersed Camping in Olympic National Forest
Olympic National Forest is broken up into several non-contiguous districts surrounding Olympic National Park.
The two main districts are the Hood Canal Ranger District and the Pacific Ranger District (itself broken down into Pacific North near Forks and Pacific South near Quinault).
Dispersed camping is available throughout Olympic National Forest. This is one of the best ways to camp for free on the Olympic Peninsula, especially if you prefer primitive camping outside of a developed campground.
Unfortunately, Olympic National Forest’s boundaries are a little more difficult to ascertain than other national forests. And, remember, you must be within the forest’s boundaries to legally dispersed camp – dispersed camping is not allowed in the national park.
Personally, I’ve had a lot of luck dispersed camping on Quinault Ridge Road near Lake Quinault, Forest Road 29 just outside of Forks, Forest Road 2419 near Lake Cushman, and along Forest Road 2312 on the east side of Wynoochee Lake.
However, do know there are countless Olympic National Forest dispersed campsites beyond my above recommendations. Use a dispersed camping app, give yourself time to explore in the field, or ask a ranger for suggestions and you’re sure to find the perfect free campsite of your very own.
Not interested in dispersed camping? You can still camp for free in Olympic National Forest.
Other Places to Camp for Free on the Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic National Forest and DNR-managed land are far from the only places to camp for free on the Olympic Peninsula.
The Hoh River Trust is another excellent option, although quite it’s a trek to reach. It’s a beautiful area though (and usually not very busy, even in summer). It’s best for tent camping as the unpaved road into the campsites is quite rough.
Additional options for RV boondocking can be had at the Walmart in Port Angeles as well as the Walmart in Sequim. As far as I’m aware, overnight parking is still allowed at both locations, although it’s always wise to call ahead to double check as rules can change in an instant.
Although it’s not completely free, boondocking at Quinault Beach Resort & Casino costs just $10 Sunday through Thursday (it’s $20 on Friday and Saturday). It’s located at the far southwest end of the Olympic Peninsula near Ocean Shores. The beach is just a short walk away from the overnight RV parking lot.
Why Not Try Camping in Olympic National Park?
Camping in Olympic National Park itself is honestly amazing.
Sure, it’s not free, but a night or two spent in the park is well worth it, especially on your first trip to the Olympic Peninsula.
There are 14 campgrounds managed by the National Park Service. Hands down, my favorite campground in Olympic National Park is Kalaloch Campground.
Not only is it just one of three that offers reservations in the summer (the other two are Sol Duc Campground and Mora Campground), but Kalaloch Campground is also steps from the beach. Several campsites actually overlook the ocean (although these are booked well in advance).
Developed campgrounds in Olympic National Park range from $14 to $24 per night. However, there is one campground in the park that’s actually free.
Dosewallips Campground is a walk-in campground without a fee (unfortunately, due to a road wash out, the current “walk” in is over 6 miles each way). That said, the Dosewallips River Road is a fantastic hike.
Another option is to camp on the beach. Several places on the Olympic Peninsula welcome backcountry beach camping.
This requires a hike in and you’ll be camping right on the beach, not in developed campground. You’ll need wilderness camping permits. Bear-proof canisters are also required.
Enjoy Your Olympic Peninsula Camping Trip!
The Olympic Peninsula is home to great free camping if you know where to look (and now you do!).
If you plan to camp at one of the 10 free DNR campgrounds, just remember to pick up a Discover Pass before your trip.
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