The Camping Crunch

by John Kruse, October 31, 2021

The Center for Western Priorities released a study this month titled, “The Camping Crunch”.
The study looked at camping at reservable public lands such as national parks, national forest
service campgrounds, Bureau of Land Management campgrounds and other lodging you can
reserve online thru the website The study showed a 39 percent increase in
reservations in the lower 48 states between 2014 and 2020 with reservations skyrocketing during
the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

In Washington State, the most popular camping areas were:

1. Kalaloch (Olympic National Park on the coast)
2. Willaby Campground (Olympic National Forest at Lake Quinault)
3. Colonial Creek South Campground (North Cascades National Park)
4. Charbonneau Park (Army Corps of Engineers Park on the Snake River near Burbank)
5. Eight Mile Campground (Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest near Leavenworth)

If you are looking for uncrowded camping options the campgrounds with the least number of
reserved sites through were:

1. Cayuse Horse Camp (Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest near Ronald)
2. Gillette Campground (Colville National Forest near Lake Gillette)
3. Lakeview Campground – Stehekin (North Cascades National Park)
4. Lake Creek Campground – Entiat River (Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest)
5. Lake Gillette Campground (Colville National Forest on Lake Gillette)

To give you an idea of the difference between these reservable sites the campground at Kalaloch
had 96 percent of its campsites reserved while the Cayuse Horse Camp, which is only open for
campers with horses or other stock, was reserved 15 percent of the time. Overall, the number of
campsites reserved thru in Washington State increased 20 percent between 2018
and 2020.

Aaron Weiss, Deputy Director for the Center of Western Priorities, says the study found in some
cases campers are, “Loving our public lands to death”. Weiss explained that when reservable
campgrounds fill up, as they often have in recent years, campers will gravitate towards nearby
campgrounds with fewer facilities or dispersed camping areas with no facilities at all. Couple
this with the fact many campers are new at this and don’t understand the ethics of “pack it out”
or “leave no trace” and damage is definitely being done to our public lands. Weiss believes not
only educating new campers, but increasing camping opportunities with more campgrounds and
infrastructure are important goals for the federal government to address.


Earlier this year we addressed the continuing closure of the Tumwater Campground near
Leavenworth which has 86 campsites as well as a group site for 55 people and a picnic area. The
campground closed in 2014 due to wildfires in the area. Three attempts since the middle of
August for information about plans to reopen the campground (or not) have gone unanswered by
officials at the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest.


There are two more free days to recreate in Washington’s State Parks this year where no
Discover Pass is required for day-use activities. Those days are Veterans Day, November 11th
and Black Friday, November 26th. Entry is not only free at state parks, but also at Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife Areas and Department of Natural Resource lands where a pass
is required.

However, instead of waiting for free days to recreate on our state public lands, you should
consider investing in an annual Discover Pass which only costs $35. You can purchase one
online when you renew your vehicle registration tabs or buy one at a local sporting goods store.
They also make great Christmas gifts too for anyone who loves to recreate outdoors.


Joseph O’Sullivan, writing for the Seattle Times, found out a lot more information regarding the
resignation of Washington State Parks Director Peter Mayer in October after just seven months
on the job. It turns out multiple employees, to include six regional park managers, filed
complaints about Mayer’s leadership style. Mayer allegedly used coarse language and belittled
employees in public. Another complaint alleged Mayer tried to steer the agency towards a
particular firm he had worked with previously for a $29,000 contract in violation of established
bidding procedures.

Mayer denied the allegations to the Seattle Times about this but through a spokesperson,
apologized for any offensive language. Although he has announced his resignation, Mayer
remains on home assignment and will continued to be paid until the end of the year.

John Kruse – and

1. Fall camping at Confluence State Park – J. Kruse

October 29 – November 05, 2021


11/23/2021 6:34:14 AM
Who cares? Terrible fishing report.
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