Camping Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument Gifford Pinchot National Forest Campground Washington where to camp

There may not be any campgrounds in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, but there are plenty of places to camp in the surrounding Gifford Pinchot National Forest and other parks. Here are two campgrounds consider:

Beaver Bay Campground

This campground, which is not operated by the national forest, is conveniently located near trails like Ape Caves, Trail of Two Forests, June Lake, and Lava Canyon. Beaver Bay Campground is a boat-friendly campground on Yale Reservoir east of the town of Cougar. The campsites are stacked fairly close together, but on the plus side, they are just a short distance from scenic waterfront. A $20 per night charge (as of September, 2011) includes access to showers (no coins needed), full bathrooms, and a beach. There are fire rings and picnic tables at each site. The campground is first-come first-serve with 63 individual sites and 15 group sites. The elevation of the campground is 550 feet.

Yale Reservoir
Yale Reservoir from Beaver Bay Campground

To get to Beaver Bay Campground: From Interstate 5, 140 miles south of Seattle and 25 miles north of Portland, take exit 21 on to Route 503 East toward Cougar. After 30 miles, turn right into Beaver Bay Park. The park is located two miles past the town of Cougar and five miles west of Forest Service Road 83, which is taken to reach Ape Caves, Trail of Two Forests, June Lake, and Lava Canyon.

Campground address: Lewis River Road, Beaver Bay Park, Ariel, WA 98603
Campground coordinates: 46.061626, -122.263404 (46° 03′ 41.85″N 122° 15′ 48.25″W)

Paradise Creek Campground

This campground, operated by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, is located in a shady forest south of Mount Saint Helens and north of the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon Border. The campground lacks a good source of potable water, and the portopodies leave a bit to be desired, but what Paradise Creek does offer, it offers is camping in a quintessential northwestern forest. Pop a tent in an understory of ferns beneath grand Douglas fir and western cedars. The campground is open seasonally from May to September for $20 per night (as of September, 2011). There are 41 tent-friendly sites on two connecting loops at an elevation of 1,600 feet.

Paradise Creek Campground
Paradise Creek Campground

To reach Paradise Creek Campground: From Interstate 84, 40 miles east of Portland, Oregon, take exit 44 and cross the Columbia River on the “Bridge of the Gods” toll bridge into Washington. Turn right on Route 14 and drive six miles to Carson. Turn left on Wind River Road and drive 20 miles to the campground, located on the right just before a hairpin bend in the road.

From Interstate 5, 140 miles south of Seattle and 25 miles north of Portland, take exit 21 on to Route 503 East toward Cougar and Swift Reservoir. After 56 miles (21 miles past Forest Service Road 83), turn right on Wind River Road/Meadow Creek Road and drive 7 miles to the campground, located on the left after a hairpin bend in the road.

Campground address: National Forest Road 3059, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Carson, WA 98610
Campground coordinates: 45.950135, -121.936748 (45° 57′ 00.48″N 121° 56′ 12.29″W)

Use the map below to get directions:

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Photos

Beaver Bay CampgroundBeaver Bay CampgroundBeaver Bay CampgroundBeaver Bay Campground

These photos were taken in September of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
June Lake TrailJune Lake in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
This 2.6-mile hike visits a small lake and a waterfall on the southern slopes of Mount Saint Helens.
Lava Canyon TrailLava Canyon Trail in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
This 1.25-mile loop explores a colorful canyon re-carved by the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens.
Ape Cave Lava TubeApe Cave in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
This adventurous underground hike travels through one of the longest lava tubes in the world.
Trail of Two ForestsTrail of Two Forests in Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument
This short nature trail tours a landscaped that was transformed by a molten lava flow. For extra fun, crawl through a 50-foot long lava tub beneath the trail.
Multnomah FallsMultnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge
This 0.4 to 13.6-mile hike visits Oregon’s tallest (and probably most visited) waterfall, offering something to hikers of all abilities.
Wahclella FallsWahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge
This 2-mile visits a sublime waterfall in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.

3 Comments on Camping around Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument

  1. Gloria says:

    Which campsite would be the closest to the trailhead to summit Mt. St. Helens? I’m not sure which end it starts on. Thank you.

  2. Em says:

    I’m hoping I can make Cougar Campground at Yale Lake in Washington state a base camp and do a 3-day/2-night or 4-day/3-night hike from there on moderate terrain. If this is possible can you give me stop points for 4-7 miles a day (and water spots and refer me to a topo map I can purchase online? If not possible to start at Cougar Campground, where is the nearest trailhead where a plan like this would work? Thanks so much

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