Unique Places to Stay in Washington from Glamping to Camping, Year Round

Park Butte Lookout with Mount Baker- Washington State

Want to get away from it all and stay somewhere really unique? Looking for somewhere special on a tight budget? Want to go camping but nervous about a bear nuzzling your toes in the middle of the night? Like the idea of camping, but like a few extra creature comforts? Just looking for something different? There is something here for you!

Washington has luxury hotels with stunning views, backcountry retreats, and plentiful backpacking, but we also have some pretty interesting places that don’t fit most of the normal categories:

Please note that most if not all of these places have no cell phone service and are far from the nearest hospital. Always pack carefully and know your limits.

Have an interesting place I didn’t mention here? Please share in the comments below!

Snow Huts

Mount Tahoma Trails Association (MTTA) runs four snow huts just outside Mount Rainier National Park. The only way to get to these huts is by cross country skis, snowshoes, or sometimes boots. There are two different trailheads, a north one for Copper Creek and a south one for the others. Both are on gravel forest roads that require a Sno Park Pass November-April (non-groomed season pass for overnight visitors). MTTA maintains a number of snowshoe and cross country ski trails. The huts are open to everyone (except dogs) during the day and by reservation at night.

Pros: These places are fully stocked with just about every thing you need, so you just need to bring a sleeping bag and food. Most of the trails are safe from avalanches, making them a great place for relatively low risk winter recreation.

Cons: Reservations, especially for weekends, need to be made months in advance and can be difficult to get. Make sure to check the weather before heading out because storms can make the trail and road unsafe.

The Yurt

WTA Trip Reports & Info - Winter or Year-round

Altrails Trail Map & Info

Weather: Griffin Mountain - Trail elevation is roughly 2,600 ft to 4,200 ft

Stats: We didn’t have snowshoes on for most of this but we were pulling a sled (sometimes on gravel). We hike weekly. Our trip report

  • In - Upper Parking* to Yurt ~5.3 miles/8.5 km, 1700 feet/520 meters elevation gain and 700 feet/200 meters loss, 2.74 hours moving time.
  • Out - Yurt to Upper* Parking ~5.2 miles/8.3 km, 700 feet/200 meters gain and 1700 feet/520 meters loss, 2.25 hours.
  • Griffin Exploration ~2.3 miles/3.7 km, 300 ft/90 meters gain/loss, 1.25 hours with snowshoes.

**We got lucky and the upper lot was open but it often is closed, adding about another mile each way and 650 feet elevation gain/loss

Detailed Yurt Tour Video - Peek in every drawer - HERE
Short Yurt Tour Video - Under 20 Seconds - HERE

Copper Creek Snow Hut

WTA Trip Reports & Info

Altrails Trail Map & Info

Weather: Mount Beljica - Trail elevation is roughly 2,600 ft to 4,200 ft

Stats: We clocked 5.5 miles/8.8 km each way to the hut, 1,475 feet/450 meters elevation gain. With overnight packs and snowshoes the whole way we did up in 2.5 hrs and down in 1.75. We hike weekly. Our Rainier sunset snowshoe was about 3 miles.4.8 km round trip, with 370 feet/110 meters of elevation gain/loss and took us about 90 minutes. Our trip report

Fire Lookouts

Washington has a plethora of fire lookouts perched in some hard and not so hard to reach places. Many of these are lovingly cared for by the community and free to stay if you are lucky enough to get there first, while others can be reserved for a fee. Most of them aren’t luxurious, and can be a bit dirty, but they have 4 walls to keep the wind out and the views are hard to beat.

The Forest Service has a list of rentable ones here.

Pros: Every one of these that I have been to has been stunning and each has a unique personality with their own art and log book stories. Because you don’t have to reserve the free ones ahead you can wait for the perfect weather.

Cons: You never know if you will actually have a place to stay so you will need a backup plan. Some of these have mouse proof boxes but don’t count on that. Make sure you have a way to hang your food.

Tip: Be sure to bring a sleeping pad as well as a sleeping bag and a bag for anything you want to leave if you plan to day hike after claiming the lookout.

Most of the fire lookouts are dog friendly but can have rodents.

Park Butte Fire Lookout

Park Butte is incredibly beautiful and it well worth a trip whether you stay the night or not. It is one of the more difficult lookouts to get a spot at but there are campsites relatively close by on the Railroad Grade Trail. Burying waste is prohibited all areas. Read our full article here.

Park Butte Lookout - Washington State

Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout

We haven’t stayed at this lookout but we have stayed at the lake below and loved it. The road to get up to this one is pretty bad, but there are a number of option for getting here, including parking at before the bad section and walking up. Read our full article here.

Winchester Mountain Lookout - Washington State

Hidden Lake Fire Lookout

We haven’t stayed overnight in this area but we have day hiked it and it was incredible! We hope to return this year so please stop back or subscribe to our newsletter or Facebook page to catch the update when we do.

I might think twice about staying up here if you are afraid of heights or not comfortable with a bit of a scramble, because this one is really up there! There is also often snow in areas late into the season. The road to get to the trailhead only has a small parking area and is one of the worst forest roads I have been on. Please do your research. The heights don’t bother me, but I would be a bit nervous about having to pee in the middle of the night.

WTA Trail Reports & Info

Alltrails Map & Info

The Traid Weather - Trail elevation is roughly 3,500 ft to 6,900 ft.

Hidden Lake - Washington State

Backcountry Luxury Backpacking

These are a few places where you can get a backcountry backpacking experience without actually schlepping your pack and bring a few extra comforts than you would be willing to carry.

Pro: You can camp in a truly wild place and day hike from camp with a light pack.

Cons: These places can be crowded and transportation may require some planning.


Lake Chelan is stunning, especially in the spring. You can take the ferry to Prince Creek and just up the ramp from the ferry dock are some pretty nice campsites with a bear locker and pit toilet. Some people opt for making this their home base and we met one couple with an old dog who were unloading a cooler and a couple boxes to make this a real luxury camping weekend. From Prince Creek you can day trip along the Lakeshore Trail or Prince Creek Trail. See our full article for details.

Chelan Lake - Washington State

Twin Lakes

We chose to walk up to this lake, but if you have the right vehicle (and a lot more nerve than I do) you can drive up here. There were plenty of people doing that. Some people brought paddleboards and tubes to hang out in the lakes and one group even had hammocks strung up between their vehicles. There are pit toilets by each lake and a few campsites have picnic tables. See our full article for details.

Twin Lakes - Washington State

Ross & Diablo Lake

Ross & Diablo Lakes have a whole series of campsites around the lakes and many of the ones on Ross Lake are accessible by water taxi. We haven’t made it out here yet but hope to in the future. This is another area where you can pack a bit more liberally because you won’t be carrying your gear very far, unless you choose to. Most of the campsites and trails around the lake do not allow dogs.

Ross Lake Water Taxi

National Park Boat-in Camping Info

Diablo - Washington State

What is your favorite weekend trip?
Please share in the comments below!

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