Have questions about how to navigate the popular first-come-first-served campsites at Mount Rainier National Park?
Visit Rainier is compiling a list of FAQ. We will continue to add to it as camping season approaches. The questions below are real questions from real people.
Q: I’m thinking of camping this summer at MRNP. When is the best time to arrive if I’m hoping to get a First-Come-First-Served Campground?
A: As early as possible! In the summer (peak season) we sometimes hear all of the campsites are full by early afternoon (1:00 PM or so) during the week, and 11:00 AM on the weekends. Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh fill faster, but with limited sites due to hazard trees in all our campgrounds, the number of sites available is also limited so they go quick in the summer season. Your best bet is to have a backup plan if you arrive and find no available sites. You may need to consider an alternate campground outside of the national park.
In the Mount Rainier region, we have the Gifford Pinchot and Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forests and privately operated campgrounds to look to if your preferred MRNP campground is full. For example, if you find the White River Campground is totally full on arrival, the Silver Springs Campground
is 12 miles away. Buck Creek
at the Ranger Airstrip has dispersed camping, they are 14.6 miles away. Crystal Mountain has RV sites available, they are 17 miles away. If you arrive at Cougar Rock Campground and find it full La Wis Wis
is approximately 32 miles, about an hour’s drive via Stevens Canyon Road route. Another thing to keep in mind is the official checkout time for all of the Mount Rainier National Park campgrounds is 12:00 PM (Noon).
Q: How does it work? Do I just show up and start roaming the campground looking for an empty site?
A: Look for the information boards that act like a billboard posted outside near the visitor center and entrances for information, rules, fees, and instructions for how to make payment.
Q: What’s the best day of the week to try for an FCFS campsite?
A: Weekends and holidays are the busiest times when demand is at its highest. Try a Monday-Wednesday arrival pattern.
Q: What’s a vault toilet?
A: A toilet that doesn’t flush. Think glorified porta-potty.