White River Campground


AMENITIES: picnic tables, fire platforms, flush toilets, water | PROHIBITED: pets off-leash, firewood gathering

SEASON: late June – late September | MAX RV/TRAILER LENGTH: RV: 32 ft, Trailer: 18 ft

NEARBY: Glacier Basin Trail, Sunrise

WEBSITE: National Park Page


The White River Campground, in the northeastern section of Mount Rainier National Park, presents travelers with the ideal gateway to the backcountry. Whether you are a climber heading for the high alpine air, or a hiker with an eye to the variety of excellent trails in the surrounding area, this is your base camp. With the stunning vistas and visitor amenities of Sunrise located just up the road, White River is a great place for car campers as well.

For climbers and hikers, automobile sight-seers and families, The White River Campground is ideal for exploring the east side of Mount Rainier.

Location & Elevation

Located five miles up from Highway 410, the White River Campground sits at 4,232 feet, making it the highest of the three drive-in campgrounds at Mount Rainier. The high elevation often makes this the last of the campgrounds to open and the first to close.

Facilities & Amenities

There are 112 individual sites within the campground and no group sites. Camping costs $20. Most of the sites are well placed for both privacy and scenic value. There are four main camping loops, with the majority of the sites positioned on loops C and D, farthest from the entrance. Because of the steep terrain around the campground and its proximity to the White River itself, little brooks cascading through the area provide a consistent and delicate serenade.

There are restrooms and washing facilities located in each loop and in the picnic area. There are no showers at the Mount Rainier National Park campgrounds.

The White River is a few hundred yards down the bank from the camping area and, at this point in its development, is usually no more than a large creek. The flow is strong though, and the milky water flows fast and furious, bouncing through the rocky bottom on its way down the mountain. The giant tree trunks along its route and the scoured river banks give evidence of the raw power that the river is capable of during times of flood and will inspire respect in any visitor.

The Wonderland Trail runs through White River Campground, making it a good choice for beginning or ending a circle hike or as a resupply location. There’s a hike-in area reserved for backpackers just behind the historic patrol cabin between loops C and D. There is also a picnic area located adjacent to the climbers; parking lot, just above the river.

Hiking near White River

Hikers have a smorgasbord of trails to choose from, right out of White River Campground or in the regions close by. The Glacier Basin trail is among the most popular and is used not only by day-hikers but also by climbers as they make their way towards the Emmons route higher up the mountain. For climbers, the White River Campground is the east-side trailhead, and although the number of people attempting to summit from this side of the mountain is far less than it is at Paradise, climbers are a common sight in the parking area and along the Glacier Basin trail.

From White River Campground, the trail climbs steadily for 3.3 miles, working its way up to Glacier Basin Camp, at 6,000 feet. Above this point, the trail meanders further in toward the mountain, through beautiful meadows and sections of treacherous rockfall before it ends at the foot of Inter Glacier.

The area around Glacier Basin was once the site of an extensive copper mining operation. In the early decades of the 20th century, a variety of structures stood in the high country around here, among them a sawmill, a powerhouse, and a rough flume shunting water from the creek, along with a blacksmith shop and a hotel for the miners working the claims. Remnants of the old Storbo Mine can still be seen in the meadows and along the trail at various points, rusting machinery slowly and quietly decomposing, returning to the land.

The historic buildings at Sunrise are a short drive up the twisting mountain road farther up the flanks of the mountain. For panoramic vistas and heart-stoppingly beautiful scenery, nowhere else comes close. (Nowhere else that you can drive to, anyway.) Mount Rainier presides over the southern sky like an ancient deity, all snow and rock, on a scale that defies imagination. The visitor center at Sunrise features excellent displays and informational exhibits that explain the mountain and the animals and plants that live there using innovative and interactive techniques. There is a gift shop and a small cafeteria here as well, and the area just north of the parking area has some great accessible hiking options, where the views get even better.

For climbers and hikers, automobile sight-seers and families, The White River Campground is just the ticket for exploring the east side of Mount Rainier.

– Ken Campbell

How to reserve a campsite?

This is a question we are asked frequently. Campsites cannot be reserved in advance. All campsites are awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.

Have questions about the White River Campground?

Please contact a park ranger at Mount Rainier National Park by calling (360) 569-2211 or to submit your question by email click here.

Q: Are campfires allowed?

A: Yes, unless a temporary burn ban is in effect. Remember to leave your firewood at home. It’s important to Buy It Where You Burn It! Firewood brought in from other areas may contain invasive insect species that pose a serious threat to local resources.

Q: Are there RV hookups?

A: There are no electrical, water, or greywater hookups in any of the campgrounds.

Q: Can I get a map of the White River Campground

A: Yes you sure can. Click here for a PDF map.

Q: If I show up at White River Campground and it’s full are there any nearby campgrounds I should look at for an alternative?

A: 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.

Q: Is there a maximum number of nights I can camp at White River?

A: Yes, the maximum number of nights is two weeks, you can camp at White River for 14 nights.

Q: Are there showers at White River Campground?

A: No, there are no public shower facilities in Mount Rainier National Park.

Q: How early in the morning can I go to the White River Campground and start looking for an empty campsite?

A: As early as possible! We have been hearing that sometimes 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 are also limited so they go quick in the summer season.

Q: When does the White River Campground close this year? Is it open in October?

A: Usually the White River campground runs through September and closes at the end of September or early October.

Q: What is the official check-out time at White River Campground?

A: The official checkout time for all of the Mount Rainier National Park campgrounds is 12:00 PM (Noon).

Q: Is there any cell phone coverage or WIFI at White River Campground?

A: Nope, it’s pretty off the grid. However, up the road a bit near Sunrise some limited reception can be found near the Sunshine Point area.

Q: What’s the maximum number of people allowed at my campsite at White River Campground?

A: There are no group campsites at White River Campground. Individual campsites are limited to a maximum of 6 persons (or immediate family) and two tents. Maximum two passenger vehicles per site provided both vehicles fit in the driveway, are not parked on any vegetation, and are clear of the roadway.

Q: What is the best time of day to arrive at the White River Campground during the summer?

A: Summer is peak season. The weekends tend to be the busiest days of the week. When the weather is nice, expect demand to be higher than normal, even on a weekday. Try to get there as early as possible to line up by the ranger station. Campsites at White River are exclusively awarded on a first-come-first-served basis.

Q: Are there spigots at White River Campground to get water to clean dishes?

A: Yes, there are water spigots at the campground. When you’re washing dishes or doing something that could create greywater be sure to keep that grey water away from the river. The campground is so close to the river. Please look for a proper water dump station to release the greywater. Always ask a park ranger for clarification.

Q: What time of the night do I have to be at White River Campground? Is it open to arrivals 24 hours a day?

A: Yes, you could arrive at any time to get a campsite but depending on when you are coming, most sites fill up in the morning. If you are coming late at night there are no restrictions, but do be mindful of noise if coming in late especially if you have an RV running generators.