4 Outside Adventures in Washington State that You Should Expertise

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By Quincy Henry, Campfire Coffee

Hey, I’m Quincy. Co-owner and CEO of Campfire Coffee in Tacoma, WA, and I’m excited to share a list of outdoor adventures that my family and I love and hope you will too. Before we get to that, we can probably assume that as a collective we can all agree that not much good has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately for our family, we’ve endured some of the worst experiences this pandemic has had to offer — I’m not mentioning this to offend anyone, but I’m mentioning it because for all the craziness that a pandemic has endured, there has been a small one silver lining.

As outdoor enthusiasts and lovers of camping and hiking, Whitni (my beautiful bride and business partner at Campfire Coffee) and I were hopeful that due to travel restrictions people would have to explore the great outdoors literally in their own backyard. Together, Whitni and I run a coffee business dedicated to bringing more people into the great outdoors, and we couldn’t be happier helping people who are new to this space find places to go they can take their families with them, which are approachable and full of wonder Outdoor good times. Personally, I think parking systems are the best public resource next to library systems and more people should benefit from them.

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Our origin story

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It was all a dream. Well, that’s the storybook way of looking at it. We were actually trying to figure out what to do next after going through an unexpected layoff and an unexpected accident at work back-to-back. With 3 kids, 2 cars and a mortgage, the future journey was unclear, but a long conversation driving through the mountains of Utah and eastern Oregon after the Thanksgiving holiday led us to this simple yet exciting idea : Open a cafe outdoorsy (easy enough) with the social goal of bringing diverse groups together in nature (not so easy). But how?

We didn’t have much. The little we had wouldn’t be enough either. So we launched a Go Fund Me campaign in May 2019 and you don’t know, we raised 10,000 in less than a month. People cheered for us! By that point we had decided to roast our coffee on a campfire as a heat source (waaa?) and we knew the social mission was important. Last but not least, we love camping and being in nature, exploring campgrounds and parks wherever we can and we wanted to see more diversity out there but understood the hurdles ahead of many people, be it financial or cultural or both .

We roast coffee over a campfire the way humans did hundreds, maybe thousands of years before industrial roasters became a thing. This lost art of fire roasting is hard to come by, but the taste is so worth it. Imagine a leisurely coffee roast, sit around the fire pit and share laughs and memories. This is campfire coffee. We met the Port of Seattle team when we were the coffee supplier for the International Arrivals Facility opening event in March.

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Our list of the best campsites

So if you are a Washington State visitor or resident looking for some great places to explore that are not Mt. Rainier, here is our list. Oh – big disclaimer here – it’s worth noting that we camp with the little ones, so while we LOVE going deep into the woods, we also try to be practical about what we’re doing and where we’re doing it. The list below might not excite you if you’re the kind of person who wants to backpack alone at the base of a mountain before climbing to the top. This is for the people who like to get out, explore, have fun, and casually enjoy the outdoors.

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Dash Point State Park
(Federal Road, WA)

With 141 campgrounds, cabins and multiple trails stretching over nearly 400 acres, Dash Point is our destination. We actually use Dash Point as our annual first campground of the season because although it’s in the middle of nature with all the activities from camping, hiking to water activities, it’s actually only about five minutes from a city in either direction. These towns: Federal Way’s Twin Lakes area and Tacoma’s Browns Point area have all the amenities you need in case you forget something. We also live nearby, so for us, using the park is a way to work out the kinks in our camping routine.

We love that you have nearby grocery stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and a fire station all within a short drive or hike. But Dash Point fills up quickly with those wanting to hike down to the beach and launch a kayak or canoe, dig for shellfish, or take the whole crew to one of the many picnic spots, so reserve your campsite early!

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Cape Disappointment State Park
(Ilwaco, Wash.)

Don’t let the name fool you. Cape Disappointment State Park is probably the best kept secret in the entire Pacific Northwest. While it’s one of the furthest areas from Puget Sound (about a 3.5-hour drive from Seattle), it’s really worth it. Cape Disappointment is also sprawling with over 2,000 oceanfront acres with sparkling sandy beaches, incredible views, deep caves, large spacious campgrounds, yurts, cabins, an interpretive center and a convenience store. Cape Disappointment is a nature lover’s dream and a family camping fantasy.

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What we really love about Cape Disappointment is the little things. Firstly, unplug it completely. Forget trying to get ANY kind of cell service out here because it’s not happening. The facilities are also newer and well maintained. There’s nothing like a hot shower in a beautiful, private setting – it’s almost like glamping. And this little supermarket in the middle of the park is great too – you can buy firewood, pizza and all those camping knick-knacks you might have forgotten. The Interpretation Center is also a nice place to hike and learn about the park and area and pick up some souvenirs.

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Lake Wenatchee State Park
(Leavenworth, Wash.)

This place is just amazing. Everything from driving along the river to staying in the park itself is a quintessential Pacific Northwest camping experience, with its cascading mountain backdrop hugging a five-mile-long alpine lake.

We love camping here in the fall, especially around the time of Oktoberfest when the Bavarian town of Leavenworth comes alive. While the pandemic has changed the look of Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Lake Wenatchee State Park also serves as a great escape from all the merriment that Oktoberfest usually brings. You’ll wake up to gorgeous fall colors amid acres of evergreen trees, and you can’t beat that fresh mountain air. Be prepared in the winter, as at nearly 4,000 feet it gets cold and often snows, making for good cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. This is bear country, too, so be prepared as you venture out onto the trails in this 492-acre park. Summer is great for breaking out the kayaks or boat, and there are standup paddleboard rentals for beginners. You should be a little more prepared if you are coming here with little ones or if you have any needs that require attention as all services and amenities are in town and that is about 10 miles down the road.

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Lake Chelan State Park
(Chelan, WA)

Don’t take my word for it, the Washington State Parks website says it best: Generations of families return to the lake every year; They even try to book the same campsite they have been using since the 60’s and 70’s. That alone should tell you that Lake Chelan is downright majestic. A large beautiful blue lake surrounded by mountains and hills and much like the other parks on this list it is a great family campground not only for its beauty and variety of activities but also not too far from Chelan town if you need services. Lake Chelan offers some fantastic hiking enthusiasts and with a 50 mile lake every water activity you can imagine. We really enjoy the waterfront campsites here, where you literally pitch a tent on the shore of the lake. It can make for some interesting night time trips to the bathroom as the wildlife is plentiful in this park, but it’s worth it.

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Much like Dash Point, Lake Chelan State Park is not far from the town of Chelan, which has great dining and shopping, but one of the coolest parts of making Chelan your family base camp is the drive to Manson across the lake and visit the Blueberry Hills Farm and Restaurant in Manson, about 30 minutes away. Go for breakfast but go early as it gets quite busy!

Help other explorers

The Campfire Explorers Club is a Washington state registered non-profit organization that we formed at Campfire Coffee to help us realize our great adventure of making outdoor recreation and education accessible to more people, especially those who have been denied the opportunity to explore and enjoy our natural world due to financial or other obstacles. We have started supporting other organizations that share our vision for a more just and accessible nature.

2020 and 2021 the Campfire Explorers Club:

  • Raised $20,000 for three organizations dedicated to outdoor youth education
  • Five free camping trips given to families

The club accepts donations for used recreational equipment, recreational land, and small cash donations under $500.

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