Summer is here and it’s time to camp. With the debut this week of Patch’s Happy Camper column, we’ll share all of your camping stories and campground reviews with the community.
Have a favorite campground that you visit every summer? Have a tale about the worst camping experience you ever had? Write a review and send it and a photo of your camping trip to me, Annie Archer at email@example.com. We’ll feature it in the next Happy Camper column. Other Patch editors across Western Washington will also write about their camping trips. It will be like Yelp for camping; we can call it Celp (or not).
To get the ball rolling let me tell you about my family’s first camping trip in Washington.
I have done a lot of camping. From Idaho to Africa (meet me at Tully’s some time, I’ll bore you with the story). From the California Redwoods to the Sonoran desert, where a fellow grad student was trapped inside a Porta-Potty after a diamondback rattlesnake decided to sun itself on the concrete step outside the door (ah, those wacky college days).
And there is one thing I have learned: I do not like camping. But my spouse does, and when we moved up here eight years ago he wanted to find someplace close to home for his first camping trip with our boys, who were then 6 and 9 years old and not very experienced campers.
Being from Southern California, the boys were used to the ocean but not rivers. So, the three of them headed over to Tolt MacDonald County Park in Carnation. This is a great place to introduce camping to young children (as long as you practice good water safety). The park has plenty of shade and campsites on both sides of the Snoqualmie River. And, wait for it … yurts.
There are six yurts at the park, which come furnished with two double futons, a double/single bunk bed, nightstand, heat, electricity, deck, picnic table and fire ring. Two yurts have wheelchair accessibility. Each yurt sleeps up to seven people. All yurts are located on the west side of the park across the Snoqualmie River, so you can make an expedition of crossing the 500-foot suspension foot bridge (pith helmets and safari suits optional).
Tolt MacDonald Park and Campground comprises 574 acres and sits at the confluence of the Snoqualmie and Tolt rivers in the Snoqualmie Valley, with terrific views of the river and Cascade foothills. The park's picnic shelters and beautifully restored barn can be rented for company picnics, weddings, or other special events and the grass ballfields are available for softball, baseball and soccer.
In addition to picnicking and hiking, Tolt MacDonald is also a favorite destination for exploring trails on foot or mountain bike.
Prior to settlers arriving in the Snoqualmie Valley in the late 1850s, the area that currently serves as Tolt MacDonald Park was one of several large, permanent wintering villages that the Snoqualmie Indian tribes occupied along the Tolt, Snoqualmie, and Raging Rivers, according to county historians.
The land was developed into a park and campground in the 1970s, with the help of Boy Scout Council Chief John MacDonald. In 1976, as one of the nation's largest bicentennial projects, more than 20,000 Boy Scouts spent some five months constructing campsites, picnic tables, and shelters. The suspension bridge was also built at that time by the Army Reserves 409th Engineering Company.
Facts on the camping at the park:
- All sites can be reserved up to one year in advance with at least one week notice by calling the Camping Line at 206-205-5434.
- RV and Tent Sites that have not been reserved in advance are available on a first-come, first served basis, using the campground's self-registration system.
- Yurts are available by reservation only, with at least one week notice.
- The maximum stay at any one site is seven days.
- Campground and other park facilities are open year-round.
- Alcohol is prohibited.
There are 22 individual tent sites, including two that feature a three-sided cabins. Each site includes a picnic table and fire ring. Eleven of the sites, including the two three-sided cabins, are located on the west side of the park across the Snoqualmie River. These sites are walk-in only and require crossing the park's 500-foot suspension bridge (wheelbarrows can be borrowed from campground host).
Small group camping site $110
Large Group Camping Site $140
Camping - hookups $30
Camping - no hookups/drive in $25
Camping - no hookups/hike in $20
Camping weekly- hookups $180
Camping weekly- no hookups/drive in $150
Camping weekly- no hookups/hike in $120
Yurt - daily $50
Yurt - weekly $300
For more information check out the county’s website: http://www.kingcounty.gov/recreation/parks/inventory/toltmacdonald.aspx