Visiting The Parks: Avoid Campsite Loserdom

Mar 27, 2014

You know how it goes: You’re sitting around on a Wednesday afternoon, and you decide to take the family camping over the weekend. Maybe to a national park.

Well, here’s a confession from our own travel expert: He’s one of you.

“If you’re like me, you’re the dad who gets the Charlie Brown campsite,” Brumley said.

You know, the one left over because everyone else has already booked.

“I’ll be the guy next to the propane tank and next to the washroom,” he said. “My kids are looking at me like ‘You’re the biggest loser.’”

Don’t be a loser. Look ahead.

First, The Bad News

If you were hoping to put your feet up at what Brumley calls “the old grand dames of the national park system,” you’ve probably missed the boat.

“If you’re looking to stay at Yellowstone National Park lodges, by Old Faithful, it’s pretty much too late for the summer,” he said. “But if you’re looking for those beautiful off-the-beaten-track places, it’s not. Start thinking about this soon.”

And Now, The Good News

Even though campsites are filling up fast, there are plenty of good options left. If you have a long weekend, check out the Washington area. Try Mount Rainier National Park, or the North Cascades.

“We have a great time. And we hike, and we swim that icy cold lake,” Brumley said.

Or try the Olympic National Park — wetter, Brumley says, but green and lush.

Washington’s state park system also offers plenty of opportunities, Brumley said. 

And don’t forget Canada. It’s a longer trip, but worth it, especially the Gulf Islands.


It’s easier than ever to book a visit to a national park, Brumley says. You can pick a campsite online based on photos and detailed information.

In other words, you can avoid the dreaded fate of camping loserdom.

“You can make sure you’re not staying next to the restroom and the propane tank,” Brumley said.


Matthew Brumley is the founder of Earthbound Expeditions, which organizes group travel to destinations around the world for various clients, including KPLU. "Going Places" is our new travel segment exploring all aspects of getting from Point A to Point B. Tell us what you think about responsible travel, or suggest topics for future installations of this series. Have a travel hangup or a tip? Let us know in the comments.