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Camping prime time is now across JBLM, Northwest

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:26PM July 10th, 2014

Warm and dry summer nights make for great camping conditions, and there’s plenty of choice spots near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Northwest Adventure Center program specialist Robert Conrad said JBLM itself has just a handful of campsites in front of the cabins along American Lake, each of which costs $7 a night. Camping out at Lewis Lake, just outside the tip of the Southern Impact Area, is primitive but free.

Conrad said the camping NAC does usually involves an overnight trip prefaced with an activity, such as hiking, kayaking, rafting or snowshoeing. Camping keeps down costs for the overnight trips, Conrad said.

The NAC has started offering private camping trips too.

“People are really enjoying them,” Conrad said, adding that the fees are much lower than those of commercial camping operations.

Off-base, Tacoma Power has four lakeside parks where camping is allowed: Alder, Mayfield, Mossyrock and Taidnapam. Hydroelectric dams form the lakes.

Anyone can reserve a camping site through the state parks website, but Tacoma Power also offers up unreserved spots for one night on a space-available basis until Sept. 15.

Tacoma Power states hooking up to water and electricity at its parks costs $31. Sewer (Alder Lake and Taidnapam) tacks on another $2. Tent sites at Alder Lake cost $23; Mossyrock’s spots are $24 without the hookups, and Taidnapam has walk-in sites for $18. Each park is less than two hours away.

Dash Point State Park in Federal Way is along the beaches, but the camping is amid the trees. State Route 509 cuts through the center of the park, with parking on the south side. The beach is about a half-mile away.

Penrose Point and Jarrell Cove state parks offer the beach closer up. Jarrell Cove is handy for the camper who also loves to be on the water, as it features two boat launches along its calm inlet shores. Penrose Point is the larger of the two, with almost 90 spots for campers, and features a view of Mayo Cove, Fox Island and even Chambers Bay. The camp lacks hookups.

Cape Disappointment State Park always is one of Washington’s top summer destinations, and that goes double for campers. It has the widest range of services, including 60 full hookup sites, hiker/biker campsites, a few cabins and 14 yurts, which are round shelters with bunk beds and a heater. Located at the base of Long Beach, Cape Disappointment gives you the chance to choose your hiking terrain (forested areas are close by) or just take in the sunshine of the summer day.

Have your Discover Pass handy for parking at any state park. Buy a yearlong pass on site or at www.parks.wa.gov.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord

n Along American Lake, near the Northwest Adventure Center.

n Near Lewis Lake, along the tip of the Southern Impact Area.

n On some Northwest Adventure Center trips.

Check onilne at www.jblmmwr.com/nw_adv_ctr.html

Tacoma and Pierce county

Tacoma Power has four parks:

n Alder Lake

n Mayfield Lake

n Mossyrock

n Taidnapam

Reserve a spot by going to www.mytpu.org/tacoma power/parks-recreation/

Across the state

n Dash Point State Park in Federal Way

n Penrose Point State Park near Lakebay

n Jarrell Cove State Park on Harstine Island

n Potlatch State Park along Hood Canal

n Lake Easton State Park near Easton

n Cape Disappointment State Park along Long Beach

n Battle Ground State Park near Battle Ground

n Paradise Point State Park near Ridgefield

n Ike Kinswa State Park near Silver Lake

n Seaquest State Park near Mount St. Helens

n Beacon Rock State Park along the Columbia River Gorge

Check out other camping parks in Washington by going to www.parks.wa.gov.