Denny Creek Campground • Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington
Standard Tent to RV Sites - $20-32.00
Group Sites - $84
When you pull off HWY 90 into Snoqualmie Pass you’re going to be tempted to stop at Dru Bru Brewing just off the exit on your left. We understand the desire, but look temptation in the eye and keep moving forward. You’ve got a sixer in the cooler and just three miles ahead is Denny Creek Campground.
We’d almost never advise against stopping at a local brewery, but if you haven’t made a reservation you’ll want to keep moving (if you have then by all means…). Denny Creek fills up most days. Even on the Monday we were passing through only 3 of the 33 spots remained available and there was a car in front of us, and another behind us. Passing through all two blocks of civilization and the new condo construction you’ll pull up onto a road that is nearly 100% jackknife switchbacks. At first you’ll be exposed with wild flowers on both sides, but by the third turn you’re completely emerged in Snoqualmie National Forest with moss covered pines and the glimpse of a river in the distance. You’ll pass dozens of cars pulled off at hiking trailheads for access to the PCT, and even an established parking area for day-use hikers. This is a heavily trafficked corner of the forest a mere 45 minutes from downtown Seattle.
Denny Creek Campground is overseen by Camp hosts, Mitch and his lovely Wife (whose name we never got). They run a tight ship, well-oiled, clean and efficient. They have been hosting here for seven years, and by golly, we don’t think we’ve ever seen a cleaner camp bathroom or had a friendlier chat with a host. They even took time out of their busy schedule to deliver our firewood to us. Fine people to have representing the outdoors.
On our visit sites 14, 16 and 33 were open. The car in front of us passed on 14 so we snagged it. It was okay. Shaded and near the flush toilets. As we hustled to get our payment up to the entry box we passed site 16. Looking at it from the paved camp loop road it looked a little bit like heaven. A pull in for your vehicle with a little pathway back to the site which was nearly 100% private and within seeing and hearing distance of the creek. I stood in the entry, scribbling the new number onto our pay stub and holding the spot while the Wife sprinted to get the car before the lollygaggers behind us caught up and stole it.
When we spoke to our hosts they said, “You got 16? That’s the best one!” And, “Since we opened 6 weeks ago this site has never not been reserved.” We’re calling it road trip luck and saying our thanks. The sites all have the standard picnic table and fire ring, but the fire ring is only partially a manufactured grate with the other part a rock ring. The rocks collected from the river nearby giving it a more nature feel to it, and a downed tree log for seating. There was a enough branches to used for kindling and a burst of flame every now and again, but bringing or buying a bundle of firewood is recommended. No guarantee on downed wood on the inner circles. Bundles run $6.00 from Mitch at the entrance. Our picnic table had cut flowers in a recycled pop bottle from our hosts, and there was a leveled pad for our tent. One of the best functionally designed campsites we’ve ever had.
And all that was just the basics. The river runs past camp making for a lovely gurgling sonnet to fall asleep too, and from our site you could walk out into the middle of the river on downed trees looking up at a mountain on one side and pines on the other.
Besides a great place to sleep, this area is extremely popular for hikers. In addition, to the PCT access points there were multiple hiking trails leaving directly from camp. We took the Franklin Falls trail, a well-groomed trail upstream culminating in the Franklin Falls which isn’t just a view point, but you can actually walk out to it (or shower if you so choose). Just be sure to pick up after yourself. It was disappointing to see trash left behind. We took the Wagon Wheel trail back to camp through the old growth forest. It crossed two paved roadways. Totally hike distance for both was just over three miles and we despite the popularity of the area we didn’t see more than two sets of other hikers the entire time with a departure time of 8:30AM-ish.
The only really con of the camp was at night when most were quiet the occasional semi-truck passing on the highway would interrupt the sound of crackling fire and silence. Despite feeling like you’re deep in the woods and the twisty road in you never really get too far from the interstate. It was easy to overlook for the scenery and experience of Denny Creek Camp which we give 3.5 Tent Stakes of Awesomeness. One of our top scores so far, and favorite memories of our recent road trip.
Pro-Tip #1: Sites 15 & 16. Oh yeah. Those two. If not, watch for group campsites near you. They are open and it is a popular spot for large roving bands of weekend camping children.
Pro-Tip #2: Reservations recommended. Even during the week.