camping,  Outdoor recreation

Four Outdoor Adventures in Washington State that You Must Experience – portseattle. org

By Quincy Henry, Campfire Coffee

Hey there, I’m Quincy. Co-Owner and CEO of Campfire Coffee in Tacoma, WA and I am excited to share a list of outdoor adventures my family and I love that hopefully you will too. Before we get to that, it’s probably safe to assume that as a collective we can agree there is not a whole lot of good that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately for our family, we have experienced some of the worst this pandemic had to offer — I don’t bring that up to bum anyone out but I bring it up because throughout the weirdness that has been living through a pandemic, there was one small silver lining.  

As outdoor enthusiasts, and lovers of all things camping and hiking, Whitni (my beautiful bride and business partner in Campfire Coffee) and I were hopeful for the idea that due to the restrictions on travel, people would have to explore the natural world that will exists, quite literally, in their own backyard. Together, Whitni and I run a coffee business that has a mission for getting more people in the outdoors and we couldn’t be happier to help folks new to this space find places they could take their families that were accessible and packed full of wonder plus outdoor good times. Personally, I think the parks systems are the best public resource next to library systems and more folks should take advantage.

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Our origin story

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

We didn’t have much. What little we did have wasn’t going to be enough either. So in May of 2019, we launched a go fund me and wouldn’t you know it, we raised 10 grand in less than a month. People were rooting for us! By this time, we had decided we would roast our coffee, using campfire as a heat source ( whaaa? ) and knew the social mission was important. If for nothing else, we love camping and being out within nature, exploring campgrounds plus parks everywhere we can and we wanted to see more diversity out there but understood the hurdles in front of many people be it financial or cultural or both.

We roast coffee over a campfire, the way people did it for hundreds maybe thousands of years before industrial roasters became a thing. This lost art associated with fire roasting is difficult to get down but the taste is so worth it. Just imagine a cozy coffee roast, sitting around the fire pit sharing laughs and memories. That’s Campfire Coffee. We met the particular Port of Seattle team when we were the coffee provider  for the opening event for the International Arrivals Facility in March.

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Our go-to campsite list

So if you’re in Washington State as a visitor or a resident looking for some GREAT places to explore that aren’t Mt. Rainier, here’s our own go to list. Oh — big disclaimer here — it’s worth mentioning that we camp with little ones, so even though we LOVE getting deep into the woods, all of us also try to be practical about what we do and where we do it. The following list might not get you fired up if you’re the type of person who’s looking to do some solo, dispersed backpacking at the base of a mountain prior to summiting to the top. This is for the folks who want to get out, explore, have fun, and enjoy the outdoors casually.  

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Dash Point state park
(Federal Way, WA)

With 141 campsites, cabins and several trails spread over nearly 400 acres, Dash Point is our go to. We actually use Dash Point as our annual first-trip-of-the-season camping out spot because while it is squarely in nature with all the activities from camping, trekking to water activities, it’s actually only about five minutes from a town in either direction. Those towns: Federal Way’s Twin Lakes neighborhood and Tacoma’s Browns Point neighborhood have all the amenities you’d need in the event you forget something. We also live close by so for us, the park’s utility is a way to work out the kinks in our outdoor camping routine.  

We love that nearby you’ve got grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, and a fire station within a short drive or even hike. But Dash Point fills up quick with those looking to hike down to the beach and launch a kayak or canoe, dig for shellfish, or bring the whole crew to one of the many picnic shelters therefore reserve your campsite early!

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Cape Disappointment state park
(Ilwaco, WA)

Don’t let the name fool you. Cape Disappointment state park is probably the best kept secret in all of the Pacific Northwest. While it’s one of the furthest out from the Puget Sound area (about a 3. 5 hour drive from Seattle) it’s super worth it. Cape Disappointment is expansive too with over 2, 000 acres sitting oceanside along with sparkling sandy beaches, incredible views, deep caves, big spacious campsites, yurts, cabins, an interpretive center, along with a convenient 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. For one, you completely unplug. Forget trying to get ANY type of cell service out here because it’s not happenin’. Also, the facilities are newer and well maintained. There is nothing like taking a hot shower in a nice, private setting — it’s almost like glamping. And that little convenience store right in the middle of the park is great too — you can grab firewood, pizza, and all the camping knick-knacks you may have forgotten. The interpretive center is also a nice spot to hike to and get some education about the park and surrounding area in addition to grabbing a few souvenirs.  

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Lake Wenatchee state park
(Leavenworth, WA)

This place is just downright incredible. Everything from the drive up along the river to being at the park itself is a quintessential Pacific Northwest camping experience with its cascade mountain setting nestled on a five-mile long alpine lake.

We love fall camping here especially around Oktoberfest time when the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth comes alive. Even though the pandemic altered what Oktoberfest in Leavenworth looks like, Lake Wenatchee condition park also serves as a great refuge from all the merrymaking that Oktoberfest usually brings. You’ll wake up to beautiful fall colors amidst the particular acres of evergreen trees and that crisp mountain air can’t be beat. In Winter, be prepared because at nearly 4, 000 feet in elevation, it gets cold and often snowy making for some good cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. This is also bear country so be prepared if you’re heading on the paths in this 492 acre recreation area. Summer is great for breaking away the kayaks or the boat and for beginners there are rental options for standup paddlers. You’ll want to be a little more prepared should you be heading out here with little ones or if you have any needs that require attention as services and amenities are all in town and that’s about 10 miles down the road.  

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Lake Chelan state park
(Chelan, WA)

Don’t take my word for it, the Wa state parks website says it best: Generations of families return to the lake every year; they even try to book the same campsite they’ve used since the ‘60s and ‘70s . That alone should tell you that Lake Chelan will be nothing short of majestic. A big beautiful blue lake surrounded by mountains and hills and much like the other parks on this list, it’s an excellent family campground not only for its beauty and variety of activities but it’s also not too far from the town of Chelan should you need solutions. Lake Chelan offers some fantastic hiking trailers, and with a 50-mile lake, all the water activities you could imagine. We really enjoy the waterfront campsites here where you literally pitch a tent on the shores of the lake. It can make for some interesting late-night trips to the bathroom as the wildlife is abundant at this park but it’s worth it.  

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Much like Dash Stage, Lake Chelan State Park isn’t a far generate from the town of Chelan which has great restaurants plus shopping but one of the coolest parts of making Chelan your family basecamp is heading over to the town of Manson on the other side of the lake and visiting the blueberry hills farm and restaurant in Manson about 30 minutes away. Go for breakfast but go earlier as it tends to be pretty busy!

Helping other explorers

Campfire Explorers Club is a Washington State registered Non-Profit organization that we at Campfire Espresso started to help us realize our big adventure of making outdoor recreation and education accessible for more people, especially those who have been shut out from being able to explore and enjoy the natural world because of financial or other obstacles. We’ve gotten started supporting some other organizations that share our vision for a more equitable and accessible natural world.

In 2020 and 2021 the Campfire Explorers Club:  

  • Raised $20, 000 for three organizations dedicated to outdoor education for youth
  • Awarded five camping trips to families at no cost 

The club accepts donations of used recreational equipment, recreational land, and small monetary donations under $500.  

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