Known for its diversity in landscape, nature and recreational activities, Dosewallips State Park is a fantastic choice for an RV getaway any time of the year. Located less than a mile north of Brinnin in Jefferson County, Washington, Dosewallips State Park features 1,064 acres that are waiting for RV lovers of all ages to enjoy.
The park was established over a period between 1954 and 1972, replacing a hand full of old homesteads. Prior to this time, the area was logged and the wood transported from the mountains to the Dosewallips River via rail. The old railroad remnants can be found in the park’s far southeast, so if you wish to do some exploring you can check them out.
Dosewallips State Park is located close to the Olympic National Forest, but there is also plenty to see and do without leaving the park. It contains natural forested areas, mountains, fish-filled rivers, and provides access to pristine beaches. Within the park, the freshwater Dosewallips River connects to the saltwater Hood Canal that drains into the Salish Sea, which provides a big drawcard for RV travelers. There are five miles of hiking trails to explore, picturesque locations for picnicking, mushroom and shellfishing opportunities, and many educational events for those wanting to learn more about the history of the park.
To top it off, a range of RV camping options are available, with all sites nestled in beautiful grassy locations graced by scenic backdrops. All 48 RV-only sites contain full hookups, and there are another 70 sites suitable for both tents and RVs. Many sites are shaded, and the camping areas provide a range of RV facilities. Peak season at Dosewallips State Park runs from April until October.
Driving to and from Dosewallips State Park is quite straightforward thanks to its location near the easily-accessible Route 101. This will be one of the more enjoyable drives in the country thanks to the 101 making its way up the coast next to the Hood Canal. There is only one entrance to the park that is reached by directly turning off the 101, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding your way. The roads in and around the park and within the campground area are kept in very good condition and are suitable for RVs up to 40 feet in length.
If you need to pick up any supplies before your trip, it would be a wise move to plan out your stops in advance since there aren't any major amenities near the park. Since most visitors will be driving north, you will have to stop in at Shelton (around 40 miles away), Olympia (around 61 miles away), or Tacoma (around 86 miles away). The roads within the park are open all year round, but if you are visiting in the winter months, it is possible that there will be spontaneous closures due to flooding events. If you are concerned about the weather forecast, it is always best to call the park office for an update on the status of the park.
Parking, in addition to the designated camping areas, is provided near the southern park entry on Route 101, and to the north of the park near Shellfish Beach.
The main camping area at Dosewallips State Park is a fantastic place to call home during your visit to the park. There are a total of 48 RV-only sites that are suitable for RVs up to 40 feet in length, along with 70 additional sites that can also be used by both rigs and tents.
The 48 dedicated RV sites provide full hookups for your convenience, and they can accommodate up to eight people. The campground also provides one dump station, three restrooms, and two showers. Considering the abundant forest all around, the campsite is cleared of most vegetation and quite open. This makes it easy to navigate, although you may wish for a little more shade in the summer. The nearby trees make their presence felt, though, with the occasional summer "snow storm" caused by the budding of the cottonwood trees.
Depending on what time of the year you are visiting, the maximum stay length varies. During the peak season, you can stay for up to 10 days at a time, but between the 1st of October and 31st of March, this is extended to 20 days. Reservations are a must if you plan on visiting during the peak season and they can be made throughout the year.
Visiting Dosewallips State Park with a group? There are two group campgrounds available for you to enjoy all year round that are perfect for larger groups who are looking for a great camping experience. The first site is known as the Meadow Group and is the largest of the two group sites. It can accommodate up to 80 people on a large grass field that is suitable for both tents and RVs. This group area has a large fire pit, eating areas, picnic tables, BBQs, water and toilets for your convenience.
The second of the two group camp areas is known as the River Group site and it is a little smaller with enough room for up to 50 people. The River Group Site is more suitable for tent camping, so keep that in mind if you have any group members visiting the park with an RV.
Both group campsites can be reserved in advance and this is recommended, in order to guarantee that your group will have a place to stay.
If you want to experience some more luxurious accommodation during your stay at Dosewallips State Park, you should consider staying at one of the cabins or platform tents. There are 12 cabins for you to choose from that can sleep to five people thanks to the bunk and futon bed. All of the cabins have lights, heating, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Two cabins are pet-friendly and another two are ADA-accessible.
The three platform tents are similar to yurts and can also sleep up to five people. The amenities at the platform tents are very similar to those found in the cabins so you will also have heating, lighting, a fire ring, and a picnic table. One of the platform tents is also pet-friendly and another is ADA-accessible.
For those who are looking to go tent camping at Dosewallips State Park, you will be pleased to know that there are 70 sites suitable for tent camping. The tent sites are primitive with no hookups available, but since they are located within the main campground, you will be close to water collection points, restrooms, and showers. Two of the tent camping loops are located close to the river, so if you are wanting water views these are the best places to stay.
Like the RV-only sites, the tent camping sites at Dosewallips State Park are available for reservation and they can be made all year round.
There are no first-come, first-served specific campgrounds within Dosewallips State Park, but all sites are available for walk-in if they have not been reserved in advance. During the winter season, you will have a better chance of securing a site without a reservation, but during the summer months the park is usually very busy, so don't rely on first-come, first-served basis camping.
While shellfish can be harvest year-round in the area, it is a great off-season activity while other activities are not an option. The nearby Hood Canal is legendary for a range of shellfish, including littleneck clams, oysters, butter clams, cockles, geoducks, and horse clams. Please note that before you go collecting shellfish that you will need a license, and you must abide by strict bag limits. For more information on shellfishing in the canal, the friendly park staff will answer any questions you may have.
Thanks to the varied environments within Dosewallips State Park, there are plenty of chances to enjoy some wildlife viewing. The park is a prime location to watch wintering herds of Elk, so if you are visiting during the offseason checking them out is a must. The hiking trails are also great places to see a variety of birds, including eagles. Seals and porpoises can be seen in the marine areas, and if you’re extremely fortunate, killer whales have been spotted offshore.
With a little effort, visitors to Dosewallips State Park can return to the RV with a good hall of Chanterelle mushrooms, one of nature’s finest wild foods! Chanterelles love moist areas and often grow in forest groves around the base of large old hardwoods. During the mushroom season, you’ll find plenty of locals taking advantage of what the forest has to offer. Grab a basket and go searching; it's as easy as that!
In the colder months of the fall, the waters at Dosewallips State Park are ideal for going fishing. The Dosewallips River and Hood Canal are the two waterways that you can go fishing in, and many anglers target the four species of salmon or steelhead during their visit. For anglers visiting during the off-season, make sure you try and time your visit with the steelhead run that happens during the fall. Don't have a fishing license? You can purchase one before throwing out a line at the nearby general store.
The park contains almost five miles of hiking trails, so you can go exploring during your visit. The trails traverse forest groves, ridges, and saltwater wetlands so there are plenty of different environments for you to check out. The trails are split into two main loops, with one being easily accessible for kids, and the other on the more difficult side that is suited for experienced hikers. If you do go hiking on the harder loop, remember to hike with a partner and be back before sunset.
During the warmer months, Dosewallips State Park is the perfect place to cool off thanks to the Dosewallips River. The river provides some picturesque freshwater swimming locations suitable for visitors of all ages. There is no designated swimming area within the park, so be aware of this when you are planning your dip. Remember to swim to your abilities, and be cautious of the changing tides as sometimes there will be a strong current.
A range of picnic facilities are available at Dosewallips State Park that are perfect for those looking to cook up a storm. Enjoying a picnic is a fantastic way to enjoy the outdoors and relax in the beautiful scenery that Dosewallips State Park offers. There is a kitchen shelter (with no electricity) perfect for your cooking needs as well as six shaded, reservable picnic tables. Braziers and restrooms are also available at the picnic area, and they provide that little bit of extra comfort. If you plan on using one of the picnic tables, remember to reserve it prior to your arrival.
During the summer months, the park runs campfire programs and Junior Ranger programs on most weekends, so there will be plenty of opportunities for the next generation to learn about the great outdoors. The programs are available free of charge, and they are a great way to keep youngsters occupied, and maybe it will help spark a love of the outdoors in your kids that will last them a lifetime. Before your arrival, you can contact the park office to find out what programs are occurring so your little ones don't miss out.