Camping at Fort Flagler was an annual tradition for my husband growing up. Along with his parents and sister, they would load up their travel trailer and enjoy time on the beach searching for crabs and clams. Now that we have our own little family and an RV, we’ve decided to make this a tradition with our son, Nolan, as well. Living in Eastern Washington we are about a 3 hour drive away from the ocean, so we love to plan one or two trips a year that give us a chance to spend some time on the water. At the beginning of the year, we made our reservations and looked forward to this getaway for many months. (Don’t underestimate the need to plan ahead. Last year as soon as we purchased our RV in May, we looked to see if there were any available RV sites left, but Fort Flagler was booked up 100%!)

We planned our trip for 5 nights at the campground. This would be our longest trip to date with our son and while we were a bit concerned how things would turn out, we were excited beyond measure. The last time Nolan was at the ocean he wasn’t even able to crawl yet so we looked forward to watching him explore and enjoy this experience. He loves to be outside and has had so much fun playing in his sandbox at home, we knew he would love lots of time on the beach.

We arrived in the afternoon and after getting lunch and putting our son down for nap, we explored the campground together. We took time to walk past each of the sites to determine our favorites so we would know which spot to reserve in years to come. Nolan loved walking the loop around the camp sites and seeing all the dogs nearby. He also enjoyed using his new skill of “waving” to wave at every car that drove by. He made lots of fast friends as drivers waved back at our precious little boy. He was delighted!

We then took him to the playground on the camp grounds. Years ago when we’d come camping here before having our son I remembered seeing there was play equipment and being so impressed with this amenity. I personally have never seen this at a campground before and thought this was such an awesome feature. It offered hours of entertainment and fun memories. With three slides, it was also large enough to accommodate many kids at one time. Nolan loved going down the slide but his favorite thing was playing in the giant tire with the woodchips that covered the ground. He would sit in the tire moving woodchips back and forth and alternate that with games of peek-a-boo as he peeked at mommy or daddy through the tire. So fun to watch.


Giant Tire at the Playground

My husband’s favorite part of camping at Fort Flagler is the ability to go crabbing and clamming, so for us the days ahead pretty much followed a pattern. At low tide we bundled up our son and carried him in a hiking backpack while we carried buckets, shovels, and rakes to go searching for crabs and clams.


Nolan in his Hiking Backpack

Nolan had fun watching the view of the water from his hiking backpack and playing in the sand when it was free of barnacles and excessive rocks. While I wore mud boots during our search, my husband used hip waders so he could go even deeper into the water, which helped him find even more crabs.


Searching for Clams and Crabs Was a Fun Daily Event

Once the tide came back in a bit we would carry our finds back to camp, put our son down for nap and take some time to relax around the campfire. Later in the afternoon we would head down to the dock to put our crab pot in until we reached our limit for the day. In the evening we enjoyed eating crabs and clams, spending more time around the campfire and watching the beautiful sunset. We had so much fun looking forward to this routine each day.


Daily Bounty of Crabs and Clams

For a couple days on our trip my sister, brother-in-law and nephew came to join us. We had fun sharing this experience with them as it was their first time crabbing or clamming. Their two-year-old loved exploring the beach for shells, playing in the sand, and watching the crabs move. Since my nephew is nearly a year older than my son, it was fun to imagine how much more involved and interested Nolan will be next year if we’re able to camp here again. I so love to watch these little guys enjoying life and exploring to their hearts content. The two boys rode side by side for short rides to the dock, enjoyed kicking around their toy bouncy balls, playing at the park, and loved getting a special ice cream treat at the little store at the campground called the Beach Comber Cafe. It was inexpensive, delicious and obviously convenient, just steps away from our campsite. This was such a nice way to help us cool off during the afternoon heat.


Riding Side by Side to the Dock

Our last day at the campground our family of three took a bike ride to view the forts (another tradition during my husband’s annual Fort Flagler camping experience as a child). We loaded Nolan in the bike trailer with his water and snack cup and enjoyed a peaceful ride while we read the informational signs, explored around the forts, and enjoyed the ocean views.


Bike Ride Tour of the Forts

Ever since my husband was a little boy it was a tradition to take his picture each year sitting on a cannon at one of the forts. This year he enjoyed carrying on the tradition while he sat on the cannon with our son. Such a precious start to a new tradition for us.


Continuing the Family Tradition

Our vacation to Fort Flagler was such a great trip not only down memory lane, but in so many ways. We look forward to making new memories here in the years to come. If you’re looking for a great place to vacation with your family, be sure to check it out.

Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily Helgeson
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and son in Eastern Washington. They enjoy adventuring together and are learning how to use their RV to continue this lifestyle with their growing family.

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