RVers that call Western Washington home just went through a long hot spell. Temperatures were well into the 90’s, with a high pressure system to the north which pushed forest fire smoke from British Columbia into the region making it sticky and uncomfortable.

If you were lucky, you had booked a campsite at the beach months in advance and were enjoying a cool campout along the coast or you are able to keep your RV parked at home where you have adequate electrical service to run the air conditioner.

Next time a heat wave arrives and the options above don’t work for you, try heading into the Cascade Mountains where it is likely to be 10-15 degrees cooler than the metro Puget Sound Region. We are blessed to have three major highways (Hwy 2, I-90 and Hwy 410) that climb high into the mountains from the metro areas allowing you to get into the high country without beating your RV up via miles of rough forest service roads.

Places To Go:

Camping at Buck Creek

Here are some suggestions on where to find campsites on short notice:

  • Forest Service campgrounds typically have some campsites on a first come first served basis while others are reservable online via Recreation.gov  

  • Overlooked places to camp in the mountains are ski resorts. Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass ski areas both offer campsites with electrical hookups at reasonable rates in the summer months. Along I-90 you will often see RVs parked for the evening in the Summit West parking lots.   

  • Boondock for free on forest service land.  The United States Forest Service permits dispersed camping in the forest throughout the Cascades. Typically you can camp for free for up to 14 days where others have camped before along forest service roads. Click here for more information on boondocking in the Snoqualmie Mount Baker National Forest. If you are new to boondocking you may want to stop in and talk to a knowledgeable ranger on your way to the mountains. Fortunately there are conveniently located ranger stations along the three routes mentioned below. Off Hwy 2 you will find a ranger station just east of Skykomish, along I-90 you will find a ranger station in North Bend and another (open weekends only) on Snoqualmie Pass and for information on camping along Hwy 410 visit the ranger station in Enumclaw. Addresses for each are listed at the bottom of the page. Forest Service rangers will likely be able to inform you of specific dispersed camping sites, a map and any areas that might require fees to camp. You can also locate boondocking sites in advance by using the tips contained in this video.

Boondocking on Lake Keechelus

Boondocking Along Tunnel Creek Road

Things To Do:

Now that you have found a cool place to camp in the mountains until the heat wave subsides, here are some suggestions on what to do to pass the time...

  • Take the family geocaching, who knows what you will find or where it will take you.

  • Take a hike up to a mountain peak or an alpine lake to enjoy even cooler temperatures and stunning mountain scenery

  • Enjoy the mountain bike terrain park at Stevens Pass Ski Resort

  • Visit one of the many waterfalls the Cascades have to offer

  • Take along your street legal trail motorcycle and explore the forest service roads

  • Take your bicycles and enjoy pedaling the Iron Horse Trail. Riding through the 2.3 mile Snoqualmie tunnel is a treat on even the hottest of summer days

  • Take a dip in a refreshing mountain lake or stream

  • Pack your pole and catch dinner

  • Pick huckleberries, salmonberries or whatever sweet treats are in season

  • Visit the Denny Creek Water Slides and get wet

  • Learn about early railroad history by hiking the Iron Goat Trail on Stevens Pass. Plan for lunch at the portal of the always cool Windy Point Tunnel

  • Take a gondola ride at Crystal Mountain for an outstanding view of Mount Rainier

Geocache at Mirror Lake


Now the next time hot weather plagues Western Washington, you will know where to go and what to do in your RV to beat the heat.


Skykomish Ranger Station

74920 NE Stevens Pass Hwy.
PO Box 305
Skykomish, WA 98288

Phone Number:
(360) 677-2414

North Bend Ranger Station

902 SE North Bend Way, Bldg 1
North Bend, WA 98045

Phone Number:
(425) 888-1421

Snoqualmie Pass Forest Service Visitors Center (typically open Thurs – Sunday in the summer)

69805 SE Snoqualmie Pass Summit Road

Phone Number:
(425) 434-6111 

Enumclaw Ranger Station

450 Roosevelt Avenue E
Enumclaw, WA 98022

Phone Number:
(360) 825-6585


Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

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