Dosewallips State Park, Part 2: This Time, We Camp!

Dosewallips State Park, Part 2: This Time, We Camp!

By: Shelby March 12, 2013 8:56 am 19 comments

For months, we’ve been eagerly anticipating our first camping trip. We couldn’t wait to get outside and try out all our new gear that we’d accumulated over the winter months. Spenser surprised me with “secret plans,” which turned out to be returning to Dosewallips State Park for camping! Wahoo!
Another Olympic Adventure!

After three attempts at leaving home (forgot contacts, forgot all of our food, forgot wallet.. you know how it goes), we finally made it out to the Edmonds ferry terminal. It is our firm belief that this is where the adventure always begins. I’ve probably written this before, but there’s nothing better than getting out of the car and going up to the sun deck (or cloud deck, knowing the Puget Sound) and taking a stupid picture out in the wind and cold, and letting the boat do all of the work for you instead of sitting in traffic on I-5 trying to get around the Sound. It’s kind of like flying, except you get to take your car with you, and it’s on a boat, and not at all like flying.

We snaked our way down to our first stop: the Fallsview Campground! I was intrigued when we passed by it the first time, so, as is my way, I read about it as soon as we got home. My interest was thoroughly piqued, so as soon as Spenser gave the word that we would be going back that way (and after a period of clapping and jumping up and down), I said we should check this place out. The campground is on Hwy 101 just about 4 miles outside of Quilcene, not far past the ranger station.

Fallsview Campground waterfall

The Falls

The campground is currently closed for the season, but there were some other cars at the gate so we stopped and got out. The trailhead for Fallsview Canyon is at the back of the campground. There’s a short little trail for a viewpoint (.05 mile) that goes off to the right, and a longer trail down to the Big Quilcene River below that starts at the left of the trailhead sign. We checked out the falls viewpoint, and it was nice; the small horsetail waterfall is fed by an unnamed creek, and apparently dries up in the summer. As nice as waterfalls always are, the real gem of the trip was the river below. We hiked down to the churning river and climbed on the rocks. The water was beautifully sapphire and the rocks were covered in green moss: this canyon hike was more than worth the minimal effort to get to it. We sat down there for a long time before hiking back up to the car. The trail continues along the river and eventually loops back, but we decided to hike back up to the car after enjoying the river rushing through the lush green canyon. Consider Fallsview Campground a perfect stop to get out and stretch your legs during a drive along Highway 101.

The Big Quilcene River

The Big Quilcene River

Shelby perched on the rocks

Perched on the rocks

We eventually arrived at our lovely campsite in Dosewallips State Park. The beautiful campgrounds were mostly empty, but there were still plenty of RVs scattered around. The three cabins were rented out as well. They looked extremely cozy as we were setting up our REI half-dome 2+ tent. It was cold, but we weren’t deterred! One of the ladies in the cabin group commented that we were hardcore for tent camping in early March. We got our camp set up quickly, plopped down in our chairs and munched on Girl Scout cookies and Goldfish for a while. I brought my travel watercolors with me and just as I was getting into a painting, it of course started sprinkling. Rain generally isn’t conducive to allowing paint to dry, so I called that quits. Spenser decided it was nap time and I decided to explore the nearby riverbank campgrounds and riverbank. I noticed an absurd amount of elk droppings and tracks and searched in vain for this mythical elk herd. Instead of elk, I found a nice spot along the river to sit. There was an eagle perched in a tree. Together, we watched the river flow before us.
Our little campsite

Our little campsite

I went back to Spenser and we decided to hike back to the Steam Donkey Loop and search for the geocache that eluded us the last time. We set off down the Rhody Cutoff trail to get some good pictures of the Phantom Creek waterfall, but then Spenser’s spidey sense tingled, and he knew that heavy rain was coming. We hurried back to the tent just in time for the downpour. I settled into my sleeping bag with my tablet and read some of John Muir’s My First Summer in the Sierra. The rain pounded on the tent and I was perfectly content reading about sheep herds and the California landscape. The friendly park ranger knocked on our tent and informed us we could move to one of the group campsites if we wanted, so we could have a covered cooking area. “Later,” we resolved. And then, as often happens, I was lulled to sleep by the steady rain. Eventually, the rain cleared and it was time to light a fire. But… much to our dismay and shame, we couldn’t get a fire lit. We burned almost every single piece of paper we could find in my car, all the kindling we had, and the store-bought firewood just wouldn’t light. It quickly grew dark, so we gave up on the fire and cooked dinner, and it was absolutely fabulous. It’s hard to beat sausage, couscous, and rainbow chard. After dinner, doing dishes, and a nice mug of hot chocolate, we turned in for the night. The pouring rains came back as if on cue.

Our dinner of sausage, couscous, and rainbow chard

Dinner is served

I got up early the next morning and wandered around the park even more. This time, I found the beach trail and climbed the observation tower. It was a perfectly clear morning, so I could see Mt. Rainier all the way across the Kitsap Peninsula. I was completely alone on that side of the park. I made my way back to camp and Spenser and I made breakfast: eggs, bacon, and potatoes. My goodness it was delicious. After we cleaned up, we went back to the river, looking at the Olympic Mountains and planning our next camping trip: the Duckabush River Trail!

Dosewallips and the Olympics

Dosewallips and the Olympics

Breakfast is served!

breakfast of champions

Since we were so close to Duckabush, we decided to hop down there and get oriented with the road and trailhead. As Duckabush Road enters the National Forest, the pavement stops and the potholes begin. The going was slow in my little car. This was the moment I decided to give into the final Seattle stereotype I haven’t yet fulfilled: I need to become a Subaru owner. On our way back, we stopped at the Interrorem Ranger Cabin. Built in 1907, the cabin is the oldest Forest Service dwelling on the peninsula. And it’s available for rent! There’s a short interpretive nature trail, filled with signs telling of the history and natural wonder of the area.

Interrorem Nature Trail

Interrorem Nature Trail

After an interesting very-small-town experience at The Geoduck back in Brinnon, WA, we were on the way home. We survived the first camping trip of the year and are ready for more!

Things we forgot this time: plates

Clam season in Dosewallips SP runs from April 1 to the 15th!


  • You recognize elk droppings and are content to sleep in a tent in the cold rain? Who are you and what did you do with my daughter? You continue to amaze me! 🙂

  • Your blog is amazing!! 🙂 I had a blast reading this post, and am amused greatly by the “Things We Forgot This Time.” That list would be so long for us! We like to go camping with our little kids, but it has gotten awfully hard lately – Just for kicks, here’s a pic of our oldest’s first camping trip:

    • Shelby

      Thanks so much Beth! And that’s definitely camping in hardcore mode with the little ones! 🙂

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