Camping on Vashon Island: A Guide to the Best Campsites and Activities

Camping on Vashon Island is a unique experience that offers the perfect blend of nature and relaxation. Located in the heart of Puget Sound, Vashon Island is a small, rural island that is only accessible by ferry. This makes it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse themselves in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

One of the main reasons to choose Vashon Island for camping is its serene atmosphere. The island is home to several state parks, each offering a different camping experience. Whether you prefer a more secluded site or one with easy access to amenities, Vashon Island has something for everyone. Additionally, the island’s close proximity to Seattle makes it an easy weekend getaway for those looking to recharge their batteries.

Key Takeaways

  • Vashon Island offers a unique camping experience that combines nature and relaxation.
  • The island’s serene atmosphere and state parks make it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the city.
  • With its close proximity to Seattle, Vashon Island is an easy weekend getaway for those looking to recharge their batteries.

Why Choose Vashon Island for Camping?

Vashon Island is a hidden gem nestled in the Puget Sound, just a short ferry ride from Seattle. It’s a perfect destination for camping enthusiasts who enjoy the beauty of nature without sacrificing the conveniences of modern life. Here are a few reasons why Vashon Island is an excellent choice for camping:

  • Beautiful Scenery: Vashon Island boasts stunning views of the Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and Mount Rainier. It’s a great place to relax and unwind while enjoying the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Convenient Location: Vashon Island is easily accessible by ferry from Seattle, Tacoma, and other nearby cities. Once you arrive, you’ll find that the island has everything you need for a comfortable camping experience, including grocery stores, restaurants, and other amenities.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Vashon Island is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, deer, otters, and seals. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to observe these animals in their natural habitat while camping on the island.
  • Outdoor Activities: Vashon Island offers a plethora of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. You can go hiking, biking, kayaking, or fishing, just to name a few options. There’s something for everyone on Vashon Island.

Overall, Vashon Island is an ideal destination for camping enthusiasts who want to experience the beauty of the Pacific Northwest while enjoying the convenience of modern amenities.

Getting to Vashon Island

Vashon Island is located in Puget Sound, just southwest of Seattle. The island is accessible by ferry or private boat.

By Ferry

The Washington State Ferries system operates regular ferry service to Vashon Island from both Seattle and Tacoma. The ferry ride from Seattle takes approximately 20 minutes, while the ride from Tacoma takes about an hour.

Ferry schedules vary depending on the season, so it’s important to check the schedule ahead of time and plan accordingly. Reservations are not required, but it’s recommended to arrive at the ferry terminal early during peak travel times.

By Private Boat

For those with their own boat, Vashon Island is easily accessible via the water. There are several public boat launches on the island, including at Dockton Park and Jensen Point Park.

It’s important to note that the waters around Vashon Island can be challenging, with strong currents and changing tides. Boaters should be experienced and knowledgeable of the area before attempting to navigate the waters.

Overall, whether traveling by ferry or private boat, getting to Vashon Island is a straightforward and enjoyable experience.

Best Camping Spots on Vashon Island

Maury Island Marine Park

Maury Island Marine Park is a great camping spot on Vashon Island. The park is located on the eastern shore of Maury Island, and it offers beautiful views of the Puget Sound. The park has 1,000 feet of saltwater shoreline, and it is a great spot for beachcombing, fishing, and kayaking. The park has 10 primitive campsites, which are first-come, first-served. The campsites are located in a wooded area, and they offer privacy and shade. The park also has a picnic area, a playground, and a boat launch.

Vashon Park District Campgrounds

Vashon Park District Campgrounds is another great camping spot on Vashon Island. The campgrounds are located in the heart of Vashon Island, and they offer easy access to the island’s many attractions. The campgrounds have 28 campsites, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campsites are located in a wooded area, and they offer privacy and shade. The campgrounds also have a picnic area, a playground, and a basketball court.

Private Campgrounds

There are several private campgrounds on Vashon Island, which offer a range of amenities and services. These campgrounds offer RV sites, tent sites, and cabins. Some of the private campgrounds on Vashon Island include Camp Burton, Vashon Island RV Resort, and Quartermaster Harbor RV Park. These campgrounds offer a range of amenities, including showers, laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi.

What to Pack for Camping on Vashon Island

When planning a camping trip on Vashon Island, it’s important to pack carefully and thoughtfully to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential items to consider bringing:

Shelter and Sleeping Gear

  • Tent: Choose a tent that is appropriate for the number of people in your group and the weather conditions you expect to encounter.
  • Sleeping bags: Bring warm sleeping bags that are rated for the expected temperatures.
  • Sleeping pads: These provide insulation and cushioning for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Clothing and Footwear

  • Layers: Vashon Island can have unpredictable weather, so it’s important to bring layers that can be added or removed as needed.
  • Rain gear: A waterproof jacket and pants are essential for staying dry during rainy weather.
  • Sturdy shoes or boots: Bring comfortable shoes or boots for hiking and exploring the island.

Food and Cooking Supplies

  • Cooler: A cooler is essential for keeping perishable food fresh.
  • Stove: Bring a camping stove and fuel for cooking meals.
  • Cookware: Pack pots, pans, utensils, and dishes for cooking and eating.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Lighting: Bring flashlights or lanterns for nighttime illumination.
  • First aid kit: Include basic medical supplies such as bandages, pain relievers, and antiseptic.
  • Insect repellent: Vashon Island has mosquitoes and other biting insects, so be sure to bring repellent to avoid bites.

By packing these essential items, campers can be prepared for a comfortable and enjoyable camping trip on Vashon Island.

Activities to Do While Camping


Vashon Island boasts a variety of hiking trails that are perfect for exploring the island’s natural beauty. Two popular trails are the Shinglemill Creek Trail and the Maury Island Marine Park Trail. The Shinglemill Creek Trail is a 1.5-mile loop that takes hikers through a lush forest and along a picturesque creek. The Maury Island Marine Park Trail is a 1-mile round trip that offers stunning views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.


Camping on Vashon Island is a great opportunity to explore the island by bike. The island has several bike rental shops, making it easy to rent a bike and hit the trails. The Vashon Island Bike Tree is a popular destination for bikers, offering a variety of trails for all skill levels. The trails wind through forests, along beaches, and through quaint towns, providing a unique and enjoyable biking experience.

Wildlife Viewing

Vashon Island is home to a variety of wildlife, making it a great destination for nature lovers. The island is home to many bird species, including bald eagles, ospreys, and great blue herons. Visitors may also spot deer, raccoons, coyotes, and even whales and seals in the waters surrounding the island. The Point Robinson Lighthouse Park is a popular destination for wildlife viewing, offering stunning views of the Puget Sound and the surrounding wildlife.

Safety Tips for Camping on Vashon Island

Camping on Vashon Island can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and escape the hustle and bustle of city life. However, it’s important to take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while camping on Vashon Island:

  • Check the weather: Before heading out, make sure to check the weather forecast for Vashon Island. Sudden changes in weather can occur, so it’s important to be prepared for any conditions you may encounter.
  • Pack appropriate gear: Bring appropriate clothing and gear for the weather conditions and the activities you plan to do. Make sure to bring a first aid kit, a map of the area, and plenty of water and food.
  • Be aware of wildlife: Vashon Island is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, raccoons, and coyotes. Keep a safe distance from these animals and avoid feeding them.
  • Follow fire safety guidelines: If you plan to have a campfire, make sure to follow all fire safety guidelines. Keep the fire contained in a designated fire ring and never leave it unattended.
  • Respect the environment: Leave no trace and respect the environment by packing out all trash and leaving the campsite as you found it.

By following these safety tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable camping experience on Vashon Island.


Camping on Vashon Island is a unique experience that offers a peaceful and scenic getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. With its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and serene lakes, Vashon Island is the perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Whether you are looking for a quiet retreat or an adventure-filled vacation, Vashon Island has something to offer everyone. From hiking and biking to kayaking and fishing, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your stay.

One of the best things about camping on Vashon Island is the opportunity to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. With limited cell phone service and no Wi-Fi, you can truly unplug and unwind in this peaceful and tranquil setting.

Overall, camping on Vashon Island is a memorable experience that is sure to leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. So pack your bags, grab your tent, and head out to Vashon Island for your next camping adventure!