East Berlin, Pennsylvania
November 18, 2006
This is a highly sought after campground, so reservations are recommended. That said, we made ours shortly before we left on our trip for a Friday night stay and didn't have any problems. Folks next to us were last minute campers. However, the campground was mostly full and we were there in late August, so I don't recommend waiting till last minute if you know you want to stay there in peak tourist season.
Beware that you are in an active "Lahar Hazard Zone." That means if you hear the sound of a freight train, you have minutes to make it to heights 160' higher up... or you'll have a front row seat for the downflow of glacier melt from a restless volcano. Warning signs abound, and you camp here at your own risk (you're quite honestly not likely to make it 160' up in time). We rather enjoyed the extra thrill... (especially since we were right next to the creek) albeit from probably a relatively small risk for any given night.
As an additional bonus, there's a visitor center right here with a short interpretive trail behind it. Buy or borrow a guidebook and set out for a half mile walk seeing some of the woods and old park building/spa sights. Plants, animals, and volcanic conditions (hot water, etc.) are explained quite well. There's also a cross-section of a huge Douglas Fir - showing its size at various times in history. Quite impressive.
Rangers give talks/slide shows at night in the amphitheater (which our boys enjoyed quite a bit) and there are guided hikes at times. Check at the visitor center for a schedule when you are there. A very short drive away is the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail - another easy hike well worth the effort (see separate journal entry).
This campground is kept well-cleaned by volunteers and rangers alike - though I felt sorry for them out picking up other's trash and cigarette butts off the ground - something that SHOULDN'T have to be done. I did appreciate the cleanliness though.
Overall we really enjoyed the experience and would easily camp here again.
From journal 2006 Trip Pt 4 - Washington's National Parks