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Thornton Lakes Campground

The Thornton Lakes Campground is a backcountry site along the banks of Lower Thornton Lake in North Cascades National Park.

The campground is popular with hikers headed to the lakes or to Trapper's Peak. It's also one possible campground for those climbing Mount Triumph the next day.

The Thornton Lakes Campground is only 3 spaces large but is well worth the effort of getting a backcountry permit. It's set in a gorgeous setting that is a wonderful payoff after a 5-mile hike.

Thornton Lakes Campground Information

Here is the most important information you need to know before camping at Thornton Lakes:

Number of sites: 3

Permit: Yes, a backcountry permit is needed for anywhere in North Cascades National Park)

Toilets: No

Showers: No

Picnic Tables: No

Dogs: Not allowed past the National Park boundary

Panorama at the Summit of Trapper's Peak_edited
Panorama at the Summit of Trapper's Peak

Permit for Thornton Lakes Campground

If you plan to camp at Thornton Lakes Campground, you will need a backcountry permit. These can be picked up at the Marblemount Ranger Station.

Marblemount Ranger Station Address: 7280 Ranger Station Road, Marblemount WA 98267

You can also make an advanced reservation online. All reservations and walk-up permits cost $20. There is also a $6 transaction fee. You must be prepared to pay the fee with a debit or credit card. No cash is accepted. You can also walk up and hope that the permit you want is available. We highly recommend having more than one destination in mind so that if your first choice isn't available, you have a backup.

You can make a reservation up to two days before your trip.

Looking down at Thornton Lakes.
Looking down at Thornton Lakes. The camping area is out of sight on the bottom left-hand side of the image.

Getting to Thorton Lakes Campground

The Thornton Lakes are in North Cascades National Park in Washington and accessible via a 5.2-mile trail to Lower Thornton Lake.

Thornton Lakes Trail Map
Thornton Lakes Trail Map

The trailhead coordinates are 48.65492902979536, -121.32528770629733. The trail starts in Ross Lake National Recreation Area. If driving east on Highway 20, the turn onto Thornton Lakes Road will be on your left. If you're driving west, then it will be on your right.

Read our Complete Guide to Hiking Thornton Lakes for more.

At 5,018', you'll descend into the Thornton Lakes basin. The Thornton Lakes Campground is right at the end of this portion of the trail. Trapper's Peak is another 0.7 miles up the main trail and is at an elevation of 5,919'.

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