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Visitor's Guide to Cougar Rock Campground

Located in the foothills of Mount Rainier National Park in Ashford, WA, Cougar Rock is one of the most picturesque camping sites in the Pacific Northwest. With its close proximity to the majestic Mt. Rainier and the Nisqually River and breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountains, Cougar Rock Campground offers something for everyone.


Whether you are a first-time camper or an experienced outdoorsman, you will find plenty of activities and amenities to enjoy at Cougar Rock Campground.


Read on for a visitor’s guide to Cougar Rock Campground.

Cougar Rock Campground


Location and Getting There

Cougar Rock Campground is located in Ashford, Washington, just outside of the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, home to one of the best mountains to climb in Washington. The campground is about a 1.5-hour drive from Seattle and a 2-hour drive from Tacoma.


To get there from either city, take I-5 South to Highway 706 and then continue onto SR-7 through Elbe, WA, before reaching Ashford. Once you reach Ashford, the campground is easy to find, just off the highway.

Nisqually River
The Nisqually River, which you can access near Cougar Rock Campground

Cougar Rock Campground: At a Glance

  • Location Coordinates: 46° 46' 1.9999" N and 121° 47' 39.9998" W

  • Nearest City: Ashford, Washington

  • Elevation: 3,100 feet

  • Best Feature: In Mount Rainier National Park

  • Season: Late May to late September

  • Fee/Price: $20.00 (for RV or tent)

  • # of Sites: 173 (including 5 group sites)

  • Reservations: Yes, on Recreation.gov

  • Pet Friendly: Yes, but pets should stay on a leash.

  • RVs or Tents? Yes, but RV sites are not electric


Amenities

There are a few different amenities avoidable to visitors at Cougar Rock Campground. Here they are:

  • Restrooms

  • Picnic tables

  • Large parking area

  • Fire platforms

  • Tent areas

  • Drinking water

  • Nonelectric RV sites

You should also know that trailers over 27 feet can't enter the campsite, nor can motorhomes over 35 feet. Plus, any groups over 12 people need to stay at one of the 5 group sites.

rainier at night
A beautiful view of Mt. Rainier at night

Activities Nearby

Ashford and the surrounding area are full of wonderful activities for visitors to the area. One of the highlights of the area is the fact that it's within Mt. Rainier National Park, home to one of the largest volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest. It also hosts many outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, hiking, and bird-watching.


Other activities include mountain biking on trails in the park, boating and kayaking at nearby lakes, rock climbing at nearby crags, and horseback riding through nearby forests. Ashford also has several golf courses for those interested in hitting the links.


Nisqually River and Carter Falls are also nearby. Madcap Falls is a short distance away. If you're willing to drive, two miles from the campground is the Longmire district, and Paradise is five miles away.



Rainier in Ashford
Mount Rainier is fairly close to Ashford, Washington

The former includes historic buildings that are important for the long history of the national park. Make sure to check out the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center in Paradise to learn more about the nature and history of the area.


Other popular attractions in the area include the famous Wonderland Trail and the much more reasonable Trail of Shadows.


We also recommend looking at Paradise Trail #1198 for a fantastic nearby hike



Cougar Rock Campground vs. Ohanapecosh Campground

If you're traveling to the Ashford area of Washington or hoping to camp in Mount Rainier National Park, there are a few different options. These include Cougar Rock Campground and Ohanapecosh Campground (which has slightly more campsites and may be a better option in the peak season).


Here is Traverse the PNW's comparison of Cougar Rock Campground vs. Ohanapecosh Campground:

Cougar Rock Campground

Ohanapecosh Campground

​# of sites

173

188

RVs and Tents?

Yes, but no electric sites

Yes, no electric sites

Proximity to Outdoor Activities

Close to: ​Carter Falls and Madcap Falls

Close to: Silver Falls and Grove of the Patriarchs

Crowd levels

Very busy in the summer​

Very busy in the summer​

Reservations?

Yes, highly recommended

Yes, highly recommended

Price

$20.00

$20.00

Elevation

3,100 feet

1,914 feet



Paradise Area
The Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park

Nearby Campgrounds

If Cougar Rock is full, check out some of these other options:


La Wis Wis Campground

Location: Randle, WA 98377

The campground features 109 sites and is off Highway 12. It's close to the Cowlitz and Ohanapecosh Rivers. The campground is open from early June to mid-September.

North Fork Elk Group Camp

Location: Randle, WA 98377

A large campground that offers spots for up to 25 people to camp. It has room for six cars. The campground is along the Cispus River and within the North Fork Campground.


Silver Springs Campground

Location: Enumclaw, WA 98022

A campground along the White River in the old-growth forest of Mt. Rainier National Park. It costs $24 to camp there, not including a reservations fee and extra fees for RVs. They also offer yurts and bungalows for rent.



Tips for a Great Trip

1. Set up camp early in the day and make sure to check out the amenities available.

2. Come prepared with supplies like flashlights, extra batteries, firewood, and other items you may need for your stay.

3. Respect the natural environment – pick up your trash and dispose of it properly, leave no trace of your visit, and follow all rules and regulations.

4. Have a plan for meals and snacks, so you don't end up hungry during your stay.

5. Wear appropriate clothing for the weather – layers are always best for temperature fluctuations during the night.

6. Bring a first-aid kit and know basic first-aid in case of an emergency.

7. Bring insect repellent to keep away pesky bugs.

8. Make sure to bring a cooler with ice so you can store perishables if necessary.

9. If you plan to do any activities like fishing or hiking, remember to wear the right footwear for safety and comfort.


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