Last weekend the urge for adventure and the outdoors struck us as we arose early on a beautiful summer day in Seattle. Bobby would be headed for New York on a business trip on Sunday afternoon so we decided not to go backpacking but to once again spend the night car camping. The hardest part of preparing is deciding where to go. The plethora of options for camping in the Cascades is, at times, overwhelming. The Northern Cascades holds a special place in our hearts with its unbelievable glory and beauty so we decided to make the trek North. It was the weekend following the 4th of July so we were nervous that the campgrounds may be full. But, along the Cascade River Road, just outside of Marblemount, WA there are two campgrounds. The first, Marble Creek Campground, is located 8 miles down the road and is listed as having “medium” usage. We stopped there first and found a few open campsites that weren’t all that great. The campground had many groups and families camping over the holiday weekend. We decided to hope for a better site in the next campground that was located about 7.5 miles further down the road called Mineral Park Campground. This campground is rated as “light” usage and we found many more open sites. Mineral Park Campground is separated into an east and west section by the Cascade River, the west side was full but the east side did have several open sites. We found a private spot on the east side that, while far from the privies and with the trail to the west campground located right behind it, it did provide us with quiet during the night. Many families with young children were in this campground and while mostly respectful we did have one toddler simply run through the campsite as his family made their way up the trail. The sound of the Cascade River running so close to the site was wonderful and provided the perfect background noise for a good nights sleep.
This campground, while on National Forest land, is maintained by Hoodoo. The campsite fee was a little bit more expensive than we generally like to spend, at $12 a night. There was an additional fee if you had more than one vehicle, and there was one double site that was $20 a night. Sites could be reserved in advance. There were many sites just above the beautiful Cascade River with wonderful mountain views. However, these sites didn’t have great vegetative screening and there seemed to be no access to the river. The privies in the campground are very old and basic, but were cleaned daily. There is no potable water at this campground, part of the reason why we found the price so outrageous. We have found that, generally, a site fee is only used when there are amenities like water and/or a real bathroom or shower house. However, that wasn’t the case here. The campsites were well maintained and clean. There was a campground host at Marble Creek campground who sold firewood bundles for $6. We had bought one at the gas station in town for $5.50 plus tax. Overall, this wasn’t our favorite campground and we probably wouldn’t go back due to the price and lack of very scenic and private sites combined.