Camping Spotlight: Lyre River Campground, Olympic Peninsula

Sometimes, when you leave things to chance on a weekend camping trip, disaster ensues. And sometimes you get lucky.


On an August weekend in 2009, we were heading to the lush, beautiful Ozette Loop Trail in Olympic National Park, which starts in coastal forest and winds its way (often on boardwalk trails) to a pristine stretch of driftwood-strewn beach.

But we hadn’t booked a campsite, trusting that we would find a spot in one of the campgrounds on the way. Despite a misty rain, the first few campgrounds were full, and late in the afternoon we stopped off at the picturesque general store in the town of Joyce.

They pointed us to the little-known Lyre River Campground just five miles farther down the Strait Juan De Fuca Highway, a secluded spot with just 11 campsites, close enough to the river that you could fall asleep to the sound of rushing water. We pulled in and not another soul was camping there. To top the whole thing off, camping was free (and still is, according to the website). There’s even good fishing, if that’s your thing.

We made a quick and easy dinner, roasted marshmallows, and played along the river in the long twilight. The rain did fall off and on all night, but we slept well. We rolled up our (damp) tent, and drove the last 55 miles to Ozette.

Know before you go:

From the Lyre River Website: 

Description: 11 campsites near the mouth of the Lyre River. The Lyre River Campground is a fine Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hidden gem that has everything going for it--excellent location (not far from beaches or mountains or towns), overlooked and little used, fine fishing (including it's own species of trout) and it's free! 23 acres with a private feel to it, the campground is 15 miles from where the scenic Lyre River empties into the ocean. Lake Crescent is the river's source. Fishermen like the campground, sometimes has good salmon fishing during migrations. A wheelchair-accessible fishing pier is available.

Location: From Olympia on I-5, take U.S. 101 and drive north 127 miles to a fork with Highway 112 (five miles past the town of Port Angeles). Turn west (right) on Highway 112 and drive about 15 miles to Milepost 46. Look to the right for a paved road between Mileposts 46 and 47; then turn north and drive 0.4 mile to the camp entrance road on the left.


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