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Dungeness Recreation Area Campground: Stay On The Hill Above the Spit
Clallam County Parks operates a campground within the Dungeness Recreation Area that is the only place to stay right on Dungeness Spit. While not in the National Wildlife Refuge the recreational area is on land right next to it, forming one large natural area. The campground is only a few hundred feet south of the entrance to the refuge, making this the only place that can really be considered a place to stay in the refuge as it is essentially located in the same ecological area. As it is officially in Sequim I have also included a reference to this campground in a Sequim Places to Stay tip.
There is a day use trail along the edge of the campground, between the campground and the edge of the cliff that goes down to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This provides some good views of the sunsets in the evening and it is possible to see across the strait to Vancouver Island.
There are 64 camp sites located throughout the campground, but only half of those are available through the reservation system. The other half are first-come first-served. There are coin operated showers and several restroom facilities, with water faucets scattered through the grounds but almost all of them are located next to restroom facilities (bring a few water carrying jugs). Reservations may only be mailed or hand delivered to the camp in which you wish to stay - at this time there is no phone-in or web reservation system. Note that there are availability indicators at each of the camp sites to show if a spot is available or not by reservation. It will be flipped to the "reserved" position if it has been reserved. See photo 2.
The Dungeness Spit area is broken into two management areas. One of those is the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge itself, which is maintained for the wildlife by the US Federal Government. However, in order to get to the National Wildlife Refuge, you must first pass through the Dungeness Recreation Area, which is owned and maintained by the Clallam County Parks service. Essentially, the entire area functions as one entity for the most part, except that day use on the Clallam County Parks side is free, while going into the National Wildlife Refuge area requires a $3 per day fee.
Overnight camping is not allowed on the National Wildlife Refuge side of the line between the two areas, but there is a full-fledged campground on the Clallam County Parks side of the line between the two.
This is the only place with overnight accomodations right on Dungeness Spit itself.
The showers are pay showers: $0.25 gets you two minutes. It is amazing how much you can get clean in only two minutes if you try! I highly recommend bringing plastic sandals for use in the showers as the floors in them can get really dirty due to those that walk through the grounds in their wet shoes and then shower in them as well. There is only one shower per gender per restroom block so sometimes in the mornings the showers have somewhat of a line.
The pay shower machine only takes quarters, so if you plan to use the showers here be sure to bring some quarters. See photo 3 of my Sequim places to Stay tip for sample photos of the shower.
The campground is open from February 1st to September 30th. Hike-in / Bike-in sites are $5 per night, Clallam County residents pay $17 per night for a regular camp site, and non-county residents pay $20 per night. (This was $16 and $18 respectively in 2009). There is an enforced 14 night limit stay at the campground.
During weekends the campground is at its most crowded, and generally is vastly reduced on weekdays.
A Bit of a Warning: Each camp site is equipped with a fire pit. Most of these are assembled from a block of concrete and parts from old construction equipment. These make OK fire pits, but the hot coals can fall out of the holes. Also, it is easy to trip on the concrete that surrounds the fire pit. Be very careful around these, and be especially watchful of very young children that they don't trip over the concrete and fall into the fire or the very hot fire metal of the pit. See photo 2 of my Sequim Places to Stay for a photo of a sample fire pit.
Near the center of the campground there is a small playground to entertain the children.
Most of the camp sites are somewhat sheltered by the forest, but there are a few at the edge of the forest that appear would feel the fury of the wind quite strongly. Photo 4 shows a somewhat unsheltered site, while photo 5 shows more sheltered surroundings. In fact, all of the photos show the variety of sheltered and unsheltered surroundings available here. A map of the campground is available on the Clallam County web site should you want to choose your spot beforehand.
See the Clallam County Parks web site below for more information, maps of the camp sites, and a map of the Clallam County Recreational Area in which the campground sits.
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