Cool days and cozy nights: Enjoying autumn in a rustic retreat

Wallace Falls Maple Leaves

                                                        In Autumn, Wallace Falls State Park is a feast for the senses!

There’s a kind of perfection to Washington in autumn.

Sunlight lengthens into a liquid-gold setting for the jewel tones emerging from vine maples, birch and alder. Earthy scents emerge with each burst of rain. The air is brisk, and the natural world is at an alluring peak.

These final halcyon days of the year are perfect for an outdoorsy adventure. And in the fall, camping reservations are easily had. But if a tent is not your bent, it’s also prime time to book a stay in a Washington state park cabin or yurt! At this time of year, these popular rentals have reduced rates and more open dates than in summer! Weekday stays are almost always available, even on short notice. Come explore!

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Battle Ground Cabin (002)

Even the simplest of state parks rustic cabins—like this one at Battle Ground Lake State Park—are warm, wonderful getaways waiting to host your fall adventure!

Imagine waking up, snug in your sleeping bag on a comfortable bed or futon.

Step out onto the porch for a cup of Joe before rousing the troops (or just your favorite camping partner) before going for a walk through vibrant woods. Maybe check out the salmon swimming up a creek and the bloom of colorful fall fungi sprouting in the woods. Head back to your shelter to read and relax. Then, enjoy a casual dinner and maybe some spooky stories around a crackling fire, just a couple steps outside your front door.

Sound like bliss? Looking to book that winning combo of fall color and a cozy yurt or cabin? Here’s a few parks to get you planning!

Belfair State Park, Belfair

Located on a shallow stretch of the southern Hood Canal, Belfair State Park is an easy-to-reach respite from the city bustle. Vine and scarlet maple mix with cedar and big leaf maple for a brilliant display. You may spot chum salmon fighting the current in the park’s two creeks, Big and Little Mission, to plant the next generation. Four simple cabins in the park’s wooded areas accommodate up to five guests each for about $55 a night. Reserve cabin C1 and bring along the dog, for $15 extra per night. Bonus: Belfair has made many wonderful upgrades for visitors, including a new welcome station. Come check them out!

Seaquest State Park, Castle Rock

Say yes to a yurt! Seaquest State Park has fun, comfortable yurts for rent. Yurts are round, thick-walled, tent-like structures with locking doors, a porch, heater and a large skylight, which brings in light and allows views of the forest canopy. With hard, permanent floors, yurts are a snap to keep tidy, even when the pine needles follow you inside. Take a turn or two through Seaquest’s miles of deep forest trails.Then, go for a must-see experience at the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center across the street from the park. Take a walk around placid Silver Lake and capture photos of the bright leaves reflecting on the water. You might even catch a view of the infamous volcano!

Wallace Falls State Park, Gold Bar

Waterfall, lake and river views are the big draws at Wallace Falls State Park near the town of Gold Bar, west of Stevens Pass. Hikes through changing alder and maple are a hiker’s paradise. Take the Greg Ball Trail out to Wallace Lake, or head west on Woody Trail to viewpoints of Lower, Middle and Upper falls. Then, stay the night in one of Wallace Falls' amply sized vacation cabins. These are ADA accessible, and you can even bring the family dog in two of them, for the $15 pet fee.

Rasar State Park, Concrete

The only thing more beautiful than the North Cascades is the North Cascades in fall. A drive along Highway 20 after the equinox is the epitome of autumn’s picturesque bounty. And Rasar State Park is right in the heart of it all, with three outstanding cabins. Set among alder and fir trees, Rasar’s cabins are nicely appointed with log furniture, a sink and counter, a bathroom and shower INSIDE the cabin and more! Enjoy your morning coffee in the Adirondack chairs on the porch and a fire and barbecue in the evening. These cabins house up to five and, during the shoulder season, run about $85 a night. While you are there, take a walk down to the Skagit River, which runs high at this time of year. The cabins at Rasar do tend to fill up, but many weekdays and sometimes a few weekends are often available.

Battle Ground Lake State Park, Battle Ground

Peace, quiet and misty cool mornings by a deep, glassy lake. Oh, and fall colors, too. Battle Ground Lake State Park is a popular playground year-round. But it takes on a distinctly different quality in the fall. The lake is volcanic like Crater Lake in Oregon. But Battle Ground is rimmed in a lovely, classic Pacific Northwest forest, which is reflected on the lake’s often mirror-like surface. The cabins here are generous in size, with electric light and heat. Enjoy a great night's sleep before you head out for a hike or even a bike or horse ride on the park's miles of forested trails. Bring your fishing poles! The lake is stocked with trout, and only human and electric craft are allowed on this lake, so there’s no one to scare your catch! If you miss a chance at a cabin at Battle Ground, check out the yurt selection at nearby Paradise Point, which may have more availability.

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Salmon in belfair fall creek (002)

If you choose to stay at a park such as Belfair, with creeks connected to saltwater, you might witness salmon swimming upstream to lay their eggs.

This is just a small sample of the cabins, yurts and rustic shelters, which include platform tents, old fire lookout towers and even teepees, at 25 parks statewide!

Remember: You will need to bring bed linens as well as food when you visit a state park cabin, but many of the facilities provide heat and light. Check what amenities are included with your shelter before you go to ensure you have all you need for a comfortable stay. If you don’t find the date or park you hoped for, don’t be disappointed. Our reservations page has options to browse openings by date and location. Some flexibility may pay off in the form of a new favorite fall getaway!

While you’re at it…why not think about the future! You can book your state parks adventure up to nine months in advance. Jump into a fall getaway, and reserve your spot for next summer!