Wanted: Campground Hosts for DNR Recreation Sites in Southwest Washington

Merrill Lake

Become a camp host for DNR and enjoy a summer basking in nature. Photo by: DNR

Have you ever spent a weekend camping and thought to yourself; “Man, I wish this didn’t have to end!” Well it might not have to.

Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking for a volunteer hosts for  campgrounds and you may be just the person for the job.

DNR needs hosts for three sites in southwest Washington: Margaret McKenny campground in Capitol State Forest, Dougan Creek campground in Yacolt Burn State Forest, and Merrill Lake campground just north of Cougar, Washington. Margaret McKenny and Dougan Creek have full hook-ups on site. Merrill Lake is a more primitive site for those looking to get away from it all.

Read on to learn about these long-term volunteer opportunities with DNR…

Margaret McKenny Campground – Capitol State Forest

  • Location: 2.5 miles northwest of Littlerock, WA in Thurston County.
  • Description: Nestled on the eastern edge of the Capitol State Forest (map), the Margaret McKenny Campground is a favorite spot for family camping excursions.  There are 24 regular and 1 ADA campsites to choose from.
  • Amenities: Cement pad with covered shelter, power, water tank, septic holding tank, and phone line.
  • Host Needed: Year round

Dougan Creek Campground – Yacolt Burn State Forest

  • Location: 19 miles northeast of the town of Washougal along Washougal River Road in Skamania County.
  • Description: Dougan Falls is the last waterfall along the Washougal River and is 100-feet wide. Area has 7 campsites and two outhouses. The nearby day-use area has 4 picnic sites and one outhouse. Campground is heavily used due to its proximity to the town of Washougal and the Vancouver/Portland metropolitan area. The presence of campground hosts and an active neighborhood watch group has helped deter inappropriate uses of the area. Campground hosts are encouraged to partner with the neighborhood watch group.
  • Amenities: Septic, power, and water are available for hook-up at host site. A land line phone is available to the host.
  • Host needed: Dougan Falls campground has the potential to be open year round, winter weather permitting.
Margaret McKinney

As the gateway to the over 80 miles non-motorized trails, Margaret McKinney campground is a favorite for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrian users alike. Photo by Diana Lofflin/DNR

Merrill Lake Natural Resources Conservation Area Campground – near Cougar, WA

  • Location: 4.5 miles north of Cougar, WA in Cowlitz County, southwest of Mount St. Helens in a stand of old growth trees. Elevation—2,500 feet.
  • Description: If you’re a fan of fly fishing, then you may have heard of Merrill Lake—a lake formed by volcano. The entire lake is off limits to boats with combustion-engines. Merrill Lake has a walk-in only tent campground with 9 sites and a day-use area. The day-use area has picnic sites, a boat launch, and a short trail through some old growth trees.
  • Amenities: Merrill Lake has septic, an available generator, and fuel for RV power. There is no phone service at host site but hosts will be provided a radio for contact with DNR dispatch. The site also has a hand pump for water – although we recommend boiling any pumped water before drinking. There is a single outhouse in campground area and a double outhouse in picnic area.
  • Host needed: Merrill Lake campground is generally open March 15 – November 15, depending on snow level.

Host duties include (but are not limited to):

  • Register campers.
  • Act as a point of contact, providing information on rules regulations and other recreation opportunities
  • Clean camp and day-use areas, including restrooms.
  • Help in educating visitors to follow campground rules and have a current Discover Pass.
  • Let visitors know about appropriate uses of adjacent day-use areas and trails.
Dragoon Creek Campground

Become a volunteer campground host and play a crucial role in protecting our most popular recreation areas. Photo by: Diana Lofflin/DNR

Requirements for campground hosts:
DNR camp hosts are required to commit to a minimum of one month, although a longer stay is preferred. A full-time commitment is needed. All hosts must pass a Washington State Patrol criminal background check. Couples are preferred as campsite hosts, but single applicants are welcome to apply. As DNR campsites are more rustic, hosts must have a camping trailer or RV. Host sites can accommodate a trailer or RV approximately 35 ft in length.

Interested? If you are interested in applying to be a volunteer campground host at one of these campgrounds, contact Nick Cronquist, Volunteer Coordinator at DNR Pacific Cascade Region, at 360-480-2700.

Looking for other host opportunities?
DNR is also looking for camp hosts for Dragoon Creek Campground near Spokane, WA and Tahuya River Horse Camp in Tahuya State Forest near Belfair, WA.

Dragoon Creek Campground – near Spokane, WA

  • Location: 14 miles north of Spokane, Washington
  • Description: Dragoon Creek Campground has 22 developed campsites, RV access, drinking water, restrooms, and campfire pits throughout the grounds.
  • Amenities: Host site amenities include water, power, sewer, and phone to make things a little more comfortable.
  • Contact: For more information, view our blog here. If you’re interested in applying to be camp host, contact Kyle Pomeranky at 509-685-2719, or kyle.pomrankey@dnr.wa.gov

Tahuya River Horse Camp – Tahuya State Forest

  • Location: Located in Tahuya State Forest about 10 miles southwest of Belfair, Washington.
  • Description: Tahuya River Horse Camp is a popular destination for equestrian and ORV recreationists. This campground has 8 campsites, a day-use picnic area, horse corrals, and access to the river. Unfortunately, reports of misuse and dangerous behavior have prompted DNR to temporarily close the Tahuya River Horse Camp, beginning Friday, May 17, until an appropriate camp host can be found.
  • Contact: If you’re interested in applying to be camp host, contact Jesse Sims at 360-801-5097, or jesse.sims@dnr.wa.gov
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One Response to “Wanted: Campground Hosts for DNR Recreation Sites in Southwest Washington”

  1. feuerschale Says:


    Wanted: Campground Hosts for DNR Recreation Sites in Southwest Washington | Ear to the Ground

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