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Glamping and Camping in the Sky Valley

Pull right up to the edge of the Skykomish River, settle into the RV life, and listen to the water make its way westward while you put the hot dogs on the grill and let the kids play.

Such is life at Thunderbird RV and Camping Resort. 

Laneta Nauman’s family has had a Thousand Trails membership at the park for years, providing her grandchildren’s a favorite place to spend the summer. Visitors rent an RV, tent site, cabin or yurt. Throw a line in the Skykomish River in the summer or fall and pull out salmon and steelhead. Thunderbird is a full resort with shuffleboard, a pool, Saturday night movies, and mini-golf. 

“The grandkids just love it,” Nauman says. “They could swim in the pool all day. There’s two pools by the red barn and a hot tub. We really enjoy Thunderbird.”

While you’re there, try your hand at horseshoes, play some basketball or volleyball, join the Saturday communal barbecue, and relax next to Thunderbird Creek, which runs smack dab through the middle of the park.

“It’s like staying in a five-star hotel, but in the morning you wake up and hear the sounds of the day stirring around you, and feel like you just slept under the stars.”

Like Thunderbird, so many campgrounds and parks in this region are blessed with water and beautiful scenery. On a clear day, Mt. Index hovers over the cabins at D&A Cabin Rentals. On a rainy one, you can hear the water pitter-patter on the Skykomish River. It doesn’t really matter what the weather is, you’re guaranteed serenity. 

Andrea Wickizer gets more enjoyment from perusing the guest book comments than she does profit from the cabins. 

“I just want people to have fun and see this little bit of beauty. People can do this,” says Wickizer. Her four cabins provide two double beds — you bring the linens. Coming with kids? Bring a tent and there’s room for all. 

From your cabin, spend an entire day doing nothing but soaking in the sounds of the forest and river, or use it as a jumping-off point for a hike to Lake Serene, or a drive-through Jacks Pass. Feeling like a cold beer is in order? You’re in luck. Andrea and her husband Devon also own the Mt. Index Sand-Bar, within walking distance of the cabins.

“We attract a lot of the outdoorsy folk who hike and climb, then come back to the cabin and hang out with us for a good beer,” Wickizer says. “It’s really laid back and people have a lot of fun here.”

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Enjoy everything from a cozy cabin to glamping in a 10-acre garden, in-comparable views in a fire lookout to the creature comforts of an RV. There are so many options for an amazing camping experience in the Skykomish valley and foothills. Tent sites, yurts, cabins, and RV’s are all available — complete with mountain views, waterfalls, babbling brooks, and winding rivers. The foothills of the Central Cascades and the people in it know how to envelop you in serenity.

Maybe you want luxury but not with too many other people around… enter the glamping experience of Falling Water Gardens. This, my friends, is true glamping — glamour camping for real. The 10-acre display garden and aquatic nursery with Koi showing off for treats, peacocks, alpacas, goats, and roosters all about. Camp overnight in safari-size tents, complete with a bed, seating, antique dressers, and nightstands. Coffee, power, a fire pit, and a s’mores kit are all provided. And, of course, a hammock. You’re outdoors, but with all the luxuries. Why would anyone want to leave?

“It’s like staying in a five-star hotel, but in the morning you wake up and hear the sounds of the day stirring around you, and feel like you just slept under the stars,” says owner Rick Perry. 

If that seems too cushy for your tastes, then take a hike. Literally — up 2.6 miles of moderately difficult trail to the Heybrook Lookout Tower.


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The lucky few with a reservation stay the night in the tower — a cozy cab-in aloft in the sky. The last of the evening sun across the tower’s bank of windows are seen gleaming from across Western Snohomish County like a beacon. You’ll be behind those windows, sleeping bag already set up on the bed, hot cup of tea in hand, taking in views of Mount Baring bursting out of the Skykomish Valley, the three distinct and unmistakable spires of Mount Index and the more rounded summit ridge of Mount Persis stand-ing above the tiers of Bridal Veil Falls. It’s a glorious place to make your bed for the night.

Another bit of glory is found in Flowing Lake Campground near Snohomish. Surrounded by trees and snug between two smaller lakes, it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere. This well-kept county campground provides plenty of amenities, including a play area for the kids, amphitheater, showers, and flushing toilets. Bring your boat and go skiing, drop a line for stocked Rainbow Trout or resident Largemouth Bass, or jump in for a refreshing dip.

Whatever your style, from Thunderbird RV park to a perch in the sky, you’ll find a cabin, park, lookout tower, tent or yurt calling you to explore the Skykomish River Valley. Come camping with us, and find your moment of bliss.