With the hustle and bustle in Mount Rainier National Park during the summer months, it can be almost impossible to snag a campsite within the park's boundaries. Luckily, there's the Gifford Pinchot National Forest just outside the parks southeastern boarders, where "dispersed" camping is legal and free. If you venture into the area well before the weekend, you should have no problem claiming this gem of a campsite along the Nisqually River's creamy glacial waters.
Other camping options just outside of the park's western boundary include:
ATTENTION: The Forest Service is considering closing all camping in this area due to excessive tree damage, trampled plants, and the high volume of garbage, human waste and toilet paper left at the backcountry campsites. They simply do not have the budget to maintain the area given these challenges. If you want to continue to camp alongside the river, pack out all garbage and toilet paper and dispose of it properly, bury your feces six inches down and more than 100 feet from river, bring your own firewood, and stay on established paths. Using the area responsibly will increase the chance that visitors will be allowed to continue enjoying the land.