Campers travel to Lewis County campground during stay-at-home order

LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. — Coronavirus closed state campgrounds and many private parks, but Cascade Peaks Campground is still open for business.

Donald Cocherl drove four hours from Anacortes to Randle just so he could take his kids camping.

"It’s tough, you know, kids not having school. As a contractor, we’re shutdown, so it’s very nice to be able to get out and let the kids run and get around some other kids again,” Cocherl said. "I’m just hoping life gets back to normal soon.”

Camping isn’t currently allowed at state campgrounds, but manager Roxcie Dills said Cascade Peaks is different.

"We were considered an essential campground because ... , and we’re privately owned, therefore we have longer stay people,” said Dills.

About 15 people stay at the campground long-term. If the Lewis County park shut down, some people might not have a place to go.

On top of long-term living, they’re also taking short-term campers.

"Usually people go to the woods to get away from other people,” said Dills.

Considering everything that’s going on, Dills said that they’re busier than they expected to be.

"We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how much business we’ve been able to have,” she said.

Last month, they filled 75 sites. Typically in April they only see a dozen campers.

"Most have been, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you so much for being open.’ Just because so many other things are shut down,” said Dills.

The campground is letting families and friends camp close together. Other people are separated by at least a site or two.

Cascade Peaks has also increased restroom cleaning.

With 600 campsites, Dills said there’s plenty of space for everyone.

"Logically thinking, the outdoors seems like a safe place to be,” she said.