Outdoors with outdoor rec

Trailer rentals make it easy to experience camping in the PNW

By Missy Bouchat on April 26, 2019

The greatest perk of being stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) is its ideal proximity to, well, everything. With the Pacific Ocean to the West, and the Cascade Mountains to the East, and loads of forest and beaches in between, it's easy to connect with nature every day. Northwest Adventure Center, located on JBLM Lewis North, can help you step it up a notch, with rental equipment ranging from ski packages to camping trailers.

Located at 850 NCO Beach Rd., the Northwest Adventure Center is open Monday through Saturday and always equipped with helpful and knowledgeable staff. You can sign up for trips, classes, browse their retail shop (it's like a mini R.E.I.), or rent equipment. Renting a camping trailer couldn't be easier. No camping trailers can be rented out more than 30 days in advance, and payment is required when you reserve. This keeps the trailers from being booked out months in advance, allowing everyone the opportunity to enjoy. Prices range from $75 a night for a Flaggstaff A-Frame trailer that sleeps two, up to $107 per night for a 19' Springdale trailer that sleeps seven. There is no tax or hidden fees, which makes it easy to budget properly. Be sure to check that your vehicle can tow the weight of the available trailers, that your insurance covers towing, and that you have the proper equipment.

Once you've reserved your trailer, you can start planning your packing needs. While it does come equipped with mattresses, you'll need to pack the rest of your necessities like blankets, towels, toilet paper, and everything you need for your mini kitchen. There is plenty of storage throughout the trailer, so you can safely over-pack if need be. You can also stock the fridge, as the electricity to the trailer can be on even while driving (although if you aren't planning on using a hook-up site, you will want to conserve your battery.) Be sure to research fun camping recipes. There are about 40 different camping recipes for s'mores, as well as tons of creative campfire dinners -- the better you plan your meals, the easier packing will be.

On the day you pick up (as early as 9 a.m.), allow for a good hour as staff will walk you through hooking up to water and electricity, as well as leveling the trailer and setup. Remember, no pets are allowed inside the trailer, and it is illegal in the state of Washington for a person to ride in a trailer being towed. You can also expect to encounter a learning curve of towing a trailer behind you. Take it nice and slow in the beginning as you become accustomed to the extra weight, and be sure to take wider turns than normal and always drive at a safe distance behind other vehicles, in case you have to stop suddenly. If you have any questions about towing or renting a camping trailer, the staff at Northwest Adventure Center are your best resource.

If you are looking for a unique experience, like a family camping trip or spending a few hours on a paddleboard at American Lake Park, your first stop has to be Northwest Adventure Center. While you're stationed at JBLM, the sky is the limit when it comes to recreation. Take advantage of this beautiful part of the country and start crossing off your adventure bucket list.