The Priviest Views in Washington

In this feature from Mountaineer magazine, sit back (on the pot), relax, and enjoy the priviest views around Washington.
Kristina Ciari Tursi Kristina Ciari Tursi
Membership & Communications Director
September 30, 2023
The Priviest Views in Washington
This wooden privy has larches and a view of Mount Stuart. Best in fall. 13/10. Photo by Terry Galiney.

When you're sourcing content for a story about outdoor toilets, your first thought probably isn’t, “I’m going to make my mom so proud.” Well, your mom isn’t a copy editor for this magazine, but my mom is, and when I told her about this article, the first thing she did was groan and say, “Oh Kristina. You aren’t writing about poop again, are you?” Full of unconditional love, she did a quick course correction. “It has been about a year since you wrote about poop, so I guess this makes sense.”

What can I say? I am completely regular. By which, of course, I mean that I have always loved good bathroom humor. Research would suggest I am not alone. When we posted asking for submissions for this article, more than a hundred people shared photos and stories from encounters of the brown kind. A loo with a view, or poo with a view, seems to be the uniting topic everyone on the internet was looking for.

Appeal of outdoor thunder buckets

Outdoor toilets, aka backcountry or alpine privies, come in all shapes and sizes (and smells). Despite their variability, these commodes seem to be universally loved. Where else can you make uninterrupted eye contact with a marmot – or in scary cases, a mountain goat – while answering the call of nature? Contend with wind or snow or lightning while avoiding splinters from a wooden toilet seat? Confront the dangers of mosquito bites and sunburns in sensitive areas at the same time?

Whether you’ve been looking forward to the potty break for five hours or five minutes, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of throwing off your heavy pack, sitting down, and letting it all go. Plus, if you poop in a hole, you aren’t carrying that baggage out with you. These thrones offer a literal lightening of the load, if you will.

Classic craps of the PNW

For this article, we were looking specifically for the best – or priviest – views from outdoor toilets in Washington. (One commenter noted that any privy can be an alpine privy if you leave the door open, which is absolutely correct.) Nominations flowed in from across Washington state. We saw cliffside, water side, and mountain side options. Folks also shared a few back-to-back – or crap-to-crap – options. It seems that even backcountry rangers think that outdoor pooping is better with friends.

The installers of the Lake Serene privy would agree. “The toilet at Lake Serene has a decent view, but the fun part is that it’s slightly elevated with no tall vegetation between you and the trail,” said outdoor powder room user Christopher Blodgett. “You go into the woods thinking it’s private, and once you’re settled in, people walking down the trail are in full view and at eye level with the toilet. The toilet faces the trail, so if anyone happens to turn their head, it’s an awkward staring contest.”

The bottom line: we saw a lot of crap for this article, but our committee of dedicated staff poopers couldn’t pick a favorite. And why should we? All of the nominated crappers rate well above a 10 and offer their own special adventure. From Lake Chelan to the Wonderland Trail to Gothic Basin, we loved all your stories and the memorable trips they represent. Each one is unique, and from what we hear, well worth the visit.

Personally, I’m excited to share that after perusing all of the incredible privy views, I have a new type of bucket list. That's right. I went there. My mom will be so proud.

Privy Sharon.PNGThis is the Snow Lake poop hole. Can't complain about that view. 11/10. Photo by Sharon Barnard. 

Privy Eli.PNGThis commode overlooks Boston Basin. It even has a plastic seat. And sunset views. 14/10. Photo by Eli Mauksch. 

Privy Melinda.PNGThis super pooper is big enough for two. Poop with friends! 12/10. Photo by Melinda Harris. 

Privy Monica.PNGPeak a poo! This loo comes with a view of Desolation Peak. Extra drum for overflow storage. 13/10. Photo by Monica Price. 

Privy Brandon.PNGThis is a true alpine throne. Few views are privier. If Eldorado wasn’t on your list before, it is now. 14/10. Photo by Brandon Hoxie. 

Privy Olga.PNGLookout for splinters at this Hidden Lake thunder bucket. What a place to breathe in the fresh mountain air. 11/10. Photo by Olga Toropova.

Privy Alana.PNGThis Red Top Lookout privy has a door, walls, and sloughs snow like a boss. At least the door is a little broken, so you’ll never be truly alone. 12/10. Photo by Alana Miller. 

Privy Angela.PNGThis enchanting hole gazes longingly at Prussik Peak. You’ll want to stay a while. 13/10. Photo by Angela Argyropoulos.

Privy Michael.PNGThe hills are alive with the views from the Tyee Lookout potty box. Clouds, grass, and trees? Yes please! 12/10. Photo by Michael Chipman. 

This article originally appeared in our fall 2023 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive.

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Delwin Elder
Delwin Elder says:
Oct 03, 2023 09:49 PM

Is there a Bulger List equivalent for visiting all of these privies?

Kristina Ciari Tursi
Kristina Ciari Tursi says:
Oct 10, 2023 12:11 PM

Not that I know of, but maybe this can be the start of something incredible!

C GOEHLE says:
Feb 26, 2024 06:52 PM

Yes!!! Now I have a good wish list to strive for in the next season or two :-)
I can’t wait to share this article with my mountaineering father in his 80s who took us to several of these when we were kids backpacking in the Olympics and Cascades.