Trip Planning Tools for The Weekend Warrior

Mountaineers super volunteer and dedicated weekend warrior Garrett Arnold has a comprehensive list of popular mobile apps and websites to help you plan your outdoor trips? Check out these go-to resources for planning your future weekend adventures.
Garrett Arnold Garrett Arnold
Super Volunteer
September 28, 2022
Trip Planning Tools for The Weekend Warrior
Garrett Arnold and Nathan Foster Through Hiking the Enchantments. By Skye Stoury.

I think one of the best and worst parts of working in Seattle is that the mountains are often visible reminder that the outdoors are right outside your office front door. Cascades to the east and Olympics to the west, the mountains are always out there waiting for the next adventure. Juggling the call of life's responsibilities with the call of the mountains starts with planning out your weekends to make sure you make the best of each opportunity.

Here are my most frequent resources for researching and planning my next weekend adventures, organized by category and listed in alphabetical order:

Weather & Conditions

Mountain Forecast

Mountain Forecast - has a reputation for being hit or miss due to mountain weather unpredictability but good to add to the pile of resources when evaluating weather windows.

Northwest Avalanche Center (NWAC)

NWAC Avalanche Forecast, season but absolute place to check current conditions winter outings into the backcountry.


The go-to "where is it not raining in the PNW app?" High detail  visual overview of weather. It allows you to easily view rainfall, snow fall, air quality and much much more. 

Maps, Trails, & Conditions


Caltopo is similar to GaiaGPS. I prefer this for it's map making functionality and ease to convert maps to PDFs for printing.


GaiaGPS for route finding and trail mapping both pre-trip and on-trail. Great for pre-trip planning and mobile backcountry navigation  All Mountaineers members qualify for a free one year membership.

Mountaineers Route & Places Page

Route/place page may have recent trip reports and links to NOAA weather forecasts.

Official portal for US federal parks. Must go place for booking many backcountry permits or finding your next adventure destination.

Washington Department of Transportation Updates

WA DOT Email/Text Updates - Crucial for preparing for last minute traffic jams in the I-90, Highway 2 corridors. Make sure to customize your notifications!

Washington Trails Association Trip Reports 

Washington Trail Association often has up to date information on trail conditions via their community sourced trip reports. Just remember to pay it forward and submit your own reports too!



Be Notified of Campground Availability - Campflare
Get notified when there are campsites open at your favorite campground.


Community sourced dispersed camping and paid camp sites. Lists both free and paid campsite locations.


AirBNB style site for finding and booking camping options on public and private lands.


Get monthly digested emails on backcountry permit opening dates. You can also subscribe to a texting service that scans permitting websites every 30 minutes for cancelled reservations and texts you when there is an opening.



Withholding the heated debates around geotagging posts and increasingly crowded locations due to social media, Instagram can be a great resource to follow other outdoor enthusiasts and begin a search to find your own place to discover.

Your Local Ranger Station

Ranger stations are great places to learn about new spots and get recommendations from knowledgeable sources. For example, did you know Olympic National Park has some backcountry camp sites that can only be booked in-person with a ranger and aren't searchable via public resources?

Have more resources to add? Add them in the comments below!

Main image by Skye Stoury.

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Betty Pagan
Betty Pagan says:
Sep 29, 2022 10:18 PM

Free I used this when there were absolutely no campsites in Oregon. These are small campsites mostly in the forest lands first come first serve bases, and they have bathrooms.