We are in our third year of road trips in our Leisure Unity RV, and are discovering Washington State Parks as a pleasant way to enjoy all the state of Washington has to offer. Travel has been limited this year due to the pandemic, but staying in Washington, where we live, has led us to explore more Washington State Parks or, at least, a preview of what they have to offer.
I don’t know why, but we always shied away from State Parks, thinking they were inferior. Maybe they crowded too many RV’s together, didn’t have full hook ups, were unkempt, or were lacking in other ways. But we were very wrong, much to our surprise.
Our first Washington State Park visit did not disappoint.
RV Camping at Wanapum State Park
This year, due to the pandemic, we limited our travels to our own beautiful Washington State. We landed in Wanapum State Park, after a couple of days in Leavenworth at a private RV Park. We were extremely surprised at the bounty of beauty this State Park had to offer. It sits right along the Columbia River, and was like an oasis in the desert, just outside of Vantage, WA. We arrived early, and were lucky enough to secure the last open RV space, right along the River.
If you’ve ever been to Vantage, you know it’s sage-brush-filled, with windmills dotting the hilltops. The wind is pretty common, but also has the gorgeous, rugged Columbia Gorge, carved out by the grand Columbia River.
So we parked the rig in a lush green, grassy area, shaded by draping trees, that looked more like sculptures than trees, and it was the perfect spot. The spaces were spread out, providing privacy, with hook ups for electricity, water, and sewer. The shoreline is shallow and accessible for playing in the water, or just enjoying the glorious views. Discovering Wanapum State Park, in this case, changed our whole mindset about State Parks, in general.
The Perfect Spot at Maryhill State Park
Our next experience was also on the Columbia. This time, it was further south, where the Columbia River runs along the border between Washington and Oregon. Maryhill State Park is inundated with giant shade trees and rich, green grass for walking, picnicking, playing games, or just relaxing with a book in the shade of one those trees. Perhaps even a short nap.
Once again, the spaces allowed for an RV or tent were quite generous, and equipped with everything we needed – a picnic table, fire pit, and full hook-ups. Showers were also available. We prefer to use our motorhome shower, though, which is one of our favorite features of our Leisure Unity MB.
We especially enjoyed our view of enormous barges, as they passed by, and the trains chugging along across the river. The trains didn’t really bother us, since they didn’t lay on their horns, and they were across the river anyway. We even counted the number of cars that formed the long train. One was tallied at 122!
I meandered through the park with our dog, Bleu, and down along the shoreline. Bleu likes to walk through the water, and at one point he was cooled by sitting his butt in the refreshing water. It made me chuckle.
Choosing a Washington State Park
There are so many Washington State Parks to explore, we have barely made a dent in them. Trips have been limited this year, due to the pandemic. But next year, there are a few more we would like to add to our list. I think we prefer State Parks now. Granted, you will not find amenities like swimming pools and cabanas, or restaurants, on site, but you will find beauty, peace (in most areas), hikes, lake or river swimming, fishing, boating, and just hanging out with Mother Nature.
Keep in mind that reservations in State Parks are advised, as they book up fast. Fees are usually less than private RV Parks, which is a big plus. Also, not all State Parks offer RV Camping, as some are just day use only parks. Many of them do offer camping options, though. When making a choice, consider how you like to spend your time. Are you looking for activities, sightseeing, relaxation, water activities, or exploring the forests or mountains? Do you prefer wooded areas, wide open dessert, mountain views, or the salty air along the coast?
For us, our age limits us to enjoying the scenery, and watching wildlife has become an obsession. Eagles soar high in the sky, whales journey across the ocean, sea otters playing the waves, and seeing bears forage in the woods are amazing sights we have already witnessed.
Plans for Future State Parks
Including state parks on our journeys really broadens our options and experiences. I only regret that we didn’t discover them sooner. Who knew Washington State Parks would be so rewarding?
We didn’t realize what we were missing!