Camping in the Northwest - From a family who thought they'd share notes
Wanapum
(also known as Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park)
 
Reservations through Washington State Parks.
 
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is a 7,470-acre park with year-round camping at Wanapum recreational area. The park features 27,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Wanapum Reservoir on the Columbia River. Petrified wood was discovered in the region in the early 1930s, which led to creation of the park as a national historic preserve.
 
Overall.
After we got through the first night of a huge Windstorm, we definitely gave a Thumbs Up to this park.  How can you go wrong -- Sun, Water, Camping and Beautiful Scenery?  Well, watch out for the wind, because that first night of setting up in the gusts made for a rough time.....
 
Campsite.
All spots have Full Hook Ups so if you are in a tent, you get it all and have to pay for it. However, they are HUGE spots and such great views….. the Columbia River.  Each site is well maintained, great privacy, nice metal tables and fire pits.  Would be nice if you could move the tables around a bit, but they are chained to the ground.   We stayed in 8 and 9.  Sites 13 and 15 would be ideal – as they are on the far side that look out onto Columbia river.
 
Staff.
You’d see a lot of tractors come by with friendly drivers, however not overly friendly.   The gal at the main office was OK, but seemed new and she was going to have the Park Ranger follow up with me regarding an issue (gave her our campsite number) but nobody came by.  We visited this park a second time, and at that time the staff was not friendly at all.
 
Beach.
The beach / swimming area was awesome.  However, getting there by foot is a bit challenging when you are lugging a day's worth of gear down along with children as the pathway to beach is long, and on hot sand.  We tried to take two toddlers in a wagon down the path and it was a bit tough.  Up the hill, we just packed our belonging in the wagon and made the toddlers walk – which was a challenge too after a few hours at the beach.  The next visit to the beach we drove our vehicles down however, since it’s a public beach, parking could get limited.
 
The beach / park area has a nice grassy area with a lot of tables / bbq pits.  There is a huge area of HOT sand that lead to the river’s edge.  The park features a nice mixture of shade / sun and a great little roped off swimming area.  No lifeguard on duty. 
 
There are 57 unsheltered picnic tables, available first come, first served. The park is heavily used during Gorge concert season, and fills early on weekends.
 
Bikes or No Bikes?
As the road around the campgrounds are mostly gravel, I wouldn't bring the bikes to this campground.  This is a park where you didn't really see a bunch of kids riding their bikes around -- mainly they just played in sprinklers.
 
Weather. 
HOT.  First night was soooooo windy we were nervous that it was going to be like all weekend.  But it died down for the weekend where the wind was actually a relief from the HEAT. 
 
Other Notes. 
  • Clientele – mixture of young and old at the campground.
  • There is a Boat Ramp available, since you are right on the Columbia River.
  • The bathroom facility was very nice.
  • Internet and Cellular Service was just fine.
 
 
 
 
 
Wanapum Recreational Area
4511 Huntzinger Road
Vantage, WA 98950
509-856-2700
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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