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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lake Wenatchee State Park

Family Vacation

Lake Wenatchee State Park
Lake Wenatchee State Park - camp ground map.
Click for a pdf copy!
For our annual summer family vacation we have started a tradition of camping. Last year we went to Lake Ozette in the Olympic National Park. This year the original plan was to go to Waldron Island in the San Juan Islands to visit my brother, sister-in-law and my 9 month old nephew. Unfortunately, I got a phone call from my brother with news that Waldron was having a caterpillar infestation of BIBLICAL proportions. Yikes! The caterpillar's had defoliated the canopy and had wiggled down the trees in search of food. He told me that walking around outside you are standing on caterpillars and having caterpillars crawling up your legs and raining down on you from the tree canopy.

Since we didn't want to be thoroughly disgusted by our camping trip, we decided to go elsewhere. I really wanted us to go to Mount Rainier National Park. I hadn't gone since I was a little girl and wanted to see it as an adult. Unfortunately, our vacation plans fell in mid June, which means western Washington was going to be wet and cold. Everyone knows that Summer doesn't start in western Washington until July 5th. After some discussion with coworkers, we set our sights to eastern Washington.

We decided on Lake Wenatchee State Park, partly due to proximity Leavenworth and being just on the other side of the mountains. Our vacation was from Monday, June 11 to Friday, June 15th. Our trip was timed such that kids were still in school and it was during the week. This meant that we had the camp almost completely to ourselves. We've heard that the camp grounds gets really busy on the weekend and when kids are out. The camp store sold ear plugs to attest to this.

Enjoying the Outdoors

View of the lake from the beach. Across the water were
mountains. What a beautiful view!
The camp grounds are situated at the east side of Lake Wenatchee with the Wenatchee River dividing the park in two. We camped on the south side of the river. The lake is glacially fed, so expect the water to be cold! The park is situated in a transition zone between western Washington's wet woodlands and eastern Washington's drier pine and fir forests.

In mid June, the weather was sunny most days and in the early to mid 70's. We had one day that was overcast and trying to sprinkle, but other than that it was beautiful all week and we stayed dry. It could have been a little warmer, but coming early in the season meant we had the campsite all to ourselves which was a real treat. At night, it was pretty cold. We all wished we had brought more layers to wear and blankets in addition to our sleeping bags.

There are some trails at the camp site, but it seemed that if you want to go on a real hike you need to drive somewhere. I could be wrong. There is a real quick trail along the river that we did.

From May to July, the park website warns that mosquitoes are prevalent. We found this to be true and ended up buying repellent at the camp store as we hadn't come prepared. The camp grounds have a large population of chipmunks, which attempt to steal food from your site. It's a good idea to keep food locked up in your car to discourage the chipmunks and other wildlife.

Facilities at Lake Wenatchee

Our Camp Site
Our park bench at our camp site.
Each camp site has a picnic bench, fire pit with a grill, asphalt or gravel parking space and a gravel pad for the tent. There are dumpsters and recycling at the camp ground. Restrooms have a quarter fed showers. There is small store near the lake.

We were able to purchase DEET free bug repellent at the camp store. Camp store sold ice cream, sodas, candy, bug spray, matches/lighters, propane tanks, and other odds and ends you might forget. They also had plenty of rolls of quarters.

I read that there is more of a grocery store back on the main road between the two sites. The campsite is pretty close (less than 30 minutes) to Leavenworth if more supplies are needed. Near the lake is more restrooms, changing rooms and showers for swimmers. Near the lake is a volleyball net and horseshoe throw. Since it was the off-season, we didn't see much activity regarding the amphitheater or any ranger lead activities.

Firewood is on site for purchase at the store and a golf cart comes around with wood for sale. Firewood should always be purchased near your campgrounds to prevent diseases and insect infestation migrations.

The camp grounds require a reservation in advance made either online or by phone. We didn't realize this and just grabbed a site thinking that first come first serve would be fine during the off season. A ranger came by our site to inform us we can't pay for multiple nights without a reservation. Without a reservation you can only pay for one night at a time. The ranger was super nice and put a reservation in for us. The staff all around was extremely nice! It was such a breath of fresh air to be around such welcoming people. Everyone was friendly and wanted to chat us up. Maybe it was because we were the only campers?

Activities


Horseback Riding
Horseback riding at Lake Wenatchee.
Camping - Duh!

Picnicking - There is parking and picnic tables for day users. There are also a few covered picnic tables and one that can be reserved.

Swimming - a sandy beach is located at the south campground. When we were there, there was no life guard on duty and it was pretty cold to go swimming. The lake is glacier fed, so expect the water to be cold!

Fishing - We didn't have poles, but we were told that the lake is well stocked with salmon, steelhead and trout.

Boating - a boat launch and 16 foot long dock is located at the south camp ground near the neck of the river. The lake got pretty windy, so I imagine that windsurfing, parasailing and sailing in a small boat would be pretty fun. I'll have to remember this if we ever get a small sailboat.

Playground - a decent sized play ground with a play structure and swings for the kiddo's.

Trails - equestrian and hiking trails in the summer, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Horseback riding - a stable is located at the campgrounds with several guided tour options. We chose the 2 mile trail which was $25 per person. It took roughly 45 minutes and was a perfect ride for children and beginners.

Leavenworth

Leavenworth
Leavenworth - a mountain Bavarian themed town.
Leavenworth is a Bavarian themed village less than 30 minutes from camp. The town hit hard times after the train stopped coming through Leavenworth in 1920's and after the Great Depression and World War 2 things got even worse. In the 1960's, the town decided as a collective to become a Bavarian themed town to draw tourism.

Well, it worked! We spent a day in town and probably could have spent more time if we had gotten our butts in gear earlier. The shops are ultra cute and the food and beer are divine. The kiddo had a pretty good time too, as the shops had plenty for a kid to be interested in (like the sweet shops!).

We ate at Gustav's, which had amazing root beer on tap for the kid and great beers for us. The bratwurst was delicious. This town is worth a stop if you are in the area.

Sights along the way or coming home

Iron Goat Trail
Iron Goat trail head
On our way from Lake Wenatchee heading back to Seattle we stopped at the Iron Goat trail head. This is the trail head for a historic scenic hike that goes along an old railroad line. We stopped on our way home, so we were too tired to go for the hike. There is an old caboose at the trail head that was fun to take pictures of.

At the top of the mountain going from the Seattle area to Lake Wenatchee is Stevens Pass ski resort. I liked pointing this out as I spent a winter working at the rental shop. It's always cool seeing snow still on the ground.

Pictures

Check out some of the pictures we took on our family trip:



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