August has arrived and the end of summer slowly draws near. I am not too sad because I love the change of seasons and more importantly love the fact that it’s almost time for the kids to go back to school! We have been fortunate this summer to have been able to take several extended trips across the state. This last trip is about a tale of two dams which seems fitting since our last vacation took us by several on the Columbia River. This time however our first stop is nowhere near the Columbia River but instead is to the tallest Dam in Washington State, the Mossyrock Dam, and the nearby Tacoma Power Park, Mossyrock.
We had reservations at Mossyrock Park many months in advance as this park is very popular. We were fortunate enough to snag a site with a view, and like Wanapum State Park, what a view this was. When we arrived the weather was perfect. With wine in hand we pulled out the chairs and sat down to take it all in, and then the people arrived, a whole herd of them(more on that later). Anyways, Mossyrock Park is actually a Tacoma Power Park that is run in cooperation with Washington State Parks. It is a beautiful park located just off Hwy 12, right outside of the small town of Mossyrock about 35 minutes SE of Chehalis, WA. The park is centrally located between Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. Both are within a day trip away, which makes it a great home base. Known as the Klickitat Prairie this area was used for hunting and later farming by Native Americans. In 1852 a trading post began and they named it Mossyrock after a 200 foot tall moss-covered rock at the east end of the prairie. Mossyrock became a city in 1948.
We decided we were going to take it easy this vacation and just enjoy the sights and sounds at camp but we did make it out to see the Mossyrock Dam, only a 5 minute drive. We also went into Mossyrock to hit up a grocery store because we forgot a few things. Luckily we didn’t forget to take the chicken out of the freezer this time so we did find what we needed at the little IGA grocery store in town. It is a cute little town with some restaurants and even a dance club. We didn’t stay to show off our moves though, maybe next time. We did head back to camp where the party, or parties I should say were going on at full speed. What would have been a beautiful relaxing weekend turned more into Animal House the movie. I was missing the strict rules of a state park at this point, and looking forward to getting out of there the next day to head to our next stop, Lincoln Rock State Park.
The Lincoln Rock part of our vacation was not planned in advance. We tried to get into Lincoln Rock many months ago and it was booked the entire summer. When we stumbled upon an open spot just by chance we took it. While it was not ideally in a good location for a next stop from Mossyrock, it did give us the opportunity to do something I have not done since I was a kid. We drove over White Pass and what an amazing drive it was. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the mountains right in your face around every bend. First, Mt. St. Helens, and then Mt. Rainer up close and personal. The sometimes white knuckle drive ended with a beautiful view of Rimrock Lake before we connected with Hwy 97 in Yakima and continued on towards Wenatchee and Lincoln Rock.
Lincoln Rock State Park is located just north of the apple growing town of Wenatchee. It is one of the most popular parks in the state sitting on the edge of the Columbia River, or Lake Entiat, right above the Rocky Reach Dam. Named for a rock across the river that looks like Abraham Lincoln this park is a major destination for recreation enthusiasts of all kinds. The park is so big we promptly got lost when we arrived. Thankfully the boat launch parking lot was empty and we were able to turn around. The sign to the campground side of the park is labeled but it was not that easy to see. We did eventually make it to our campsite which was a really good spot with another peek a boo river view.
I do not know what it is about our vacation planning but it seems that we always get these great spots in Eastern Washington smack in the middle of a heat wave. Being from the northwest we don’t adapt too well to heat. 70 degrees is just about perfect for me. Anything above that is hot which is why living in the southeast years ago did not last. It was 98 when we arrived and forecast to be hotter the rest of the 3 days we were there. We spent a lot of time in the air conditioning that worked flawlessly at this park. Thankfully there was a fantastic swim area there which was a great way to cool down.
On our next day there we took a short side trip to Rocky Reach Dam which is actually right next to the park. Unfortunately the access road on the East side of the river is not the road to the visitor center. You have to take 97 back to Wenatchee and then catch alt 97 and come back up the west side of the river. I can assure you the added drive is well worth it. Rocky Reach Dam is wonderful and as an added bonus it’s totally free. We arrived and were treated by the lady at the guard station like we were at Disney World. Unlike the nearby Grand Coulee Dam, which feels like a military base since 9/11, this Dam was totally accessible to the public but also secure. This Dam is not just a Dam either, it also is home to the Museum of the Columbia, beautiful award-winning grounds, an arboretum, a picnic area, and a fish ladder that attracts people from all over. My boys loved the fish ladder. We were there in prime viewing time for steelhead salmon too and boy there were some big ones coming through the ladder. We spent a few hours there and the fish ladder was a see again attraction after our lunch at the nice cafe with panoramic views of the river. This is a must see attraction if you are in this area.
We had another wonderful vacation here in Washington visiting two vastly different areas in the state. We went from the beautiful, green, and sometimes foggy west side of the mountains, to the dry, arid landscape of the East where the blue and green lakes and rivers just pop out of the landscape. We were sad to pack up and leave but sadness turned to laughter when the sprinklers went on as we were getting ready to leave. We had three soaked kids on the ride home, a 2 and a half hour drive over Hwy 2(Stevens Pass). One more thing, don’t forgot to pick up some fruit on your way out. There are 2 fruit stands just outside the park with RV parking. We have one more big trip planned this summer over the north cascades and then kids are back in school and we are back to weekend only fall camping.
You may also like:
- Campground Reviews: Maryhill State Park
- Campground Reviews: Mossyrock Park