the dyrt
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Ahtanum, WASHINGTON
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River Views, Accessibility + Stream2Sea Sunscreen Review

Just off the banks of the Columbia River, Ginkgo Petrified Forest is a fascinating testament to the wild geology of the Gorge. An easy 1.5 mile hike will take you past several nicely preserved examples of different types of petrified wood, including some whole logs where you can clearly still see the shape of the bark, rings, etc. There are restrooms and water spigots at both the Ginkgo Petrified Forest check in station/interpretive center, where you can see a saber tooth tiger skull, more samples of petrified wood, and explanations of how this area was formed by lava and other forces millions of years ago.

Just down from the interpretive center, on the river banks, is a nice little campground. It's not very remote or wild, but it is a good place to pop open your tent if you're hoping to do some kayaking. You'll also be close to handicapped parking spaces and have sidewalk access to your campsite, making this a great choice for campers with disabilities or mobility limitations. The restrooms are nice, too. They're pit toilets, but well-maintained and plenty of room to maneuver a walker or wheelchair in side. The landscaping is lovely, and the beach where you can put in your boat is level with the water, no boat launch required.

A few miles down the road from the interpretive center and campground are the hiking trails where you can see the petrified wood and experience the rolling hills and grassland that typify central Washington. You can also admire a CCC constructed ranger residence— a gorgeous example of classic "parkitecture" that is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Stream2Sea Sunscreen Review

As a Dyrt Ranger, I had a chance to test drive Stream2Sea's sunscreen. This reef safe & biodegradable sunscreen is made without oxybenzone. Even though I wasn't camping near a reef or doing any snorkeling, I opted to use this product on my hike since ultimately all oceans are downstream of lakes and rivers somewhere. Not only is the sunscreen itself environmentally safe, even the tube it comes in is made with Leave No Trace principles in mind, so it won't clutter up a landfill one day.

I'm stoked that this product was as good for my skin as it is for the environment. I have had a hard time finding a sunscreen I like in the past, one that doesn't irritate my sensitive skin or cause breakouts, that doesn't have an overly strong scent, that is a physical rather than chemical sunscreen, and blends well with my pale, freckled complexion.

Stream2Sea hit it out of the park. A little goes a long way, so I know I'm getting good value from a tube. The tinted version didn't make me look orange or like I slathered on faux tanner, nor did it look strange over my freckles. Instead, it blended in quite naturally, almost like a BB cream or light foundation. The scent was refreshing but not cloying.

Even though it's shoulder season after a long, cloudy winter in the Pacific Northwest and I haven't seen the sun in months, I didn't get burned despite spending all weekend mountain biking and hiking. Instead, I washed my face at the end of the day and my skin felt moisturized and refreshed, not tight, dried out, or irritated. I would feel comfortable using Stream2Sea sunscreen and lip balm every day as part of my pretty minimalist skincare routine.

Family friendly camping

Well maintained campground in the national park. It is pretty large and the spots are not super private. Some of them are next to the river which is nice. I thought it was a little loud because there were so many people and it’s relatively open in the forest. Had decent bathrooms and good access to easy trails and small swimming spot on the river.

Ranger Review: Escape Campervans at Wanapum State Park

Campground Review: 5/5 Stars. Perfect Spot on Cliff Overlooking River.

This was our favorite spot on our recent central-Washington camping trip. We pulled up about 7pm and grabbed a huge spot with a peekaboo view of the river. When we were there, all spots were $30 and included water and electricity. While there's not a ton of coverage between sites (trees, etc.) the sound didn't seem to travel, so the folks happily playing board games and playing Prince didn't keep us up and in fact contributed to the overall happiness of the spots.

Clean bathrooms, soft grass, beautiful views of the river. There's a boat launch and I'm sure this is a very popular spot in the summer. As it was, it was perfect for a Spring get-away.

Tip: Visit the nearby Ginko Petrified Forest state park. Free, nice exhibits, and even some petroglyphs, which my older son especially loved.

Escape Campervan Review: 5/5 Stars. Lots of Fun!

Last summer my family won a vacation rental with Escape Campervans, so we decided to use part of our credit for a three-night trip over Spring Break. We drove up from Portland to Seattle, and while most people head west toward the lush Olympic National Forest, we wanted to try something different, and instead headed east for a loop through central Washington with stops in Snowqualmie Falls (famous for its part in Twin Peaks), Roslyn (home of Northern Exposure) and the oldest saloon in Washington with a 23-foot water spittoon, Ellensburg and the Tomahawk and Rock Ranch, Vantage and the Ginko Petrified Forest, the German-themed town of Leavenworth, and a grand finale in a 90-degree indoor swimming pool in Bothell, Washington. All-in-all, a great trip, and we'd definitely rent from Escape Campervans again. Here's some of what we learned.

Driving

Even though I'm used to driving a large-ish SUV, I was still worried that the large campervan would be a steep learning curve. It was actually quite easy right away. I fit in every parking spot on the trip that I tried, backed up easily with the help of the back-up assist (basically a beeping noise if I came too close to anything), and went through drive-throughs and moved in and out of traffic with ease. Having previously driven both a large RV and a car towing a trailer, I definitely prefer the stress-free ease of the van.

Gas

We ended up driving 500 miles total in four days, and spent almost exactly $100 on gas. Looking at our receipts, we averaged 14.5 miles per gallon driving mostly through mountains on a combination of highway and small-town roads.

Extras

When booking your Escape Campervan, you start with a base daily price that's not much more than an average car rental, but then you can add on all kinds of extras if you want, some of which can add up fast. If you're flying in from another country, this is super-convenient to be able to rent things like bedding and pillows rather than having to bring it. But since we were driving from only a few hours away, I wasn't sure which of the add-ons would be worth it. In the end, I was surprised to see what I used and what I didn't. Part of the Spring Break deal that we booked included the following:

* Camp chairs: Not something we used. We either stayed at campgrounds that already had picnic tables (state parks), or stayed places we didn't really want to hang out (a casino parking lot), so the chairs did not get used.

* Bedding: I LOVED this option. We brought along our own pillows and sleeping bags as well, but this bedding was huge, warm, soft and smelled great. I almost always am sensitive to sheets in hotels and such, and wasn't expecting much, but this was a great add-on that I'd definitely do again.

* Extra Propane: We only ended up cooking once the whole time, so getting a total of two propane tanks was overkill for us.

* 100 miles per day: This was definitely worth pre-paying for the 100/miles per day (we even went over that).

* Heater and electrical: This heater and electrical is a maybe. Yes, you can have the space heater inside your van running at night safely, as long as you have an electrical hookup, and we actually even put it up in the tent for 20 minutes one night to warm it up. But you can also just run the van's heater with the engine running for 10-20 minutes before bed as well, and be just as warm, especially if you get the bedding from them.

* Dishes: More of a personal choice. I think next time I'd just get paper plates and such, rather than wash the dishes, but that's obviously up to each individual.

Pros: My boys had a blast riding around in a van with a couch and table, and the roof-top tent was equally fun. Being self-contained was lovely, as was the surprising ease of driving the van. We were also much warmer and more comfortable than we would have been sleeping in our tent.

Cons: The main difficulty we had was converting the van from daytime to nighttime. We brought way too much stuff, and the grounds where we were camping were often wet or snowy, so it was a bit of a logic puzzle to move everything around, convert the chairs into a bed, add all the bedding, and get even more bedding up into the rooftop tent. We got much faster the more times we did it, but it still took between a 1/2 hour and an hour each night to fully set up. I think this would be much easier in the summer (with less bedding needed), or with the slightly larger van where the bed can stay together while driving (though then you lose the cool table and couch).

Conclusion: All-in-all, definitely a fun addition to our road trip and one we'd do again in a heartbeat.

Friendly. Nice Bathroom. Loud location.

This KOA has some very strong positives, and almost equally strong negatives.

Positives: Super-friendly manager/owner. We were about 1/2 an hour after closing, and she was still there and helped us get set up. Everything (including bathrooms) was very clean. Nice playgrounds, and we were right on the river, which was nice. Probably a nice spot in the summer (we were there when there was still a little snow on the ground). Oh, and the price was great: about $22 for three of us in a tent (non-electric) spot right on the river.

Negatives: The location, while convenient to the freeway, was super-loud. It's at the confluence of two freeways, and a frisbee throw away from either. Semi-trucks shined lights into our tent all night long, and the noise was pretty bad, even with earphones. The boys slept inside the campervan, and it didn't bother them at all, so probably much better if you're inside an RV. The tent side of everything also was a little sketchy in March (to be understood I suppose…the RV side was packed), with two other folks who seemed to be sleeping in cars or under tarps.

Quiet escape from crowded Rainier

This is a great little campground to head To when Ohanepecosh in Mt Rainier NP is full and you still want to be in the area for local hikes. There is a great watering hole to swim in in the frigid but refreshing river that runs alongside most campsites, accessible from the upper (closed) loop. Some brave souls jump from the rock outcropping though we were not so intrepid. Friendly camp hosts, mostly families in camp made for a nice atmosphere in a lovely setting. Good access to Mt. Rainier hiking trails.

My sunny spot!!!

This is one of my favorite campgrounds!! As a Tacoma resident we have a lot of clouds. I head over to Yakima for my sun. This campground never disappoints!

There are lots of spaces for tents and RVs. Clean and well maintained bathrooms. There is plenty of space for kids to play and visibility is high for bike riding. There is a huge group campsite that has bathrooms near it.

The surrounding grounds is a park with playground equipment and a huge field. There are tons of hikes and a small pond to explore…with turtles!

Great place to launch

Large Campground right on the river. very little shade. Vault toilets. Great place to stay for floating the river or fishing.located in the beautiful Ellensburg canyon on the Yakima river

Perfect fall spot!

The colors here in the fall are incredible! Hands down my fave! This campground was great! There is a little mini golf course, which was closed when we went but I’m sure it’s a blast in the summer! The people here were super friendly and helpful! There are restrooms and showers!! Showers are always nice. However, we didn’t stay long enough to need a shower. We just stayed Friday night and then hiked Lake Ingalls Saturday morning. They also have trash bags for sale which I thought was nice. Amazing ice cream shop close by! We came after our hike on Saturday! There are RV spots as well as tent spots. Showers and bathrooms within walking distance. Highly recommend staying here and doing Lake Ingalls. It’s a 9 mile round trip hike, that is beautiful! We wanted to see the larches so we came early fall. We also saw mountain goats which was one of our goals!! No dogs allowed on trail.

Okay campground, good hiking

First time visiting this side of Washington, and the weather definitely disappoint. It was pretty dang hot here in the summer, more of a desert type of feel. We were super worried about rattlesnakes because we heard this part of Washignton has tons during the summer, but luckily we didn't see any. It rained the last day we were here, which was a nice change of weather. The hiking was great, so much beautiful greenery and trees! The campground was "okay." It wasn't really that well kept, a little dirty and no toilet paper in the gross porta-potty style toilet. The toilet area smelt SO bad! It was like it hadn't been clean in a really long time. The campground is fairly small, probably 15 sites? The sites are pretty close together, luckily there was only about 5 other families there when we were there. I wouldn't come back to this campground, but would probably come back to the area to do more hiking. Maybe not in the summer, though, more like the fall.

What a gem!

Pretty cheap and very relaxing with plenty to do. There is an ice cream shop and mini golf really close nearby. The campground bathhouses were really clean and showers had nice hot water. The employees working were very kind to recommend some nice hiking in the area. Would definitely come back again.

Loved it and the hiking!

Great campground! There is an amazing ice cream shop right down the road, as well as mini golf. We did the mini golf one evening and had ice cream every night we stayed. The campground was really clean, bathrooms clean and also have showers with HOT water!! Surprised by this. The amentities are a little out of date, but everything was clean which was nice. The people working were super nice and helpful. There is also a little shop that have a few things for sale. Room for RV or tent spots. The price was pretty cheap, and was a relaxing getaway. Did some hiking and had a blast. Highly recommend hiking!! Would definitely come back again.

So Great!!

I love the teanaway area because the hiking is incredible! I was able to come stay here in the fall, and hike Lake Ingalls. It was absolutely gorgeous! Hands down the best decision my friends and I have made. The campground was actually somewhat busy. There were quite a few people staying here that were hunting nearby but had this as their base. We thought it would be bare because of the time of year we went, but it was actually busy. Campground was decent- clean and lots of room. One toilet. Bring your own toilet paper because there wasn’t any in the bathroom. Lake Ingalls is a must hike if you are staying here. It was incredible. We saw some mountain goats and the colors were beautiful this time of year. Hike was 9 miles round trip and does require some path finding to the lake. Campground was easy to find and well marked.

Taneum

Very pretty area outside of Thorp.  Campground is primative, pit toilets, but does have water and garbage.  Unfortunately, the site is closed from Labor Day through Memorial Day.  Also, there is a concrete ford to cross Taneum creek to get in to the site.  Depending on water levels and the kind of vehicle or trailer you have, it might be difficult to navigate.

Loved the hiking!

My husband and I don't really ever make our way around the Yakima area, only because the hiking there is more "desert" feel and in the summer the rattlesnakes are out and about. The weather in the Yakima area in the summer is amazing, though (hot!!). We decided to make a day trip to do some hiking in the Umtanum area, which is within the Yakima River Canyon. The path was really good, clear, and easy to find. There were a few waterfalls, and creeks to cross to just know that your shoes/feet might get a little wet. The weather was perfect when we came in July. Make sure if you go in the summertime to bring plenty of water, because it is very hot. We luckily didn't see any rattlesnakes! There really isn't a "view" ending point, but the hike itself is beautiful. After we were done hiking we stopped and had a delicious dinner at Bron Yur (Spelling?), it is a pizza place that makes the most amazing pizza!! Highly recommend going there if you are ever in that area. We drove home by going Highway 12 and saw the most amazing views of Mt. Rainier.

Windy Desert Campground

Hike and Bike spot did not include a table or cooking grill/fire pit. It also sits next to restrooms. This is a nice desert campground with green lawns and close proximity to the river. Winds picked up dramatically at night.

Beautiful and Peaceful!

This was our favorite campground over the course of 40 days on the road. Our site was right next to the river – the sound of the water was super peaceful! We were early in the season, so it was very quiet. Lots of tree coverage!

Beautiful park!

This is a beautiful, very well maintained park. Park is literally right off of I-90 near Vantage! RV spots don’t have much privacy, but the spots are huge! Full hookups, good cell phone coverage! Nice swimming area(kind of a walk from RV spaces). Every time we have stayed here it has been pretty windy….we are still drawn back, tho!

Stunning!

It's very hard to get a reservation anywhere near Mount Rainier. We got one Thursday night in August! The campgound is very nice. Visitor center, restrooms, nature trail. The river behind our site was beautiful! Lots of logs and boulders. Close to hiking. Our neighbors were close, but the site was very deep so it gave the illusion of more privacy that there really was.

Dusty Last Minute Get Away

Tent camped here on a last minute whim. When the weather is not the greatest on the west side, we head to Cle Elum! This is all first come, first served camping. Nothing fancy, vault toilets, tables, fire ring. I would imagine if it was busy, it would be pretty loud and dusty. There is a small dirt bike track the starts here, so if you are looking for pristine quiet, this is not your place. If you come out to the woods to ride bikes, it would be awesome!

The weekend we were there, it was pretty quiet. Played in the creek. I would go back.

Riverfront, sprawling, good access to Mt. Rainier Nat. Pk.

I camped here twice this summer, once in late June and again in late July. Both times for hiking in Mt Rainier Nat Park. Great alternative to the parking lot conditions at Ohanakaposh just inside the park. Most of the sites are reservable, but a fair number are first come, first serve. The campsites along the river are the best, but fill up quickly near the weekend. Best to go early in the week if you don't have reservations. On my first trip I managed to get a riverside spot, not so lucky second time around. However, all the campsites are nice, large and well equipped. Camp hosts were very friendly and helpful.

Secluded convenience

We went camping here in early August. We did not make reservations but with the camp hosts assistance we were able to get a great spot. It was surrounded by enough trees to make it feel secluded, but they vault toilet was not far and the water spicket was easily located. My family of 4 had a great time. The camp hosts were friendly and very helpful. I do suggest if you are coming for the west side to stop and get firewood in Packwood as it is easily $3 cheaper in town than at the campground.

Cool spot in Ellensburg

This is one of the larger KOAs I have been to.  Plenty of room for RVs, trailers, and tents.  They also have a few cabins to stay in.  Our site was near the playground which was central to the camp ground. There is a TV/ play room that my littlesloved but not as much as the heated pool, yes, they have a heated pool! 

This site lies on the banks of the Yakima River.  My dad was able to go fly fishing and my littles were able to search for rocks and fish in the shallow areas. 

The general store has all your basic needs, but a difference from other KOAs was that they sell bee and wine! 

The hosts are great but are pretty strict with quiet hours (which I prefer with littles).

Great family spot

This is a State Park that requires a Discovery pass for day use and parking. If you pay for a camp site the parking is included. Some sites don’t have any privacy but other have plenty. The showers are by tokens 2 for $1, each token gives you 3 minutes of shower time. Plenty of things to do around town.

Close to hiking

One thing I love about Washington is that there are so many different places to hike. My husband and I stayed here, which is close to White Pass where there are tons of great hikes. This area is known for rattlesnakes, though so definitely be alert. There is also a really great place to go rock climbing nearby. We dont rock climb, but know that a lot of people love this place. We decided to get up early and do some hiking. We hiked Round Mountain one day and Bear Mountain the next. Round Mountain is about 4 miles roundtrip with lots of switch backs. Bear Mountain is 8 miles round trip, and is pretty flat until the last 1 mile. We liked the campground, and loved that it wasnt busy when we went which was surprising. I think we caught it at a good weekend. There were some RVs, and other tents while we were there. The weather was really warm. Bring sunscreen and lots of bug spray. There are areas with shade which is nice too.

Be prepared - don't be afraid to pay up

Spartan accommodation? Check. You're camping in a field, with thousands of other "campers." Be ready for wookies (depending on the show you're going to), dust, heat, wind. Several different levels here from Standard (zero frills with gen pop) to Glamping ($$$$).

Come prepared, chill out, and enjoy the show - a lot of the show will be your fellow campers. Can't recommend some sort of canopy enough - shade is a cheap luxury at the end of the day, especially if you're there for a three night engagement.

We typically pay up for Gold level RV camping even though we roll in with a tent, canopy, and SUV. Less riff-raff, closer to venue entry, calme vibe all the way around (quieter). Reasonable shower and decently serviced potties.

You can go find the party - if you camp in the party you can't leave it.

Cheers! See you at DMB this weekend!

Love this place

We love camping around White Pass WA because it is so close to great hikes and White Pass Ski Resort. We have actually camped here in our RV and then went up skiing in the morning. Mt. Rainier hikes are also about an hour away from here which is really nice as well. You can’t beat hiking in that area. One hike I love is Round Mountain. That is only about a 10min drive from this campground. The road is gravel and pretty bumpy and long up to this hike. The views are gorgeous, though. There is also bear creek mountain hike which again, the road is pretty long and bumpy. Would recommend a higher clearance car. My husband has also stayed here in the fall and hunts in the mornings and evenings. He says this is a great location to stay. The campground is good, small spots and VERY busy in the summer! Reserve your spot ahead of time would be my recommendation. Rimrock Lake is very close, so if you have a boat I would recommend bringing that. We love bringing our kayaks and heading out on the lake.

Great spot for entering Goat Rocks Wilderness

We camped here very late on a Friday night and still found a spot. This is a great secluded spot to stay before or after doing the 13.5 mile loop through the Goat Rocks Wilderness on the Lily Basin Trail. Also, the campground has the newest pit toilet I’ve seen in the Pacific Northwest!

Awesome place

My boyfriend and I had a great time here. Our camp site number was 38 and we had our own beach area. The campsite was close to 2 others on both sides, but it was the only one that had neighbors because it was a last minute reservation, but the beach made it worth it. I would recommend water shoes as there are rocks. Camp hosts were great. We hiked the walupt creek hike which is more like 3 miles and it was dried up. It was an easy hike, but there should have been a sign saying it was dry. They let us light a low fire even though there was a burn ban. Everyone around us was having a great time

Bare bones but worth it.

Situated alongside Bumping River. mostly level sites. No hookups. No electricity. Water available. Trash receptacles. No cell service.

Easy access from Chinook Pass

Just off Chinook Pass on Bumping River Road. Bare bones sites but level and picturesque area. No cell phone signal. No hookups. 20 minutes from pass summit with breathtaking view of Mt Rainier and Lake Tipsoo.