We went over there after we went Easter egg hunting with the grandkids because camping season came early this year. Beacon Rock was as pretty as it always is and lots of people at the day-use area, but there were only a couple of other people at the campground.
Spring flowers and everything is pretty and blooming and it was a nice stay. Also what’s fun about the campground is that it's the starting point of a bunch of hikes that are anywhere from a quarter mile to several miles. One particular hike we like is the one to small Beacon Rock where you hike up and have a great view of the larger Beacon Rock.
One thing is that later in the season as far as hiking goes you do have to watch out for poison oak. And about the campground, while it’s not large (about thirty spots) you can get to the restrooms easy but you do have a certain amount of privacy, depending on which spot you get.
This campground is a good place to go in that it’s a place you can get close enough to other things when you can camp there and do quite a bit of exploring in the Gorge. So I guess the bottom line is I would recommend this campground at at least 4 stars and probably 5. It would only get 4 because some other campgrounds have a little more privacy.
We go to the Gorge gathering. Beautiful views. Lots of geese. It's over Memorial Day weekend, so generally the weather is turning better but you’ll have one breezy day and one cool day, but generally pretty good. Where we were staying is a group area, so everybody is in a field. There’s only a few electrical hookup so bring your own extension cord. There is WiFi there, and whether it’s on all the time I don't know. That’s in the main holding, so if you get close to the main building you can do the WiFi there. There are bathrooms and showers, and for the showers you put in your quarters.
It’s right next to a year-round creek and you can always see large steelhead. You can easily walk to downtown, which is a really nice area to head down to with nice restaurants and such. Two miles away there’s the Columbia museum. Also very close is the Skamania lodge.
There's some really cool hiking here. Beacon Rock is amazing. What happens is you sneak across the road and there’s a road up the hill with first come first served spots. Some are pull in and some are back ins. Just before the campground there’s a 1/2 mike hike or so where you can look back over and see Beacon rock from the other side. The campsites are wooded and nice, but the hike is where you get the good views. There's a ton of poison oak so be very careful. This is one of the two largest areas of poison oak that we’ve come across in Washington. It's on both sides of the trail. As my wife says, "leaves of three, let it be"
It has a lot going on. There's a frisbee golf course that we didn't use but looks fun, really nice playground for the grandkids that's a fort, a store, swimming pool, a recreation hall with nice paintings on the outside and showers and bathrooms nearby. You can check out basketballs and such, which is fun. Most of the sites are pretty close together. The check-in and camp hosts are nice. The campground is very large and you can walk around and explore back in the wooded areas. There's some tiny homes that are fun to look at. Sites at the back are not as nice and are near the train tracks. It's right off the freeway but feels nice and safe. Most of the sites at the front have picnic tables and grass in-between. There's also electric and water.
The Lewis River is awesome. But when we normally go on the river we’re closer to Battle Ground. This campground could be a decent place, but our concern there is when you go camping, it was just too close to the freeway. The traffic noise wasn’t an issue, it was more of a concern about who might show up in the middle of the night from how close it was to the freeway. The River, while it’s pretty, most of the spots you drop down into the river pretty fast, so it’s not a place where you’d hang out, though we didn't make it all the way to the day-use area.
We love it! For a lot of reasons. Part of the reason is it’s close, so that’s part good. Driving up there the way we drive (from Vancouver) you go up through ranching/farming territory and it’s nice and green and pretty, so it’s nice getting there. You do have a lot of options, in that the first time we went up there was with our hiking club, and we went up there for a hike around the calderas so it’s easy to do a day trip in a car. Part of our discovery was while we were there is that the food place is really good and very nice. The kids playground was great for the grandkids.
As far as the camping, while it’s open, for the most part you do have a limited amount of privacy in the campground. The campsite we picked was a mix of things: just far enough away from the restrooms where we don’t get all the traffic there, but close enough so it’s not too far either. We were within easy walking distance to two restrooms/showers.
One thing that always looked intriguing is they do have the cabins, so maybe one of these times we’ll rent one. Another thing that some people might like is that they do have horses and some of the trails around the lake you can have horses on, plus a separate area/campground where you can have your horses, which are fun to see.
It’s a small lake but big lake, meaning they do not allow motors on the lake, even electric motors, so it’s all floats, kayakers, etc. A lot of people grab the big inter-tubes and go with that. And of course fishing up there is generally pretty good, especially when they stock it. The trails around the lake are kind of fun also because you have a high trail (very forested) and you also have a certain amount of low trails right on the water where you could have your own spots to fish and swim.
Like most campgrounds, it has its peak season and its off-season, but you can go there year-round if you choose to. The beach area isn’t big, but that’s okay. Wherever you’re heading (from the campsites down to the water, to the playground, to the food shack) you always have different trails and options for how to get from one place to another if you want to explore. If there’s anything you forgot (groceries, fishing gear etc.) you can be in the small town of Battle Ground within 5 miles.