By John Kruse
Several parks east of the Cascades offer lots to do before summer arrives!
CURLEW LAKE STATE PARK: Located north of Republic in Ferry County, this 87-acre State Park with a campground sits on Curlew Lake, a 5-½ mile long body of water known for good fishing. You can catch everything from trout and bass to perch and tiger muskies here. There’s also plenty of wildlife around. Deer are abundant and during the springtime you can enjoy the sights of a heron rookery on one of the islands on the lake. If you are looking for something unique to do head to the Stonerose Interpretive Center in Republic, rent some tools, and dig for fossils (mainly plants or insects) that are up to 49 million years old.
PALOUSE FALLS AND LYONS FERRY STATE PARKS: There is no better time of year to visit Palouse Falls State Park in Southeast Washington than April and May. That’s when the Palouse River is full of spring run-off and it makes for a spectacular sight as it drops and crashes 198 feet into a basalt basin. Better still, the area surrounding the falls is full of spring wildflowers and hawks and falcons frequent the area too. There is a small camping area at this park that is currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once you are done taking in the sight and sounds of Palouse Falls, drive a short distance down a hill and check out Lyon’s Ferry State Park. This day park sits at the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers. There is a swimming area and beach here and there are also opportunities in the spring for anglers to go after channel catfish, some of which are quite large. Other fish to catch include bass and walleye. The Lyons Ferry KOA across the bridge from this park usually has good information on what’s biting.
DAROGA STATE PARK: This one is a sleeper. Located on the Columbia River north of Orondo, this park boasts a great RV camping loop with views of the river as well as an expansive day use area featuring a swimming beach, playground, ballfield and even tennis courts. There is also a wide trail that takes you along a dike to a walk-in campground bordered by the Columbia River on one side and a lagoon on the other where you can fish for smallmouth bass, catfish and other species. If you go bring your golf clubs and reserve a tee time at the nearby Desert Canyon Golf Resort, one of the nicest courses in the region.
MARYHILL STATE PARK: If you head south of US Highway 97 make a left turn just before crossing the bridge over the Columbia River into Oregon. When you do, you’ll find yourself at MaryHill State Park. This park has a campground and day use area and sits on 4700 feet of prime, low-bank riverfront real estate. There’s plenty to do here. If you like to fish you can launch a boat (or drive) a few miles upstream and fish below John Day Dam for walleye, sturgeon, smallmouth bass and starting in May, American shad. A replica of Stonehenge, built as a memorial by Sam Hill in the 1920’s to local soldiers killed in World War I, is just a couple of miles east of the park. Speaking of Sam Hill, this famous entrepreneur and builder of the Columbia River Highway also built the Maryhill Museum of Art, a must visit destination just five miles away. Finally, not related to Sam Hill, but right by the museum above the Columbia River Gorge, is the Maryhill Winery.
Want to find out more about these parks or make a reservation? Go to the state parks website at https://parks.state.wa.us/ .
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
1. Palouse Falls – Photo by John Kruse
2. Bass fishing near Maryhill State Park – Photo by John Kruse