Columbia Hills State Park is 3,637-acre park nestled along the shoreline of the Columbia River. Surrounded by Ponderosa pines, maples, and oak trees, and astonishing views of Mount Adams and Mount Hood, the campground is a popular spot for outdoor recreationists looking to enjoy hiking, biking, rock climbing, and water sports.
Located on the site of a former Native American village in Klickitat County, Washington, there are 12 miles of hiking trails and six and a half miles of trails for horse-riding and biking. Take your time exploring the multi-use trails meandering through the Columbia Hills and stop to admire the Native American pictographs and petroglyphs in the surrounds. You may even spot some marmots, chipmunks and deer along the way.
The 90-acre Horsethief Lake forms the heart of this scenic state park. Two boat launch areas mean you can bring along your own watercraft, and there are pedal boats, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards for hire if you’d prefer something more leisurely. Columbia Hills State Park is a great place to enjoy a warm summer’s day but take note that the campground is often windy – which makes it great for windsurfing and sailing. Pack a picnic and visit for the day or bring your RV and overnight in the park.
RV Rentals in Columbia Hills State Park
Transportation in Columbia Hills State Park
Columbia Hills State Park is located off Highway 14 and you need a Discover Pass to enter. There are several entrances to the park, but it’s recommended to take the Horse Thief Lake entrance. Once you’ve set up your RV camp, you can get around the park by bicycle, on foot, or by boat. There are two boat launch areas in the park as well as kayaks and pedal boats for hire.
There are several parking spots available within the park, including at the boat launch area, rock climbing area, picnic area, and the pictograph trail head. If you’re staying overnight, you can also park your camper in the campground.
Campgrounds and parking in Columbia Hills State Park
Campsites in Columbia Hills State Park
There are four standard campsites at Columbia Hills State Park, eight back-in RV campsites with electricity and water hookups, four standard walk-in campsites, a tee-pee, and two platform tent sites. There are also two primitive hiker or biker campsites. Each campsite has a picnic table, and a fire pit. Campers have access to a restroom and a dump station. The maximum site length is 60 feet but there is limited availability of these bigger sites.
Facilities in the park include two boat launch areas, grassy lawns for outdoor sports, horseshoe pits, and kayaks and pedal boat rental. There are also 35 unsheltered picnic tables in the day use area as well as nine braziers. Guests can enjoy 12 miles of hiking trails and six and a half miles of trails open to bikers and horse riders.
One camping party is allowed per site with a maximum of eight people per campsite. Campsites can be reserved between May and September, and then are available on a first come, first served basis thereafter. The campground and lake are closed between the end of October and end of March.
Columbia Hills State Park is pet friendly. Generators are permitted between the hours of 08h00 and 21h00. Quiet hours are 22h00 – 06h30.
Seasonal activities in Columbia Hills State Park
Anglers can enjoy freshwater fishing at Columbia Hills State Park between the last Saturday of April and the end of October each year. Cast out your line and see if you can catch bass, catfish, crappie, perch, walleye, and trout to enjoy on the campfire at dinnertime. Please note that you will require a recreational license for fishing and shellfish harvesting at any Washington state park.
The Horsethief Lake section of the Columbia Hills State Park is a National Historic Site. Guided walking tours of the pictographs and petroglyphs are available at 10h00 on Fridays and Saturdays in season (April to October). To make a reservation, call the park office and advise the number of people, the dates you have in mind, and your name and phone number. It is recommended that you reserve at least two or three weeks in advance, as tours are limited to 25 people and can fill up quickly.
Located on Horsethief Lake, Columbia Hills State Park is a popular spot for boating enthusiasts. There are two boat ramps available in the park during the peak season and motorized boats are permitted, but there is a speed limit of five miles per hour with a no-wake policy. In order to launch your boat, you will need a permit. If you’d prefer non-motorized water sports, there are pedal boats, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards available for hire.
Hiking and Biking
There are more than 12 miles of hiking trails to explore in Columbia Hills State Park. Explore the Crawford Oaks Trailhead, a newly paved route that includes six and a half miles of trails open to horse-riding and biking enthusiasts. Please note that this trail is closed to pets. For those who wish to visit for the day, why not end the hike off with a picnic? There are 35 unsheltered picnic tables, as well as nine braziers available on a first come, first served basis in the day use area.
Columbia Hills State Park is a great spot for bird watching. Bring your binoculars and your birding book and see how many species you can spot in the campground, on the hiking trails or on the lake shoreline. The park is filled with songbirds and you may spot larger birds of prey such as eagles and falcon circling in the sky overhead. Other birds you can see include herons, hummingbirds, jays, ospreys, and owls.
Horsethief Butte at Columbia Hills State Park is a great location for rock climbing. Climbers are asked to limit their use of chalk while climbing at the butte. There are two areas signed as ‘no climbing’ zones to protect the cultural resources of the park. There are also large, grassy lawns available at Columbia Hills State Park for lawn games such as croquet and soccer. Guests are advised to bring their own equipment. There is also a horseshoe pit, but guests need to bring their own horseshoes.