Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is a perfect spot for rigs with plenty of shoreline along the Columbia River, an ancient forest, and 50 full hookup campsites for RVs. Located in Vantage, Washington, the state park is situated within the larger 7,124-acre Wanapum Recreation Area along the western shoreline of Wanapum Reservoir on the Columbia River. The petrified forest contains more than 30 species of petrified trees including ginkgo, sweetgum, redwood, yew, maple, and cottonwood. The first specimens were found by Frank Walter Bobo in 1894, and in 1938 the first museum was constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers. The Ginkgo Petrified Forest is listed by the National Park Service as a U.S. National Natural Landmark. In 1963, construction on the Wanapum Dam was completed along the Columbia River, and now Wanapum Recreation Area offers 27,000 feet of freshwater shoreline for campers to enjoy.
The first inhabitants of the area were the Wanapum Indian Tribe. Over the years, the tribe was responsible for carving more than 300 petroglyphs in the surrounding basalt cliffs along the Columbia. The tribe used the petrified wood for making arrowheads, spear tips, and more. The tribe first encountered European settlers when the Lewis and Clark Discovery Expedition entered the region.
Today, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park and Wanapum Recreation Area offer plenty of exciting activities that include water sports, fishing, and hiking. RV campers can visit an interpretive museum loaded with ancient petroglyphs and petrified wood specimens. The campground is situated south of the state park within Wanapum Recreation Area and contains 50 full hookup campsites for RV, campers, and trailers.
The weather at Ginkgo Petrified State Park is perfect for camping in the summertime with temperatures in the low 90s with minimal rainfall per month. Winter time brings temperatures in the high 30s accompanied by less than one inch of snow per month.
Rigs can access Ginkgo/Wanapum State Park from the town of Vantage at the intersection of Main Street and Ginkgo Avenue. The best route traveling east from Renslow is along Interstate 95. The highway has a few curves before splitting into two sections a short distance from Renslow. When you reach Ryegrass Safety Net Rest Area you will encounter a couple of tricky turns that might be difficult for larger rigs traveling at high speeds. As you continue along I-95 there are several more challenging curves that you might need to use the pull-out in order to keep traffic at a steady pace. The drive along Hunting Road should not be difficult for large rigs except you can expect high winds at times that may prohibit your speed.
Once inside Ginkgo/Wanapum State Park there are several roads you can travel. The most interesting is the Vantage Highway which takes you through numerous areas filled with petrified wood. While driving within the boundaries of the state park, please adhere to all posted speed limits. As you drive you will need to share the road with bicyclists, pedestrians, and children playing near the campground and day use areas.
Whether you're in search of the blue agate or outdoor thrills in Green Canyon just north of town, or attending Jazz in the Valley the last weekend in July, Ellensburg KOA promises to be an ideal base. Find a deluxe spot on the Yakima River and choose from the many sites offering full hookups for rigs up to 70 feet. Wi-Fi and cable TV are offered, plus firewood and propane is available on-site. Fishing on the river, bike rentals, and a pool should keep you active and fit during your stay. Be sure to stop by the dog park to run your dogs around.
The Wanapum Recreation Area Campground is situated along two loops connected by one road and contains 50 campsites that boast full hookups for rigs. The campground is located along the sage brush covered hills of Eastern Washington, and each campsite has a manicured grass area with trees for shade and privacy. High winds are common during the summer months. The campground is a short walk from the swimming beach along the Columbia River/Wanapum Dam. Campsites are furnished with a fire ring, picnic table, and paved parking pad which may require leveling. RVs are limited to 60 feet in length and not all campsites can accommodate larger rigs.
There is a dump station near the campground and you are encouraged to fill your water tank when dumping your holding tank. Do not dump full holding tanks into sewer hookups at the campsites. Other amenities include flush toilets, showers, and water spigots. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained by a six-foot leash at all times. The campground is closed from November until February each year. Reservations are open during the peak season.
First-come, first-served campsites are available during the shoulder seasons, which include from March to mid-April and the end of October of each year.
One of the more popular things to do in Ginkgo/Wanapum State Park is fishing. Most RVers always have their rod and reel ready for action and the action at Wanapum Dam is excellent. There is more than 27,000 feet of shoreline to try your luck from and you can launch your boat within the recreation area. You can expect to catch an assortment of fish including crevalle jack, walleye, cutthroat trout, sturgeon, and several species of salmon like coho and sockeye. Please check Washington state regulations for bag and size limits.
Water sports are plentiful at Wanapum Recreation Area. If you towed your boat behind your rig, you can launch from a nice boat ramp. The reservoir has more than 796,000 acre feet of water for water skiing, jet skiing, and pulling inner tubes. Other options include kayaking or canoeing along the shoreline where you will be thrilled with the views of natural landscape that surrounds the reservoir. There is also a swimming beach located near the campground which is ideal for taking a dip in the cool waters during the hot summer months.
Strap your bike on your rig and take advantage of plenty of paved and dirt roads within Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park and Wanapum Recreation Area. An exciting ride is along the Vantage Highway which travels east to west in the petrified forest state park. While you are riding you can notice the petrified wood, the rolling sage brush terrain, and plenty of views of the Columbia River. Peddling within Wanapum Recreation Area is pleasant along Hunting Road which is a great moderate ride over undulating prairie landscape.
Bring your hiking boots in your camper because there are several miles of trails for you to enjoy while visiting Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. The best hike is the one and one-half mile Trees of Stone Interpretive Trail, which takes you through the prehistoric Lake Vantage where you will be amazed at the petrified wood. As you hike you can learn more about the 50 different species of petrified wood that lies within the state park. There are plenty of trails along the shoreline of the reservoir to explore where you can get a glimpse of ancient petroglyphs carved into the basalt cliffs.
There are a plethora of interpretive programs year round at Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. You can take advantage of ranger-led hikes through the petrified forests where you can learn more about the formation of the area. The on-site museum is perfect to visit in your trailer and is packed with petroglyphs that were salvaged during the construction of the Wanapum Dam. The interpretive center also provides great views of the Columbia River and the natural landscape left by the Ice Age floods. There is also plenty of information about early residents of area, namely the Wanapum Indian Tribe.
Taking a drive along the Old Vantage Highway is a perfect thing to do in Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. The old highway offers excellent viewing areas of the ancient petrified trees that dot the entire state park. Driving in your campervan or Airstream along the old highway is ideal in the fall when the sage brush and living trees in the area start to change color from green to orange to red to yellow. While you are driving in the state park make sure you navigate the Recreation Drive where you will be rewarded with sweeping views of Columbia River and Wanapum Dam.