Lake Wenatchee State Park in Leavenworth, WA, is comprised of nearly 500 acres of alpine wilderness nestled in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Situated on the shoreline of a gorgeous, glacier-fed lake, it is a top-rated vacation destination for RVers from all over the country. Once a fishing and feasting site for nomadic Native American tribes, today, Lake Wenatchee State Park is one of the state’s premier recreation areas for all sorts of year-round outdoor activities.
The scenic, gentle-flowing Wenatchee River cuts the park into two sections, aptly named North Park and South Park. The northern half of the park is more RV-friendly, particularly to those traveling in big rigs, and offers partial hookups. The southern half is ideal for primitive tent camping, and while it lacks full hookup options, it does offer some unique amenities for avid adventurers.
Whether you want to explore enchanting evergreen-covered mountains in solitude or take in fun aquatic adventures for the whole family, Lake Wenatchee State Park is jam-packed with activities that everyone can enjoy. With over a dozen miles of trails, you can discover every inch of the park on foot, by bike, or even on horseback. You can swim, fish, or paddle along the shores of the glacier-fed Lake Wenatchee or hop in a boat and coast along the Wenatchee River. The winter is a magical time to take your campervan to the park as well since you can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and even dog sledding.
Campers are welcome year-round at Lake Wenatchee State Park, although winter campers must acquire a permit and are restricted to a designated spot in the day-use area. Additionally, no amenities, including hookups, are offered during the winter. Visitors to the state park are reminded that bears roam this wilderness, so be bear-aware and follow safe storage protocols to avoid attracting these big beasts to your site. Packing bug spray in your motorhome is also a good idea—mosquitoes can be a big problem for campers in the summer.
Lake Wenatchee State Park is approximately 115 miles east of Seattle, Washington. Some routes to the park may take you on toll roads, so if you want to avoid the tolls, adjust your route accordingly.
Most of the internal roads at Lake Wenatchee State Park are paved, but narrow, so it’s best to take things slow if you’re traveling to the North Campground in a big rig. The roads leading to the South Campground appear to be packed dirt or gravel, making this half of the park less suitable for individuals driving larger rigs or towing trailers, but it is easily traversable by most cars or trucks. No matter which section of the park you drive through, you’ll enjoy scenic views of the mountainous forest and the lake everywhere you look.
To access the park, you’ll need to obtain a day or annual pass, which will grant you access to all of Washington’s state parks. Rangers patrol the park regularly, so be sure to display the permit in the window of your vehicle to avoid a fine. Additional parking is available throughout the park. You can park by the Welcome Station if you are on the north side or near the South Campground if you are on the southern edge of the park. Of course, it’s easiest just to park your rig at your campsite if you are staying overnight.
Scenic landscapes surround the 30-acre Leavenworth/Pine Village KOA campground. Nestled at the base of the Cascade Mountains amid towering pine trees and wildflowers, this place is perfectly designed for both comfort and adventure. The Wenatchee River meanders alongside the campground, and a shuttle can take you to Leavenworth’s Bavarian Village for fun shopping and dining. Head out for a river tubing excursion, take a winery tour, grab a tasty treat from the Espresso Cabin, and enjoy movies in the summer. There’s also a playground for the kids, a relaxing hot tub, rental bikes, and activities for kids of all ages. There’s even a dog park for the pup! Keep in mind that you’ll be in the mountains, so be prepared for winter camping conditions during cold weather. Amenities include Wi-Fi, cable TV, 50-amp hookups, and firewood, and propane are available on-site for purchase.
If you’re traveling in a smaller RV, the park’s South Campground, located less than five miles north of the tiny community of Coles Corner, offers reservations for sites that can accommodate vehicles up to 40-feet long. The South Campground, which is open from May to November, is a prime camping location close to food, boating, and swimming. This camping area also offers a unique feature: horse rentals! If you want to explore the equestrian trails at Lake Wenatchee State Park, but you don’t have a gentle giant of your own, rent a horse and enjoy a guided trail ride.
While there are no hookups at these campsites, electric generators are allowed between the hours of 8 AM to 9 PM, and a dump station is located within the park. Campsite pads are typically soil, gravel, or sand. Restrooms and showers are centrally located. A camp store offering supplies such as ice and firewood and a boat launch are two other useful amenities available at this campground. You’ll want to reserve your site in advance if you plan to visit during the peak season. Reservations are available up to nine months in advance.
If you want to camp at this beautiful state park during the winter, you can still stay at the park even though the main campgrounds are closed. You can camp near the South Campground in the Day-Use Area at the southern end of the park from November to May. Make sure to check ahead of schedule since these sites may be closed due to inclement weather.
If you’re camping at Lake Wenatchee State Park in a big rig, set a course for the North Campground, halfway between the communities of Coles Corner to the south and Telma, WA to the north. This campground is open from May to November. The 42 sites located in the North Campground offer pull-through access and electric and water hookups, while the rest of the sites provide no hookups. While there are no sewer connections, a dump station is located within the park. The campsite pads will be either soil, sand, or gravel, so some leveling of your rig may be required. Some campsites offer more spacious pads that might be suitable for larger RVs, but you’ll want to check before you book your site. You will be able to enjoy a bit of privacy at your site, plus enjoy some shade. Showers and restrooms are within walking distance of all sites, and the kids will love the play area and the beach available at North Campground. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can wade through Lake Wenatchee’s cold waters from the beach area out to Emerald Island. Reservations are available up to nine months in advance.
Snowshoeing is a popular activity at Lake Wenatchee State Park for winter sightseers. The southern section of the park offers a loop trail that’s almost two miles long, but beware — this one isn’t for beginners! Seasoned snowshoers will find a suitable challenge on this hike and won’t be able to resist snapping photos of Wenatchee River and Nason Creek along the way. Novices are likely to prefer visiting the northern end of the park for some easier snowshoeing trails, or if navigating the easy trails on your own isn't your style, try taking advantage of one of the educational, guided snowshoe hikes through the park.
If you are taking an RV trip to Lake Wenatchee State Park in the winter, you can explore this magical winter wonderland with a pair of cross-country skis. The Chiwawa See & Ski Trail offers almost five miles of single ski track through the forest. The trail is maintained regularly, and an alternative route has been added to compensate during periods of low snow. Please note that if you’re planning to bring your canine companion along for your ski trip, dogs are only allowed on this trail after 12 PM.
If you are visiting this state park during the winter months, you will want to be sure and pack your sled in your campervan. The sled hill in South Park is an excellent destination for sledding enthusiasts — especially for families with younger children looking to try sledding for the first time. With a gentle incline of 150 feet, the hill is easily walkable, so visitors can walk right to the top, sled down, and walk back up again on the shoulder of the sledding area. The hill is easily accessible and signposted from a parking area near Lake Wenatchee’s shoreline.
Geocaching is a modern-day scavenger hunt that has been made possible by the advent of cellular technology, combined with the removal of selective availability from GPS technology. Participants use GPS technology and observational skills to locate caches, small, hidden containers with logbooks or log sheets that allow them to note their find. In some cases, caches also contain small trinkets that finders can take with them, after replacing them with a trinket of similar value. Other caches may contain a trackable token that is meant to be moved from cache to cache so that the person who originally placed the cache can see how far the token can travel. There are several geocaches located in this state park. Participants who are wishing to place additional caches will need to get a Cache Placement Permit from the state of Washington before doing so.
Lake Wenatchee caters to equestrian enthusiasts with multiple equestrian trails and even horse rentals for guided trail rides. A variety of guided rides are available, from short two-mile trails to half-day rides or group wagon excursions. Guided rides will incur an extra fee, which varies depending on the ride you select. If you’re bringing your own horse, please note that there are no public stables at the park; Lake Wenatchee State Park is not suitable for equestrian camping.
With seven miles of hiking trails, Lake Wenatchee State Park offers plenty of opportunities to get your daily outdoor exercise. If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll through the woods, trek the three-mile Lake Wenatchee Trail, where you can enjoy views of the park’s varieties of wildflowers in the spring; you may even catch a glimpse of the elegant white blossoms of the critically endangered Ute ladies’-tresses flower. The trail also takes you right through one of the park’s campgrounds, making it the perfect place to walk the dog if you’re staying overnight. Be aware that some of the park’s backcountry trails pass through private property. While hikers are allowed to access these areas, be respectful, and make sure you pack out all waste.
The park’s namesake lake is a popular swimming hole in the summer, and the lake’s gentle waters make it an excellent place for kids and novice swimmers to earn their water wings. Whether you’re looking to get some cardio with a vigorous swim or just cool off while you enjoy views of the mountains in the distance, Lake Wenatchee is the perfect place to take a dip. While the designated swim beach is near the South Campground, it does tend to get a bit crowded on hot summer days. There is also a small, shallow beach area on the northern shore that provides a great space to splash around. Be aware that lifeguards are not available at either beach. If you’d rather be on the water than in it, the lake is also open to boaters, windsurfers, and stand-up paddlers.
Make sure you have your rod and reel with you when visiting this state park in your campervan. The lake harbors several species of fish, including kokanee salmon, sockeye salmon, cutthroat trout, and bull trout. The most sought-after species in this lake tend to be the sockeye salmon, which are most active from mid-June to mid-August. If you are looking to catch a bull trout, you are likely to be out of luck. This species is considered to be a species of concern, and Lake Wenatchee is one of the prime rearing areas in the Wenatchee River Basin. The fishing season for this species is usually closed, and all bull trout that are accidentally snagged should be gently returned to the lake.