Set amidst the green forests of southwestern Washington, Lewis and Clark State Park is an excellent weekend retreat for nature and history lovers. The park has miles of hiking on the northern tip of the Oregon Trail, taking you through lush old growth forests. There are eight miles of horseback riding trails, as well as an equestrian area.
The park has several interpretive programs to teach you about the area’s nature and history. The nearby Jackson House is a preserved wooden cabin that was the residence of one of Washington’s first settlers, giving you a look in frontier life from the 1850s. Kids can sign up for the park’s junior ranger programs, where they’ll learn about the area’s wildlife and conservation strategies. There is also a half-mile self-guided interpretive trail that leads you through the park’s old growth forests. You’ll be able to spot dozens of bird species in the dense woods.
The RV campground in the park has over 30 sites to choose from, some of which are equestrian sites. You’ll be near the park’s hiking trails, as well as its playfield, fire circles, and horseshoe pits.
Located in southwestern Washington, Lewis and Clark State Park is a quick drive from the state’s major cities, as well as Portland. The park is easy to navigate, making it RV-friendly. Do watch out in the winter, however, as the roads can get icy.
If you are coming from Seattle, take I-5 south and you will get to the park in around two hours. From Tacoma, also take I-5 south to arrive in under an hour and a half. Driving from Portland, take I-5 north and you’ll get to the park in around an hour and a half.
The park is relatively small, making it easy to get to your campsite from the main entrance. A wide road called Jackson Highway runs through the park and takes you to the RV campground, so campers with large rigs should have few issues navigating the park. There is occasional ice on the roads during cold spells, so drive with caution when visiting the park during the winter.
Additionally, there is a small campground located near the equestrian area that has eight RV sites, all of which have electrical hookups. While these sites are meant for the equestrian area, not all of them have stables, although they do have hitching posts. Each sites features a picnic table and fire pit. This is a great option for those who want to stay with their horses and ride on eight miles of trails within the park.
Most of the sites at the park can be reserved online or by calling the park office. There is limited availability in the park, so try to book as early as possible, especially if visiting during peak season in the summer.
You can choose the kind of camping experience you would like. For those who like modern conveniences, there are eight full hookup sites. If you like roughing it, you can choose among 24 standard sites and five primitive sites with no hookups. Picnic tables and fire pits are provided at every site. Pad size can be up to 60 feet long, although some sites can only accommodate smaller rigs. The campground is dog-friendly, provided that they stay on a leash.
There are modern restrooms with showers located at the center of the campground, as well as drinking water access, a play field, and two picnic areas. You’ll also be a short walk from the park store and outdoor amphitheater.
Ten sites at the main campground and two at the equestrian campground are set aside on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are taking a spontaneous trip through Washington you just might be able to snag one of these spots.
The park’s scenic setting makes for a great photography spot. The lush forests are packed with wildlife, from deer and elk to black bear and coyote, as well as dozens of bird species that move through the park throughout the year. The stands of old growth trees and varied plant life give you plenty of subjects for portraits. Come in the spring to enjoy wildflowers in bloom, or in the fall for a burst of autumn colors in the old growth forests.
Lewis and Clark State Park has a range of interpretive programs available throughout the year. There is an interpretive nature trail that takes you through the old growth forest, highlighting native tree and plant species, as well as discussing the natural history of the are.
You can also book a tour of the Jackson House, the residence of one of the first Western settlers. The log cabin has been restored, giving you a sense of frontier life more than 150 years ago. Tours can be booked in advance by calling the park office.
Lewis and Clark State Park is one of the most popular local destinations for birdwatchers. You can spot a wide variety of species, including great blue herons, geese, hawks, spotted sandpipers, swans, and eagles. The ferns and old growth forests make the perfect nesting spot, and you can see many species as they raise hatchlings.
Make sure you pack your binoculars in your camper or trailer since Washington has many active birdwatching societies that produce excellent educational materials. Consult their websites to find field guides and checklists for birds in the area.
If your campervan is full of kids the park has a range of recreation facilities to keep them busy. There are play fields near the campground that can also be used for baseball and softball. You’ll also find three horseshoe pits in the park.
The park offers a number of junior ranger programs in the summer, where kids learn about local natural life, as well as conservation and survival skills. The programs are held at the open air amphitheater. Check the park website for a current schedule.
The park is a popular choice for RV campers with horses. There are eight miles of horseback riding trails in the park. There is also an equestrian area just outside of the campground with riding rings, and it gives you easy access to all of the park’s trails. There is an equestrian campground just across from the park’s equestrian area, giving you easy access to the park’s trails. The park does not rent horses or gear.
The park has over five miles of hiking trails, taking you through the forests of giant trees, ferns, and nurse logs. The park is situated on the northern fork of the Oregon Trail, so you can retrace history as you hike. There is also a half-mile interpretive trail that takes you through the park’s old growth forests. This trail is self-guided, giving you information on the park’s ecosystem, as well as about the native species in the area.