In between the Rocky Mountains and the Cascades, the Little Pend Oreille Forest in northeast Washington State is a fantastic place to drive your campervan or RV in for a visit. Whether you are looking for a camping spot, a place to go fishing, or hiking and biking trails, this forest of mature pines and oaks is a great place to be. Winter can be fun too with miles of snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and skiing trails.
The forest is not just a place for humans to hang out though. It also has a 40,198-acre National Wildlife Refuge where many of the area’s species live. In fact, besides moose, elk, deer, cougars, and bears, you can also find more than 200 species of birds. You can even camp in the reserve from mid-April all the way through December.
And hunting campsites are available from October until January as well. You can hunt for deer, moose, elk, turkeys, rabbits, and even bears. The Little Pend Oreille Forest is a wild and wooded wonderland for all to explore and enjoy, no matter what activities you are into. So pack everyone into the RV today and head to the forest for a weekend of relaxation off the beaten path.
In Colville, Washington, just two hours from Spokane and 353 miles from Seattle, you can find the Little Pend Oreille State Forest. If you are coming from the north or south, take Highway 395 or from the east or west, take Route 20. The forest is bordered by Colville National Forest to the east, the Columbia River to the west, Canada to the north, and Spokane to the south. It encompasses over 150,000 acres of woods and waters to enjoy.
The roads heading into the woods can be difficult to maneuver if you are driving one of the larger RVs or pulling a trailer, so you need to take it slow. The weather can make a difficult road treacherous if it is rainy and slick. During the winter and early spring, you should check with the highway department because it snows heavily in these woods and they are rarely plowed.
While traveling through the forest and in the campgrounds, you will need to be extra careful as there are many low hanging branches and narrow roads. It is best to park your rig at the campsite and walk or bike to places you want to go, if possible.
Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge Campground has 14 campsites with space for up to a 50-foot RV or trailer. Each spot also has a fire pit with a grill to cook on and a picnic table. With mountains, a forest, and 40,198 acres of wildlife refuge, you are sure to see some wild animals during your stay including moose, deer, elk, and little critters like raccoons and skunks.
The creek and lake provide you with plenty of opportunities for fishing and swimming and you will love the scenery no matter which way you are looking. And you can explore the forest on one of the several hiking trails in the refuge. These spots are first-come, first-served so you should get here early if you want a spot, especially during holidays and weekends. Dogs and cats are welcome as long as they are restrained at all times.
The Sherry Creek Campground is a small camp with 10 sites right on the creek. The mature mixed conifer forest provides you with plenty of shade where you need it and sunshine where you don’t, so every spot is just as good as the next one. These are primitive sites with just a fire ring, picnic table, and cleared spot for your RV or tent in each space. The space allows for up to a 35-foot RV or camping trailer. There are a few vault toilets and one potable water pump but no showers. After all, this is the forest.
The campground requires you to have your food and other scented products stored to prevent bears from visiting you in the middle of the night. However, they do not provide lockers so you should bring your own. These spots are first-come, first-served so you should get here early if you want a spot, especially during holidays and weekends. Dogs and cats are welcome as long as they are restrained at all times.
Flodelle Creek Campground is in the forest of western larch trees, which provide plenty of shade for their eight spacious campsites. Each site has picnic tables, fire pits with grills for cooking, and a cleared space to park your RV. Most of them are large enough for a rig up to 26 feet long. Although there is no drinking water access or showers, they do have several vault toilets for your convenience.
Flodelle Creek meanders alongside the campsites and flows into the Little Pend Oreille River. You and your family can enjoy the day in the creek or river before heading back to camp for some BBQ and s’mores. These spots are first-come, first-served so you should get here early if you want a spot, especially during holidays and weekends. Dogs and cats are welcome as long as they are restrained at all times.
Starvation Lake Campground has a 26-acre lake where you can swim, fish, and go boating while you are here. However, only non-motorized boats are allowed. They even have a boat launch and a large dock that is ADA-accessible and one of the campsites is ADA-accessible as well. The 13 campsites each have a table, fire pit with grill, and enough space for a large RV up to 26 feet in length.
You and your family can enjoy the day in the lake or hiking in the woods before heading back to camp for campfire stories and BBQ. The fishing is great, and they even have trout and other fish stocked every year. These spots are first-come, first-served so you should get here early if you want a spot, especially during holidays and weekends. Dogs and cats are welcome as long as they are restrained at all times.
There are hundreds of acres of water in the Little Pend Oreille State Forest and most of them are filled with hungry fish and other aquatic creatures like crawdads, frogs, and turtles. From big lakes and rivers to the tiny little ponds that dot the woods, you will find bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, and much more. Topwater fishing with lures or a bobber and worm can net you some fantastic-sized pan fish. Fishing on bottom with a sinker and some live bait will attract the bottom feeders like catfish. So don’t forget to pack your poles in the camper.
Make sure you put your beach toys and floaties in the RV before you head out to the Little Pend Oreille State Forest because there is plenty of water to swim in. From the large Lake Heritage, Black Lake, Lake Thomas, and Lake Gillette to the tiny Lake Leo, Frater Lake, or Coffin Lake, you will surely find your favorite beach here somewhere. And don’t forget about the creeks and brooks flowing through the woods that you can enjoy. The Oreille River is also a fun place to swim or you can jump on an inner tube or raft and float down the river for a fun little float trip.
Just because you are going to the forest does not mean you have to do something that everyone does like fishing, swimming, and boating. Those are all fine but what about the other fun things you can do? For example, play a game of horseshoes or washers. Many campgrounds have these, but in the forest, you will likely need to bring your own because they are a bit more rustic. You can also bring a badminton or volleyball set to play a few rounds of those fun games. Or just bring the frisbee or football to toss around.
There are miles and miles of great hiking trails such as the Radar Dome Trail, which has just over five miles of climbing and switchbacks starting right off Highway 395 and Route 20. The 1.2-mile McDowell Marsh Educational Trail loop trail starts at the River Camp in Little Pend Oreille Refuge. There is also the 4.5-mile Mill Butte Loop Trail that starts at the headquarters in the refuge. You might also like the Beaver Pond Overlook Trail, which is a short quarter-mile trail that is also in the refuge. So, get out of the trailer and head into the woods to explore.
Make sure you pack your hunting gear in the RV before heading out because the Little Pend Oreille State Forest has lots of places to hunt. One of the best spots is the wildlife preserve. Although many people think you cannot hunt on a nature refuge, this one encourages it. Whether you are hunting big game like moose, elk, deer, and bear or little critters such as rabbits, squirrels, and turkeys, there are plenty of all of them in these woods. Be sure to have your hunting license and tags on you while you hunt.
Whether you have one of those expensive digital cameras or just use your phone’s camera, taking pictures of nature is one of the best ways to enjoy your trip. You can save the memories forever and share them with your friends on Facebook and Instagram too. The best way to get some fantastic pictures is by having your camera with you all the time you are out there so you can catch those memories you want to keep. You can also just sit quietly in a hidden spot in the woods. You can use the natural photo blinds of the bushes or trees or enjoy the photo blind at the refuge to capture some shots.