The Columbia River Gorge is beautiful, dramatic, and vast. That is why it feels so thrilling to camp here along the banks, and zip across the water in boats and on windsurfing boards. When you swim in the Columbia, you feel how large it is, and how small you are in the world. It's fitting that Maryhill State Park is also the location of a large observatory, providing one more way to glimpse at a vast universe and be reminded of our actual size.
Maryhill State Park is an 81-acre camping park with 4,700 feet of waterfront on the Columbia River in Klickitat County. One of the few bridges that span the river is the focal centerpiece of the whole park. The park is geared toward RVs with full hook-ups and large parking spaces on the majority of sites, but also has plenty of showers and bathrooms for the car campers.
The boat launches and public dock put you right into some of the best fishing in the region. Bass, salmon, and steelhead draw fishermen from all over Oregon and Washington. There are big money tournaments and derbies for every fishery in the guidebook.
Most visitors know the area as wine country, with over twenty award-winning vineyards in the Columbia River Gorge. Several vineyards, including the massive and incredibly scenic Maryhill Winery are a short distance away from Maryhill State Park and offer tastings, tours, and live music events throughout the year. The views are just as great as the wines, and you may find a short stop turning into a day-trip.
Bring your kids and bring your water toys and spend some time this year getting to know the awe-inspiring Columbia River.
RV Rentals in Maryhill State Park
Transportation in Maryhill State Park
The Columbia River Gorge is well known for wind, and if you drive I-84 to arrive here you'll see warning signs in gustier areas. If it's not secured, this is the place where you'll lose it. HWY-97 from the Yakima area is very scenic and very hilly. Be sure to fuel up in Yakima, The Dalles, or Pendleton because the local options are slim and pricey. The park has no obstructions and the campsites are organized in an easy to maneuver loop.
Campgrounds and parking in Maryhill State Park
Campsites in Maryhill State Park
Maryhill State Park Campground
Right against the banks of the Columbia River, Maryhill State Park has 70 campsites. There are 20 standard and 50 full-hookup sites spacious enough for any RV and towing arrangement. All sites are back-in. There are four restrooms, one ADA, and 10 showers, two ADA. There is one RV dump station. The camp is open year round, but drinking water is only available at the dump station in winter.
Seasonal activities in Maryhill State Park
Windsurfing Columbia Gorge
With steady summer winds from 15 to 35 mph and temps often in the 90's July and August, this is definitely the spot for wind surfing. There is a nice grassy rigging area just past the swim beach, and changing rooms, bathrooms and showers are available. The Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association ranks Maryhill intermediate to expert because of the strength of the currents which pass this relatively narrow section of the Gorge. It does get warm enough for board shorts in summer, but serious insulation will be necessary the rest of the time.
The swim beach at Maryhill State Park will be a welcome sight to families who have been cramped in a hot car all day. There are not many protected beaches on the Columbia River, so you'll really appreciate the little cove and float line boundary. The beach is mostly pebbles and small rocks, so if you expect to be here for days bring some footwear that can handle the water. On the plus side, the mighty river current has turned a lot of those stones into perfect skipping rocks. The breezes can be deceptive, wear plenty of sunscreen or bring home a souvenir sunburn.
Goldendale Observatory - Dark Skies
One of the largest public telescopes in America. The Goldendale Observatory takes advantage of especially low light pollution in this part of the Columbia River Gorge. Free evening programs with classroom presentations and laser-guided outdoor tours of the night sky with the unaided eye. Look through the actual eyepiece of the 24.5” telescope at craters on the moon, and far away star clusters and galaxies. One of the premier spots in the state to witness meter showers and individual shooting stars.
Local Tastes - Wine and Fruit
There's not much in this little crossroads so it will feel luxurious to walk to the park entrance and purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables at a large stand or visit a local wine tasting room. These offerings are affordable and low-key, just like the Maryhill State Park Campground. The much larger Maryhill Winery a few miles away, looks like it might have a dress code, but don't worry, you'll find cyclists with their road shoes on and guests sitting with their pets on the scenic patio. The Maryhill Winery has a massive selection of award winning wines and various tours and musical events are on the calendar.
A lightly used boat launch and 216 feet of dock make this a very inviting place to get out on the water. This part of the Columbia is very active for Chinook Salmon, steelhead, and even small mouth bass. The big salmon runs usually happen in the fall, when you're likely to have the campground to yourself as well. Gorge Outfitters Supply in Rufus, OR, across the bridge will set you up with everything you need to catch your limit, including fishing licenses. Be sure to check regulations for OR and WA before your trip.
Maryhill Museum of Art
A breathtaking art museum and artifact collection in a riverside mansion, kinda in the middle of nowhere. You'll love it. The history of the Columbia River Gorge is explained and demonstrated through art, sculpture, Native American crafts and modern interpretations. Three stories of galleries, exquisite grounds to explore outside, a postcard view of the river gorge and even a cafe. It's a great day trip, and if you're really into culture and history, there are hours of exploring here.