If you like water sports, you’re going to love Maryhill State Park in Klickitat County, Washington. This park may be small at only about 99 acres, but they have almost 5,000 feet of shoreline on the Columbia River to enjoy. You can also see a life-sized remake of Stonehenge right next to the park if England is too far for you to travel. In fact, the park was built after the Stonehenge replica, which was completed in the early 1930s to honor the soldiers who gave their lives in WWI.
Windsurfing is one of the most popular park activities due to the challenges and excellent wind on the Columbia River. Fishing is popular too, as well as boating, waterskiing, and swimming. On land, you can take a trip through the woods on one of the unnamed trails or bike along the park roads to explore the area. Don’t be surprised if you see some wildlife such as mountain goats, elk, bears, and deer.
If you are having too much fun to go home, don’t worry, you can stay at one of the 50 RV campsites at the park. There are also 20 tent sites and a group camp with a maximum capacity of 200 people. These campgrounds are just a few feet from the river and have plenty of space for you to kick back and relax. However, it is important to make a reservation, which you can do up to nine months in advance.
On the border of Washington and Oregon, Maryhill State Park is easy to get to in any vehicle. The park is actually on US-97, so you won’t have any trouble finding it either. From the Washington side of the park, you can take I-82 to US-97 and from the Oregon side, I-84 is the best choice. Surrounded by national parks and forests, you can stop by Mount Rainier National Park to the north, Gifford Pinchot National Forest to the northwest, and Mount Hood National Forest to the southwest.
The roads in this section of Washington are hilly and mountainous, but you won’t find too many difficult hills or turns while driving to the park. As long as you take it easy and slow, you will be fine. Keep your eyes open for any wild animals that may be crossing the road. Inside the park, most of the roads are paved and well-maintained. However, the curvy roads back by the group campground can be tricky in a large RV.
While you are in the area, you may enjoy stopping by some of the other state parks nearby. Just across the river in Oregon, the Deschutes River State Recreation Area is a fascinating oasis where the Columbia River converges with the Deschutes River. This leads to excellent fishing, boating, and other water sports. It is popular for its jetboating launch, as well as its 2,200-foot canyons. They even have several campgrounds with over 60 sites if you want to stay overnight before heading on.
If you are trying to plan a family get-together or have a large party, why not rent a group campsite at Maryhill State Park? Just to the west of the Tent Campground and picnic area, you’ll find the Group Campground that can handle up to 200 people. There are only six picnic tables though, so you will want to bring some lawn or camp chairs along. Two barbecue pits are provided for use, but you may need one or two more if you have over 50 people to cook for.
Water and 50-amp electric hookups are provided at the eight campsites where you can park the RV and pitch a tent or two. Although the shores of the Columbia River are just a short walk away, there is also a small fishing pond just to the southwest of the campground. You can also bring along your fur buddies with you, as long as they are supervised and leashed at all times. Reservations can be made up to nine months in advance.
The Maryhill RV Campground has 60 pet-friendly campsites with level gravel pads that can accommodate rigs up to 35 feet in length. All of the sites have water, sewer, and 30- to 50-amp electric hookups so you can watch the game and cook indoors if the weather is not behaving. Most of the sites have very little shade, so be prepared to pull out that awning. You can cook outdoors as well on the campfire ring and eat at the picnic table together.
In the center of the campground is a comfort station with modern restrooms and hot showers. And if you need to dump that black water tank, there is an RV dump station just behind the campground. Head to the Columbia River, a short walk away, where you can go fishing, put your boat in the water, or walk down to the beach and go swimming. Be sure you make your reservations early so you can get a spot big enough for your rig.
If you were thinking of getting closer to nature, why not leave the RV in the parking lot and stay in a tent? Maryhill State Park has 20 large tent sites that can accommodate up to two tents on the paved tent pad. Each site has its own campfire ring that has a grate to cook on, and there is a large picnic table where you can eat. Water taps are also available to get drinking water, and there are a shower house and restroom nearby.
Bring your furbaby with you! All the sites allow pets, as long as they are on a leash or otherwise restrained at all times. You won’t have to walk far to get to the shoreline on the Columbia River where you can enjoy some fishing, boating, or swimming. If you were thinking of having a bite to eat with friends, use the picnic shelter available right next to the campground. You can reserve your spot up to nine months in advance, and it’s best to do it early since there are only 20 sites.
You cannot visit Maryhill State Park without visiting the Sam Hill Stonehenge replica less than two miles to the northeast. Sam Hill was a businessman who bought over 7,000 acres in Maryhill and helped finance the area in 1908. In fact, the town (and then the park) was named after his home that he dubbed Maryhill (after his daughter, Mary), which is now a museum. He decided to build a life-sized replica of Stonehenge to honor the fallen soldiers in WWI. This amazing structure is still maintained and visited by thousands every year. Stop by and get some pictures for your social media page.
No matter what time of year you go to Maryhill State Park, the fishing is usually spectacular. From trophy-sized smallmouth bass to huge catfish over 30 pounds, you can catch a whopper here. Whether you are fishing from shore or in a boat, make sure you have a Washington fishing license. Walleye are plentiful as well, and chinook salmon are easy to find during the cool weather, especially in early spring and fall. The Chinook is actually the state fish of Oregon, and they are often caught in the Columbia River. You can also fish in the small pond located just west of the group campground, which has all kinds of fish in it as well.
Whether you have a huge houseboat or a little pedalboat, you are welcome to cruise out on the Columbia River at Maryhill State Park. In fact, they have two boat docks and over 200 feet of dock for boaters only. You will need an annual launch permit and some life jackets though. Pack some lunch and drinks in the cooler so you can spend the whole day in the water exploring and enjoying the river. The off-season is the best time since there will not be much boat traffic and the snow-covered mountains are a beautiful sight to behold.
If you want to get wet but are not in the mood to get out on the skis or board, the swimming beach is a welcome retreat to those who have been out enjoying the trails or sightseeing all day. With a nice pebbled beach and little sand, don’t expect to build a sandcastle, but you can sit down without having to worry about sand sticking to you. Bring along some sunscreen and beach toys, but don’t forget the life jackets. The currents can be fast here.
If you’d rather be pulled by a boat than a sail, make sure you pack your skis because the Columbia River is perfect for waterskiing. Although you can waterski on almost any body of water if it is big enough, the Columbia River in the section by Maryhill State Park is known for its straight and wide space with little or no obstacles. At this park, skiing is popular with all ages, although the current can be strong, so it is important to wear a life jacket and have strong swimming skills.
If you enjoy surfing, you’ll love windsurfing. Similar to surfing, you use the waves and wind to glide along the surface of the water, but there’s a sail attached to the surfboard, harnessing the wind to help you get more speed when the water is flat. That is why it is so popular at Maryhill State Park. Winds range from 15 to 30 miles per hour with temperatures in the 90s during the summer, and you can find the perfect grassy rigging area near the beach, so don’t forget your windsurfing equipment.