2017 Keystone Hideout
2017 Keystone Hideout
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The name, Daroga, is an amalgamation of three brothers’ names: DAvid, RObert, and GRady Auvil. The trio founded a peach orchard company, the Auvil Fruit Company, in the early 1940s and created a new type of peach called Daroga Peach. The original site of the orchard was flooded after the construction of Rocky Reach Dam. The orchard had to be moved further inland as a result. Grady Auvil is also credited with creating the famous Granny Smith apple and bringing Rainier Cherry to Washington State. The site of the original orchard was later sold to Chelan County in 1981 and has been leased to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission since then.
Central Washington, in contrast with the coastal region, is considered a “high desert” climate, and much of the land in the area is arid and sparsely treed. Nourished by the waters, trees, bushes, and lush greenery stretch along the banks of the Columbia River. Camping at Daroga State Park provides a welcome respite from the dry highlands. The closest town is East Wenatchee, about 20 miles south.
The 127-acre patch of land hooks around a shining lagoon, sheltering it from the worst of spring thaw and storms. On the far side of the river, maroon cliffs rise. The hilltops are blanketed by wild grasses that are green for a short time, in late spring. After the rain and snow drain into the river, it dries out, turning into a rich, glimmer gold. The lagoon, sandy and shallow, is perfect for wading and light swimming sessions, especially welcome on a hot summer day. Poplar trees and old peach trees line the banks. The two ramps can be used to launch electric boats and non-powered boats. The lagoon is a wake-free zone, but by passing underneath a small bridge, boaters can gain access to the mighty Columbia River. Anglers can expect to catch a range of fish including smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish in the lagoon. On the river, salmon and catfish are also common.
A few miles upriver, Chelan Falls roars as the aquamarine water fed by Lake Chelan descends into its final gorge before joining the vast Columbia River. Tumbling over 350 feet, salmon somehow ascend in their annual desperate attempt to reach the spawning grounds. Brave kayakers sometimes will zig and zag as they descend to land in a giant foam of water at the bottom. For a heart-wrenching moment, they disappear only to pop out seconds later, wet but safe.
When you book an RV in Douglas County, WA, take a moment and figure out where you’ll park while you go adventuring. RV Camping at Daroga State Park may be a good option to consider, particularly if power isn’t required. Of the 100-plus sites, only 18 sites have partial hookups, and 17 have full hookups. However, unlike many campgrounds in the area, the sites are roomy and can accommodate long motorhomes.
Downriver, Wenatchee Confluence State Park campground near West Wenatchee, WA, may be another candidate. It has more sites with full hookups (52), and half a dozen restrooms with showers, and easy access to hiking trails in addition to the river.
Although the Lincoln Rock State Park campground is smaller, with only 20 RV sites, it’s also less popular. If the other state park RV campgrounds are full, check for availability.
In addition to camping at Daroga State Park, there are several attractions in the area, such as the nationally acclaimed Desert Canyon Golf Resort in Orondo. One of the few 18-hole fairways built in a high desert environment, all players are required to use a golf cart because the unique design of the fairway means each green are unusually spaced out. There are several practice putting greens with a variety of challenges like bunkers, slopes, and traps.
Rocky Reach Dam was one of the first hydroelectric dams built in the country. The museum/visitor center is open to the public. The discovery center houses viewing windows, allowing guests to watch salmon leap their way the fish ladder up close. Tour the powerhouse and learn how the hydroelectric dam works, and browse the display of local Nez Perce Native American art and other exhibits.
Leavenworth, well in the heart of the Cascade Mountain Range, is a charming Bavarian-themed town. Quirky shops, restaurants, and other businesses line the main street. The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, which was featured on NBC’s Today, TBS, and A&E shows, showcases over 5,000 unique nutcrackers, some of which date back to as early as the 16th century. Unsurprisingly, it’s especially well known for its annual event, the Oktoberfest.
The slower pace of life, friendly locals, and rich history all will add up to a memorable visit to central Washington.