Summer may still seem weeks away in Seattle, but east of the mountains camping season is in full swing. Whether you’re an experienced camper or packing up for your first trip with the kiddos in tow, these family-friendly campgrounds to the east are sure to keep you coming back year after year. Both campgrounds offer loads of opportunities for the kids to hit the trails, explore nature, play on the beach and of course roast their share of marshmallows.
Steamboat Rock State Park
Nestled at the north end of Banks Lake (pictured), Steamboat Rock State Park is a 3,522-acre camping park with 50,000 feet of freshwater shoreline. Whether you are up for boating, fishing or just breaking out the sand toys, this area offers fun for everyone. The park takes its name from Steamboat Rock, a huge basalt butte (shaped a bit like a steamboat) rising 800 feet above the lake. An area landmark, it was once an island in the Columbia River during the last ice age. Pack some hiking boots or comfy tennis shoes and the whole family can hike to the summit. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the amazing views.
Two campground areas are surrounded by sweeping green lawns and can accommodate both tent camping and trailers. All sites have firepits, so be sure to pack supplies for s’mores. Squeaky clean restrooms are a short walk from most sites and feature family bathrooms with coin-operated hot showers. Friendly rangers and volunteer park hosts are available to answer your questions about the area. The day-use area includes a sandy swimming area, large playground and boat launch. There’s even a small storefront where the kids can grab an ice cream cone and Mom & Dad can get that much-needed latte.
Perched above the shores of beautiful Lake Roosevelt, Spring Canyon Campground includes campsites for both tents and trailers. (Note: only the lower loop of sites allows campfires, but the upper loop features covered parking.) Sandy beaches and acres of grassy park make this an ideal spot for some quality family time away from the hustle and bustle of home. About 300 yards downhill from the campground, you’ll find a roped-in swimming area with a floating dock, two playgrounds, a sand volleyball court, picnic tables and BBQ pits. A boat launch is conveniently located just down the beach. The lake itself is actually a reservoir created by the Grand Coulee Dam, located just a few miles away. Dozens of nature trails sprinkled with wildflowers wind throughout the park – offering easy day hikes for the whole family to enjoy.
Nearby: You won’t wantto miss taking the kids to see the amazing Grand Coulee Dam. Just a short drive from either campground, kids and grownups alike will love visiting the hands-on museum located at the visitor’s center. Kids can operate a diving simulator, learn about the area’s rich Native American history, and even feel what it’s like to operate a real jack hammer used in constructing the dam. Guided tours are also available. If you can keep the kiddos up late enough, there is also a nightly laser light show at the dam (times vary depending on time of year).
Getting There: Pack up some snacks and DVDs for the 3-4 hour drive from the Seattle area. Take I-90 East toward Spokane / Bellevue. At Exit 151, take ramp right toward Soap Lake / Ephrata. Keep straight onto SR-281. Turn right onto SR-283 / State Route 283 N / WA283 N. Keep straight onto SR-28 Turn left onto SR-17 / Coulee Corridor. Turn right onto US-2 / Coulee Corridor. See campsite links above for directions to specific campgrounds.