"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Camping in April

By on March 27, 2021 in Outdoor Fun with 0 Comments
Off-season camping can require heavy blankets, a warm trailer and a mug of Sleepy-time tea before calling it a day. 

Camping when it is not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too crowded, and usually not smoky. 

Story By Linda Reid

Photos by Ken reid

Camping? In April? 

We never would have ventured out so early when we lived on the “206” side of the mountains. Camping was pretty much relegated to June, July and August, but not these last few years since retirement to the drier, sunnier part of the state. 

Now fall and spring are the best times to be out. It is not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too crowded, and usually not smoky. 

Admittedly, graduating from tenting to a pop-up trailer makes camping more comfortable, but the unparalleled beauty of spring and fall in north central Washington is the primary motivator.

My husband, Ken, and I discovered two other perks that make camping during these shoulder seasons so appealing. 

Lovely, lavender lupine spring up early in the year.
Balsam root thrives in NCW’s forests as well as on the sage steppe.

First, you can almost always find campsites anywhere you want to go in April or October, without even having reservations. 

And second, the Washington State Parks have a special “Off-Season Senior Pass” that we only became aware of last fall. For $75 you can camp from the first of October until April 30 as many times and places as you want for that one-time flat fee. (There is an additional fee if you camp in a utility site.) 

April dates are restricted to Sunday-Thursday but other than that, if the park is open, you are covered by the pass. 

Truthfully, we are not likely to venture out camping in the months between November and March, but when we did the math, we realized what a great bargain this was, even if we only used it a few times in October and April. 

Did you know that many KOA campgrounds are now close to, or over $100 per night? In our early tenting days, the U.S. Forest Campgrounds were completely free, and state parks were under $10 per night. 

At Steamboat Rock Campground in the early spring you will find more deer than campers.

We have narrowed down our choices for spring camping this year to four near-by state parks: Lincoln Rock, Steamboat Rock, Pearrygin Lake and Bridgeport (Chief Joseph Dam area). 

Lincoln Rock was a favorite campground when we lived in Seattle, when it took us three hours to get there. 

Ironically, since we moved to East Wenatchee we have not camped there because it is so close to home. We daytrip there regularly, through all four seasons to snowshoe, bike, walk, picnic and enjoy the beach. This spring we have decided to camp there again, and if we happen to forget something, we can make the 20-minute drive home to get it. 

We discovered Bridgeport State Park last November when we were out doing wildfire damage assessments for the Red Cross. We had a picnic there and walked through the vacant campground where the only creatures stirring were squirrels preparing for winter. 

We decided we would add it to our ever-expanding campground repertoire for 2021. April will be our camping debut there.

Steamboat Rock is just a short distance from Coulee Dam and about a two-hour drive from Wenatchee. The park is right on Banks Lake with such bold, rocky scenery it is other-worldly. 

We have enjoyed fall hikes in past years, but this year we plan to see what it looks like in the spring. I wonder if the wild turkeys will be less stressed in April than they were in late October, just a month before Thanksgiving? 

Pearrygin Lake is only a few miles from Winthrop, which always has something interesting going on. The little shops are a fun way to walk away the afternoon. I never miss spending time in their amazing local, independent bookstore, Trails End. Their staff is knowledgeable, friendly, and always willing to help you find just what you didn’t even know you were looking for. 

One of Ken’s favorite local tourist attractions is the Schoolhouse Brewery. He hasn’t yet met a beer there that he didn’t enjoy.

Speaking of spring, everywhere we go in NCW whether in our car pulling our trailer, biking, hiking, or walking, we are filled with wonder at the rebirth of the earth. 

The foothills are in full bloom with a carpet of sunflower-like balsam root flowers and periwinkle-blue lupine proclaiming the seasonal change. The shrub steppe has its own eccentric floral beauty, specializing in all shades of yellow from lilies, to buttercups, to bitterbrush, a rogue member of the rose family. It is also a stellar place to birdwatch. 

Orchards are budding out along every highway and byway, and all over town in Wenatchee pink dogwoods and cheerful forsythia erase all memories of snow and ice.

There is no question in our minds, north central Washington is a rejuvenating place to live the good life, especially in the spring.

This is the third piece about seasonal change in NCW that Linda has written for The Good Life, including November’s fall colors (“Four Seasons Add Spice to our Lives”) and January’s “Solitude & Skiing.” She and her photographer husband Ken love collaborating on stories that feature the unique beauty of this part of the world. 

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