Rainbow Falls State Park

Located about fifteen miles west of Chehalis, Washington, is this interesting little state park. It’s most notable fact is that it is split down the middle by the main road in the area. Which in turn is next to the river, and there is no way to cross the river inside the park. You have to travel several miles past the park to the bridge and backtrack to the main entrance. Otherwise you’ll be stuck on the south bank with nothing but a few trails to wander. These trails are crisscrossed with a main outer loop connecting them all. You could get lost, but thankfully some rather genius human put signs up with numbers to help you on your way.

River

Also on the south bank is a group eating area that looks as though no one has bothered to use it in years. I’m not sure why you would want to use it either, it looks slightly decrepid and the north side has a mammoth sized day picnic area. Maybe you just find yourself as the anti-social/scared-of-others bracket. Then this space maybe perfect for you. Plus with the added element of getting crushed by the structure could add an adrenaline rush that is hard to pass up. Honestly it’s not that bad, it is just next to the road and so I’m discouraging you from making a poor choice. The north bank is flooded with green space and would make for a wonderful day use park. Especially for those with very large groups.

Gazebo

Green

What else did we find? The trails mentioned earlier were gorgeous even if they are very short. This was also because we are here in spring, so the greens are in full mind bending variety. Wild flowers were everywhere, but sparsely spread apart. My wife was in full flower mode, I ended up with almost a dozen separate flowers and bushes from her camera. It had rained earlier that morning; so we even had the rain drops still playing around on the forest floor helping add to the palette laid before us.

Transparent

Trail

Thorny

Then my worst nightmare came to life. We came across this tree bottom with holes larger than my tiny head. It sunk into my brain that only a ginormous woodpecker could make a hole this big. After that I had to walk with very shifty eyes; not knowing whether or not he was plotting to peck my head. I figured I was likely not large enough prey for such a monster, but still the chills would crawl over me whenever I heard a distant thumping of a tree. The thumping was probably not a woodpecker in the distance, but just the beating of my heart. It was terrifying.

Woodpecker

You should know that I just don’t trust birds, I’m not actually scared of them. If I was truly scared of birds I’d hunt down the person who slung their shoes onto the wire over the river. That is a skill I could use to defend myself!!! The excitement this person must have felt for achieving such a useless act of awesome must be applauded by others. Alright, I’ll admit it, I’m a jealous shoe thrower. The best I’ve achieved is flinging my flip-flops into a laundry basket from about 9 feet away. I must practice more.

Shoes

Conclusion of the matter: 3 of 5. The space is split down the middle with no crossing, that is annoying. The road that separates the two spaces is actually quite busy, and even when you’re at the back of the woods on the trails you can hear the cars roaring by. On the flip side the north picnic zone is by far the largest we have seen yet and a church of thousand members could have a service there with space to stretch. In the end though, this state park is average at best.

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Kanaskat Palmer State Park

We set out to find Black Diamond Bridge State Park on Google Maps and instead ended up at Kanaskat Palmer State Park. The other, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have an entrance. If you find it put it in my comments please. These state parks, along with several others in the area are the result of Green River Recreation being broken into state parks. Which is maybe why the other doesn’t have an entrance yet, it may have one in the future, or it could be that it is only accessible by using the river itself. Either way, this is about Kanaskat Palmer and not Black Diamond Bridge.

Now that we have that exhausting explanation out-of-the-way. What is the first thing you’ll notice about Kanaskat Palmer? Moss. There are acres and acres of it. This park must be in a rainforest like zone. It was gorgeous and a delight to behold. There is definitely something magical about the moss in Washington. I’ll likely miss it when we start venturing east to see the parks on the otherside of the mountains. It also helped we were there before the sun really started shining, so human punishment hadn’t been a factor in the viewing.

Picnic

Roots

This park is really designed around a few ideologies. One: Picnic. Two: River play. Three: Using it as a launch for kayakers setting down the river to the gorge. We saw a pack of people gearing up to make the trek, and after some Yahoo-ing… (That sounds much worse than googling, and even alittle dirty huh?) I discovered that this is indeed their intent. I wouldn’t say you need a kayak to enjoy the river though. The river is good-sized and probably a blast in summer time. We were there during a mini flood so staying to the bank was really our only option for enjoyment. It should be said you can camp here as well, and it does have a spacious zone for it; privacy is better than “normal” here.

Sign

There is something gratifying in photographing raindrops, and it seems to be my wife’s newest obsession. Thankfully being slightly genius and bringing an umbrella to protect the cameras from the rain that came; we were unswayed by the downshift in fortunes. This opened ample oppurtunities for my wife to bust a move with her macro lens. I will say, her skills are starting to take shape into something resembling actual skill, and not just luck anymore. Soon her limitations of equipment will stymy the growth of education and land her skill in a flatline of quality that can’t be improved until our bank account can swell. Until then, she is doing clever with what we have, and my pride swells at her accomplishments.

Moss

Rain

As far as picnicing goes; Kanaskat has two seperate areas, and we almost overlooked the second. This second area sits right at a U-shaped bend in the river. This is the defining moment for this state park. It is gorgeous. No doubt this is an awesome place in summer time to hang out. Sadly for us, the rain had picked back up, and I wasn’t able to get a great picture out of the spot; I may revisit this just to get the picture I wanted.

Rock

Conclusion: 3 out of 5. We were blessed to be there with only about 10 other people in the area, and that, with the rain, just felt amazing. However, there is no doubt that with a hot summer day this place will be packed and it will feel VERY cramped. Also with Flaming Geyser State Park not far away this will not be the prime place in this area. Picnic zones are nice here, but there isn’t room to stretch your arms, even if it is private. You must like the forest if you’re going to be here.

Jackson House State Park

This place is split between the idea of a State Park and Historical Marker. The sign does say it is managed by the State Parks, and my GPS said it was too. So we stopped and marvelled at this little cabin and milked it for all it was worth. I even took the time to read all the signs posting about its significance to my historical ancestry. Shockingly I found no connection to this being part of my actual ancestry, and considering I never met any of my great-great grandparents I could actually be completely wrong.

Tombstone

The bad news for you, or good news if you’re a half empty kind of person and want to keep it that way, is that I can’t really recall what any of the signs said. There are two possible explanations for this. One, I didn’t focus my razor-sharp memory skills while I was reading. Or two, I spent far to many weeks since I actually visited the site and writing this review. Since I would never blame my memory of lacking I’ll go ahead and say my wife didn’t remind me what they said. Sidenote: The cabin is made of wood.

Wood

Since that definitely threw you off what I did there I’d like to mention that there is a small picnic area next to the house. It is mostly a Come-here-and-watch-your-dog-poo kind of park spot, as it is smaller than a football field, and of course that being said means there are no cheerleaders present either. This means you should bring your own entertainment.

House

Conclusion: 2 out of 5. It would be a three star place for a lunch break IF it was not right next to Highway 12, so it is VERY noisy here. This park is only about 5 miles from Lewis and Clark State Park. This means stop here on the way to Lewis and Clark State Park so you don’t feel bad about the 5 minutes you spent reading and gazing. However, if you make this your prime destination, I’m afraid you’ll end up cursing about the time wasted and the gas guzzled.

Ike Kinswa State Park

Located near Mossyrock, Washington, is this large state park with a silly name. It’s not really silly, as it was renamed from Mayfield Lake State Park to Ike Kinswa in honor of a local indian chief. This place is out of the way from anything. You’ll really have to make a conscious decision to visit this park. It’s not hard to find, but I know if it wasn’t part of our project, we would have never taken the time to get here. Anyways, enough of the simpleton banter! What did we find? The first thing we found was the sunshine, since that was everywhere when we visited. That’s not helpful to you is it?

Fern

This place has the largest picnic zone we have seen yet. It can definitely accommodate a throbbing crowd of people. Thankfully we were there in early spring so there was all of about 10 other people in the whole park. Ample grassland for both the frisbee throwing people and the football group at the same time. As with many of the state parks we have visited, this place probably gets pretty packed in the height of summer. Also I would recommend this park in fall time as there are absolutely tons of deciduous trees.

Horse Shoes

It’s a unique park as it is situated at the river entrance to the lake. It is annoying that the trail following upstream isn’t close enough to the river to keep a view of it while you’re walking. On the plus side, if you take a spur trail you’ll be secluded from others and you could have a hot steamy make out session with your partner. Although you would have to worry about the boaters on the river, so you may need to put on your exhibitionist side to do this.

Kayakers

The scenery here is wonderful, but like I mentioned it needs to be summer or fall to get the full explosion of impressiveness. It was just alittle to brown and barren without the leaves when we were there. Maybe that is your thing though… brown and boring. HEY! I don’t judge! The river is a beauty though, and kept us engaged during our visit. Also it should be noted that this is a calm river, not a raging rapid of death type of place. Think soul soothing instead of heart attack, that would keep your mental pictures correct.

River

river 2

Before we left we took a quick drive into the camping zone. It appears to be well maintained and has great privacy in the individual campsites. They aren’t open and sitting right on top of each other. There is also a trail along the lake from here. The real surprise though, came in the way of wildlife; we met a deer on the road, and clearly he was used to humans as he just stopped and stared at us like we were the weirdos. The other thought that passed my mind was that he was likely playing scout for some vicious birds. Thankfully the birds didn’t get the message as our car was not pooped on.

deer

Conclusion: 4 out of 5. However, if you have kids, this place will easily be 5 as it is just super kid friendly. The roped off swimming area and playground would be a happy wonderland to any child. You’d likely be making a lasting memory for them here. And for boaters this place is probably at the top of their list.

Grayland Beach State Park

If I say the word, “beach.” What would come to your mind? If your mind lacks imagination and you have never browsed an article called, “Greatest Beaches in the World.” Then the likely conclusion is that all you’ll come up with is wind, waves, and sand. Welcome to Grayland Beach State Park. It’s not that it isn’t pretty here, or that there isn’t ample activity going on by the hustle and bustle of people. It just lacks any real wow factor. There is sand to your left and right for about as far as the eye can see.

Grassland

Straight away we were rushed by a rabidly happy golden retriever. Following closely behind was its owner who saved us from his slobbery intentions. We skipped the option of flipping a coin to pick a direction of travel and headed left. A slightly poor choice since that put the wind into our face, but once our mind is made up we couldn’t change it. Not true ofcourse, but more likely we just didn’t put enough thought into it after the pleasant interaction with the dog.

Dog

And so we wandered. Slowly, methodically, decisively. Crushing the various shells under our shoes we marched down the beach with great purpose. The purpose was not actually known though, we just wanted to be confident people walking down the beach. Who wants to be the embarrassing city folk at the beach? Not this group. Speaking of group, we were fortunate to bring along my mother to this barren landscape. Infact, we could blame her for the destination, as it was her idea to go to the beach. I may make it sound like she beat us with a willow tree branch, but we actually consented in a free will sort of way. And we did say “All” state parks didn’t we?

shell

There was actually plenty of things to see on this beach. Dead carcases from crabs and sand dollars where every where. Finding a whole sand dollar was near impossible, but my mom kept picking them up as though it was a challenge that must be overcome. Success was granted to her mission after a mile or so, and a childish smile of happiness glistened in her eyes. No reward beyond satisfaction though; as it just led to even more walking.

crab

What do you find at the end of the beach? probably another beach. We can’t know for sure as you can’t bring your legs to continue when there is no hope on the horizon. Coming up to a small river, we decided it looked like a solid place to end our journey and turned back towards home. This time we stayed up away from the beach and followed a small water bog that lines the upper edge. It was eerie to walk beside it, I could feel my feet sink about two inches as the ground literally caved under my feet. All I could think was a sinkhole could form any minute. I’m actually shuttering alittle bit just thinking about it.

edge

The normal birds were out around the beach as well. Some seagulls, crows and some other tiny birds. They are there to both collect your drops of food and crap on your car. Drive with caution, they are of vicious intent indeed.

Crow

So what is the conclusion of the matter? You’ll be shocked to see a 3 out of 5. But this beach has trimmings you need for a lazy beach vocation. This beach allows driving on the beach, and has ample wind for your kite. I didn’t go with 2 stars, cuz I know there will be more barren beaches than this one. (I’m looking at you Long Beach!)

~Me.Greedy

Deception Pass State Park

This is going to feel very, and I mean very, anti-climactic. I mean doing Deception Pass second seems like a joke. Anyone who knows about big attractions in our state of Washington knows about Deception Pass State Park; It’s right there with Pikes Place, Mt. Rainier, Space Needle and ofcourse Forks. I do feel alittle sadness come to me by putting Forks on that list, but Twilight did just that didn’t it? Enough about things familiar! Lets talk about the complexity and awesomeness that is Deception Pass State Park. The first thing you’ll notice and be drawn to is the bridge. Its old, its famous, and it makes you want to vomit when you walk across it. But the best part about it, is being able to go on the island that supports the two bridges. It’s a complex structure of steel and definitely a man-made marvel. Take time to wander this plot of land.

Complex Steel

Now it was just a bit of bad luck to be camping there on the tail end of winter in 50 mile an hour winds. That thankfully did not stop the beauty of the park from shining for us. Infact the wind enhanced the experience and brought wonderful tears of joy to our faces. This is ofcourse not true. The tears came from the wind blowing in our faces and making us squint like a mad scientist in a lab. It didn’t impede our progress to find fascinating things to snap pictures of. Best part about the wind was the awesome and powerful waves crashing in the rocky surf.

Tree Bottom

There is a nifty little beach that sits at the foot of the bridge for those who like to lounge about like lifeless beach rocks, and it is just long enough to take the breath out of your lungs if you go for the full walk down its breadth. It handles some pretty good angles of the bridge for pictures, and while we were there some crazy surfers tried to even catch a wave. It was pathetic to watch them in full wetsuit regalia trying to ride a 6 foot wave, but they did succeed, and their smiles showed they really didn’t care about the lack of heated water or the tiny waves. It also gave me a chance to be amused about the idea of a surfer in Washington. I say this in lightness though, as I do have a friend that enjoys the sadomasochism of surfing in Washington. Kudos to you Jesse.

The bridge

Surfer

As you can see we were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous sunset. It was pink, blue, and splattered the entire sky. For a forecast of 90% chance of rain we really got the best case scenario out of the trip. Likely this is one of those State Parks that will get a revisit long before this whole project is wrapped up. It is a gem of the Northwest, and is inconceivable of a person in Washington to never get out and see this incredible landscape. Book your reservation now, or you’ll be missing out on some summer camping. And what if you miss a sunset like this!!!!

Sunset

Conclusion: I think I already concluded my statement in the last paragraph. But here is the official standing: 5 out of 5 for sure. Stay the night at this park. You won’t regret it.

Waves Crashing

~Me. Greedy

Bay View State Park

Bay View State Park is a quaint little park near the town of Bay View, Washington. It is what you might call a “local’s park.” Not many people will really go out-of-the-way to see this park with Deception Pass State Park only about twenty minutes away. However, it has its own interesting view and is worth a stop for a quick stop on the way. There is a campground here, but I’m not sure why you would stay here unless Deception Pass was full.

When coming off the road into the park you circle under the road and enter a perfect picturesque picnic landing. It’s maybe the size of 2 or 3 football fields and has plenty of tables for eating, and even a good-sized shelter for a large party. The view from here would probably be really impressive on a clear day, but we happened to come on a rather soggy afternoon with lots of grey. Many of the islands were still in view in the distance, and there was even a kite flyer testing the wind which was in plenty during our visit. Also in the midst of the park is a monument to the pioneers of this park, telling of how a tree hugging couple saved this plot of land from utter destruction. (Well maybe it isn’t that dramatic of a story, but the gist of it is close.)

The Monument

After Soaking in the picnic zone we started waddling our way down the beach. The beach here is more like a river bank, with lots and lots of rocks and not much sand to go with it. Also the depth of the beach is very shallow and at high tide is not likely going to have much walking room. But if you are fortunate enough to be there in the low tide phase you’ll enjoy a rather beautiful walk on the beach. All be it you’ll have to watch your ankles. As footing can be both slippery and annoying. Imagine yourself walking through the Rocky Mountains, accept you’re a giant and they are just rocks… It’s probably equivalent to that. I did take a spill from stepping on a rock wrong and almost crushed my camera. My wife didn’t laugh, but I could sense she was amused by my lack of skill in walking. She claimed she was more concerned for me than the camera, but I do have my doubts.

The Island View

Along the beach you’ll find plenty of awesome stones and shells for picking through, and also you’ll enjoy the seagulls yakking at you. They are ofcourse waiting until you are far enough away from your car that they can go poop on it without fear of being caught. None the less their company is better than the rocks, as all they do is sit on the ground trying to trip you. I’m not sure who is more malicious out of the two, but I’m not comfortable knowing they may be forming an alliance against me.

Seagulls

Crushed Shell of Death

We spent far longer than planned here. Our car decided it didn’t want to start back up, so we were stuck for about four hours here, and after about the first hour it started raining buckets. This help me notice the idea I mentioned earlier about this being a “locals park”. Several people came and parked next to us while we sat in our car; and all they did was eat their lunch and stare out their windows. most never got out of the car. And that’s about all this state park is really good for… a lunch spot.

No Disasemble Number 5 Alive!

CONCLUSION: 3 stars out of 5, don’t camp here, but if you are in the area, stop in and eat some lunch. Because average is all that is here.

~Me.Greedy