Bridgeport State Park

First off, you have to find Bridgeport on a map and come to the gripping reality that you must make this trip by choice. You won’t just happen to be driving by and stopping in. It certainly isn’t the most remote state park in Washington State, but it isn’t in a convenient location either. Ofcourse you’re here to determine if it is worth your gas expenditure to see this little pot of gold. More accurately it would be fools gold. Not because it is a cheap and fake experience to visit Bridgeport State Park; but rather it is because it is shiny and beautiful like fools gold, it just isn’t the real deal.

Grassland

It has a gorgeous platform of grass that blends right into the massive Columbia River. We have seen our fair share of grasslands at State Parks already, but this one might be the best. The way it slopes into a vast bowl is just incredible. Someone should just set up a stage here and have mini concerts. Outside of that use it is kind of an annoying waste; beautiful to look at, but not useful in the slightest.

Grassland 2

Outside this gorgeous little spot what else lurks inside this park; it might be equally important to figure out why this is a park at all. The answer lies down the river. Just a few miles down river is the Chief Joseph Dam; a fantastic marvel of engineering. That also means upstream, where the park is located, is a slow flowing calm river. We are starting to realize if there is a dam near by, look for the park upstream. Bridgeport sports most if not all the usual fixings of a river based State Park. Camping, swimming, small cliff diving, paddle boarding, boating, gazebos, and rattlesnakes!

Paddle Board

Sadly, or gratefully, we didn’t see a rattlesnake. Signs were posted in plenty; meaning it was posted once on the information board and nowhere else. Something my wife and I are learning from our State Park adventures is seek the information board first, because it will list the various ways you can get killed in the park. The board probably should have mentioned the staircase you must descend into the park. Maybe it’s the fact that it only has a slight chance of death that it wasn’t mentioned.

Stairs

The stairs aren’t really that bad; also there is a handicap ramp about 300 feet long you can zig-zag your way down if you require it.

You’re still wondering about the small cliff diving aren’t you? Don’t be shocked when I say that is only ten feet or less, but there are multiple ledges that can be used for large groups of teenage craziness. There wasn’t really a way to get a picture of the edges, but I managed to get a shot of just how the view will look once you’re out near the edge. This water will entice you like a Siren of the sea, so I’d be careful to not linger out there if you aren’t planning to jump. My wife had to coax me back; I have a sneaking suspicion she was worried about the camera and not so much my safety.

River Drop

Conclusion of the matter is 3 out of 5 stars. Beside location and rattlesnakes. It also feels rather confined since you are basically sitting in a bowl, throwing frisbees and footballs could be tough unless you are a true expert in park playtime. This is why I said it is fools gold. On paper and when you are there it feels like a perfect little slice of State Park, but the more you wonder and mull over it, the less intrigued you’ll be by it. Three stars is likely a day only visit. Camping here would probably turn it into a 4 star experience.

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Lincoln Rock State Park

Near the middle of Washington State stands the strangest rock that may just prove that Abraham Lincoln was destined to do great things. This rock was clearly there well before the man made his mark on history as one of the true great Americans, and is now a reminder for those that visit this pristine little park near Wenatchee. When we arrived at the park I didn’t give much thought to the name. I just figured it another generic name placeholder. As we wandered through the park my mind said, “I wonder if there really is a rock that looks like Lincoln around here.” I started to look at the surrounding landscape. POW! There is was, it is almost impossible to miss if you are infact looking for it. On the flip side, if you don’t have a brain to make you think things like this, you’ll probably never see it. Except that in the parking lot is a huge memorial telling you were to look. I didn’t need this sign to discover it. Call it genius, or dumb luck, but there it was in all it’s splendor.

Rock

Obviously this picture is tiny, and probably with squinting eyes is the only way you’ll really get a view of it. I do recommend you visit and see this natural wonder for yourself. Of course, if Lincoln hadn’t become famous this rock would be just that. A Rock. Now lets discuss what else can be found in this “monumental” park. This place has just about everything you can imagine. From Swimming to Soccer. Sprawling sports fields are all over this park. Basketball, tennis, baseball diamonds; the only thing it lacks that may hold this park down is it doesn’t have a cycling race course.

Sports

The Swimming area is sublime. With a massive concave of concrete with steps to the water, it almost makes you feel as though maybe you’re entering the tranquil Pool of Bethesda. Well, we don’t know if the pool of Bethesda was tranquil, but it may have had an epic entry like this one nonetheless.

Swimming

Goggles

The usual suspects were about. As if spies from the above world, they watched us. Chirping codes of our whereabouts to others. They were seemingly fearless, as this one character allowed us to get about ten feet from her before she flew away. Others were bombarding the picnic areas. Scavenging like tiny vultures, the droppings of human wastefulness. Maybe it is an advanced litter patrol employed by the state. We may never know where our taxes are really going, bird litter patrol seems feasible enough to me.

Bird

The last thing needing mention is that, yes, this is on the river. It is useable for boats and swimmers alike. Also you will be treated to the wonders of open space landscapes and huge power lines. It’s breathless and barren all at the same time. Take a moment to soak it up, both literally, and visually. The river seemed to have very few boats in the area too, so plenty of room for yourself.

power

Skidoo

Conclusion of the matter: 4 out of 5 for sure here. It caters to every need a human can desire, but lacks that special statement of amazing. The Lincoln Rock may be unique and interesting, but that feeling won’t last. This park will come down to whether or not you have an active lifestyle. Absolutely worth a visit, and if you have a boat, kids, a family get together, this place will be just perfect for that. As for the awe-inspiring location of “must visit,” maybe not so much.

Bottle Beach State Park

This place is less than interesting on paper, and even more bleak once you arrive at the parking lot. All you see is a marsh landscape and a sturdily built outhouse. But there it is taunting you, an elevated pathway to the beach. Coaxing you to leave your valuables in your car and head off to the unknown; I ofcourse assumed it was going to be a death march. Before we headed off we read the plaque telling us about the history of the park and why it was important to save the land. Then off we went down the grey Boardwalk of Doom. Once we reach the end of the elevated walkway they provided us with this lovely bench, as though the less than a quarter-mile walk had destroyed all hope of making it to the beach.

Bench

Then we pressed on using the paved pathway. Finding our way to what I had decided was going to lead us to treasures untold. Because after all we had already survived the Boardwalk of Doom. The journey was uninspiring to say the least. Nothing but pesky birds jeering me on, and more marshy landscape than I could shake a stick at.

Speaking of birds, that is the point of this state park. It is a refuge for birds, a place for them to gather and plan their evils on the world; it is apparently the first place to be “state approved” as a refuge.

Marsh

After what seemed like miles of the same boring landscape we came to a structure that as a builder I was very intrigued by. It was designed by every imaginable left over item one could have lying around their house from projects abandoned. From huge over sized timber posts to retaining wall blocks for foundation. It impressed me so much that I took a picture. Ofcourse, in this picture you won’t be able to see the awesomeness I’m talking about, but you’ll still be impressed I’m sure.

Shelter

Here is where the experience can be vastly different; at high tide, it would end here basically, but if you get there at low tide, the options will abound. We happened to get there at low tide, maybe even a very low tide, and were able to walk deep out into the beach. There we found all kinds of things to look at. Old docking posts, huge open views of the Olympic Mountains, crabs, sea weed, algae, rusted strange objects, even sand! It was all there for our viewing pleasure. There was no treasure to be found though, so don’t bother heading there with hopes of striking it rich. Unless you like failure, then I highly recommend you seek this place out for treasure hunting.

Sand

The strangest thing we came across was this “pit.” After much thinking and mind bending thoughts I’ve come to the conclusion that this spot is possibly where the Ninja Turtles were really turned. Beside the green “ooze” being some strange algae, there was the pipe of never-ending water. So if it wasn’t where the turtles came into the contact with the ooze, then clearly I have stumbled upon the fountain of youth.

Fountain

Ooze

There you have it. The fountain of youth is near Grays Harbor and Aberdeen, and you must be there at low tide to find it.

The conclusion of the matter: 2 out of 5 stars. HOWEVER, if you are there at low tide, and get to see all the cool stuff out in the sand, you may just get lucky like us, and obtain the 4 out of 5 star experience. This is a nice place if you are on your way to Westhaven or Westport, but as a single destination, it’s probably not worth your time. Also, the walk to the beach is not miles, like I implied. It’s very easy and short.

Shine Tidelands State Park

This place is the definition of wasted funds. There is no real reason it should be wasting any tax dollars for something this small and lame. On the plus side the only money being spent on this park is probably the upkeep of the porta-potty, because outside of that there is nothing here. However, there is one thing worth stopping in for, and that is the view:

Tree Bottom

Under bridge

You are casting your gaze on the awesome, and under rated Hood Canal Bridge. This bridge is the essence of time travel for those that live in this area. Not in the literal Back to the Future time travel, just the fact you will literally save two hours of driving if you have to go around the inlet. It also looks quite impressive doesn’t it? Just don’t take your eyes off of it. If you start to meander down the rocky beach you’ll see the remnants of humans everywhere. From bottle caps to screwdrivers we found them all here.

Bottle Cap

Poker

Now the real reason this place is a candidate for even being a park at all, is that just up the beach over the road is a tiny wetlands. It’s a wall of green, that almost makes you feel like you were glad you turned off the road for the 37 second drive. It is inhabited with many birds, and I won’t get into that problem, but you can imagine they are cheerful and greeting you on the way in. You’d be wrong. They’re only there to laugh at what you drive, and will crap on it once you leave its presence. Dammit, the birds took me off track. Back to the mud pool, honestly though, a picture would probably make more sense here anyways.

Wetlands

Okay, so what does that leave. Rocks. Islands in the distance. Fence Posts. Gate. That summed it up pretty well right? Heh, you’re confused about the fence post aren’t you? I’ll have you covered for that in a second. There was one other thing of note, that probably is more important than I think. There was people clam digging! Now that your interest is piqued I won’t tell you more, and that is because these people all left the boundaries of the park to find the lost treasures of the sand. They just parked here, and then took their buckets else where. They walked so far they were out of sight. I was alittle teary eyed about that, because I wanted to get some pictures of them doing it. oh well, your left with the fence post.

Fence Post

Oh yeah, and the island view. I lied though, that is not an island. It is just an out cropping into the bay. There is no islands. Thank you Google maps for crushing my personal memories.

Islands

Conclusion of the matter: This is really a 1 out of 5 kind of place. If it wasn’t so close to highway it wouldn’t be worth your time. For 37 seconds of driving it can be said it’s worth it. Also, this place is so insignificant that Google maps doesn’t even show it on their maps. That might tell you more than my whole review.

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.

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.