Note: We originally wrote this post in May of 2020, when 3 of the state parks near Vancouver, WA reopened following the statewide shutdown. Since then, another local state park has reopened, and some of the restrictions have been lifted, so we’ve updated the post to reflect those changes.
If you’re tired of being cooped up in the house, or are otherwise looking for something fun to do with the family, check out one of these state parks that are just a short drive from Vancouver, WA.
As you may already know, all Washington state lands were closed in late March as part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. While some state parks still remain closed until further notice, over 100 of them reopened on May 5th (and more thereafter), including a few in the local Vancouver, WA area.
But before you pack the family into the car and head out for a day communing with nature or a weekend camping under the stars, there are a few things you should know:
- Parking capacity may be limited in some parks to reduce the number of visitors there at one time.
- Bathroom facilities may also be limited in some parks.
- Check-in is now 4:00 p.m. for roofed accommodations to allow for additional cleaning due to Covid-19.
- Playgrounds, day use facilities, and group camps are closed until further notice to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
- Other restrictions may be in place in individual parks.
Guidelines and Restrictions for Outdoor Recreation
While Gov. Inslee is encouraging people to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, he also emphasizes the importance of using appropriate social distance measures to ensure the health and safety of all. The following is a list of the guidelines and restrictions that need to be adhered to when you’re participating in outdoor activities:
- Do not participate in outdoor recreation activities if you’re exhibiting any cold or flu-like symptoms.
- You should practice social distancing at boat launches, trailheads, and anywhere you encounter other people.
- Use face coverings wherever social distancing isn’t possible.
- Bring your own food and supplies to help protect others in your community.
- Pack out what you pack in.
If it is believed that a state park or other public parks, lands, trails, or golf facilities are unsafe or social distancing isn’t being practiced, they may be closed at any time. As such (and as mentioned above), it is a good idea to call ahead to make sure your destination is open.
A Discover Pass is needed for vehicle access to Washington state parks and recreation lands. However, you do not need the pass if you are just driving through, or are accessing the park by boat or non-motorized means (on foot, bicycle, horse, etc.). Boaters will still need to pay for services such as waste-pumping and moorage.
Several circumstances exempt visitors from needing a pass, including visiting on a Discover Pass Free Day, or you are driving an off-road vehicle (ORV) with the required ORV tabs. You can see the full list of exemptions by visiting the Discover Pass website.
With fees included, the Discover Pass costs $35.00 for the year or $11.50 for one-time use. The pass may be shared between 2 vehicles. You can purchase your pass online at the Discover Pass store.
One last note before we dive into the 4 State Parks in the local Vancouver, WA area: You will need a recreational license if you plan on fishing or shellfish harvesting at a Washington state park. For regulations, fishing season information, or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife website.
Beacon Rock State Park – 38 Min. from Vancouver, WA
First on our list is Beacon Rock State Park. Just a short drive from Vancouver, this park will wow you with its 4,458 acres of natural beauty.
Its namesake is the towering, 848 foot remains of an ancient volcano. The views are impressive whether you’re looking up at Beacon Rock or looking down after hiking the mile-long trail to the top.
Beacon Rock Trail is currently closed due to Covid-19, but the other 13 miles of biking and horse trails, and over 8 miles of hiking trails are free for you to use. The park also has several picnic tables, and ample opportunities for rock climbing and wildlife viewing.
If you’re a boater, you can take in the views of Beacon Rock on the Columbia River. And while you’re out there you can fish for bass, walleye, sturgeon, and salmon.
- 28 Campsites
- More suitable for tents than RVs
- 5 full hookup sites
- 2 Equestrian Sites
While the main campground and group camp close during the winter months, 5 utility sites and 2 standard campsites are available first-come, first-serve throughout the year. Each location has 1 restroom and 1 shower.
With the exception of the upper picnic area, all trailheads and day-use areas are open year-round. Hours are from 8:00 a.m. until dusk.
On February 1, the south, southeast, and southwest portions of Beacon Rock will be closed to base access and technical climbing.
Visit the Beacon Rock page on the Washington State Parks website for more info.
Paradise Point State Park – 20 Min. from Vancouver, WA
Paradise Point State Park is a 101 acre camping park just 15 miles north of Vancouver, WA. It has 6,100 feet of freshwater shoreline for fishing and personal watercraft use, 2 miles of hiking trails, and a small apple orchard.
- 2 Yurts
- 49 Standard Campsites
- 18 Partial Hookup Sites
- 10 Primitive Sites
Paradise Point has 6 restrooms (4 ADA), 4 showers (2 ADA), and 1 dump station. Campers are allowed to enter the park until 10:00 p.m.
Sites 44-68 and 70 – 79 will be closed from November 1 – March 15. The lower campground restroom also closes on November 1, however the beach facility remains open year-round.
Main campground sites and yurts can be reserved all year; water throughout the campground remains on year-round as well.
For more information, visit the Paradise Point page on the Washington State Parks website.
Battle Ground Lake State Park – 30 Min. from Vancouver, WA
Battle Ground Lake State Park is a forested park located in the Cascade Mountain foothills. Of the 3 parks we’re sharing with you today, this one offers the most possibilities for family fun. For starters, it has a badminton area, 2 horseshoe pits, and volleyball field.
Also included in the 280 acre park are 10 miles of hiking trails and 5 miles of horse trails that can be used by mountain bikers (provided they yield to horse riders).
Non-motorized boating is allowed on the spring-fed lake, which has 60 feet of dock. It’s also stocked with trout, so don’t forget your fishing gear!
For your convenience, Battle Ground Lake State Park has an automated pay station you can use to purchase a Discover Pass or boat launch permit.
- 4 Cabins
- 35 Standard Campsites
- 6 Partial Hookup Sites
- 15 Primitive Sites
- 2 Primitive Equestrian Sites
The park also has a picnic area, 4 restrooms, 2 showers, and an RV dump station.
Campsites 31-50 and the equestrian camp will be closed from November 1-March 15. The day-use restroom closes November 1, however the beach restroom remains open throughout the year.
The launch is open year-round, and the water in all of the main campground spigots is available as well.
Visit the Battle Ground Lake page on the Washington State Parks website for more info.
Reed Island State Park – 25 Min. from Vancouver, WA
Reed Island State Park is located east of Vancouver on the Columbia River. If you’re a bird watcher, you’ll love this park, as it faces the Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge from the north. To the southeast, you can take in some amazing views of Oregon’s rising basalt cliffs and Vista House. The park also offers opportunities for fishing, water sports, and hiking.
You should know that Reed Island is only accessible by water. There are no docks or buoys present, but you can beach your boat on the sandy shore.
The park has 2 picnic areas, but no facilities; if you decide to visit, you must pack out what you pack in.
Reed Island is open year round for day use.
For more information, visit the Reed Island page on the Washington State Parks website.
We hope you found our list helpful and that you will be able to get out and have some fun in one of our local state parks in the near future. Just remember to follow the guidelines mentioned above so everyone remains safe and healthy while doing so.
Current Status for all Washington State Parks:
The Washington state coronavirus response website:
The latest covid-19 related news for our office:
Vancortho covid 19 update