Washington Part IV: Maryhill State Park

As we have visited with other RV’ers throughout our travels, people have routinely shared suggestions on things to do and places to stay for locales on our agenda.  Maryhill State Park in Washington has popped up regularly. It is a 99-acre state park with 4,700 feet of shoreline on the Columbia River. State parks don’t always have full hook-ups and big enough spaces to accommodate our size. This one had both of those compelling amenities. We had looked into reservation details when we entered The Evergreen State back in August. It is a popular place, obviously, so the park was booked. The prices were high at over $50 per night too, so we took that location off our radar and didn’t think much about it again.

As we were planning our route from Kennewick to Portland I saw that we would be driving right  by Maryhill when we were heading west on I-84. It’s location is at the beginning of the Columbia River Gorge, and it also turned out to be just about half-way between Kennewick and Portland. I looked online one more time and was pleasantly surprised to find we were now in the “off -season”. Reservations were no longer required and the prices had dropped too! We took our chances on finding an available spot and left the Tri-Cities on a Thursday morning with Maryhill as our intended destination. It was Columbus Day weekend and we weren’t sure if the park might be extra full with campers that had a three-day weekend. We didn’t really have a Plan B, so I was really hoping it would all work out.

We pulled into Maryhill after driving two hours on good roads in light traffic and with nice weather. The park wasn’t full, so we picked a giant open spot facing the river and got ourselves set up. We felt lucky to have secured a spot we selected instead of settling for an alternate site. We filled out our paperwork at the self service box and wrote a check for six nights. More campers arrived after we did, and others continued to show up on Friday, but the park was never at full capacity during the weekend.

The previous recommendations we had received were spot on. The place was gorgeous. We had been cooped up in tiny spaces for a string of recent campgrounds and it was wonderful to have some elbow room again. I loved looking out my window and seeing grass, water and mountains rather than into another traveler’s camper. We were down in the Gorge, so we did not have any WIFI reception. It wasn’t too much of a bother. We just drove into Goldendale (at the top of the mountain walls that surrounded us) to get connected when we really needed to conduct any business. The dogs got good daily walks. We had campfires. Mike didn’t get to fish because he couldn’t print his license without WIFI. I went on little driving explorations throughout the area. We drove into The Dalles one morning for breakfast and some scouting. The rest of the time we sat around and watched the Columbia.

We left Kennewick on I-82 south and took it until it hit I-84, then we turned west. We were only on I-84 for a short while before the highway lined up with the Columbia River. The views just kept improving from that point forward.

We left Kennewick on I-82 south and took it until it hit I-84, then we turned west. We were only on I-84 for a short while before the highway lined up with the Columbia River. The views just kept improving from that point forward.

Our spot at Maryhill State Park was the roomiest we've had in a LONG TIME. Maybe ever.

Our spot at Maryhill State Park was the roomiest we’ve had in a LONG TIME. Maybe ever.

This enormous wall of rock near the entrance of the park captivated me.

This enormous wall of rock near the entrance of the park captivated me.

Happy hour and a campfire (which we hadn't been able to have in forever... due to weather, campground restrictions and fire danger)!

Happy hour and a campfire (which we hadn’t been able to have in forever… due to weather, campground restrictions and fire danger)!

We were only in town one week, but that didn't stop us from becoming regulars at Hot Rods Bar. AKA: free working wifi.

We were only in town one week, but that didn’t stop us from becoming regulars at Hot Rods Bar. AKA: free working wifi.

A calm Columbia River.

A calm Columbia River.

This happy garden was next door to a farm stand down the road from our campground. I bought some delicious fresh freestone peaches, pear sweetened cherry jam and jalapeno jam. Gunkel Orchards knows what they are doing!

This happy garden was next door to a farm stand down the road from our campground. I bought some delicious fresh freestone peaches, pear sweetened cherry jam and jalapeno jam. Gunkel Orchards knows what they are doing!

Peach trees from www.gunkelorchards.com

Peach trees from www.gunkelorchards.com

Commercial transportation on the Columbia.

Commercial transportation on the Columbia.

Mount Hood from the Maryhill Museum of Art.

Mount Hood from the Maryhill Museum of Art.

Across the river, at the location of the exit to the campground off of I-84, was a conglomeration of truck stops and fast food places. It was messy during the day, but at night the lights looked pretty on the water.

Across the river, at the location of the exit to the campground off of I-84, was a conglomeration of truck stops and fast food places. It was messy during the day, but at night the lights looked pretty on the water.

We met a space alien that came down to earth in the mid 60's. He's been carrying his ship with him this whole time. He says it holds firewood, but I'm not buying it.

We met a space alien that came down to earth in the mid 60’s. He’s been carrying his ship with him this whole time. He says it holds firewood, but I’m not buying it.

The landscape is so dramatic near the entrance to the Columbia River Gorge.

The landscape is so dramatic near the entrance to the Columbia River Gorge.

Mount Adams on the way to Goldendale.

Mount Adams on the way to Goldendale.

Mount Hood in the distance on our drive to The Dalles, Oregon.

Mount Hood in the distance on our drive to The Dalles, Oregon.

Columbia and Snake Rivers Voyage on the National Geographic Sea Lion. Retracing the Pacific Northwest portion of Lewis and Clark's epic expedition. The small ship was docked in The Dalles when we went for a visit. Looks like fun to me!

Columbia and Snake Rivers Voyage on the National Geographic Sea Lion. Retracing the Pacific Northwest portion of Lewis and Clark’s epic expedition. The small ship was docked in The Dalles when we went for a visit. Looks like fun to me!

The Columbia River from the Maryhill Museum of Art. The views are spectacular even before you enter the building of exhibits!

The Columbia River from the Maryhill Museum of Art. The views are spectacular even before you enter the building of exhibits!

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