Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Steamboat Rock Camping Trip - Part 2

Enjoying the sunset... and wondering where the beach went.
Last Friday we headed back over the mountains to Steamboat Rock State Park on Banks Lake in Eastern Washington to spend the weekend camping with my parents. Originally it was going to be quite a large trip including siblings, aunts and uncles, etc. but some things came up at the last minute making it a double date weekend with Mom and Dad. My mom was really worried that we would be bored to tears, but we love camping and could bask in the sun for days on end, so we were still really looking forward to the trip.
It’s blazing hot in that part of the state this time of year, so we were really happy to be sleeping in the air conditioned motorhome instead of in our tent. And since my mom decided to be in charge of all the food this time we didn’t have to worry about shopping, food or coolers, so packing was nice and stress-free. Stew picked me up from work around noon and off we went.
My mom booked this camp site back in February and scored an amazing site in the north campground right along the lake. Normally, we could just head down the path toward the water and land right on our own private sandy beach, perfect for swimming and sunbathing all day long, with the motorhome just steps away whenever we needed a break. However, the Washington State Parks web site graciously informed us a few weeks ago that Banks Lake at Steamboat Rock State Park is being drawn down to accommodate a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation repair of the headworks at Dry Falls Dam in Coulee City. By Labor Day, the lake is expected to be down by 10 to 15 feet from traditional summer water levels, and “park visitor water access will be affected.” They were not kidding.
The water level was much lower than usual last weekend, but during the mere week we were away the lake had dropped at least another five feet or so. At our campsite, what would normally be a lovely sandy beach just feet from the water had turned into a dry and desolate landscape. To even reach the water we had to walk roughly 100 yards out over sand, mud and muck which eventually ended in stagnant pond water filled with dead weeds and garbage. There went our lakefront real estate.
The lovely beach at our campsite. Did I miss the memo about the Apocalypse?

Yeah, I don't think anyone is going to be launching their boat here.
Searching for a place to spend the day, the next morning we went down to the main boat launch area, which was completely blocked by sand and not usable. The whole area seriously looked like the apocalypse had hit the planet… it really sort of freaked me out. We walked for about a quarter mile down the beach before we reached an area that was suitable (barely) for swimming and sunbathing. It was so hot outside that we spent the remainder of our day sitting in the shade or floating in the lake. Although the conditions weren’t ideal it actually ended up being a perfect afternoon. I love lounging around in the sun doing nothing and that’s exactly what we did.
Normally we would be about 20 feet under water here!

An awesome rope swing we found - I think it's normally meant to go over the water.
For the past few years at Banks Lake there has always been a burn ban, so we were super excited to find out that this time we would be allowed to have a camp fire, one of my absolute favorite things about camping. That night we also spent a long time stargazing, something we never have the opportunity to do in the city.
It was such a relaxing trip (even though the lake wasn’t totally cooperative) and such a fantastic way to end a summer filled with camping trips.


  1. Double-date, woohoo!! :) That's weird the water was so low!

  2. Yeah it was sad but we made the best of it.


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