We just spent four days, three nights at Sun Lakes State Park and we I can’t wait to tell you all about. The drive from Lake Wenatchee State park was only a few hours, but lots of elevation changes (read: big hills) which made me a little nervous towing the trailer. Our truck managed the hills fine but it was my nerves that needed a break by the time we rolled into Sun Lakes.
We had a back-in spot, spot 63, in campground E (see Sun Lakes campground map here). It’s the farthest from the lake and set up for larger RVs and trailers. We were really happy with our spot – it had a big patch of grass that was shared by all the campsites in the loop. Since we were there over the weekend, every campsite was full, and our kids had lots of fun playing with other kids at the park. As a mom, this always makes me a happy. Knowing that we moved away from “home” but that my kids are making friends all across the country – and get social interaction with other kids their ages.
Our campsite was surrounded by beautiful terrain and amazing skylines. But we heard there were rattlesnakes – new to us Western Washington folk – so we didn’t venture into the shrubs too much. There was a BIG rock across the road from our campground that we’d let the kids climb, with careful supervision. My son, especially, loved climbing the big rock.
Our camp site was in the official state park but it partners with neighboring Sun Lakes Park Resort and that’s where you’ll find a lot of the “extracurricular” lake activities.
Our first day at the camp, we rented a paddleboat from Sun Lakes Park Resort. It’s $15/hr plus a $2 deposit you get back when you return the boat. We went early in the day (around 11 a.m.) and after covering ourselves in sunblock paddled out to the middle of the lake. The kids brought their own life vests and jumped off the paddleboat to swim in the lake. Jeremy (dad) jumped into the lake, too. I stayed on board to keep the paddle boat nearby. 🙂 It was a beautiful day and I’d say renting the paddle boat was worth the funds. I had heard the lake has a propensity for Swimmer’s Itch (there are lots of geese in the lake!) so we made sure to rinse off well after our swim and haven’t had any issues. Other campers we talked to weren’t as good about rinsing off – and also had no problems with swimmer’s itch.
The paddle boats can hold up to 4 people with an average weight of 180 pounds each – information I think is useful if you’re planning to rent one. They also have hydrocycles (like water bikes) $20 an hour and boats you can rent, too. I didn’t take any photos of this – didn’t want to get my phone or camera wet – but it was a magical time!
After swimming we hopped into the truck and drove just a couple miles up the hill to Dry Falls Visitors Center. FREE to tour, the center has breath-taking views and great exhibits on the history of the area.
Although the Dry Falls Visitors Center is small, it has so much to offer educationally.
And the views are AMAZING – even the kids were mesmerized by the landscape.
They even have a Junior Ranger program that my kids completed – it’s essentially an activity worksheet the kids complete based on exhibits within the center. Once complete, you bring it back to the front desk and you’ll earn a ranger badge. (Bring your own pencils/pens, they didn’t have them). The kids were giddy to earn their first Junior Ranger badge of the trip – it’s the first of many more. . .
After completing the Junior Ranger program the kids found a geocache in the sign outside of the visitor’s center – more FREE fun! It was a micro cache, hidden in the sign, with a small log that you sign.
After the visitor center, we headed down to the Sun Lakes playground and let the kids get some more energy out before heading back to camp. It’s a FANTASTIC playground – the kids went a few times over the course of our stay.
We took it easy the rest of the day – hanging out around the trailer where we made dinner and just happened to see this. . .
. . . beautiful deer walk along the small hill near our campsite. What a sight!
Shortly after seeing the deer, around 9 p.m., we headed down to Sun Lakes State Park amphitheater, near the lake, for a FREE parks program about bats.
We had an awesome parks employee give us a detailed and information talk on bats. We learned especially about the Little Brown Myotis (little brown bat) that is common in Washington.
And after the talk – the sun had nearly dipped below the horizon and the park employee led us over to a small creek where the bats came out to hunt for the night! It was awesome. The kids, up way past their bedtimes, were in awe as the little brown bats flying around, swooping down to get a drink of water after a long day’s sleep, and eating the mosquitos flying over our heads. Truly a great experience – we learned a lot – and it was FREE (thank you state parks!).
That night the wind was WHIPPING through the campground like I’ve never heard before. I felt sorry for people in tents – the wind was howling and at times even rocking our trailer. I had heard the wind could be intense here – and we certainly experienced that! I’d definitely come prepared if you’re camping here, the wind can really get going. By morning it was calm again, thank goodness.
The next day (Father’s Day!) we toured Grand Coulee Dam – more on that later, I hope to do a whole dam post on that. . .stay tuned.
After the dam tour, the kids played mini golf at the Sun Lakes Park Resort. My daughter, under 5, was FREE and my son was $4. Cheap entertainment for an afternoon!
And that night, Sunday night, the campground cleared out! All the kids we played with the previous couple days had packed up and headed home. After everyone got hot showers, we pulled out the LEGOs and played independently for awhile.
It’s a bit surreal, calling these places home, and doing the things we’d be doing back at our “regular” house (like playing LEGOs), but in settings with breathtaking sunsets, chirping birds and fresh air. It really is something special and I’m grateful for it. The photo above is a view from our campsite in campground E. The building in the distance is a public restroom and shower area, showers are $0.50/3 minutes.
The next morning, our last day at the park, I was awakened at 6 a.m. by a woodpecker tapping on the roof of our trailer. I jumped out of bed and ran outside in my pjs to scare the bird off – as much as I love birds, we didn’t need a hole in the trailer! Much to my surprise I found three deer eating right outside our trailer, while we slept. 🙂
Well, hello there. Good morning to you. . .and you. . . and you.
This place really is worth a visit the next time you’re in the area. Between the educational programs, the visitors center, the lake fun, the wildlife and the breathtaking views – we really enjoyed the weekend.
Stay tuned for a future post on the Grand Coulee dam and on our next destination – Walla Walla, Washington!
Have you stayed at Sun Lakes state park before? Do you have any favorite activities or things to do here? We’d love to hear – leave a comment on this post!
Andrea Hagman says
We have stayed at the sunlakes resort a few times…. very enjoyable. .. we always like going up to the Grand Coolie Dam after dark and watch the lazar show…. great history story… and entertaining
Hi Andrea – We debated on whether or not we should go to the laser show. Ultimately we decided not to because it was so late in the evening and about an hours drive back to our campsite. Maybe when our kids are older and we come back around!
Sue Tart says
Hi, I am really enjoying these posts. I think I will get a map of the US and share these posts with my 7 yo grandkids (boy/girl twins.) I think they will enjoy hearing about your adventures and seeing the pictures. After I read the entries to them, we can mark the location on the map and keep track of your journey. Thank you so much for sharing this. What a wonderful thing you are doing for your children.
Hi Sue! I’m flattered that you would want to follow along with your grandkids – how cool is that!?!
Pam Morrison says
I think it so wonderful that you are taking this adventure, creating memories for yourselves and your children. We are full time Rvers and the only regret we have is not doing it sooner.
Hi Pam! Hello to a fellow full-time RVer – where are you at right now? We are grateful for the opportunity to take this trip now and to create memories as a family. 🙂 Safe travels to you, too!
Cathy Conner says
We too, have stayed at Sun Lakes in our 5th wheel. Like you, we found it an amazing place to stay. What was going to be two nights, turned into a week for us. We were there about this time of year too and saw some amazing thunder and lighting. I especially liked looking up into the basalt hills and seeing the old waterfalls that carved out the basalt. Sun Lakes/Dry Falls is an amazing trip back into geological history.
Hi Cathy – Sweet! I can see how it could easily turn into a week. I think thunder/lightning would be impressive with that skyline but scary, especially if the wind was howling!
I love reading your updates. My family is staying at Sun Lakes Resort next month . Now I’m even more excited.
Looking foward to your dam post. I might have some dam questions for you. 🙂
Hi Jen – I hope your family has an awesome time at Sun Lakes Resort! Enjoy. 🙂 And I’m glad you liked my dam mention. It’s all in the spelling of the word, right!?
Love reading of your adventures! We have a 5th wheel and love to travel. When you make it to Oregon, I’ll have lots of suggestions. One of my favorite websites is rvparkreviews.com. I love reading other peoples opinions of campsites to help me decide where to stay. My tip to you is to make sure you have reservations June, July & August….and, if you can, make them 9 months in advance! Have fun!
Hi Terry – Oregon will probably be the last state on our trip as we head back to Washington (although we dipped down into Milton-Freewater tonight for a library program). Thanks for the tip on the RV Park review website, will have to check that out. We don’t have reservations after mid-July, we need to get on that!
Junior Ranger programs are the best! My kids have badges from all the ones we have visited. I love that they learn something about the area and the park, and get a free (small) souvenir! (If you go to Yellowstone, that one is hard!)
Hi April – We hope to hit up Yellowstone, we’ll have to see how things shake out. My kids are super excited to have their first badges and I’m happy they are learning so much. 🙂
i have been at dry lakes state Park. I have a photo of the falls that i show my students in Washington State History Class about the beautiful parts of Washington. I am glad you are going to show your kids the great part of learning from our state parks. Enjoy. It is suppose to be in the 90’s for two weeks here in Olympia.
Hi Kevi – I think it’s fantastic you show your students a photo of Dry Lakes State Park – it certainly has a unique landscape and a unique history to explain it all. 🙂 It’s supposed to get over 100 degrees here in Walla Walla and 111 when we are in Clarkston this weekend! Heat wave!
I just wanted to say I am enjoying reading your post! I found you through money saving mom just before your trip started. I live in VS and have not traveled much. With 3 kids 6 and under this sound daunting to me but l love reading your post! Thanks!
VA (Virginia) not VS!
Hi Sarah – I think it’s awesome you’re following all the way from Virginia! Can’t wait to make it out your way. 😉
I grew up in that area and spent many, many a summer day at Sun Lakes. You’re making me nostalgic!
Hi Patty – Glad I could take you back! 🙂
Just started following your Take That Exit Blog and so far LOVE it! I am so excited for you guys and a little jealous of your adventure 😉 Looking forward to reading more. I’ve camped at Sun Lakes before and it is very nice campground.
-Just stopping by from http://www.lovetabitha.com