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WALLA WALLA COUNTY (Walla Walla)



    Even locals have fun with the name "Walla Walla." Celebrities are given names like Little Chief Twice Nice (the Walla Walla Brand Vegetable Mascot), and Walla Walla Wine Wine Woman Woman (Pemco Insurance Northwest Profile #96). The name of the city and county actually derived from the Nez Perce Indian word Wallah, meaning water. Wallah Wallah, in turn, means "running waters," referring to the Touchet, Walla Walla, Columbia and Snake Rivers plus their many tributaries.


    Snake River/Lake Sacajawea Area
    The irony here is that while "Wallah Wallah" meant "running waters" in the Nez Perce tongue, this section of the Snake River no longer flows at all. It is now a series of lakes/reservoirs created by the Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite Dams. Now we have Lake Sacajawea, Lake West, Lake Bryan, and Lower Granite Lake.  But whether you're pro-running waters, pro-lakes, or just want to forget the whole thing and go camping, you'll find that recreation here is pretty exceptional.


    • Charbonneau Park (Walla Walla Co.'s BEST CG FOR ENTIRE FAMILIES)
      You can see the Ice Harbor Dam from the campsites here, as Lake Sacajawea extends east. The marina sets this campground apart, located in the widest and deepest part of the Lake, overlooked by this very nice campground on a knoll named after John Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacajawea, and well-known American explorer, fur trapper trader, and military scout.
      Overview
      : This campground is located 9 miles west of Pasco and 40.7 miles northwest of Walla Walla on 244 acres with extensive Lake Sacajawea shoreline, operated by the US Army COE at 453' elevation, open mid-May through Labor Day; GPS: 46.256261, -118.845421.

      Facilities: This nicely-appointed Park is equipped with bathrooms with showers, picnic tables, fire grills, a large detached Day Use Area with two shelters,a swimming area, playground, concession stand. a boat ramp, a marina, volleyball courts, RV dump, and camp hosts.
      Recreation: Popular are boating, swimming, fishing for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, trout and smallmouth bass. Stargazing is also popular.
      Campsites (37 sites for tents and RVs of any size,15 with full hookups and 22 with water & electric 50 amp hookups, reservable): Sites are grassy with adequate privacy. Put simply, while Windust Park (Franklin Co.) has the privacy, and Fishhook Park has the nicest campsites, Charbonneau has the SPACE. Unlike the other parks, Charbonneau also has a marina, and is named one of the top 100 Family Parks in WA (sometimes a mixed blessing).
      Trip Notes: The camping section of this park occupies the same amount of acreage as Fishhook, with the same number of sites, but arranges them on a large "hill," which means more sites look down on others, and not all sites have views of the Lake. On the positive side, some have views of the marina and the Ice Harbor Dam, but others have views of desert or marsh. The Day Use area is separated from the camping area, making it less accessible to campers. While the Park occupies 244 acres, it seems smaller.  There is some train noise. I can still understand why this campground is more popular with families, as campers are positioned to interact with each other, but also why Fishhook is more popular with those who value privacy. The truth is, they are both lovely parks.
      Local Attractions include the Ice Harbor Dam itself, the Hopkins Ridge Wind Farm near Touchet, and the Three Rivers Winery near Walla Walla.


    The marina at Charbonneau Park distinguishes it from other campgrounds in the vicinity
    For more photos of Charbonneau CG click HERE


    • Fishhook Park (Walla Walla Co.'s MOST APPEALING CG TO THE SENSES and BEST BIKE-IN CG)
      The park was named for Fishhook Rapids, which were once nearby, where Lewis and Clark spent time in October 1805. They described this as the most beautiful section of the Snake River. The rapids are now underwater after the building of the Ice Harbor Dam, but we have this beautiful park to commemorate both the rapids and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
      Overview: This terraced campground is located 19 miles southeast of Pasco and 41 miles northwest of Walla Walla on 46 acres, operated by the US Army COE at 460' elevation, open mid-May through Labor Day; GPS 46.315, -118.76611.
      Facilities: This beautifully organized Park has bathrooms with showers, picnic tables, fire grills, picnic shelters, a swimming area, two playgrounds, a boat ramp, RV dump and camp hosts.
      Recreation: Boating, swimming, fishing for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, trout and smallmouth bass are popular, as well as stargazing.
      Campsites (11 walk-in sites for tents, plus 41 for tents or RVs of any size with water & electric 50 amp hookups, reservable): Compared to Charbonneau Park, which uses roughly the same acreage for the same number of campsites, Fishhook Park's camping area is long and narrow, with all sites having a lake view. Sites are grassy with privacy guaranteed by their sheer size. The walk-in sites on the lawn are perfect for bicyclers. The strength of this campground is the uniqueness, variety, and quality of the sites. This is a great balance of solitude, relaxation and lushness.
      Trip Notes: This is the most beautiful park on Lake Sacajawea, with sites extremely spacious, very green, and all having water views, where I can imagine staying for days without needing to leave the campground. One negative note is the closeness of the trains, which blows their crossing whistle when passing through the Park. The sound was somewhat muffled by the trees, but still disturbed some of those in our party. 


    Fishhook Park sits on a beautiful stretch of Lake Sacajawea
    For more photos of Fishhook CG click HERE


    • Ayer Boat Basin (Walla Walla Co.'s BEST FREE AND BEST RUSTIC CG plus BEST BOAT-IN CAMPSITE)
      In a county that has only 6.4% public land, it is difficult to find many public parks. It is particularly difficult to find FREE public campgrounds. But this one is unique in its own right, set on a small bay from the Snake River beneath velvety hillsides.
      Overview: This stark gem is located 45 north of Walla Walla and 45 miles west of Pasco on Lake Sacajawea, operated by the US Army COE on 170 acres at 541' elevation, open year round; GPS 46.5845869, -118.3719198.
      Facilities:  Primitive facilities include vault toilets, covered picnic tables, and a 2-lane boat launch.
      Recreation: These are limited to fishing, boating, swimming, and stargazing.   
      Campsites (Four sites for tents, and dispersed sites for tents or RVs up to 40', no hookups or reservations, FREE of charge): The four marvelous tent sites sit the furthest from the railroads along the Snake River. Two of these sites rest directly on the small bay, and two of the sites have covered picnic tables to provide shade. One of the bay sites has shade trees. Smaller RVs may be able to occupy the tent sites. Larger RVs have dispersed sites at the opposite site of the bay and in the parking area. The boat-in site is just inside the small concrete channel from the River. There will be some railroad noise here.
      Trip Notes: Dropping down toward the Snake River from the hills of northern Walla Walla Co., we were met with fish jumping, pelicans feeding, and hills of veltet. This place is a rare find indeed, both for tent campers looking for a one-of-a-kind camping experience, and RV campers wanting to get away from the crowds. The covered picnic tables in the camping area provide some relief from the sun, and the cool water relief from the heat. Good camping here!


    Ayers Boat Basin is a rare gem where you will be greeted by jumping fish, feeding pelicans, and hills of velvet
    For more photos of Ayer Boat Basin click HERE


    Columbia River/Lake Wallula Area
    This area is defined by a complex series of waterways formed by McNary Dam near the Confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. It is a waterworld in the desert, providing outdoor activities around every bend.


    • Hood Park (Walla Walla Co.'s MOST UNIQUELY WASHINGTON CG)
      Hood Park may not have the polish of Charbonneau or Fishhook Parks, but that's what gives his park its own unique character. Furthermore, this arm of Lake Wallula backs up to the Ice Harbor Dam, making campers think they're on the Snake River, not the Columbia. What is clear is that there is much more to explore here than other area parks.
      Overview: Located 3 miles south of Pasco and 42.5 miles west of Walla Walla, operated by the US Army COE at 364' elevation, open mid-May through Labor Day; GPS 46.21372, -119.013.
      Facilities include bathrooms with showers and running water, picnic tables, fire grills, sun shelters, a swimming beach, amphitheater, one Group Picnic Shelter, a playground, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, a boat ramp, fish ponds, an RV dump and camp hosts.
      Recreation: Campers enjoy fishing in Lake Wallula and the fishing ponds with the park, boating, swimming, and bird-watching at the adjacent McNary Wildlife Refuge, with 15,000 acres of sloughs, ponds, streams and islands important to migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds.
      Campsites (67 sites for tents or RVs up to 30' with water & electric 30/50 amp hookups, reservable): These large sites come with level asphalt parking pads and are reasonably spaced with good privacy. The many mature trees in the Park are exceptional, providing shade, songbirds, and windbreaks.
      Trip Notes: The Park has a stunningly beautiful Day Use Area and boat launch, set on a wide stretch of the Snake River just above the Ice Harbor Dam. The shade trees provide the most shade of the Snake and Columbia River campgrounds. The one small drawback is lack of unobstructed lake views from the campground, which required walks toward the boat launch -- a walk we made many times. This still remains one of the best campgrounds in the larger area.  
      Local Attractions: Visit Sacajawea S.P. across the river in Pasco. This includes the Sacajawea Interpretive Center, featuring interactive displays of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the experiences of Sacagawea, the young Shoshone Indian woman who accompanied them.

    Hood Park provides the most shade of the local Snake and Columbia River campgrounds
    For more photos of Hood Park click HERE


    City of Walla Walla
    The small City of Walla Walla is Main Street USA, with tree-lined streets, brick buildings, and both visual and performing arts throughout. The wine industry is among the best anywhere, with the City's agriculture roots dating back to the Whitman Mission, where land was first irrigated to provide crops to the earliest bands of pioneers who came West over the Oregon Trail. There is a depth of culture and history here that far exceeds the city's size.


    • Blue Valley RV Park (Walla Walla Co.'s BEST EQUIPPED/BEST CG FOR RVs)
      This RV Park and campground is the only one in the County which allows tent camping, which is one reason it makes our list. Its special touches and proximity to downtown will appeal to many.
      Overview: Located in the City of Walla Walla, privately operated at 969' elevation, open year round; GPS 46.07719, -118.34289.
      Facilities: This best-equipped Park includes clean bathrooms with showers, patios and picnic tables at each site, laundry, cable TV, Wi-Fi, vending machines, and a Rec Hall/Meeting Room. The next door Farmers Co-op sells propane, gasoline, has an RV friendly DYI car wash and an RV dump.
      Recreation: Wineries, farmers markets, and the other sites of Walla Walla await. An 18-hole Golf course is adjacent to the Park.
      Campsites (21 sites for tents or RVs with water & electric 20/30/50 amp hookups, 60 sites for RVs with full hookups,reservable): The tightly-spaced sites are paved with lawn. Each site has its own patio, which adds a touch of private space.  
      Trip Notes:  This is not wilderness camping by any measure, but the tent campers here seemed perfectly content with the activity around them. This was a one-nighter for us, but we enjoyed the environment of Walla Walla City, and would gladly revisit it for stopovers in the future.


    Blue Valley RV Park in Walla Walla is unique for allowing tent camping
    For more photos of Blue Valley RV Park click HERE


    OTHER CAMPGROUNDS: There are no Group or Hike-In Only Campgrounds in Walla Walla Co. that we can recommend at this time.


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