Central Cascades area state parks offer a lineup of summer programs for the whole family

Washington State Parks announces its summer schedule of family-friendly programs in the Central Cascades area, all focusing on the region’s rich natural and cultural heritage.

The Central Cascades area covers the mountain foothills east of Snoqualmie Pass to the shrub-steppe along the Columbia River and the flood plain on the Yakima River. State Parks in this area offer unique landscapes, diverse habitats and abundant opportunities for recreation.

The summer interpretive and Junior Ranger programs will take place at several area parks, including Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park and Wanapum Recreation Area, Olmstead Place Historical State Park and Lake Easton and Yakima Sportsman state parks.

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park and Wanapum Recreation Area

The Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center sits in a sagebrush-dotted landscape, on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River. Visitors can explore an outdoor exhibit of petrified logs, an indoor exhibit of petrified tree samples and watch a documentary on Washington’s impressive geology. Nearby trails, including a short interpretive trail, are accessible during park day use hours from 6:30 a.m. to dusk.

Interpretive Center hours: 

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Summer season: daily, May 16 to Sept. 15.

Fall season: Friday – Sunday, Sept. 16 to Oct. 31.

Interpretive Center tours: Tours may be available upon arrival (based on staff availability), May 27 through Sept. 3. Tours can also be scheduled in advance by calling (509) 856-2290.

Wanapum Recreation Area campground programs:

All programs begin at 7 p.m.

Fridays and Saturdays, June 15 and 16; July 13 and 14; Aug. 10 and 11

Saturday, Sept. 1.

More information and directions: http://parks.state.wa.us/288/Ginkgo-Petrified-Forest

Olmstead Place Historical State Park

Visitors can hop off I-90 near Ellensburg to visit this rustic 1875 farm and immerse themselves in life on an early homestead. To stroll among the well-tended heritage gardens, historic buildings and antique farm equipment is to step back in time. This is also an ideal picnic spot, and children can become Junior Rangers through games and exploration. The park property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Tours: Available by advance appointment only. Tours can be scheduled by calling (509) 925-1943.

Junior Ranger programs: 

Programs begin at 9 a.m. Saturdays, June 30, July 21 and Aug. 11.

Adults are required to stay with their children during programs. More information and directions:  http://parks.state.wa.us/556/Olmstead-Place

Lake Easton State Park

Expansive Lake Easton is tucked into the forested foothills of the eastern Cascade mountains. The park is easily accessible from I-90, Seattle and Ellensburg, and it is adjacent to the long-distance, mixed-use Iron Horse Trail State Park. Lake Easton is a destination for paddlers, anglers, swimmers, hikers and families. Children can become Junior Rangers in this classic lakeside setting.

Campground programs: 

All programs begin at 7 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27

Fridays and Saturdays, June 22 & 23; July 6 & 7; July 20 & 21; Aug. 3 & 4; Aug. 24 & 25.

Junior Ranger programs: 

Programs begin at 9 a.m., Sunday, June 17 through Aug. 19.

Adults are required to stay with their children during programs. More information and directions: http://parks.state.wa.us/532/Lake-Easton

Yakima Sportsman State Park

As day trippers and campers cool off on shaded lawns of Yakima Sportsman, they can enjoy evening ranger programs about this green desert oasis on the Yakima River.

Campground programs: 

All programs begin at 7 p.m.

Fridays and Saturdays, June 29 and 30; July 27 and 28; Aug. 17 and 18

Sunday, Sept. 2

More information and directions: http://parks.state.wa.us/278/Yakima-Sportsman

All programs are subject to cancellation due to inclement weather, staffing availability and attendance levels. Central Cascades Area programs—and other state park events—are listed on the Washington State Parks online calendar of events. The Central Cascades Area programs are free. A Discover Pass is required for day use visits by vehicle, except for special State Parks ‘free days,’ where no pass will be required: June 2, June 9 and 10, Aug. 25 and Sept. 22. For more information about State Parks free days, visit:  http://discoverpass.wa.gov/136/State-Parks-Free-Days

For more information about the Central Cascades Areas programs, contact Laura Busby, Parks Interpretive Specialist, (509) 925-1943 or olmstead.place@parks.wa.gov.

Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov.

- Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission