Interpreting the Petroglyphs

Review – Washington State Park

Our Boy Scout troop recently had a family campout at Washington State Park. (This was our first troop family campout. We got the idea from a post on, since we too have the issue from time to time of adults being overly involved in the Scout camping.) Some Campsites at Washington State ParkYou can see more pictures from the campout on the portfolio page.

Overall, the park was nice and clean. Our campsites were large. We had sites 26, 27, and 28.  We were close to the playground, which my sons enjoyed. We were also close to the shower house, which I appreciated. Making Rope at Washington State ParkCatapult Basket Shooting GameThe shower house was very clean, although the counter top for the sink in the women’s bathroom was in need of some repair. My husband said the men’s room was also clean.

The park was having a harvest festival the weekend we were there, with lots of crafts on display. The kids enjoyed making ropes. We saw some toys which were basically spoon catapults turned into a basket shooting game. I thought they might make a nice Craftsman project for Webelos.

Hiking the 1000 Steps TrailThe park has several hiking trails. We hiked the 1000 Steps Trail, which is a 1.5 mile loop. The trail was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and there are rock steps all up and down the trail which were placed there by them. There is also a pavilion with an overlook on the trail. The trail had some steep spots, but if you are in good shape you shouldn’t find it difficult. I would be careful in wet weather though as it would probably get slippery.

Overlook Pavilion at Washington State ParkThere are two other trails in the park – the Opossum Track Trail which is a three mile loop and the Rockywood Trail which is a ten mile loop. There is a backpacking camp on the Rockywood Trail. We did not have time to hike those trails, but I’m sure we’ll be going back.

Overlook of Big River Valley at Washington State ParkWe camped in the regular campground, but the park also has three special use sites to accommodate groups. The area is a walk down the road from the shower house, but there is a latrine and water spigots. All three campsites are in close proximity to each other, so expect to get to know your neighbors. There is a parking lot in the middle.

There is also a swimming pool at the site which of course was closed in October. And in the summer you can rent canoes, rafts, or tubes to float the Big River. So we might consider going back with the troop for an August outing.

Thunderbird Petroglyph at Washington State ParkAnother very interesting feature was the petroglyphs. the park has the largest collection of petroglyphs in the state. These are Native American rock carvings in the stones on the ground. My favorite was the Thunderbird. These stone carvings are thought to be the work of people who inhabited the area around 1000 AD.

The Native American carvings inspired later inhabitants of the area. The CCC Corps which developed the park in the 1930’s named their barracks Camp Thunderbird in honor of the unique stonework. And the craftsmen in the all African American CCC Corps carved a Thunderbird into the the stone chimney. The barracks currently serve as the camp store.

So I recommend this campground. There was definitely plenty to do and see there and we had a great time. I’m sure we’ll be going back.

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