Washington Nature September 03, 2017
by Jessica Wick The Washington Park You Had No Idea Existed (But Have To Visit)
Washington’s parks help showcase its diverse beauty. But with over 186 state parks, 26 recreation areas and 3 national parks spanning the state, visiting – or even knowing of – all of them is virtually impossible.
If you’ve ever crossed the Vantage Bridge, which carries I-90 over the Columbia River, you’ve been close to Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park. If you haven’t heard of it, you’re not alone, but it’s definitely worth stopping to see.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is a 7,470-acre state park located in Vantage.
The park is most famous for the rare specimens of petrified Ginkgo biloba tree discovered there in the 1920s.
The history of the petrified wood goes back 15 million years, when the region was lush and wet.
Numerous trees were buried in volcanic ash, and the organic matter in the tree trunks was gradually replaced by minerals in the groundwater. The resulting petrified wood was protected by flows of basalt, which were eroded by the catastrophic Missoula Floods around 15,000 B.C.
The Wanapum tribe once occupied this region. They carved over 300 petroglyphs into the basalt cliffs, possibly using the petrified wood for arrowheads and other tools.
The Wanapum tribe never fought the white settlers, first welcoming them during during Lewis and Clark's expedition.
The park features 27,000 feet of freshwater shoreline along the Columbia River.
The views are spectacular.
You can camp at this park, but be aware: The campground is subject to high winds, especially in the evening.
Secure your lightweight items well if you want to sleep here.
The next time you're passing through Vantage, stop at this peaceful park and learn more about our prehistoric history.
It's also called the Wanapum Recreational Area. The nearby Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center has some great indoor exhibits that tell more of the geologic story.
Did you know this beautiful state park existed? Here are some of
Washington’s other impressive state parks worth exploring.
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.