Did you know that you don’t have to go out of state to see petrified wood? Considered one of the most diverse fossil forests in North America, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is famous for the rare specimens of petrified Ginkgo tree discovered there in 1932.
Curious? Drive to the park overlook and take in the big skies, Columbia River views and outdoor exhibits of petrified wood. Look for evidence of Ice Age floods carved into the walls of the Columbia River Gorge. Then step inside the Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center. Not only is it air-conditioned, the museum features more than 30 varieties of petrified wood, including a shiny black slice of an ancient gum tree.
Visit the Ginkgo “trailside museum,” constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. From here, the Trees of Stone Interpretive Trail winds past more than 20 petrified logs in their original settings. Birders, look for golden eagles, sage thrashers, Say’s phoebes and many other species.
You may want to reserve a campsite at nearby Wanapum Recreation Area so you can cap off a hot day with a refreshing swim or boat float in the Wanapum Reservoir. Pitch your tent or connect your RV, make a picnic under a shady tree, and savor this green oasis.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is a 7,124-acre park with camping at Wanapum Recreation Area. The park features 27,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Wanapum Reservoir along the Columbia River. Ginkgo Petrified Forest is a registered National Natural Landmark.
The Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center offers spectacular views of the Columbia River, Sentinel Gap and surrounding Ice Age flood-carved basalt landscape. Indoor exhibits tell the geologic story of the Vantage Petrified Forest and display one of the most diverse petrified wood collections in North America. Admission is free. Donations are gratefully accepted.
Interpretive center hours:
March 1- May 15 Friday, Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m
May 16- Sept. 15 Open Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sept. 16 - Oct. 31 Friday, Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Nov. 1 - March 31 By appointment only
The Trees of Stone Interpretive Trailhead, located 2 miles west of the interpretive center, guides you through an ancient fossil bed with nearly two dozen petrified logs exposed along this one-mile loop trail. Along the trail you also will find ice-rafted erratic rocks remaining from Ice Age floodwaters thousands of years ago.
For more information regarding tours and programs, call Olmstead Place State Park at (509) 925-1943.
A recreational license is required for fishing and shellfish harvesting at Washington state parks. For regulations, fishing season information, or to purchase a recreational license, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Located in Kittitas County on Wanapum Lake, Gingko Petrified Forest and Wanapum Recreational Area has one watercraft launch with two ramps in the park. Additional information can be found in the Boating Program.
Launching a boat at a state park requires one of the following: • An annual launch permit (Natural Investment Permit; or • An annual Discover Pass and a daily launch permit; or • A one-day Discover Pass and a daily launch permit.
A daily watercraft launching permit for $7 is available at the park. Annual permits also may be purchased at State Parks Headquarters in Olympia, at region offices, online, and at parks when staff is available.
Latitude: 46D 54' 16.92" N (46.9047) Longitude: 119D 59' 23.99" W (-119.99)
The Wanapum Recreation Area has 50 full- hookup sites, two hiker/biker sites and two restrooms. Maximum site length is 60 feet (limited availability). Tent campers are allowed to use the sites but must pay full fee.
The campground is subject to high winds, especially in the evening. Campers should secure tents and light-weight articles.
The park is heavily used during Gorge concert season. Facilities fill early on weekends.
The Wanapum Recreation Area Campground seasons are as follows:
March 1 - Oct. 31: Open
April 16 - Oct. 15: Reservations recommended
First come, first served on remaining open dates
Nov. 1 - Feb. 28: Closed
Check-in time is 2:30 p.m.
Check-out time is 1 p.m.
Reservations & fees
Reservations can be made online or by calling 888-CAMPOUT (888-226-7688). For fee information, check out our camping rates page.
The park is home to the Vantage Forest, one of the most diverse groups of petrified wood species in North America. Professor George Beck was the first to fully recognize the site’s significance. Upon his 1932 discovery of a rare petrified Ginkgo log (Ginkgo biloba), Beck led efforts to set aside this remarkable forest and preserve it. In 1935, as part of a grand vision to establish the site as a National Monument, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park was born.
During the midst of the Great Depression, emergency work relief funds were used to protect and develop the park. Between 1934 and 1938, Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees, as well as local emergency work relief laborers, built much of the park infrastructure we see today, including ranger residences, an interpretive center, and a trail-side museum and trail system. In 1965, the park was formally registered as a National Natural Landmark.
Construction of the Wanapum Dam in 1963 silenced the waters of the adjacent Columbia River. To enhance public access, state park management was expanded in 1974, and most recently in 2012, to provide overnight and day-use facilities along the shores of the Wanapum Reservoir.