Did you know that you don’t have to go out of state to see petrified wood? Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park, halfway between Spokane and Seattle, is worth the drive.
Considered one of the most unusual fossil forests in North America, the area first became known for the rare petrified Ginkgo tree discovered in 1932.
Curious? Drive to the park’s overlook and take in the big skies, Columbia River views and outdoor exhibits of petrified wood and Native American pictographs. Then step inside the Ginkgo Petrified Forest Museum. Not only is it air conditioned, the museum features at least 20 varieties of petrified wood, including a shiny black slice of an ancient gum tree.
Take in the film that tells a fascinating story about a geologic mystery – then hit the trails. A shorter interpretive trail, 3 miles of rugged hiking and first-class birding await only 2 miles away. Tanagers, bald eagles, turkey vultures, killdeer, California coil, mountain bluebirds, sage thrashers, golden eagles, Say's phoebes and peregrine falcons.
You may want to reserve a campsite at nearby Wanapum Recreation Area (part of Gingko Petrified Forest State Park) in advance so you can cap off a hot day in the scablands with a refreshing swim or boat float in the Wanapum Reservoir. Pitch your tent or hook up your RV, make a picnic under a shady tree and savor this green oasis in the desert.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is a 7,470-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, discovered in the early 1930s, is a registered national natural landmark.
Discover Pass:A Discover Pass is required for vehicle access to state parks for day use. For more information about the Discover Pass and exemptions, please visit the Discover Pass web page.
There are 57 unsheltered picnic tables, available first come, first served. The park is heavily used during Gorge concert season, and fills early on weekends.
Gingko Petrified Forest State Park day-use area (picnic area and trails) and Wanapum Recreation Area boat launch open daily:
April 1-Sept. 30, 6:30 a.m.to dusk
Oct. 1 - March 31, 8 a.m. to dusk
Wanapum Recreation Area day use (picnic area, swim beach) open daily: April 1-Sept. 30, 6:30 a.m.to dusk Oct. 1 - 31, 8 a.m. to dusk Nov. 1-Feb. 28, closed
3 miles of hiking trails
Water Activities & Features
Other Activities & Features
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:
April 1- May 15 Friday, Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m
May 16- September 15 Open Daily 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
September 16 - October 31 Friday, Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
November 1 - March 31 By appointment only
The Trees of Stone Interpretive Trailhead, located two 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.
The Cove Recreation Area, located one-and-a-half miles south of the Wanapum campground, offers a half-mile, self-guided interpretive trail along Johnston Creek.
Check Grant County PUD website in regards to park hours and programs. www.grantpud.org/communty/rec-area-maps.
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 hook-up sites and two restrooms. All sites have full hook-ups. Maximum site length is 60-feet (limited availability). Tenters 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 - October 31 - Open
April 16 - October 15 - Reservations recommended;
First come, First served on remaining open dates
November 1 - February 28 - Closed
Reservations & Fees
Reservations can be made online or by calling 888-CAMPOUT (888-226-7688). For fee information, check out our camping rates page.
Historical Information 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.