As I gazed out my window on the way home from Leavenworth, WA, a huge rock emerged in my view. Its flat top shape was reminiscent of Table Mountain, located in Cape Town, South Africa. I had to stop and find out more about this monolithic rock that appeared to be rising up out of the lake and was possibly completely surrounded by water. We had just left Wenatchee and decided to take a different route home. We followed signs for Grand Coulee Dam and were now travelling along WA-155S (aka Coulee Blvd.). Mountains to the right and Banks Lake to the left, we made our way towards the “Devils Punch Bowl”.
The first entrance road we found led us to a boat dock and fish cleaning area. We pulled over and let the dog out for a sniff around to find that we had stumbled upon a State Park, and one worth investigating. As I stood in awe of this 800 foot monolith, the energy was akin to standing on the beach and witnessing the vastness of the ocean. It becomes even more spectacular as you approach and look up at its stature.
This trip to Leavenworth was a birthday celebration for my fiancé, however, it was only 7 days before we made our way back to discover the beautiful campground and hiking available at this State Park. Just 82 miles from my home. Yes, you can hike this baby!!! It does look more intimidating than it actually is. One trail starts off with a lot of volcanic rock near the bottom, and so a good supportive shoe is recommended. You can experience several views from the top in less than an hour. Water, a small snack and your camera are all recommended on these hikes.
Steamboat Rock State Park, features this 800 foot monolithic basalt butte and covers over 600 acres, with 50,000 feet of shoreline. A Wiki search states that “during the last Ice Age, the monolith stood as an island in the new bed of the Columbia River where it had been diverted by ice dams. Once the dams burst, creating massive floods and the Scablands, the Columbia returned to its original course, leaving Steamboat Rock as a prominent feature of the dry Grand Coulee.” Dated at about 13,000 years old.
My rating: **** I consider this State Park a “Must See and Stay”. Easily accessible for online check-in and the park is open year-round. Other amenities include trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding. Dogs are welcome on leashes and the campsites are well-groomed and maintained. It was also undergoing some landscaping and construction to include additional cabins and camp area. Each site has a fire pit and a picnic table. Most have a grassy area near-by, which I found perfect for doing some yoga, napping and gazing up at the monolith. With families of deer frequenting our campsite, walks down to the lake and daily hikes, it was a sweet Autumn stay in nature. I am told there is ice fishing, ice climbing and cross-country skiing there in the Winter, and I look forward to returning in the Summer for boating, swimming and Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP).
My travels in England had fed long-felt desires to visit megalithic monuments like Stonehenge and the Neolithic stone circle or “stone dance” of the Merry Maidens located South of Cornwall, England. Experiencing Steamboat Rock was a welcome opportunity and unique find in my own Country. I was honored and grateful to visit this monolith in the strange and unprecedented year of 2020 with all its many cancellations. I had rescheduled my trip to Peru and two retreats I was scheduled to lead in Northern California. Yet, there is always growth in change. We, as a collective have reawakened to the joys of being in the great outdoors. Movie theaters, concerts and indoor events all cancelled, have led people on neighborhood walks, sitting on the porch and one to one conversation. I encourage you to get out and see your home State or visit it once again because Washington has a lot to offer.
Patricia “Pattie” Meier, is soon to be Patricia Elwing, and moved to Washington State in August 2020. A West Coast woman, her love for travel and discovering new places leads her around the world and now, around the State of Washington. Watch for her Discovery articles in the Huckleberry Press where she will offer fresh reviews and information about places she visits. If she sparked a bit of the travel bug in you, let her know in a comment below.