Not currently a RV owner, but want to experience “camping” in a Washington State Park? Maybe you have friends that want to come camping with you, but your RV isn’t large enough for everyone?
Have you ever dreamed of being king of your own castle, romanticized about the solitary life of a lighthouse keeper or wondered what it would have been like to be a military officer during the Spanish-American war? Then check out the vacation housing options offered in Washington State Parks.
It is a way to enjoy an overnight stay in a Washington State Park without a RV. Eight parks offer overnight accommodations year-round: Cape Disappointment, Fort Columbia, Fort Flagler, Fort Worden, Kitsap Memorial, Lincoln Rock, Millersylvania, Moran and Pearrygin Lake.
You can find everything from a cozy cottage for two to an old army barracks that will house 23, or a lodge that will accommodate your whole RV club. (These are all in addition to the summer cabins and yurts found at many other Washington State Parks.)
Here is an overview of the vacation options, starting with the forts:
Fort Columbia offers two vacation homes.
Stewart’s House features a stunning view of the Columbia River. The fully refurbished and updated house retains its attractive original features including polished hardwood floors, wooden stairs, queen-size beds with quilted covers, a living room with pressed tin-plate ceilings, an antique wood-burning stove and a Victorian antique claw-footed bathtub. It accommodates up to four.
Scarborough House has ample space for the kids and grandkids, with five rooms that comfortably sleep up to 12 people. In addition to sleeping an army, this house, which was built in 1902, features a large dining room and a modern, tiled kitchen.
Fort Flagler State Park offers several housing options. While many of the original buildings of the fort were razed years ago, several great little homes of the Victorian era remain. The historic Hospital Steward’s House overlooks the military parade grounds. It features a roomy kitchen, pressed tin plate ceilings, lace curtains in the dining room and a relaxed living room. The bathroom has an antique claw-footed bathtub. The home can accommodate four people.
If you need something a little larger than the Hospital Steward’s House, try the Waterway House next door, which sleeps eight. It is not quite as charming as its neighbor, but you can’t beat the view.
The Non-commissioned Officers’ Quarters are duplexes. Each unit accommodates four people. This exquisite building was built in 1903 and still exhibits its old time charm. Each unit includes two bedrooms, a kitchen with modern appliances, a comfy living room and an antique claw-footed bathtub. Be sure and catch the sunrise over Admiralty Inlet from your private porch.
Need to accommodate a larger group? The Hospital Steward’s and Waterway houses, Non-commissioned Officers’ Quarters, plus nearby dormitories may be rented together.
Fort Worden State Park offers 34 historic vacation homes in a magnificent location with majestic views. You may choose from Commissioned Officers’ Quarters with up to six bedrooms or Non-Commissioned Officers’ Quarters that sleep up to six. These century-old Victorian era buildings retain their early 1900s character through architectural details that include pressed tin-plate ceilings and claw-footed bathtubs.
If you need more space, you can rent one of the barracks that feature 11 bedrooms and four baths and sleep 23. There are even dormitories that will sleep, well … an army!
If you enjoy the unusual, book a night or two in Alexander’s Castle. Alexander’s Castle is the second most popular place to stay in the park. It is the oldest building in the park and has the most interesting history. The castle features a fireplace and panoramic views from the first and second floors. According to legend, the Rev. John Alexander bought 10 acres of land in 1883 and built the castle for a future Scottish bride. After traveling to Scotland to get his bride, Alexander discovered that she had wed another man. He returned to the U.S. alone and used the castle as a temporary residence. During the park’s military days, the castle underwent other uses, becoming a post exchange and then for many years housing the tailor shop. Many say the top floor is haunted by Alexander, who is pacing the floor watching the Strait of Juan de Fuca for the arrival of his bride. Needless to say, old Alexander built the place to sleep just two!
Cape Disappointment rents housing in the lighthouse keepers’ residences. Keeping the light burning in the North Head Lighthouse a hundred years ago must have been a tough job, it took three families! Between the head light keeper and his assistants, there are three residences available for rent. All three Victorian residences feature three bedrooms; one bath; a kitchen with stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, and dining and cooking utensils; an eye-catching dining room, and a comfortable, period-furnished living room.
Kitsap Memorial State Park has the Hospitality House. This restored 1930s log cabin originally built by the boys of the Civilian Conservation Corps has been upgraded with kitchenette and full bath and is handsomely decorated with log-style knotty-pine furniture and features a bedroom for two and a comfortable living room. It is located on a bluff above Hood Canal, with a private fire ring and a view of the Olympics.
Millersylvania State Park has Lakeside Cottage, which sits in a secluded private setting on the shore of Deep Lake, with beautiful views of the water. Constructed in the 1920s, this delightful two-story cottage has been recently refurbished and decorated. It sleeps up to six and has a fully equipped kitchen. Don’t forget to bring your fishing pole, as Deep Lake is regularly stocked with rainbow trout.
Moran State Park on Orcas Island offers the Camp Moran Vacation House, which features two bedrooms; a well equipped kitchen with stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, dining and cooking utensils, and a living room with full-size futon. It is decorated with rustic log-style knotty-pine furniture and, for the camper in all of us, an outdoor campfire pit. The house makes a great base camp to explore this 5,252-acre state park with its five freshwater lakes, over 30 miles of hiking trails and scenic views of the San Juan Islands.
Pearrygin Lake State Park on the east side of the Cascades has one of the newest vacation homes offered by Washington State Parks. There is some interesting history involved with this cottage. Originally constructed and located in nearby Twisp, the building first served as the office for the Lloyd Logging Corporation. It was moved to Derry’s Resort, its current location, in the 1970s and served as housing for resort staff. Derry’s Resort was purchased in 2004 by Washington State Parks and the cottage was refurbished and made available for rent in time for the 2006 Memorial Day weekend. The cottage sleeps four and offers air conditioning for those hot Eastern Washington summers.
As you can see, Washington State Park vacation housing offers many of the same amenities as a RV: kitchenettes, living areas, dining areas and full baths.
While a Washington State Park vacation house may not be as homey as a RV and the bed may be a bit firmer than you are used to, it does offer a quick escape without owning, renting or prepping a RV and you don’t have to dump the holding tanks when you check out.!
For more information visit the Washington State Park booth at the 2015 Seattle RV Show or click here.