Brooks Memorial State Park – Gorge Region

Brooks Memorial State Park sits north of Goldendale between the tan rolling hills of the Yakima Valley and the scrubby, pine-forests of the Simcoe Mountains. The park makes an ideal base for Columbia River Gorge exploration – away from the crowds and the infamous wind.

Right near the Gorge, a world away

Set yourself up in a wooded campsite, and take to the nine miles of hiking and horse trails at Brooks. Paths ascend through Ponderosa pine and Oregon White Oak to a subalpine meadow. Sweeping views include the Columbia Plateau and Mount Hood, and a profusion of wildflowers, including nine orchid species in spring. (Please keep kids and dogs on established trails, and practice leave no trace to preserve these rare flowers!)

Hopefully you’ve saved energy for post-hiking softball, horseshoes or nine-hole disc golf. But don’t wear yourself out. Interpretive staff and volunteers offer fun, educational evening programs, and clear, starry nights often reign at Brooks.

All kinds of camping

Groups can rent the retreat center, which sleeps 70 in cabins around a great lodge. The center has a volleyball court and basketball hoop and lies just below the main trailhead.

Several RV sites are 60-feet long and have 50 amps, and the top row of campsites sits on a creek, which babbles softly as campers drift off to sleep. 

Whether you’re in an RV, a tent, or one of the park’s new platform tents, you’ll be comfy at Brooks.

Culture, heritage and sports on the River

One half hour south, Maryhill State Park, Maryhill Museum, the World War I-era Stonehenge replica and the orchards and wineries of the Columbia River entice cultural travelers as well as nature lovers.

Not far from Maryhill, Columbia Hills Historical State Park offers ranger-led tours of Native American petroglyphs and pictographs. (From April to October - reserve in advance.) Wander through Ice Age flood remnants, or hike from a settlement-era ranch through fields of balsamroot in April. Rent a paddleboard and cool off on Horsethief Lake in the summer. Climb a bolted rock route (with experience and gear) at Horsethief Butte. Doug’s Beach State Park is not far for wind surfing (or watching).

Curious singles, couples and families can stay here a week and not get bored. Alternating days of touring, trails and solid R&R at Brooks Memorial will leave you with the fondest memories of this south central Washington sweet spot.

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