Location, location, location. That’s the key to a perfect Labor Day weekend camping destination.
Virtually any campground will do if you’re going to sit around a campfire all day and simply enjoy the food, family and being outdoors.
The Landers family has always looked at our campsite as a launching pad for active daytime activities. We call it a base camp.
The plan centers around getting to where the action is, making a car-camp with the comforts afforded by a cooler, camp stoves, lanterns, lawn chairs, tables, tarps and other gear, then heading out to gobble up some miles by hiking, biking or paddling.
Base camps are perfect for exploring an area ripe with outdoor activities. It’s easier to go hard all day when you know you’ll be coming back to a campfire, a cold beverage and the sounds of the wilds rather than a long drive back to TVs, computers, and all the obligations that start coming to mind when you return home.
Of the many, many good base-camp options in the Inland Northwest, Sullivan Lake is among the standouts in the wild northeast corner of Pend Oreille County east of Metaline Falls.
For starters, the Nature Trail, Shoreline Trail and Hall Mountain Trail are easily accessible from Colville National Forest-developed campgrounds at both ends of the lake.
The Sullivan Lake Ranger station is nearby for information – during the week.
A sandy swimming beach is prized by families.
A dozen of the Selkirk Mountains hikes are a short bike ride or easy drive from the lake, including trails into the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.
Numerous other attractions are within easy striking distance, such as paddling the Z Canyon stretch of the Pend Oreille River starting from Metaline or taking a field trip to Gardner Cave at Crawford State Park off the Boundary Dam Road.
From late July into September, one must allow extra time for many of the trails to Hall Mountain, Shedroof Divide and other choice hikes because of the unavoidable temptation to stop and pick huckleberries.
Sullivan Lake, which is remarkably clean and warm during summer, will be waiting to rinse off the trail dust in a post-hike dip.
Only a tiny section of the northeast corner is developed with a few cabins, helping this base camp gem stay off the grid of power-boating maniacs.
Shhh. Share this only with your most worthy friends.