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Early arrival leads to amazing discoveries at Lake Wenatchee State Park

Sometimes, the best discoveries are made on the fly. That’s exactly how we felt about a recent stay at Lake Wenatchee State Park.

We were already planning on a trip to Leavenworth for a family gathering, booking a site well in advance at the incredibly popular Icicle River RV Resort. But we decided to go a day early and check out the state park 20 miles down the road.

There were only non-powered sites available to reserve on such short notice, but we were cool with that. And speaking of cool, Lake Wenatchee was 10 degrees less scorching than Leavenworth.

When we pulled in, John checked with the ranger and guess what? A powered pull-through site had just opened up. Yay!

And yippee, No. 113 was one sweet campsite, a large space with lots of Ponderosa Pines swaying in the gentle breeze. We set up quickly and headed to the beach, where we were blown away by the spectacular view of the vast body of water surrounded by the majestic Cascades.

What was truly magical, though, were the sounds of summer fun all around us: Kids giggling, kayakers paddling by, dogs barking when their owners jumped in the water without them. After last summer in lockdown, this was truly a joyous celebration.

Later, we explored the well-used trails surrounding the park and especially loved the shady path to the headwaters of the Wenatchee River. Even though the park was full, it was rare to see another hiker.

Later, John hopped on his bike and rode to the neighboring state park campground across the Wenatchee River. That area also draws lots of day trippers who launch boats to fish and inflate floaties to drift on the water. In the winter, the park is a popular destination for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

That evening, we enjoyed grilled sockeye salmon and farm fresh veggies before playing our nightly cribbage game on the picnic table. And that’s when we ran into the fly in the ointment when it comes to camping at Lake Wenatchee: pesky mosquitoes. No amount of bug spray seems to protect Leslie, a mosquito magnet.

The following morning, she flagged down a ranger and asked about the issue. He smiled sweetly and stated the obvious: “Well, we’re right by a big body of water.”

A friendly camp host offered up a suggestion we’ve often heard: Slather on some Skin-So-Soft from Avon. “You can find it on Amazon,” she suggested.

Later, when we pulled into Icicle River RV Resort, it was impossible not to draw comparisons between our experiences.

At the commercial site, loads of big rigs were stacked up, leaving little room for privacy. Our spot was smack up against our neighbor’s, with our bedroom slideout bumping up against their picnic table. As luck would have it, they pulled out early and the space was open for the one night we were there.

We’ve stayed here on several occasions and absolutely love the location on the river, a short walk or bike ride away from Sleeping Lady resort. We rode over to visit the gift shop and admire the Dale Chihuly sculpture near the river. It’s a  special place.

Before dinner, we jumped in the car -- yes, we brought our Camry on this trip -- and headed up Icicle to scout out the Eight Mile campground. That U.S. Forest Service spot is one of the few in the area that allows advance reservations and we definitely want to stay there in the future.

Drop us a line at and we’ll share the very best, top secret spots.

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.