Entiat, Washington – An RV Friendly Town That’s On the Move!

July 2022 – In the heart of Washington’s apple orchard country, where the Entiat River joins the Columbia River (about a half-hour from Chelan), there is a fabulous waterfront village called Entiat.

Sunset on the river path in Entiat Washington

A vivid sunset reflects in the glassy waters of the Columbia River in Entiat, Washington.

When we arrived with our RV, the salmon fishing season had just opened. We took an early morning walk on a path along the Columbia River and saw fishing boats trolling all over the place.

Salmon fishing in Entiat Washington

Boats were out trolling for salmon.

The mountains alongside the Columbia River are tall and barren. At their base, lush vegetation and fruit orchards grow easily, thanks to irrigation from the river.

Salmon fishing in Entiat Washington

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Salmon fishing in Entiat Washington

Fishing just steps from the apple orchards!

Our favorite part of Entiat was Entiat City Park, an expansive grassy waterfront park full of towering shade trees and thin strips of sandy beach that are just big enough to provide soft footing for launching a kayak or wading in for a swim.

Entiat City Park on Lake Entiat in Washington

Entiat City Park is a delightful place to while away hot summer days.

Entiat City Park is nestled on the banks of Lake Entiat which is a dammed up portion of the Columbia River. This park is a hub of activity in the summertime.

During our stay, temps got into the 90s and even hit 100 one day, but a cooling breeze blew off the water in the afternoons. (Yes, the lower elevations in Washington like Entiat, which sits at 800 feet, can hit 100 degrees or more!).

Entiat City Park views in Washington

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Entiat City Park Washington boat dock in

The City Park is on Entiat Lake which was created when a dam was built downstream on the Columbia River.

Lots of families brought blankets and beach chairs down to the water’s edge for the day, hung out under the trees and played in the water. One fellow brought four golden retrievers with him to run around in the huge grassy field and then chase a ball into the water. He took each dog for a ride on his paddleboard too. The dogs loved it, and one even insisted on repeat rides!

Paddleboard with a dog in Entiat City Park Washington_

This happy pup is king of the world as he hitches a ride on his dad’s paddleboard.

Paved paths meandered through the park and people rolled by slowly on their bikes, taking in the views as they pedaled.

Bike path in Entiat City Park Washington_

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Well, not everyone rode slowly. There were some speed demons out there!

Young bike rider Entiat City Park Washington_

A kid chases his mom down the path.

The speediest folks were zooming around on the water in jetskis and high performance power boats.

Jetski on Lake Entiat

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Entiat City Park (website here) boasts not only beautiful picnic areas but a wonderful RV and tent campground as well. Happy campers were set up in tents surrounded by soft green grass with great views of the lake.

Entiat City Park tent camping

Each grassy campsite is just a few steps from Lake Entiat.

Life slows way down here, and it’s a great place for a midday snooze.

Entiat City Park tent camping

Snore!

We met lots of extended family groups who come back here year after year to vacation all together. It’s pricey, but you get water and electricity (dump station on the way out) and for a little more money some sites have sewer hookups too. Best of all, you’re surrounded by beauty and are in the middle of a super family friendly place to play and relax.

As I mentioned in the last article about nearby Chelan, Washington, there are several waterfront city RV parks like this in the area, including Lakeshore RV Park in Chelan and Beebe Bridge Park just outside Chelan on the Columbia River.

The only caveat is that you must book way in advance. I talked to one woman whose husband was on the computer at 12:01 a.m. on January 1st when online reservations opened so he could snag the exact campsite they wanted plus two adjacent campsites for their extended family for three days in July.

Entiat City Park RV camping in Washington

Lots of families brought multiple RVs and tents for a fun reunion vacation.

At the confluence of the Columbia River and the Entiat River, there’s a bridge for the highway that runs along the river (US-97A). It has a walkway underneath leading to the banks of the Entiat River. We found a troll living down there!

Troll under bridge in Entiat Washington

There’s a troll living under the bridge!

As we walked alongside the mouth of the Entiat River we found some beautiful berries that were just beginning to ripen. A week later all the berries were blue. I’m not sure if they were edible, though! There were pretty pink flowers as well.

Colorful berries in Entiat Washington

These berries were ripening all over the place.

Pink flower in Entiat Washington

Pretty in pink!

The Entiat River Road goes for 31 miles down the Entiat River Valley, and one day we drove most of its length, passing homes and a few small businesses along the way.

There are several campgrounds at the end of the road, and we visited Forest Creek Campground. The woodsy scenery and rushing Entiat River were gorgeous.

Fox Creek Campground on Entiat RIver in Washington

Fox Creek Campground was completely different than Entiat City Park!

Fox Creek Campground on Entiat RIver in Washington

Turquoise water on the Entiat River.

Fox Creek Campground on Entiat RIver in Washington

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We had hoped we’d be able to camp in this dry camping Forest Service campground, but it looked a little tight for our 33′ toy hauler fifth wheel. The loops and sites are paved and a few folks were camping right on the river’s edge. What a spot!

Trailer in Fox Creek Campground on Entiat RIver in Washington

Camping at Fox Creek Campground on the Entiat River.

Whitewater on Entiat RIver in Washington

The Entiat River moves fast at this point in its journey.

Back at the mouth of the Entiat River, where it meets up with the Columbia River at the south end of Entiat City Park, we came across a towering rock hillside that was covered with numbers. Could this be the high school graduation years like we’d seen on a similar rock wall in Arco, Idaho, years ago?

High School graduation years painted on rock in Entiat Washington

We spotted a unique rock face with numbers painted on it.

A closer look revealed that it absolutely must be. We could see all kinds of high school years — 56, 71, 31, 32, 53, 40, 29… and 02 and 09!

Entiat Washington High School graduation years painted on rockEntiat Washington High School graduation years painted on rock

These seemed to be high school graduation years.

A few days later we dropped in at the little white building at the far north end of Entiat City Park that had a huge “Museum” sign out front. It is open only on the weekends, and when we walked in it was quite busy. The hosts were chatting with some visitors about “old times” in Entiat, mentioning names and families that the visitors seemed to know well.

Museum at Entiat City Park in Washington

I just had to check out this museum!

We returned a while later and the museum was quiet. One of the hosts, Al Shannon, introduced himself as a lifelong resident of Entiat and said he was helping out his granddaughter, Mandy, with her volunteer hosting duties that day.

I asked about the rock hill with the numbers on it and he said, “Yes, those were all painted by the graduating classes. I was class of 1956. Our number is off to the side.” Sure enough, when I looked at the photo later I saw the “56” in the upper left corner.

He said that he and two classmates had climbed up there to paint the number. There was a narrow shelf just big enough to stand a ladder on, and they managed to get the number painted without falling off the ladder. “I grew up working in the apple orchards, so I was used to being on a ladder!” He said with a grin.

Apple picking in Washington apple orchards

Modern day apple picking method with moveable scaffolding rather than ladders.

The number painting tradition began with the class of 1923 right before graduation. Not to be outdone, within a few weeks the classes of 1921 and 1922 sent brave boys scampering up the sheer rock face to find places to paint their class numbers too.

The class of 1919 had only one graduate, a girl, and even though she celebrated her graduation with the class of 1920, someone painted a 19 up there for her.

Now, of course, the numbers are starting to overlap a century later! Al’s granddaughter, Mandy, was class of 2012. She said her class had only five boys and they haven’t yet taken the dare to go rock climbing with a can of paint and paintbrush. “We’ll get our number eventually!” she said.

Entiat City Park Washington museum

Our hosts at the Entiat Museum, Al and Mandy.

The museum is a former house that another of the museum’s volunteer hosts grew up in. I believe her name is Lynn. So, if you don’t catch Mandy or her grandpa when you visit, you might learn some special things about the house itself from Lynn.

The apple orchard business goes way back in Entiat, and there’s a wonderful photo on the wall of a horse drawn apple cart from J. Ellis Slater Company, Distributors. The cart bears a sign announcing “National Apple Day.” Below it is the still popular slogan, “Eat an apple a day and keep the doctor away.”

Photo of apple cart in Entiat City Park Museum Washington

Don’t upset the apple cart!

There’s also a large painting of loggers and logging trucks in 1923. The black and white photo the painting was made from hangs on the wall next to it. The trucks are quite unusual looking. Al said it took quite a bit of maneuvering to get the huge logs onto those trucks.

Painting of logging in 1923 Entiat City Park Museum Washington

A painting of logging trucks in 1923.

Logging was a major industry in the early and middle 1900s, and there’s a photo in the museum of the mill camp that was at the far end of the Entiat River Road where the US Forest Service campgrounds are now. It was a bustling place in those days.

There were wildfire lookouts on the mountaintops, and if smoke ever appeared in the woods, word was quickly sent out and the mill workers would rush to trucks that were parked at the mill and go find the fire and put it out.

Fortunately, back in those days, there were many logging roads that went all through the woods, so the mill workers could get to the fires and put them out efficiently.

The mill camp workers’ lives and livelihoods depended on the forests and trees being healthy, so they removed diseased and fallen trees to prevent the forests from being full of kindling as many of our National Forests are today, now that the logging industry has been shut down.

Photo of 1923 log truck Entiat City Park Museum Washington

Photo of a massive log on a truck in 1923.

We were fascinated as Al began to tell us Entiat’s unusual history. It has been a town on the move, in many ways, since its founding.

Entiat was settled by the Chinook Indians who named the area “Enteatqua,” meaing “rapid water.” By the late 1800s they had cattle pens and a few structures that served as a gathering and trading place. Ferries operated by settlers in Orondo and Wenatchee made it possible for people to cross the wide Columbia River and get to this spot.

In 1896 the tribe’s chief sold the site to settlers who then built the town of Entiat along with two sawmills and eventually brought in electricity by building a dam on the Entiat River.

In 1913 disaster struck when a fire destroyed the town. The resilient townsfolk relocated the town, however, and built three blocks of new business buildings, including warehouses to support the growing orchard industry. Train tracks and a depot came to town the following year in 1914.

Entiat thrived for several decades until the early 1960s when the Rocky Reach Dam was completed downstream on the Columbia River. This created Lake Entiat and flooded the town!

Rocky Reach Dam as seen from US-97A highway

We’d caught a glimpse of the Rocky Reach Dam from the highway.

Most buildings in Entiat were razed before the water rose, however, and a new townsite was platted. But the business owners disagreed about where the new Main Street and center of town should be, and two separate areas were loosely developed. The intimate hometown Main Street feeling was lost and many business owners left Entiat all together.

Yet the remaining residents were resolute, and today the beautiful Entiat City Park is a fantastic recreational hub. Even though there isn’t a quaint historic Main Street district as there is in many other small towns, the City Park is where it’s at in Entiat and we loved hanging out in the shade of the trees by the water’s edge every afternoon!

Entiat City Park picnic area in Washington

Entiat City Park is a great place to unwind.

If it weren’t for our friends, Sue and Roger, who live in the Chelan / Entiat area with their adorable pooch Annie (who has quite a crush on Buddy!), we never would have known about these two delightful waterfront towns or about the ferry to Stehekin in the North Cascades. We are very grateful to them for hosting us, showing us around and giving us the idea to make the trek to visit!

RV at sunset

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22 thoughts on “Entiat, Washington – An RV Friendly Town That’s On the Move!

  1. Well, you have some beautiful pictures of this area that I live in! I’m about 50 minutes north of Entiat, further up the valley. Thank you for sharing your travels, beautiful pictures and especially information that I didn’t even know about our local area!

    • Wow! Lucky you to live in that area, Angie! It is just beautiful and we loved our visit. If you haven’t been yet, the museum is well worth a visit. All the volunteer hosts have deep ties to the town, so you’ll probably learn all kinds of interesting tidbits. Enjoy your pretty part of the country and thanks for following our travels!!!

  2. We considered settling there when we were about to give up full timing. Beautiful small town that has all of the big box stores less than 20 miles away. We ended up on the other side of the mountain in Cle Elum.

  3. Just thought of a spot the three of you might want to explore. It’s in Eastern Oregon and called Owyhee Canyon. We had never heard of it before but are planning to visit there this Fall. Worth checking out!

  4. Hi M & Em…Great following your adventures! My sister, Donna taught school in Hunters, Washington many moons ago. My first plane trip was with my mom in 1975 or 1976 to visit Donna. We flew into Spokane, rented a car & drove to Hunters, which at that time was a very small town but we thoroughly enjoyed our stay with Donna. Mom & I drove north on a Monday into Canada but all stores were closed on Mondays. So we turned around & drove back to Hunters. Not quite sure where you are in comparison but your story reminded me of that memorable trip with my mom. Take care & be safe, hugs mother Mary

    • What a great story! That must have been a really exciting trip, flying for the first time and driving up to Canada (too bad the stores were all closed!). Hunters is further upstream on the Columbia River, about 150 miles northeast of Entiat. We had contemplated going that way but the temps started climbing and we decided to head to higher elevations and get out of the heat. I hope you and Rich are taking your rig somewhere fun and cool this summer. Hugs to you both!!

  5. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit. The pics are gorgeous, as usual. The bickering of the city leaders that prevented one single Main Street reminds me of the city leadership in Cincinnati in 1998. That’s when we moved to the Cincinnati area and every day on the news they talked about how “the Banks” project was at a standstill because of the differing opinions of how to develop the beautiful banks of the Ohio River. Across the River in Newport, Ky they took advantage of the bickering and developed their side beautifully- bringing in lots of revenue for their city for almost 20 years. Once Cincinnati leaders finally got their act together they created a “go to” place for tourists and locals too. All of that revenue was lost because they WOULDN’T agree on what to do for over 20 years!

    We saw a similar thing with the numbers on the rocks somewhere out west and we had no idea what it was. I need to go back and look through my pics and see where we were when we saw that!! I’m glad you explained it.

    • Oh goodness. At least the folks in Newport got it together and made a beautiful place for everyone from both sides of the river to go until the leadership in Cincinnati figured out what to do! These stories reminds me of when I worked in the corporate world as a software engineer and the general opinion among us engineers — at every company where I was employed during those years — was that the company had too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Throughout our travels we’ve been astonished at how some towns put it all together and make a wonderful community while other towns that have just as much potential somehow don’t make the most of what they have. Human nature is a funny thing!

      I’d be interested to know where you saw those numbers. Another thing we’ve seen out west that doesn’t exist in other states is a massive letter etched on a hillside that is the first letter of the town. Of course, a lot of states don’t have big empty hillsides in every town that are visible for miles around, but it sure caught my eye when I first saw it!!

  6. Thanks for your kind and beautiful description of our town. I thought I’d mention we have a makers market in the park near the museum the first Friday of every month during the summer. I believe it goes through October. We have an incredible chamber of commerce that sets this up. There are local small businesses selling their talents and crafts. There are a couple food trucks and music by local performers. It’s a new tradition that is growing.
    Also, if you ever get the chance to drive through the town in the winter, there is part of the Entiat city park that is lit up by Christmas lights! This is also thanks to our chamber of commerce, as well as a small group of volunteers. They work very hard! The section of lighting will grow every year as more funds and helpers are accumulated. There is a winter festival with a makers market, a s’more station, hot chocolate, food venders, musicians, and dancers. Last year, there was an appearance made by the Grinch during the library hosted story time.
    Our Entiat library is also a fantastic place to visit. Our wonderful librarian works so hard to give our kids a safe, productive place to spend time. She hosts a story time and provides crafts and activities. It’s so helpful, as a parent, especially during the summer months.
    Thanks again for visiting, and taking time to help us brag about our special community. Best wishes and safe travels.

    • Wow!! I wish we could be there to enjoy all those different festivities! Entiat sure has a dedicated Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society too. Entiat is not only a great place to visit but it seems like a wonderful town to raise a family. Lucky you to live there! Thank you for sharing all the extra info. We are looking forward to returning someday!

  7. My husband and I took his 91 year old father up to Stehekin the end of July. It was something that had always been on his bucket list so now he can cross that off. That entire area is beautiful. We have property in Teanaway (just north of Cle Elum) but live in Tri-Cities. Following you on your travels!

    • What a wonderful and generous thing to do for your father-in-law! And how heartwarming that he’s still fulfilling his dreams at 91! We loved the ferry and our overnight stay in Stehekin as well as our visits to Chelan, and in case you didn’t see the posts, we wrote about those places here and here. The whole area is really lovely in so many ways. We feel fortunate to have been able to spend a bit of time exploring. Thank you for following our travels!

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