Ginkgo Petrified Forest / Wanapum Recreation Area
Did you know that petrified wood is Washington’s official state gem? Considered one of the most diverse fossil forests in North America, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is famous for its rare specimens of petrified Ginkgo tree discovered there in 1932.
Curious? Drive to the park interpretive center and take in the big skies, Columbia River views and outdoor exhibits of petrified wood. Look for evidence of Ice Age floods carved into the walls of the Columbia River Gorge. Then step inside the Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center. Not only is it air-conditioned, the museum features more than 30 varieties of petrified wood, including a display of rare ginkgo petrified wood.
Drive the Old Vantage Highway to the Ginkgo "trailside museum," constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and recently updated with a new interpretive exhibit. From here, the Trees of Stone Interpretive Trail winds past more than 20 petrified logs in their original settings. Birders, look for golden eagles, sage thrashers, Say’s phoebes and many other species. Elk and bighorn sheep also frequent this area.
You may want to reserve a campsite at nearby Wanapum Recreation Area so you can cap off a hot day with a refreshing swim or boat float in Wanapum Lake (a reservoir on the Columbia River). Connect your RV, make a picnic under a shady tree, and savor this green oasis. Just make sure you secure your light weight items as this park is known for high winds.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is a 7,124-acre park with camping at Wanapum Recreation Area. The park features 27,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Wanapum Lake along the Columbia River. Ginkgo Petrified Forest is a registered National Natural Landmark.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park is comprised of three primary locations. See tabs below for more information on specific opportunities within each area of the park.
- Wanapum Recreation Area hosts a campground, boat ramp and ample day-use area with a swim beach.
- Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center offers day-use picnic areas, exterior displays and an interpretive facility.
- The Trailside Museum and Trees of Stone Interpretive Trail include signage about the petrified wood and 1.25 miles of trail that weave through petrified logs in their original setting. A total of 3 miles of hiking trails are at this site.
Automated pay stations: This park is equipped with automated pay stations for visitors to purchase a one-day or annual Discover Pass and boat launch permit.
Electric-vehicle charging station: The park offers a solar-powered EV charging station at no cost to users. Learn more about this charging station.
- Campground (Wanapum Recreation Area)
- Restroom (Ginkgo Petrified Forest)
- Interpretive center (Ginkgo Petrified Forest)
Use our interactive ADA recreation map to search for other state parks with ADA amenities and facilities.
Picnic & day-use facilities
There are 57 unsheltered picnic tables, available first come, first served at Wanapum. The park is heavily used during Gorge concert season and fills early on weekends.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park day-use area (picnic area and trails) open year-round:
6:30 a.m. to dusk
Wanapum Recreation Area boat launch open year-round:
6:30 a.m.to dusk
Wanapum Recreation Area day use (picnic area, swim beach) open:
6:30 a.m.to dusk
- 3 miles of hiking trails
Water activities & features
- Fishing (freshwater)
- Personal watercraft use
- Watercraft launch
Other activities & features
- Bird watching
- Interpretive activities
- Solar charging station (Trees of Stone Trailhead)
- Interpretive center
- Wildlife viewing
The Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Center offers spectacular views of the Columbia River, Sentinel Gap and surrounding Ice Age flood-carved basalt landscape. Indoor exhibits tell the geologic story of the Vantage Petrified Forest and display one of the most diverse petrified wood collections in North America. Admission is free but a Discover Pass is required for vehicle parking. Donations are gratefully accepted.
Interpretive center hours:
- May 16 - Sept. 13, 2022 Open Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Closed Sept. 14 and 15, 2022
- Sept. 16 - Oct. 31, 2022 Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Nov. 1 2022 - May 15 2023 Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Trailside Museum and Trees of Stone Interpretive Trailhead, located 2 miles west of the interpretive center, is a remnant of the Civilian Conservation Corps early involvement in the creation of this park. The museum features an interpretive exhibit. From here a 1.25 mile interpretive trail guides you through an ancient fossil bed with nearly two dozen exposed petrified logs. You also can see ice-rafted erratic rocks remaining from Ice Age floodwaters thousands of years ago. Extend your stay by hiking the full 3 miles of trails at this location.
For more information regarding tours and programs, call the interpretive center at (509) 856-2290.
Located in Kittitas County on Wanapum Lake, Gingko Petrified Forest and Wanapum Recreational Area has one watercraft launch with two ramps in the park. Additional information can be found in the Boating Program.
Launching a boat at a state park requires one of the following:
- An annual launch permit (Natural Investment Permit; or
- An annual Discover Pass and a daily launch permit; or
- A one-day Discover Pass and a daily launch permit. A daily watercraft launching permit for $7 is available at the park. Annual permits also may be purchased at State Parks Headquarters in Olympia, at region offices, online, and at parks when staff is available.
Latitude: 46D 54' 16.92" N (46.9047)
Longitude: 119D 59' 23.99" W (-119.99)
The Wanapum Recreation Area has 50 full- hookup sites, two hiker/biker sites and two restrooms. Maximum site length is 60 feet (limited availability). Tent campers may use the sites but must pay full fee.
The campground is subject to frequent high winds, especially in the evening. Tents are strongly not recommended, campers should secure light-weight articles.
The park is heavily used during Gorge concert season. Facilities fill early on weekends.
The Wanapum Recreation Area Campground seasons are as follows:
- March 1 - April 15: First come First served
- April 16 - October 15: Reservations recommended
- October 16 - October 31: First come First served
Check-in time is 2:30 p.m.
Check-out time is 1 p.m.
Reservations & fees
The park is home to the Vantage Forest, one of the most diverse groups of petrified wood species in North America. Local Native American tribes used this petrified wood for making tools.
Professor George Beck recognized the site’s geological significance. Upon his 1932 discovery of a rare petrified Ginkgo log (Ginkgo biloba), Beck led efforts to set aside this remarkable forest and preserve it. In 1935, as part of a grand vision to establish the site as a National Monument, Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park was born.
During the midst of the Great Depression, emergency work relief funds were used to protect and develop the park. Between 1934 and 1938, Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees, as well as local emergency work relief laborers, built much of the park infrastructure we see today, including ranger residences, an interpretive center, and a trail-side museum and trail system. In 1965, the park was formally registered as a National Natural Landmark.
Construction of the Wanapum Dam in 1963 silenced the waters of the adjacent Columbia River. To enhance public access, state park management was expanded in 1974, and most recently in 2012, to provide overnight and day-use facilities along the shores of the Wanapum Lake.