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"Escape from Seattle" Sun Lakes State Park by Jonathan_C

Sun Lakes State Park Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 25 photos

Sun Lakes State Park is located in the Grand Coulee of eastern Washington's 'Channeled Scablands'. This accurately named landscape was formed during an ice age cataclysm when glacial lake Missoula burst through its ice dam sending 10 times the combined flow of all the rivers of the world scouring across central Washington. The result is an improbable landscape that is rugged, fascinating and unpopulated. Because of the rainshadow cast by the Cascades, the sagebrush steppe ecosystem here receives only eight inches of rain a year. Right in the middle of all this are a few remnant lakes left over from the ice age floods. Sun Lakes State Park is on one of them and is an oasis of shade trees and irrigated lawns that attracts many visitors for the scenery, the sun and the laid back summer lifestyle.

At the end of a long, dark, wet winter there is nothing Seattlites crave more than sun and heat. By June we're all getting a little antsy. The high country is still buried in snow; the weather is often gray and cool; outdoor swimming is possible only in Seattle's two heated pools. For those of us that grew up in other parts of the US this is just not right! Everyone knows that summer begins in June and is supposed to mean hot sunny days filled with swimming, baseball, BBQ and boats. Luckily, given the incredible geography of Washington state, all of that is only a half day's drive east of Seattle on the other side of the mountains. The average June temperature at Sun Lakes is a pleasant 79 F under sunny skies. (Two years ago we enjoyed a roasting 105!) This in contrast to Seattle's average June temp of 69 F under cloudy skies. So it's no wonder that the crowd in Sun Lakes in June is mostly from Pugetopolis.

We've been returning to Sun Lakes for the past nine years, always for the last full week before the Fourth of July. Our vacation week conveniently comes at the end of June right after the Fremont Solstice Parade and makes for a perfect summer kick off: the weather is already warm but Sun Lakes is not yet overcrowded. (2004 note -- A giant family reunion has booked Sun Lakes the last week in June so we're going from June 11-18.) We stay at Sun Lakes Park Resort which I like to describe as "1950's Norman Rockwell lakeside cabins". This resort is located inside the park and is run as a concession. The main attractions are, of course, the sun and lake but to these are added boat rentals, a small pool, golf and acres of irrigated lawns and shade trees. This little resort is one of those that 'time forgot and the decades cannot improve'. The cabins are nothing fancy yet the air conditioners always work. The putt putt golf is in some need of repair but that doesn't diminish the fun. The main thing this place provides is the idyllic, suburban lifestyle that should have been -- safe streets, big lawns, at-home moms and community, with a few important bonuses that real suburbia lacks -- at-home dads, no shopping and no TV. Maybe that's why we meet people here that have been coming for years and continue to come with their grown kids and occasionally their kids' kids. It's that kind of place. A week at Sun Lakes with friends and family gives you a chance to live in that elusive American utopia for a while and return to the so called 'real' world fresh, relaxed and tanned. They start taking reservations in January of every year. Maybe next year we'll see you there?

  • Last visit to Sun Lakes State Park: Jun 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (8)

Comments (8)

  • Hermanater's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2007 at 10:11 AM

    Happy Birthday...looks like a great place to hang out making memories with the family...Good Luck in 2007

  • novsco61's Profile Photo
    Sep 9, 2005 at 12:54 AM

    It seems Sun Lakes is a great place .I enjoyed your tips. Well done.

  • Jul 15, 2005 at 10:26 AM

    Unfortunately never made it here myself but looks like a beautiful place for a family vacation! Good job!

  • JetlagCity's Profile Photo
    Jan 21, 2005 at 9:00 AM

    Boy oh boy can I relate to your middle paragraph right about now (already, and it's only January)! Great showcase of this location, & excellent Off the Beaten Path tip.

  • KristaB's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2004 at 4:59 AM

    "only a half's day drive ..." well worth the effort - what a lovely place. But it's the people with joyous spirit who make it even more beautiful.

  • yooperprof's Profile Photo
    Feb 3, 2004 at 8:07 AM

    I hoped you packed some calamine lotion for the visit to poison ivy island!

  • FOotFetish's Profile Photo
    Oct 15, 2003 at 12:15 AM

    Hey Jon!I'm impressed with ya Sun Lakes State Park pages.I have know nothing about seattle..always tot it's just a City in the US.I love the countryside of it :)

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Sep 18, 2003 at 8:06 AM

    I have taken my kayak out on the lakes, too. What makes them even more fantastic is the local geology and that of Dry Falls. Your dog fits in teh paddleboat better than mine in the kayak though!!:-)


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