U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Colville National Forest


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Forest Information

The Colville (call-ville) National Forest is located in the northeast corner of Washington and is comprised of 952,651 acres. Of the 26 developed campgrounds, 18 meet the selection criteria.

The Colville National Forest is located in an area of Washington nicknamed the "Forgotten corner of Washington." In some ways, the Colville National Forest appears to be Washington's "Forgotten" forest. But that isn't such a bad thing for it means the Colville is a forest with plenty of room for all for exploring, enjoying and discovering what make this an "unforgettable" place.

Looking at Colville National Forest from high above you see three mountain ranges rolling eastward like massive sea waves of green. These mountain ranges, called the Okanogan, Kettle River, and Selkirk, give the forest its character. Between the mountain ranges are troughs where spring's snow-melt and summer's rain flow into the Columbia River system. The Forest's health and richness are directly related to these troughs. Not only is there a wide range of trees and plants but also a diversity and abundance of wildlife are found here. Visitors to the Forest may see slick furred black bears, tall and majestic elk, soft-eyed deer, funny-looking moose, sly pine martens, herds of wild turkey, flocks of tiny frogs, eagles, osprey, and hawks soaring above - all without leaving camp.

Perhaps the only thing more abundant and diverse than the animals that live in the Colville National Forest, are the things to do while visiting this little forest. During the summer, visitors can enjoy one of several rodeos or a county fair. There are Bull-O-Rama, Poker Paddle, various "Nature Watch" activities, the enormously popular "Washington Governor's Cup Walleye Tournament," the Swan Lake Bike Festival, a Lavender Festival, and a great 4th of July fireworks display. (Contact a local Ranger District Office for what is going on.)

Of course, the Colville National Forest also has great hiking, canoeing, fishing, scenic drives, and biking opportunities for those who prefer such activities. The Pend Oreille (pond-o-ray) River stretches through the eastern-most part of the Forest where all these activities are available plus some very nice campgrounds. Maybe not as well known as some of Colville's other campgrounds, Edgewater and Panhandle campgrounds hug the Pend Oreille River's east bank and, with only light traffic on this side of the river, they have a pleasant isolated feel. Good for bicyclists and canoeists, the campground's long, level parking aprons welcome recreational vehicle (RV) enthusiasts.

East of the little community called Metaline and near Canada, West and East Sullivan and Noisy Creek campgrounds circle the scenic Sullivan Lake in the rugged Selkirk Mountain Range. These three campgrounds offer campers a nice variety of camping opportunities. From the more RV-friendly Noisy Creek to the tent-friendly West Sullivan campgrounds, and East Sullivan campground which is good for all types of campers, the Sullivan Lake area is a pleasant experience.

Stretching across the state of Washington is State Route 20. The western stretch of this road is known as the "North Cascade Scenic Highway" but here in the Colville National Forest, Route 20 crosses the three mountain ranges, above, and links the east and west parts of the Forest. Convenient to this east-to-west route are the RV-friendly Lake Gillette, Gillette, and Lake Thomas (tent-only) campgrounds and just west of Franklin Roosevelt Lake/Columbia River, is the rustic but attractive Canyon Creek campground. An additional feature at the latter campground is an interpretive trail describing the area's logging history. The Colville National Forest has several campgrounds off main routes that offer a more wilderness forest feel without the inconveniences. A few are Big Meadow Lake, Long Lake, and Swan Lake campgrounds. Big Meadow Lake campground, west of Ione, WA, hugs a stretch of Big Meadow Lake and would be a great place for a small or large family group. South of Republic are Swan Lake and Long Lake campgrounds. Long Lake campground is the more rustic of the two while Swan Lake campground could be considered more scenic and more family-friendly. (Note: During late September, the Forest holds a Bicycle Festival at Swan Lake. It is reported everyone has a good time at this event, including Smokey Bear.)

If the Colville National Forest has a heavily used, "urban" campground it would be Pioneer Park campground. Just outside of the bustling community of Newport, WA, Pioneer Park campground is a good base camp for experiencing the area and enjoying the many social activities.

While this part of the state may be referred to by some as "Forgotten," the Colville National Forest is "Unforgettable." With a robust and diverse wildlife population, a dense and healthy forest, clear and clean rivers, creeks, and lakes full of fish, miles-upon-miles of trails for hikers, bikers, equestrians, and off-road-vehicle enthusiasts, and so much more for its visitors to enjoy, this Forest will be a place you will never forget and want to come back to explore again and again.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 765 South Main Colville, Washington 99114 509-684-7000 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Newport 315 North Warren Newport, Washington 99156 509-447-7300 Republic 650 East Delaware Ave. Republic, Washington 99166 509-775-7400 Sullivan Lake 12641 Sullivan Lake Rd. Metaline Falls, Washington 99153 509-446-7500 Three Rivers - Kettle Falls 255 West 11th Kettle Falls, Washington 99141 509-738-7700

Fred and Suzi Dow