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Curlew Lake State Park Camping

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For our second trip with Birdie (the Scamp) we were a little late for reserving a campsite with RV space. Luckily we found someone had cancelled their reservation (we met them, friendly neighbors that had booked two sites but ended up only needing one) at Curlew Lake State Park just outside of Republic, WA. Being an area we had never visited we were excited to explore and and see if we’d put it on our list for good future Scamping trips! Republic is a small mining town at a substantial 2,591 ft. elevation, Curlew lake is about 10 to 15 minutes north of the town towards the town of Curlew and the Canadian border. To get there from Edmonds the two best options were to take Highway 2 over the pass then Highway 97 north to Tonasket which is almost to the border, and then cut straight east on Highway 20 to Republic OR take either pass and head east towards Highway 21 which takes you north into Republic. We ended up doing the former on the way there, and the latter on our return trip. Both gorgeous drives!

Curlew Lake is a great lake for swimming and fishing, as well as boating or paddle boarding. The park is a bit more open, not as much trees for privacy between sites, fine for travel trailers like ours but maybe not ideal if you like private sites for tent camping. It was quite hot and dry in early July so we were happy to get to use Birdie’s AC for the first time – it was much needed in the middle of the day! Mornings and evenings were great though and we did make a couple of day trips to view wildlife when we weren’t on the lake. At the campground there were deer, California Quail, Nuthatches and Red-eyed Vireo as well as a few Osprey hunting on the lake. We got many good photos though I do wish you could see the red eyes of the vireo but they liked to stay under the leaves without direct light, it’s also possible this was a young one and had not developer the red eyes quite yet. Red-eyed Vireo are known for incessant singing – and that’s exactly how I found this one. I generally don’t hear or see them on the west side of the mountains though they will migrate to both sides in summer. In the fall they will return down to the Gulf and the winter in the Amazon!

Just east of Republic is Sherman Pass on highway 20, there are some beautiful views and excellent hikes here less than an hour from Curlew Lake. It was much cooler up here as the pass is at 5,575 ft. (to compare, Stevens Pass sits at just over 4,000 ft). Here we photographed the Warbling Vireo shown in the feature image above. Warbling Vireo are a bit more widespread than the Red-eyed Vireo but also enjoy the singing. Again we heard this one before we saw it, similar to the Red-eyed Vireo.

On our final full day we took a drive up north to see the town of Curlew and the Kettle River. We saw a lot of wildlife on this drive and wish we would have had more time to jump in the river as we saw many great swimming holes. This is such a quiet remote area of the state, for swimming, fishing, or hiking I’d recommend making the long drive out if you are on the west side. Here along the river we saw some birds that we’d never seen before including a Lark Sparrow and a few Lewis’s Woodpeckers. We also saw Western Kingbirds, and a juvenile Downy Woodpecker all photo’d below.

As mentioned we headed south from Republic on Highway 21 and the first hour of the drive is quite scenic, following the Sanpoli River which feeds into the Columbia. We cut over to the Grand Coulee dam and made a our route to stop at Deep Lake at Sun Lakes State park so we could go for a swim. Here we saw some Eastern Kingbirds and Goldfinch and had a wonderful time cooling off in the lake on a hot drive home.

Things to Note:

  • Curlew Lake State Park (much like Field Springs State Park) is dry and arid like most of Eastern Washington – but it is also at quite an elevation. Make sure to prepare for both sun and cold, you’ll want layers here as it got chilly in the evenings and was forecast for snow the day after we left in the middle of June!
  • Bring sunscreen – even in winter there is a good chance for sunshine and sunburn! We like to use high SPF spray sunscreen as it’s easier to apply.
  • Bring insect repellent, this state park is not immune to mosquitos, best to be prepared.
  • Please check out our resources page to learn more about the equipment we used to take these shots!

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