Sunday, September 12, 2010

Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area, Odessa, Washington


Backroads Destination- Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area. Odessa, Washington

Once at a Forest Service conference the speaker asked everybody to describe their "home landscape".   The landscape that they felt was part of them.  My answer was any area affected by the Ice Age Floods.  I first drove across eastern Washington in my early 20's.  The landscape so moved me that I stopped and just looked.  Yes, I know for a Forester it is very light on trees, but there is just something special about this landscape.

Here is a link to a blog about the Ice Age Floods:  Ice Age Floods Blog.  Interesting reading.  This is part of the area affected by the floods.  It is similar to the  Quincy Wildlife Area, Seep Lakes and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge covered in previous blog entries.  It is larger, more isolated, and wilder than those areas.

The Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area was purchased by the Bonneville Power Administration for the restoration of Sharptail Grouse habitat.  The BLM has been acquiring and trading parcels of land to block their holdings in this area.  The Wildlife Area is 21,000 acres while BLM has a similar acreage.  Twin Lakes Information. and Coffeepot Lake Information

There is no camping at the Swanson Lakes Wildlilfe Area and you must have the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Department Parking Permit to use the area during the day.  Here is that link:  WDFW Parking Permit.

The BLM has a campground at Coffeepot Lake.  Six very small units that are geared for tent camping, but you can get a smaller trailer into one of the sites.  There is also a trailer parking area, where a larger rig would fit.  Here is a picture of the campground.  There is no fee, but the only service is really the toilet, tables, and fire rings.  As you can see the tent is blown over.  This area can get windy!  Coffeepot Lake is a game reserve with no hunting so it could be a good spot if you are a non-hunter during October.  The lake closes to fishing on September 30th.

Twin Lakes is also a pretty spot to camp.  You can get much larger rigs into Twin Lakes.  The access road is narrow, but fairly short with one steep stretch down to the campsite.


Lots of small lakes scattered throughout the area.  You can walk the trails or explore on your own across the grass and sage covered land.  Be sure to take a compass with you.  On a cloudy day it is easy to get turned around in this country without easily visible landmarks.  Those cliffs are the result of volcanic flows.  Think Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

In the spring and fall keep one eye open for rattlesnakes.  In the spring, ticks are prevalent.  These pictures were taken Labor Day weekend and as you can see crowds were light.

The small towns of Odessa, Wilbur, Creston, and Davenport are worth visiting.  There is a good lunch spots in Wilbur.  There are also the classic hamburger stands from days gone past.  Odessa has a nice nine hole golf course and some RV units next to the clubhouse.

This is backroads country.  If your looking for big-time trees, national parks, and tourist shops pass on this area.  Here are the GPS coordinates to Twin Lakes Campground:    47 31 50.87N   118 30 24.57W

Here is the Google Earth image.

The area is just a short drive from Spokane and Grand Coulee Dam.   So come visit  Eastern Washington....the Sun and Sage State.

1 comment:

Dan McShane said...

Nice write up. Found the blog searching information on the Telford Scabland. Camped on the BLM lands in the area last summer. This post is graet help on describing the Wildlife Area.