August 14, 2019

48 Hours in Walla Walla: River, River

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The summer months have flown by and before you know it school will be starting. We hope you’ve been spending all the time that you can in the outdoors, exploring with friends and family. With August here, all of us at Outside Walla Walla encourage you to push those thoughts of fall and school to the back of your mind since there’s still plenty of fun to be had!

As you look to capture more great memories of summer, we hope you’ve penciled in time for a trip to our beautiful valley, which is ripe with activities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and experience levels. In case you need ideas, we’ve got you covered for another loosely planned 48 Hours in Walla Walla.

Lodging In & Around Walla Walla

Whether you plan to make Walla Walla your home base for the weekend or split your time between hotel living and camping under the stars, there are a number of great lodging options. Both the Holiday Inn Express and La Quinta Inn & Suites are great options. They’re located just off Highway 12 and will make it easy to get right on the road for your Saturday adventure. They’re also located within walking distance of a wonderful local coffee shop, Hot Mama’s Espresso, that might provide the kickstart you need on Saturday.

If camping for the entire weekend is what you’re after, then you’re in luck! Our adventure this month will take you out to Lyons Ferry State Park, which is roughly one hour outside the city of Walla Walla. Near Lyons Ferry State Park is the Lyons Ferry Marina KOA, an excellent campground that’s perfect for everyone, offering RV and tent sites. If you don’t have an RV and tent camping isn’t of interest, the KOA added cabins in 2019 so the possibilities are truly numerous. Be sure to reserve your space in advance as the KOA is quite popular for locals and visitors alike, especially on the holiday weekends.

Your Outdoor Recreation Itinerary

Saturday 9:00 AM → A Day on the Water

If you’re staying in Walla Walla you can start your Saturday off with a trip to the Downtown Farmer’s Market. Flush with fresh fruits, veggies, and other local products, it’s a great way to start your day. Both our hotel recommendations provide free breakfast, but the farmer’s market also offers several options like crepes, breakfast burritos and more. If you’re already full from your hotel breakfast, you can snag a bag of fresh made tamales from one of the local vendors for your afternoon lunch. We also encourage you to stock up on any last-minute items you might need for the weekend before heading out of town. The Lyons Ferry Marina KOA has a nice store on-site that’s likely to have necessities, but just in case there are specifics it’s best to visit a fully stocked grocery store.

11:00 AM

Head for Lyons Ferry Marina KOA. The quickest route passes through rolling wheat fields. We encourage drivers to use caution. Road cyclists frequently use these same routes to get in daily exercise, and there’s exciting wildlife to see so stay alert for the deer who call these hills home. Follow directions to the Lyons Ferry State Park. Prior to reaching HWY 261, turn left into the KOA campground entrance.

12:00 PM

You’ve arrived at Lyons Ferry Marina KOA and are ready to dive into all sorts of activities available around the area. If you’re staying for the weekend, you’ll likely need to spend some time setting up your campsite or settling in to your cabin. Once that’s out of the way, you can head on down to the marina.

1:00 PM → Let the Adventuring Begin

Pull out those fishing poles. If you’ve brought a boat with you, then for just a $5 launch fee out of the KOA’s marina you can head out to the Snake River to try your hand at catching Walleye. We have it on good authority that these are the best tasting freshwater fish, and August is a great time of year to catch them. However, there are other species you may encounter like catfish or small mouth bass. Some people target the elusive sturgeon which can make for an exciting fight.

In just a few short months the salmon and steelhead will begin their annual runs up the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

If you don’t have a boat there are still great options for getting your fishing pole wet. Just outside the marina is a small stocked pond. You can access the pond from the KOA parking lot by making a trek through the culvert to the other side of the railroad tracks. The banks provide a great spot for sitting and watching the kids cast, and it’s sure to give your kids a fun way to spend an afternoon.

If fishing isn’t your thing, there are great opportunities for other water recreation. Rent a kayak or paddleboard to get out on the river. Adventure Fit is a local outfitter that can facilitate all sorts of water fun. If you’re an experienced kayaker you may even make your way up the Palouse River for some incredible views. However, use caution and be aware of motorized boats out on the water.

If swimming is your activity of choice, hop back in your car for a short drive (two minutes) to the other side of the river where you can access a swimming beach, picnic area, boat launch ($7 launch fee) and a plethora of hiking trails at Lyons Ferry State Park. This side of the river is also a great launch point for kayakers and paddleboaders. Just a note that you’ll need a Discover Pass for entry, but those can be purchased at the KOA store or the park if you don’t have one in hand already.

Just north of the state park is Marmes Pond, and it features some of the largest rainbow trout a person might ever encounter. It too is stocked annually in March, but the trek in requires a little bit of navigation and a bit more effort.

If you don’t want to travel to the other side of the river, the KOA has a small playground area and dog park available for the small ones in your family or the furry friends. If you’re a mere observer of the adventures we recommend a quick stop in the KOA store to pick up a wine slushie – a fun, if unexpected addition to your outside trip.


Depending on your enthusiasm for fishing and the attention span of your family members, your day might end anywhere between 5:00 PM and sunset. If you’re off the water before 6:00 PM, stop by The Snake River Grill and pick up a delicious burger or fish and chips. They’ve got a good selection of items if you’re not up for cooking.

If you’re cooking for yourself there’s a community fire ring and picnic area available for those who didn’t bring a grill or don’t have an RV kitchen. After dinner it’s time for s’mores around the community fire ring.

Pass the time until dark by renting lawn games from the store. They’ve got a great selection available for campers. As an added bonus, during the summer the KOA offers movie nights on the lawn.

Sunday 9:00 AM

If you’re an avid fisher then chances are good you’ll be up much earlier than this and already out on the water for another chance to snag some freshwater fish– though we have heard from that same good authority that the Walleye bite can sometimes kick in about this time as well. Once the rest of the family is awake and fed, there’s still time to get the kids out to the playground for one last chance to get out the wiggles.

When you finally do pack up and hit the road for home, we suggest you add in a stop at Palouse Falls State Park, the official state waterfall of Washington. You’re only seven miles from the park, and it’s one of the can’t miss attractions in our area.

You’re finally headed back home after your relaxing weekend on the Snake and Palouse Rivers. If you happen to call Walla Walla home, we encourage you to check out a hidden gem for an early lunch. Swing into Prescott and visit The Tuxedo Bar & Grill. They have a great selection of food, but the burgers can’t be missed.

We hope your weekend outside Walla Walla brought you and your traveling companions a relaxing trip. On the drive back be sure to pull out your calendar and start planning your next adventure.