OLYMPIA, Washington — It's the only thing that could improve a mid-summer camping trip:
"You're walking through the woods and all of a sudden there's this cute little storybook log cabin, and it's open, and there's picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, and you can get good beer!"
That’s Sarah Yearout, program manager for concessions at Washington State Parks, and she’s talking about the newest Washington State Park perk: a cabin built in the 1930s that now serves local beers and ciders, along with snacks.
It's Yearout's job to make sure you find more than tent sites and picnic tables when you visit Washington State Parks. And she likes to get creative with the concessions:
"It's really fun. This is a great job!" she declared as she surveyed campers sipping pints, surrounded by tall trees and wildlife (a mama robin decided the eaves of the cabin would be a good place to raise her babies).
Other Washington State Park perks?
At Westhaven State Park, you can catch a wave:
“We have Bigfoot Surf School in Westport,” said Yearout.
"That one is really fun, you get to go up a couple hundred feet in these really old fir trees and the views are wonderful."
At Larrabee State Park on Chuckanut Drive, you can tear down a trail on two wheels with Intrinsic Flow Mountain Bike Guiding and Instruction:
"They have a shuttle service that goes up to the top of the mountain to drop off mountain bikers to bike down, they also do mountain bike tours.”
Currently, seven Washington State Parks (Lake Chelan, Battleground Lake, Alta Lake, Pearrygin Lake, Riverside, Steamboat Rock, Lincoln Rock) offer kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals via an app that's similar to Lime Bike, called Paddle EZ.
The latest concession addition just opened this year at Millersylvania State Park near Olympia.
Lakeside Beer Garden is the first place to serve local drafts and ciders at a Washington State Park, and it's making campers happy:
“My wife and grandsons, they went back to the tent to have their nap, and I'm having my nap!” smiled regular camper George Scranton, as he sipped his pint at a picnic table.
Kids are welcome outside, and the adults-only inside cabin seating with dark wood walls and funky table lights shaped like fireplace hearths will make you feel like you're at Grandpa's place - if Grandpa happened to be a forest gnome.
Owners John and Abigail Smith love their beer garden - or beer forest - as much as their customers do.
"Where else can you sit among the trees and enjoy a beer, read a book, see the lake, watch the birds,” said John Smith.
A more peaceful pint might not exist anywhere else.