Fun Camping and Paddleboarding With the Dogs at Lake Wenatchee State Park

When my hubby and I got paddleboards, we started itching to take the dogs on an adventure.

We chose Lake Wenatchee State Park because he had never been there, I hadn’t been in years, and dogs are welcome.

It was early spring and, although Seattle can receive a lot of rain that time of year, Lake Wenatchee is on the “dry side” of the Cascade mountains (the east side) so the weather is usually nicer.

Well, except for some places like Lake Wenatchee where the gale-force winds can be unbearable and turn the glass surface of the lake into the perfect storm.

We crossed our fingers and kept checking the weather forecast. The day before we were scheduled to leave, we got lucky.

The weather forecast cleared up some.

It was still a bit of a gamble but we strapped the paddleboards onto our vehicle and headed for the mountains anyway.

This was our first camping trip of the year and, boy, was it a glorious way to kick of the season. I can’t think of one way it could have been better.


Arriving at the Campground

When arrived at Lake Wenatchee State Park, we weren’t sure if we wanted to stay at the north or south campground so we decided to check them both out before settling in.

We started by scouting campsites on the north side of the Wenatchee River and were almost ready to randomly pick one of the generic-looking campsites, but I insisted on checking out the south campground to see if we could get closer to the lake.

I am so glad we did! We found a camping spot with a partial view.

In two more weeks this popular campground would be totally nuts and over-run with kids, people, and dogs but we practically had the whole thing to ourselves.

It was so peaceful and quiet. I absolutely could not believe how lucky we got.

I would count this as one of the best car camping experiences ever.

The lake view was amazing when we got there but the sunset was particularly spectacular.

Lake Wenatchee Sunset

There were a few other people on the beach and I overheard one woman with a serious camera say that it was unusual for the water to be so glassy.

In fact, one of my hubby’s friends said there were gale-force winds at the lake just the day before.

Apparently there is usually enough wind there in the afternoons for people to go kiteboarding.

Again, we were amazingly lucky.

Breaking in the New Paddleboards

The morning brought sunny skies and by the time our friends arrived to go paddleboarding it was getting hot. It looked like our weather gamble paid off.


Our friends saved the morning by bringing coffee, since we had forgotten ours at home (great friends right?).

After coffee and breakfast, we all put on our life jackets, including the dogs, and hit the water.

The glassy surface made for a smooth ride and the magazine-worthy scenery felt surreal.

Lake Wenatchee Paddleboard

Standing tall on a paddleboard gives you a different perspective than if you were in a canoe or kayak. It’s easier to see through the glare on the water surface.

It also helped that the water in this glacier-fed lake was crystal clear, but we got to see a lot of fish and a freshwater crawfish (must have been, it looked like a little lobster).

Lake Wenatchee Paddleboarding Dudes

We pulled ashore at the YMCA beach, which was not open yet and deserted, to give ourselves a little break and explore.

Just like any sport, you have to build stamina on a paddleboard.

Your legs and core are always engaged and I am still in the “death-grip-with-your toes” stage of standing on the board.

Your toes and legs will probably need a rest at some point when first starting out.

Lake Wenatchee 2

We paddled around for a couple of hours with our friends and then a couple more after they left.

The weather was too nice to go home just yet so we hung out on the beach for a while after.

With all of the excitement of camping and paddleboarding, our Dachshund Gretel was exhausted.

She passed out in the sun and let the sand warm her bones.


Paddling on Lake Wenatchee has been the most beautiful experience to date.

I still daydream about it 8 years later.

Sometimes you remember trips because of the things that went wrong – oh the stories you have – but I’ll remember this one because everything was so perfect.

If you think you might like to try something like this with your small dog, these 5 beginner paddleboarding tips will help get you started.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. I love camping there. I hope you beat the bugs as they can be pretty nasty later in the year. My wife is a long time paddle boarder here in the sound. She would love to go out with you some time. The one time we put Murphy on the board, he ran off into the water and paddled ashore. No board for him! And he hates getting wet.

  2. See? Another reason we got lucky. There weren’t any bugs!

    I would be happy to go paddleboarding with your wife. We haven’t tried the sound yet but want to. We would probably go without the dogs the first couple times to get used to that kind of water. Feel free to give her my email or send me hers.

  3. Wow, you were very blessed on this trip.

    And I’m with you. There’s something special about sleeping with dogs in a tent. I think it’s because having a little less separation from nature brings us closer to dog nature.

    Sometimes I’ll even pitch a tent in the backyard just to enjoy more of a breeze at night.

    1. I keep telling my Hubby that we need a tent in the back yard so we can sleep out there during the summer. I might make it happen this year. We could even put up our big tent and make it kind of a “glamping” thing 🙂

  4. I love Lake Wenatchee. We went once with Rodrigo and Sydney and had a blast. I would love to go again and camp (we rented a house). I know we won’t find a house that will allow 4 dogs so I’d love to find a campground in the area.

    The car looks great. I’m going to buy a new one next year and I need one that will be comfy for 2 humans and 4 dogs. Fingers crossed!

    How was the GMC?

    1. You never know about a place that allows that many dogs. I would check on AirBnB. Plain is very close to there and there are rental cabins in that area too.

      The GMC was nice. Very fancy. I liked the safety features and it was smooth to drive. The car istself was a little small for us (the Denai Terrain is a crossover). We barely fit everything we needed for the trip in there….at least not without breaking things 🙂

  5. Gorgeous, how wonderful you lucked out. I’ve camped Lake Wenatchee before when a big storm suddenly swept through. It was still pretty. And now you’ve reminded me how refreshing and sweet tent camping with the doggers can be … I’m adding “tent” to my next trip packing list even though I’ll be in an RV.

    1. I think that storms add a level of “interest” to photos too but I am glad it was stormy when we were paddleboarding 🙂

      I am not sure I would sleep in a tent if I owned an RV but that would be kind of a down side to it…I wouldn’t camp in a tent anymore.

  6. Looks like you guys had a wonderful time! Those photos look so lovely too. I’m so glad it’s warm enough to go camping and exploring again here. Thanks so much for sharing these!

    1. Where are you at? It’s been unseasonably warm here in Western Washington. Still, this was our first trip out this year. Its looking like we will have a lot of sunny days this summer so I hope to camp more than last year (which won’t be too hard).

  7. What lovely views. My husband, I and our dog often go camping on the other coast, New England. I always seem to sleep so well when we are camping. One of the joys of life is outdoor camping with your dog(s). Hope to do more soon.

    1. I keep mentioning to my husband that we should set up the tent in the back yard and sleep there on hot nights. He seems to like the idea but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe he is waiting for ME to set the tent up 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.