One of the best things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that we have so many great destinations to explore so close to home. Winchester Lake State Park is one of those destinations, just two and a half hours south of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We headed down there with our kids for a relaxing multi-day camping trip!
Some of our favorite family camping activities include hiking and kayaking. On this trip, we took our kids fishing and caught some trout for the first time! We also enjoyed walking around Winchester Lake and soaking in all the beautiful scenery.
Relax at a Spacious Campsite
Winchester Lake State Park has 75 camp sites to choose from, including 4 yurts. Our campsite was situated on a paved loop with about 25 other camp sites. Several other families with young kids were camping nearby with a mix of RV’s, trailers, pop-up campers and tents. Our camp site had a picnic table and a fire pit. Plenty of big trees provided shade for the entire camping area.
We brought our RV toy hauler and set up to enjoy a few days of low-key camping. Our RV takes a bit more time to set up than a tent does, but it’s made camping much more accessible for our young family. We typically only sleep and eat a few meals in our RV, and spend the rest of the time sitting around the campfire and enjoying the great outdoors.
Campfires – Winchester Lake State Park did allow campfires at the time of our visit. We purchased some firewood for $5 at one of the kiosks located around the camping area. We brought some marshmallows, s’mores supplies, hot dogs, and campfire roasting sticks.
Bathrooms – The Winchester Lake State Park campground does have bathrooms located throughout the camp sites and near the lake. These pit toilets are always a convenient resource for our family. The bathrooms were stocked with toilet paper and we brought our own hand sanitizer.
The camping area at Winchester Lake State Park has plenty of paved roads for kids to ride bikes. Our kids road laps around our paved camp site loop, along with many other kids whose families were camping nearby. Next time, we could bring all of our bikes and go on a longer family bike ride.
Go on a Family Hike
Hiking is one of our favorite family camping activities. Winchester Lake State Park has lots of short trails that are easy to do with kids. We explored several of the forested hiking paths near our campsite. The Discovery Trail in particular is very pretty and passes by huge boulders and fallen trees. About halfway around the loop, the trail descends the slope in narrow switchbacks. Our kids had fun leading the way, looking for wildlife through their binoculars and stopping to climb an occasional boulder.
Take Your Kids Fishing
On this camping trip, we successfully took the kids fishing and caught 4 trout for the first time. We went fishing shortly after it had recently rained. Our kids enjoyed watching Andy bait the hook. They also practiced their casting and helped to bring the fish in with a net. Of course, fishing in a stocked lake isn’t exactly surviving in the wild, but it’s a great first fishing experience for kids!
Fishing is a great opportunity to teach kids some helpful life skills! First, waiting to catch a fish is a good exercise in persistence. In the past, our fishing experience has been more relaxing and less productive. However, we caught 4 fish in just about an hour while fishing with our kids at Winchester Lake.
Next, once we caught some fish our kids observed how to remove the hook and learned how to clean the fish. Our oldest daughter was eager to help out and get her hands dirty.
Finally, at dinner our kids enjoyed sampling some of our catch. I think it’s great for our family to be able to enjoy some relaxing and adventurous days outdoors. I hope our kids will remember these days and the simple memories our family makes together.
Bring Along Low-Tech Kids Activities
While camping, we often spend a lot of time at our camp site. It’s always helpful to bring some books, magazines, sketch pads, bubbles and any other low-key activities. After all, whether tent camping, RV glamping or sleeping out under the stars, the camping experience is all about relaxing.
Go Kayaking on the Lake
On the last day of our camping trip, we took our kids kayaking on Winchester Lake. The water was smooth, the weather was beautiful, and we found some great areas to explore. We brought these inflatable kayaks on our trip because they are easy to pack in the back of our RV. My husband Andy had no trouble pumping up our kayaks beside the lake with the manual air pump. The tandem design allows one of our kids to ride in the front with an adult behind. Kayaking with kids is a great way for them to test their skills without being totally on their own.
We spent about an hour kayaking around Winchester Lake. Just past the arched walking bridge we discovered a narrow waterway that wound through tall grass growing in the lake. We saw a family of geese including 7 tiny goslings! We really enjoyed the time we spent kayaking with our kids on this camping trip.
You can find so many things to do and see on a camping trip! Sometimes we see wildlife while camping in a national forest. Other times at campgrounds we get to enjoy the camaraderie of camping near other families. Most importantly, on each camping trip our kids discover new ways to enjoy the outdoors! What are your favorite things to do while camping with your family?
Hi, I’m Katie! I live with my husband and 3 kids in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I love Jesus, coffee, creative projects, taking photos and traveling. I’ve previously worked as a web designer, journalist and barista. I hope you enjoy our creative projects and family adventures!