Visiting Fields Spring State Park
A Trip to Eastern Washington
If you are looking for a getaway, may we suggest the southeast corner of Washington? Here you will find Fields Spring State Park, an 825-acre park located in Washington’s northern portion of the Blue Mountains. The park lies within forested land and atop a natural spring, from which its name derives. Features of this park include camping opportunities, hiking trails, and scenic views from Puffer Butte. We stayed two nights in Tamarack cabin and loved every moment.
A Brief History of Fields Spring State Park
Fields Spring State Park is named after Benjamin J. Fields who settled in the town of Anatone, which is about 4.5 miles north of the park, in 1881. Fields’ cattle grazed and drank from a spring which is located in the present-day park lands, and this spring became known as Fields Spring. After locals began using the area as a park in the 1920s, the park’s first parcel of land was set aside by the then chairman of the State Parks Committee on October 2, 1930.
Today the park is used for camping, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and more activities. Puffer Butte provides a spectacular view of the Blue Mountains and the many canyons throughout the area which extend into Idaho and Oregon. The park offers 20 tent spaces for camping, two teepees during the summer months, a group camping and cabin area, the Wohelo lodge, and Tamarack Cabin which is available year-round.
The Journey to Eastern Washington
We are on a mission to visit each of Washington’s state parks. We are documenting our journeys with copious amounts of photography. This trip was our first time this far east. We planned to stay two nights in the Tamarack cabin and venture to the other nearby parks as time permitted. The long drive combined with the numerous stops for breaks and photos made this close to an eleven-hour trip. Along the way, we also visited Sacajawea Historical State Park and Lewis & Clark Trail State Park. We arrived Friday in the early evening, via the winter entrance to the park. We quickly located the signage that led us to our cabin.
We made quick work of the unpacking and setting things up within the cabin. It was time to build a fire and relax. The park was supremely quiet. Our visit was during the shoulder season, so the park was all but deserted by other campers. Sitting around the campfire, we watched the skies darken with the setting sun. The occasional warble of a wild turkey broke through the trees welcoming us to their forest. A couple of s’mores and simple grilled cheese sandwiches comprised our humble, but satisfying dinner, then it was off to bed.
The next morning we stopped at the ranger’s office to let them know we had arrived. Austin, the resident ranger, was on duty and very helpful. He answered our many questions about the park and other points of interest nearby, including a place to see petroglyphs.
Nez Perce National Historical Park
We were soon on the road to the Nez Perce National Historical Park, which is just a hop across the border and into Idaho. The Visitor Museum at this historical park has a fantastic collection of artifacts detailing the history of the Nez Perce peoples of the region. We admired all the displays and spoke with the on-duty ranger. The ranger told us about the different stops around the Nez Perce Reservation and mentioned Buffalo Eddy being the spot with petroglyphs.
We were a bit hungry by now and stopped off for an early lunch along our route at Mystic Cafe. An excellent place to eat, great menu in a classy decor with a bit of whimsy. After a delicious meal, we headed to Buffalo Eddy.
Buffalo Eddy is a pull-out along the roadside with a sign. A graveled path leads along the shore of the Snake River, where there are boulders with ancient etchings on them. We were on a visual treasure hunt, climbing up and down and over rocks. We diligently investigated as many of the rock surfaces as we could to find each message left to us so long ago. While some of the figures were easily decipherable, others left us with more questions than answers.
Our hunt over, we made our way back to Fields Spring. We saw a road that cut through on the map and took this route. A well-maintained gravel road wound us up and around before bringing us to the crest of a mountain. All around us were cultivated fields and gorgeous, distant views.
Hiking Puffer Butte
Back at the park, we hiked the short 1.1-mile trail from our cabin to Puffer Butte. There were still patches of snow along the trail through the forest. We encountered two other hikers on their return trip but saw no one else. As we approached our destination, the brisk wind through the trees sounded like ocean waves pushing onto the beach and receding. Out of the treeline, we were greeted with gold and green grasses covering this rounded butte. In the distance were velvet green covered mountains, worn and eroded by time and water. Further still were jagged, snow-topped peaks. To our right were more of the Blue mountains, softer, rolling mountain silhouettes stretching into oblivion. We followed the trail over the rounded slope and down to a fence. As the winds blew through the grasses, small bursts of color from low growing wildflowers peeked up at us.
We spent an ample amount of time enjoying the panoramic views, then made our way back toward our cabin by way of the trail that wrapped around the side of the butte. We trekked through the trees and got to appreciate the mountain lilies along this portion of the path. We explored the majority of the park, including the spot with a sign indicating Fields Spring. There was no apparent spring here, just marshy ground where the water seemed to collect. The wooden, lidded boxes here had the barest trickle of water running through them, in better conditions these boxes are used as picnic or watermelon coolers. Curiosity satisfied, we hiked back to our cabin to ready for the evening.
The next day we were to leave the campground and travel to Lyons Ferry State Park and Palouse Falls State Park. We packed up that morning and checked in with the ranger, in hopes we would find Palouse Falls to have a space to camp that night. The ranger informed us there had been an accident at Palouse and search and rescue efforts had the park closed. We set out on our planned journey to Lyons Ferry. Lyons Ferry State Park had a surprisingly large crowd of visitors. We wandered around this well-manicured park then decided to drive to Palouse, just in case things had changed. The park entrance was a parking lot of ranger and emergency vehicles, confused would-be visitors and the media. Palouse Falls State Park would have to wait for another day. We quickly routed ourselves toward home, only minimally discouraged.
Our trips out east are always a treat. We love the contrast to the mountainous greenery here in western Washington that becomes so glaring when in a more desert environment. The differing wildlife and flora are captivating. The way sky and land seem to stretch into eternity is always breathtaking. Fields Spring State Park, while unassuming on first inspection, has the breathtaking views from Puffer Butte and provides an extraordinarily peaceful place to spend time away. We are already making plans for our next journey east!
For additional photos, see our Trip to Fields Spring State Park album in Google Photos.
Does the eastern side of Washington interest you? Would you be interested in staying at Fields Spring State Park and checking out the many other attractions in the area? Do you have any questions about the park? We would love to answer them! Leave a comment below :-)
Helpful Information & Links
Coordinates: 46.081412, -117.168059
Trail Length: 3 Miles
Pass Required: Discover Pass
Nearest Fuel: 24 Miles
Wildlife Seen: Squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, deer, wild turkeys, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, hawks, song birds, American white pelicans, geese, and ducks