Fields Spring State Park – Winter and Summer fun off the beaten track
Posted On September 5, 2021
Fields Spring State Park is a largely unknown gem tucked in the Blue Mountains in the far Southeast corner of Washington State. It’s a remote, sunny area with amazing year round recreation, both in the park and in the surrounding national forest. Just a few miles from both Oregon and Idaho, this area has been a crossroads for humans for millenia. Enjoy winter fun in the sun and cooler temperatures in summer with more shade than most of Eastern Washington.
Fields Spring State Park is the homeland of the Nez Perce, Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla people.
Passes Needed: Fields Spring State Park requires a Discover Pass in spring, summer and fall. When the park is in winter mode they require a Washington Sno Park pass. Sno park passes are valid from December 1 – April 30th. Though Fields Spring State Park may not require them that early, you can use that to park during that part of the year.
Cell Service: None. Some providers may have a small amount of signal on the top of Puffer Butte.
Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash in the summer. In winter, dogs are allowed on leash EXCEPT on the groomed cross country ski trails, where dogs are not allowed.
Accessibility: The park has an ADA accessible restroom.
Fields Spring is a long drive from pretty much anywhere! The closest big towns are Clarkston and Lewiston, straddling the Snake River on the border between Washington and Idaho. The park is about 30 miles south of Clarkston on State Highway 129. As you’re heading south, you’ll see the entrance to the park on your left.
It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Spokane or Walla Walla, and about a 6 hour drive from Seattle or Portland.
Fields Spring State Park Weather and Seasons
Fields Spring is in the dry southeastern part of Washington State. Summer is not, but because of the altitude it stays more comfortable than nearby towns such as Clarkston and Walla Walla. It also gets chilly at night, even in midsummer.
In winter, expect cold temperatures and snow or sun. There often isn’t enough snow for skiing and sledding until January, but it might happen as early as December. Snow starts to melt in March though there is usually some snow on the ground into early May.
Make sure to bring layers any time of year as the temperature swings quite a bit from day to night, as well as from sun to shade.
Camping at Fields Spring State Park
Fields Spring has one of my favorite campgrounds in Washington! There are only 20 sites and all but one of them are reservable. If you’re driving a long way, I recommend getting a reservation in advance. Although I have driven up and gotten a spot on the weekend without one, I wouldn’t recommend risking it!
The campsites are very private and surrounded by trees, which you won’t expect when you’re in the open agricultural land just a few miles away! They all have a picnic table and firepit.
The campground has heated flushing toilets and coin operated showers as well as trash service.
Other Lodging Options at or near Fields Spring
In addition to tent sites, Fields Spring State also has some unique lodging in the form of two 8 person teepees, the Tamarack cabin with running water and a couple of small lodges for groups. All of these lodgings must be reserved in advance through Washington State Parks.
The closest hotel options are in Asotin or Clarkston in Washington, or Enterprise Oregon.
Fields Spring State Park Summer Activities
Hiking to Puffer Butte
Puffer Butte offers a fantastic view hike in a relatively short distance. It’s at an altitude of 4500 feet, making it cooler on hot summer days than Clarkston and Asotin just a few miles away! There are also trees along the route offering shade.
It’s generally snow free early, sometime in late April or early May. This is also a great snowshoeing option once the snow flies (see below).
The hike to Puffer Butte is about 2.5 miles round trip with about 500 feet of elevation gain. You can extend this hike making it up to 5 miles (similar elevation gain) by looping back down from Puffer Butte. There’s a map of the trails at the trailhead, grab one or take a picture with your phone to carry it with you.
Starting at the bathrooms at the entrance to the campground loop next to the picnic area, look for the trailhead in the forest and start heading through the woods. You will cross several narrow gravel roads that serve as bike trails and ski trails in the winter. Keep following the blue diamonds with arrows uphill on the narrower trail.
Most of the elevation is gained in the first half mile, for the second half mile the trail is much less steep and becomes mostly flat as you approach the top of Puffer Butte. The second half also has a more open forest with a few peek-a-boo trails as you go.
In about a mile, you’ll arrive at the warming shelter and a great view from Puffer Butte. The view extends beyond Washington toward the Grande Ronde River and into Oregon and Idaho. There are also wildflowers in spring and early summer in the meadows around Puffer Butte.
In late summer, haze from wildfires sometimes obscures the more distant mountains.
In addition to hiking trails, Fields Spring State Park also has 7 miles of biking trails. This is a great place to mountain bike without crowds and with some forested and shady terrain in otherwise super hot eastern Washington. You can also follow the bike trails up to Puffer Butte and catch some amazing views.
It’s very dark at night in this remote area, and staying up to look at the stars if you’re camping in the park is incredible! Make sure to look up when you’re heading to bed or if you wake up in the middle of the night (or set an alarm to get up in the middle of the night if you’re super into looking at the stars on a dark night!).
Other nearby activities
At Fields Spring State Park, you’re close to the Grand Ronde River in Oregon, which offers options for fishing and rafting as well as popular local swimming holes.
Fields Spring State Park Winter Activities
Cross Country Skiing
Fields Spring State Park has over 5 miles of occasionally groomed cross country ski trails. During January and February, the trails are generally groomed about once a week. It’s difficult to find updated grooming information, so this is not the best choice for cross country skiing if you want well groomed trails and to have up to date grooming information.
If you’re comfortable on ungroomed trails, or you’re ok rolling the dice (I bring snowshoes in case the snow conditions aren’t great), then this is a wonderful place to ski!
It’s not crowded and it seems like it’s always sunny here (unless it’s snowing). Snow coverage is not as deep as in the Cascades which are more wet. January and February give you the best chance of a good snow pack for skiing although you may be able to ski as early as December or as late as March.
There are lots of loops you can take through the forest and up to Puffer Butte. Take a photo at the beginning of the ski trails to keep track of the different loops and junctions as you go!
Snowshoe to Puffer Butte
Puffer Butte is a fantastic snowshoeing destination! Depending on the snow conditions, you may be able to get there in just boots or boots and spikes. I recommend bringing snowshoes and then you can just hike if there isn’t enough snow.
You can follow the same directions above for the hike, or if you want to take a longer and less steep option, you can follow the ski trails instead. If you do this, make sure to snowshoe next to the trail, not in the groomed ski trail! It’s important to stay to the side in snowshoes even if the ski trail has not been groomed recently. Skiers sharing the trails with you appreciate following this trail etiquette.
I recommend getting a photo of the trail map or printing it and bringing it from home so you can follow as many loops as you like without getting lost.
In my opinion, Fields Spring State Park has the best public sledding hill in Washington! Lighted at the top with a fire pit, and somewhat groomed along a steep closed road, this is a seriously epic sledding hill. It’s also not a crowded place, making it even more fun. The sledding hill is located near the Wohelo Lodge and the Tamarack cabin.
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!
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