A replica of the Blue Lake rhino cave. Credit: Burke Museum
Bonus: Blue Lake Rhino Cave
About 14 or 15 million years ago, a grazing rhino was overtaken by a basalt magma flow. The cooling magma formed rock around the rhino’s body, which eventually decayed. Like a plaster cast, the rock remained in the shape of the rhino. And guess where you’ll find this amazing fossil? In Eastern Washington, a few hundred feet above what is now called Blue Lake.
The cave mouth can be viewed from the lake’s surface (you can rent a rowboat at Sun Village Resort). Experienced rock climbers can even crawl through the cave. Rumor has it that you can still see the impression of the rhino’s belly button.
Popular nearby spots for families include Sun Lakes–Dry Falls State Park, Steamboat Rock State Park and Grand Coulee Dam. With its warm, dry Eastern Washington weather, this area is ideal for shoulder-season camping adventures.
More adventures for Seattle-area families:
Editor’s note: This article was originally published a few years ago and updated most recently for 2023.