Winchester Lake State Park is situated along the perimeter of a 103 acre lake in the northwest of Idaho. The lake is tucked into a wooded area at the bottom of the Craig Mountains and can be accessed easily from US highway 95. The Winchester Lake State Park is just outside the city of Winchester, where visitors can find luxury hotels if they prefer to sleep indoors rather than camping at the park. The park is covered with towering pine trees that stay vibrant year-round, making this an excellent winter or summer destination.
Diverse Bird Population
Some of the best bird watching in Idaho can be done at the Winchester Lake State Park. Bird enthusiasts will find species that include raptors, songbirds, shore birds, and waterfowl. The diverse woodlands and immense lake attract many unusual types of birds that can be seen easily from many of the park’s trails. In the right circumstances, visitors may even be able to spot a bald eagle or a peregrine falcon, though these birds generally stay up closer to the tops of the mountains. Nesting birds, like the ruffed grouse, are also plentiful.
Camping is available in Winchester Lake State Park between May and October. Visitors can reserve any of the standard or full service camp sites prior to visiting the park. Many of the camp sites are equipped with water and electrical hookups for recreational vehicles. The sites also include shower facilities as well as centralized water and restroom resources. Boat docks are available for those who bring their own watercraft and plan to camp near the water. Visitors who need more than one camp site must make reservations in advance to ensure that the sites will be available.
Short Summers, Long Winters
The weather in Winchester Lake State Park is relatively cool, even in the summer. The elevation and the proximity to the mountains keeps the cooler air settled down over the lake most of the year. The long winters commonly have quite a lot of snowfall, which allows visitors to take advantage of winter sports around the lake. Every visitor should bring warm clothing no matter what time of year they camp at the park. In the summer it is a good idea to wear layers that can be taken off or added on as the temperatures shift throughout the day and evening.
Wolf Education and Resource Center
A mile from the park entrance there is a Wolf Education and Resource Center where visitors can learn more about the wolves that migrate through the area each year. Visitors to the Resource Center can take a 2 hour tour of the grounds and come face to face with the wolves that are kept there. The center also provides educational presentations and offers a chance for visitors to adopt a wolf for a small donation. The center relies on donations to feed and shelter the wolves, as well as give them any necessary medical treatment.
Winchester Lake State Park offers four yurts for visitors to rent if they would like to stay in something more substantial than a traditional tent or recreational vehicle. Yurts are low, round buildings with short domed roofs. The yurts at the park can accommodate a small family or just a couple of people at a time. The yurts can be reserved in advance by calling the park offices a week or two before visiting the park. The buildings are well insulated and can be very comfortable during the colder winter months of January and February.
Fresh Water Fishing
One of the most popular activities at the Winchester Lake State Park is fresh water fishing. The lake is filled with several varieties of fresh water fish that can be kept if they meet the size requirements. A fishing license is required to fish in Winchester Lake. Bass, blue gill, tiger muskie, and perch are plentiful in the lake’s deep waters. Visitors can fish from the shoreline or take a bout further out into the lake where the larger fish tend to live. Visitors who prepare and cook their fish at a camp site should clean up all traces of the fish before going to sleep because raccoons will raid the camp overnight if they believe there is any fish to be found.