As the summer warms up, planning a getaway to somewhere with crystal clear water sounds pretty good! If you are anywhere near the state of Washington, you may want to plan a visit to Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. It’s less than 100 miles west of Spokane.
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
This 130 mile lake was created by the construction of The Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation started construction in 1933 and when the dam was completed in 1942 it was the largest masonry structure built since the Pyramids.
Today, the dam still produces more hydro-electricity than any other dam in the United States, and it is the third largest hydro-electric producer in the world.
Things to Do
Lake Roosevelt was declared a National Recreation Area in 1946. It’s a mecca for boating, fishing, camping and swimming. You can even drive to Canada – the top of the lake is just 13 miles from the Canadian border at Grand Forks, British Columbia.
As you drive north, the topography changes dramatically – cooler, higher, and forested with Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine. There is a big difference between the northern and the southern end of the lake which is more desert-like and barren.
Spread throughout the park, there are 26 campgrounds to choose from. When we visited, we camped at the southern end of the lake near the dam. We were on a hill overlooking the lake. This one didn’t have many trees for shade, but the views were gorgeous. It was quiet and peaceful – it felt like you were in another world. The clear night skies were full of stars.
We took in a morning paddle on the lake before the motor boats created waves. The water was clear and calm. There were miles of shoreline. We kayaked along, and whenever we were warm, we simply stopped at the edge for a swim. There were lots of little beaches and rocky outcroppings for diving. The water was so clear you could see the fish swimming along with you.
The lake is perfect for water sports of any kind – kayaking, canoeing, swimming, power-boating, water skiing, fishing, house boating and jet skiing.
The Grand Coulee Dam
Even if you only come to enjoy the lake, your visit would not be complete without spending some time at The Grand Coulee Dam. Start at the Visitor Center where you will learn more about the dam – it’s construction, use and also some of the ways that the government has tried to mitigate its affect on the fish and the native american population.
There is a FREE tour of the dam, although post 9/11 the tour is fairly limited, but the information is very interesting and it is pretty awesome to be on top of this huge structure. It is 550 feet high and 5,222 feet in length. The tour walks out to the center. Pretty cool to look down from there.
You’ll want to make sure you have time to go back at night and watch the 30 minute FREE laser light show. They use the face of the dam as a huge screen. It is gigantic!!!
The other thing that is fun to do is to walk across the bridge below the dam. You can get some great pictures from there.
Enjoy your visit to one of America’s wonders. #SeeAmericaFirst #FindYourPark