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It is a picture postcard - snow capped mountains mirrored back in clean, clear, mountain water. Set against the backdrop of Washington's Cascade Mountains, Keechelus Lake is a picture come to life. With 2,560 acres of water to fish, boat or explore, Lake Keechelus has more than enough room for everyone. Add trails for hiking, biking and cross country skiing along with down hill ski slopes moments away and Keechelus Lake becomes a year round destination for the entire family.
Part of the US Bureau of Reclamation's Yakima Project, Keechelus Lake, also known as Keechelus Reservoir, is one of six reservoirs including Bumping, Clear Creek, Tieton, Kachess, and Cle Elum Lakes. The reservoirs are used for flood control and hydroelectric power, but they were created primarily for irrigation. Cattlemen were the first settlers in the Yakima Valley and as far back as 1860, they realized the value of irrigating the valley. Their canals carried water to grow first hops and then alfalfa. The Yakima Project went on to do the same thing on a much larger scale providing irrigation water for 464,000 acres of land. The project is a collection of dams, reservoirs, and canals, and the land that they irrigate has become some of the most fertile farm land in the country. Yakima County, of all the counties in the United States, is number one in the production of mint, apples, and hops.
Keechelus Lake is a natural lake, over four miles long and a mile wide, on the Yakima River. In 1917 the US Bureau of Reclamation completed the Keechelus Dam at the lower end of the lake. The dam has been repaired or modified several times since then, and the US Bureau of Reclamation uses the dam to control the lake's water levels. Public access to the lake is through one of several boat ramps, and there is more than enough water for power boating, waterskiing and paddling.
Keechelus means "few fish," but don't tell the fishermen. Anglers come to the lake to test themselves against Keechelus Reservoir's salmon, burbot, and cutthroat and rainbow trout. Nearby Kachess and Cle Elum Lakes also have an abundance of fish to challenge anglers and are an easy day trip from Keechelus Lake.
Lake Keechelus is in the Wenatchee portion of the over four million acre Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest. Established in 1908, the forest runs from the Canadian border in the north to the Goat Rocks Wilderness in the south and has a very diverse landscape. There are glaciated peaks for climbing and hiking along with old growth forests and valleys for hunting and exploring.
Ten miles northwest of Easton and about an hour from Seattle, Lake Keechelus is close to restaurants, shopping and a variety of accommodations. The lake is in Kittitas County two miles from the Snoqualmie Pass which is the lowest pass crossing east to west through the Cascades. A section of the 100 mile long John Wayne Pioneer Trail goes past Keechelus Lake. The trail, from the western slope of the Cascades to the border of Idaho, is open for hiking, biking, horseback riding and in the winter for cross country skiing, dog sledding, and snowmobiling.
Mount Rainier is an active volcano standing 14,410 feet high. Its snow covered peak is a spectacular backdrop to Mount Rainier National Park which is an easy day trip from Lake Keechelus. The base of the mountain is covered with alpine flowers that thin as visitors climb higher towards the top. Both beginning hikers and experienced mountaineers will find routes up part of the mountain, all with the breathtaking views that draw two million visitors a year.
The Cascade Mountains against the beautiful water of Keechelus Lake set the tone for a fantastic north central Washington getaway. One of the area's lakefront vacation rentals is the perfect place to relax after a day spent climbing the snow capped peaks or playing on the water. There is real estate available for sale in nearby Easton for anyone wishing to prolong their stay in this picture postcard setting.
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