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No trip to the north central part of Washington would be complete without a visit to Lake Entiat and the Rocky Reach Dam. Lake Entiat is a 9,100 acre reservoir that was created in 1962 when the Rocky Reach Dam was completed on the Columbia River in Douglas County. The glass-like waters of the reservoir make it an extremely popular lake for water skiing, sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, wind surfing, and wake boarding. Plus, the dam itself is one of the Northwest's most popular visitor attractions, with its award-winning lawns and gardens and fascinating exhibits. Visitors will also find several parks along the 43 miles of the Columbia River that Lake Entiat encompasses. The parks provide all kinds of additional recreational activities and include camping and picnic facilities.
The Rocky Reach Dam is a hydroelectric gravity dam that is a marvel in both construction ingenuity and environmental conscientiousness. With 11 generators and 12 spillway gates, the dam is enormous. Engineers used the natural landscape of the area to their advantage, building the dam on top of super-stable metamorphic rock that is millions of years old. The steep hills surrounding the dam were shaped by tectonic uplifts. The dam includes an innovative bypass system that transports young salmon and steelhead trout that can't negotiate the fish ladders. The Fish Bypass achieves unprecedented protection of fish species without compromising the hydropower production of the facility. It is the only system of its kind in the world capable of reusing almost all of the water used to collect fish, to generate power.
The whole family will enjoy the wide variety of things to do at the dam. The carefully manicured lawns and gardens are perfect for a picnic and a relaxing afternoon while the kids have fun in the children's play area complete with climbing toys. A walkway high above the powerhouse floor gives visitors a view of the giant turbine-generators at work, while viewing windows provide an opportunity to watch salmon swim a fish ladder on their way upstream to spawn. For a fun and informative afternoon, the dam features a fascinating self-guided museum called The Museum of the Columbia. There are exhibits detailing early life on the Columbia River as well as the impact the river had on the lives of Native Americans and early settlers. Visitors can also learn about the building of the dam itself and see the Gallery of Electricity which shows the importance of the energy produced by this massive dam which serves more than 7 million people throughout the Northwest.
Lake Entiat has some of the best water recreation activities anywhere. At the city of Entiat's waterfront park, visitors can launch their ski boat, jet ski or kayak and go the full length of the lake. Anglers will enjoy the wide variety of native resident fish species which include white sturgeon, bridgelip sucker, rainbow trout, northern pikeminnow, peamouth chub, mountain whitefish, chiselmouth chub, largescale sucker, bull trout, redside shiner, sculpins, and threespine stickleback. There are also many introduced resident species including largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, walleye, carp, tench, pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, and brown bullhead trout. Anglers should review regulations on daily limits, allowable fishing areas and more which can be found online in the annual Fish and Wildlife Department's fishing rules pamphlet.
Several campgrounds and parks dot the shores of Lake Entiat. Daroga State Park is a family-friendly park with one and a half miles of shoreline on the east side of the reservoir. Boat ramps and docks provide easy access to the water. Several campsites for boaters and hikers can be found on a strip of land commonly called "the island." The park's main campground includes baseball and soccer fields and basketball courts. The Rocky Reach Dam Park features the dam's visitor center, the museum, picnic areas and shelters, playground equipment and extensive, award-winning landscaping. Lincoln Rock State Park is also located on the east side of Lake Entiat. This camping park is a popular place for swimming, water-skiing and sunbathing. It was named for a basalt outcropping resembling the profile of Abraham Lincoln.
Vacation rentals, including homes and cabins, are available along the shores of Lake Entiat. For those interested in living around the reservoir, land and homes are also readily available. The county has many lakes in the area, and thankfully, the people of Chelan County are forward thinking. In the 1970's the county developed a Shoreline Master Program with ongoing updates since then. Included in those plans are various redevelopment programs to make Lake Entiat even more attractive as a recreation destination.
Being located in north central Washington makes getting to Lake Entiat a good drive from just about anywhere. From Spokane International Airport the drive is just over 2 1/2 hours, and from Seattle/Tacoma Int'l Airport it is just over 3 hours. But it is certainly worth the drive. With year-round recreation, great climate, beautiful vistas, and ongoing development initiatives, Lake Entiat is an excellent place to visit or relocate to in the beautiful state of Washington.
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