Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
In a region renowned for towering trees, soaring mountains, deep gorges, and expansive wilderness, the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area can rightfully claim a place among the Pacific Northwest’s outstanding resources.
Its dominant feature, Lake Roosevelt, is the largest lake in the northwest quarter of the United States. On its waters you will find conditions ideal for boating, water-skiing, sailing, canoeing, wind-surfing, kayaking and fishing. Along the shore, the lake paints a backdrop to surrounding sagebrush hills and forested mountains where you can camp, picnic, hike and hunt.
The creation of this sprawling recreation area began with 24 million tons of concrete and steel: Grand Coulee Dam. A Goliath of a dam, it was built to turn the power of the Columbia River into electricity and to store water sufficient to turn vast deserts into productive farmlands.
The Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area stretches 151 miles along the length of Lake Roosevelt, which boasts more than 630 miles of shoreline between Grand Coulee and the northern U.S. border. Boaters in search of an unusual and memorable vacation trip can travel to Canada by way of the lake. Boating is also an excellent way to view the geological formations unique to the coulee country, where volcanic eruptions, glaciers and ice age floods layered and carved the surface of the earth millions of years ago.
The National Park Service maintains swimming areas at many of the campgrounds along the lake, including Keller Ferry, Fort Spokane, Spring Canyon and several others. Natural sand and gravel beaches occur all along the lakeshore, providing perfect swimming in many areas. However, the NPS reminds lake-users that those swimming in uncontrolled areas must always beware of approaching boats. A variety of small craft, from yachts to canoes, tour the recreation area.
A total of 27 National Park Service campgrounds ring Lake Roosevelt, offering a wide variety of places to stay. Most can be reached by car, but some are available only to boaters. Separate picnic areas are provided at many of the campgrounds. The campgrounds and picnic areas most convenient to Wilbur can be found at Keller Ferry, Jones Bay and Spring Canyon. Leashed pets are generally allowed, but contact each specific site for their rules.
From May 1 through September 30, individual and group camping sites may be reserved ahead of time for most campgrounds. Keller Ferry Marina and campground is now operated by the concessionaire Dakota Columbia. View their reservation website or call at 509-647-5755. To view all other available campsites and make a reservation online go to www.recreation.gov or call the National Recreation Reservation Service at 1-877-444-6777. Local park rangers or NPS offices cannot make reservations. For those without reservations, or at NPS campgrounds that do not take reservations, camping is done on a first come, first served basis. Keller Ferry, Lincoln and Hanson Harbor offer the boat-launch-only ramps closest to Wilbur, complete with courtesy docks and pit toilets. Another ramp is located at Crescent Bay, immediately behind Grand Coulee Dam. All together, 22 boat launch ramps can be found around the lake.
Boaters should be aware that camping is allowed on the lake shoreline; the entire shoreline is publicly owned. However, shoreline campers are not allowed to build fires, and must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved marine sanitation device, which is to be packed in and out. Shoreline camping is not allowed within a ½ mile or less of developed areas.
Those wanting to stay at campsites on the Spokane or Colville Indian side of the lake must obtain a tribal camping permit. To find out how to get a Spokane tribal camping permit, call 509-722-4445. Information on Colville Tribal camping permits can be obtained by calling 509-634-3145.
The National Park Service campgrounds closest to Grand Coulee Dam are in the Channel Scablands of the Lake Roosevelt Recreation Area. Probably the most visually dramatic, this area of the lake features basaltic bluffs and granite outcroppings complimented by the Grand Coulee itself. Keller Ferry and Spring Canyon are the two main campgrounds in this district. Farther upstream, the Fort Spokane and Kettle Falls are popular sites for tourists and locals alike, as is the campground at Porcupine Bay, located up the Spokane River arm of Lake Roosevelt.
Throughout the summer, Park Rangers offer interpretive programs at Keller Ferry, Spring Canyon, Porcupine Bay, Kettle Falls, Fort Spokane and Evans campgrounds. Programs and demonstrations include recreational activities, outdoor skills and natural and cultural history. Contact Park Rangers, check park bulletin boards or call 509-633-9441 for tourist information. You can also go to www.nps.gov/laro and click on Ranger-Led Program. There is a small fee for use of all NPS boat launch facilities and campgrounds on Lake Roosevelt, except for those at boat-in-only campgrounds.
Keller Ferry Campground can be found about 15 miles north of Wilbur on Highway 21. Visitors are awed by their first spectacular glimpse of the lake from high atop the canyon wall. The highway winds down the steep canyon to the campground, which is set on an open plain near the lakeshore. A picnic area and swimming area with dock and sandy beaches are available near the campground. The Marina and campground are run by Dakota Columbia
A nearby marina offers all new docks, a public boat launch as well as seasonal and short-term moorage docks. There is also a convenient fish cleaning station nearby. The Keller Ferry Marina offers fuel, septic pump out, slip rentals and a limited selection of refreshments and ice.
The Keller Ferry Campground features a comfort station, areas for picnicking, tent camping, trailer sites (but no hookups) and group sites. Group sites are available only by reservation. There is waste disposal for trailers and boats. Selected campsites at Keller Ferry may be reserved and some are available on a basis of first come – first served. The best spots fill up fast, so it’s a good idea to make reservations early. The phone number is 509-647-5755 and online reservations are here
In addition, privately owned campsites and RV hookups are located a mile south of the ferry at River Rue, along with showers, wi-fi, a small convenience store and deli. For more information call 509-647-2647 or view their website at www.riverrue.com.
At Keller Ferry, a free ferry crosses the lake, available to both automobile and foot traffic. Many campers enjoy the trip back and forth across the lake as part of their overall experience in the area. Travelers also cross here while driving north through the scenic San Poil Valley to Republic and on over Sherman Pass (the highest pass in the state of Washington) to Kettle Falls. The “Martha S” was retired in the summer of 2013 and replaced with the “San Poil”. Check the WSDOT website in advance to check for any potential closings for the Keller crossing.
Seven Bays Marina is located 13 miles north of Creston on Lake Roosevelt’s eastern shore; Miles Creston Road, just east of Creston accesses it by car. The Houseboats and Marina are operated by Dakota Columbia. The marina features a paved boat launch, boat slips, houseboat rentals, gas and pump-out services. Slips range in size from 20 to 35 feet and feature electrical, wireless internet, utility and covered options. The phone number is 509-725 7229 (725-7BAYS).
Spring Canyon is located a short distance behind Coulee Dam on an open, dry hillside overlooking the lake. Sunshine is plentiful in this area. Spring Canyon is equipped to meet the needs of most types of campers – RV (dump station but no hook-ups), tent sites and two group sites are available. The comfort station is open mid-April to October, weather permitting. Most campsites are available on a basis of first come – first served, but certain selected sites can be reserved. To reserve a campsite or group site, call 1-877-444-6777 or online at www.recreation.gov. A boat launch, designated swimming beach and picnic areas are found nearby. The National Park Service sometimes holds activities and environmental education programs for adults and children. For activities, times and places, contact Park Rangers, check park bulletin boards, call 509-633-9441 or go online to www.nps.gov/laro.
A boat launch ramp is now in place at Crescent Bay, immediately behind Grand Coulee Dam (between the towns of Grand Coulee and Coulee Dam). The facility includes a courtesy dock, parking lot, and vault toilets.
The NPS sometimes conducts a canoe program (a guided tour on water) on Crescent Bay Lake during the summer. Check a park bulletin board, contact a Park Ranger, call 509-633-9441 or check the website for dates and times. Those wanting to take part in the canoe trips meet at the Spring Canyon parking lot and are shuttled to Crescent Bay. This program is free of charge and canoes and other equipment are provided, but you can bring your own canoe, if desired.
Located north of Wilbur on Lake Roosevelt, this somewhat primitive campground offers nine tent sites, a boat dock, boat ramp, vault toilets and picnic area in a beautifully secluded, wooded area up-river from Keller Ferry.
Fort Spokane Campground is one of the largest in the Recreation Area. It is located near the old frontier military outpost above the spot where the Spokane River flows into the Columbia, making it the perfect spot for history buffs and summer fun.
Guests can take advantage of a self-guided historical tour of the old fort, including a video and small museum with extensive new displays and information on the history of the Fort Spokane, Indian Boarding School and Hospital periods at the Visitor’s Center in the historic 1892 brick guardhouse on the fort grounds. Information, boat launch permits, book and educational DVD sales, exhibits and an interpretive slide show are also offered at the Visitor’s Center. It is open seven days a week from mid-June to Labor Day, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information call 509-633-3830 ext. 37 in the summer.
Fort Spokane provides an excellent area for picnicking and swimming, camping, a boat launch facility and plenty of convenient parking. Restaurants, tennis and volleyball courts and an RV park are within 10 miles of the campground.
There are 67 non-electric campsites and two group sites available at Fort Spokane. A comfort station is open mid-April to mid-October, weather permitting, and a trailer dump station is available. Visit www.recreation.gov for a full description of park activities, amenities and reservations.
Kettle Falls Campground amenities include camping, boating, a comfort station, biking, fishing, hiking, bird watching, windsurfing and a playground. Kettle Falls Locust Grove offers two group sites, one with electric. Most of the standard campsites are can be reserved, but 29 campsites are first come, first served. Make reservations at www.recreation.gov or call 509-633-3830 ext. 37 for information.
Porcupine Bay Campground is nestled among a tall stand of ponderosa pine 10 miles up the Spokane River arm of Lake Roosevelt. This popular campground, with its picnic and swimming area, fills up quickly so visitors are encouraged to come early. The 31 campsites are on a first come, first served basis. Parking is limited, but boat launch facilities are excellent. The only nearby store is a small convenience and fast-food store near the entrance to the campground. The National Park Service plans activities and educational programs throughout the summer. Check park bulletin boards, ask a ranger or call 509-633-9441 for information.
HAWK CREEK FALLS
Hawk Creek Campground is located about a mile west of the Miles/Creston road at Hawk Creek. There is a boat launch, designated picnic area, campground and comfort station. Adequate parking is available for picnickers and boaters, as well as campers. During the summer the National Park Service may schedule canoe trips, beginning at the campground. Check park bulletin boards or call 509-633-9441 for specific information.