Banks Lake, Washington, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Banks Lake.

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Banks Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - West - Washington - North Central Washington -

Banks Lake is a 27 mile equalizing reservoir and part of the Columbia Basin Project, a major water resource project to provide irrigation water to fertile but arid land in central Washington. It was created when two rock-faced, earthfill dams were built at the ends of a large channel sculpted during the Ice Age. Banks Lake was named after Frank A. Banks, chief construction engineer of the Grand Coulee Dam, the main feature of the Columbia Basin Project.

Water for Banks Lake is pumped from Lake Roosevelt through the Banks Lake Feeder Canal and then into Banks Lake. Water is held in Banks Lake until needed for irrigation but the active storage can be replaced seven or eight times a year depending on demand for irrigation. Water is typically pumped into Banks Lake from May to September during the typical growing seasons on area farms. The final weeks of pumping build a reserve in Banks Lake that may be held until needed in late fall or early spring before pumping begins again next May.

Although the water in Banks Lake is drawn down several times, the minimum water surface elevation is 1560 feet. Fishing at Banks Lake offers the avid angler opportunities for small and large mouth bass, yellow perch, rainbow trout, walleye, kokanee, black crappie, bullhead, and whitefish.

For recreational opportunities at Banks Lake, visit Steamboat Rock State Park which offers a 3,522 acre camping facility with 50,000 feet of waterfront access for swimming, fishing, boating, and other water activities. There are seven boat ramps at three different sites along Banks Lake with 320 feet of dock reserved for boat handling only. In addition to typical water sports, rock climbing is also offered at the park. During the winter, skiing is permitted on the many trails throughout the park.

The Banks Lake area is uncrowded with much of the land used for farming. Located at the north end of Banks Lake is the city of Grand Coulee with a reported population of 897 in the 2000 census. On the south end of Banks Lake is the town of Coulee City with a population of 600 in the 2000 census.

Although Banks Lake was originally formed for irrigation, it has become an oasis in the desert for those seeking recreation and relaxation.

Custom Banks Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Banks Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Rock Climbing
  • State Park

Fish species found at Banks Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Crappie
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Banks Lake

The Banks Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Banks Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Banks Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 27,000 acres

Shoreline Length: 135 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,570 feet

Average Depth: 46 feet

Maximum Depth: 177 feet

Water Volume: 1,275,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1951

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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