Keechelus Lake, Washington, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Washington - North Central Washington -

Also known as:  Lake Keechelus, Keechelus Reservoir

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.

Things to do at Keechelus Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dog Sledding
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • National Park
  • National Forest
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Keechelus Lake

  • Burbot
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Keechelus Lake Photo Gallery

Keechelus Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Us Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 2,560 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,510 feet

Water Volume: 157,900 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1917

Drainage Area: 54 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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