Lake Wallula, Oregon & Washington, USA

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

If you’re considering Lake Wallula vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Lake Wallula guide!

Lake Wallula visitor and community guide

Lake Wallula, a 64 mile long reservoir, is a wide open glassy lake that extends from northeastern Oregon to southeastern Washington. Lake Wallula received its name from the small town of Wallula, Washington which was flooded when the area began to fill with water in April 1953 after the building of McNary Dam. Townspeople moved further from the lake and began the new town of Wallula.

McNary Dam was named for Oregon senator Charles L. McNary (1874-1944) who campaigned for better navigation on the Columbia River. Because of McNary’s efforts, Lake Wallula and McNary Dam were built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forming a multi-purpose and beneficial lake to the area. The Lake Wallula and McNary Dam area includes a lock that lifts boats an average of 75 feet to aid in navigation, two fish ladders to aid salmon and steelhead returning to spawn, and irrigation capabilities for area farms. One of the largest hydroelectric power facilities in the United States, McNary Dam also includes two additional turbines whose purpose is to power the dam itself so the McNary Dam is entirely self-sustaining. While visiting Lake Wallula, visitors may take tours of the McNary Dam operating facility.

The landscape around Lake Wallula is wide open with few trees and arid conditions. All 16,908 acres surrounding Lake Wallula are public lands utilized for recreational purposes, wildlife habitat, and water-connected industrial development. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service leases approximately 3,500 acres of the public land for the McNary National Wildlife Refuge which supports large numbers of waterfowl due to the managed habitats in the area. The refuge was built to replace the natural habitats lost due to the filling of Lake Wallula.

Twenty two recreational areas surround Lake Wallula. These areas offer swimming, boating, camping, water skiing, wake boarding, fishing and hunting. Lake Wallula’s recreational facilities range from undeveloped remote beaches, to group picnic areas, to full service campgrounds with electrical and water hookups. Lake Wallula has 17 locations around its shoreline that provide public boat launching facilities.

Whether you visit for a day, a leisurely long weekend, or an extended stay, Lake Wallula will provide you with ample opportunities to enjoy the water, beautiful scenery and wildlife.

Custom Lake Wallula house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Lake Wallula

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Wildlife Refuge

Fish species found at Lake Wallula

  • Salmon
  • Steelhead Trout

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Lake Wallula

The Lake Wallula 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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Lake Wallula photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Lake Wallula statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 38,800 acres

Shoreline Length: 242 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 340 feet

Water Volume: 1,350,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1954

Drainage Area: 214,000 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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