Moses Lake, Washington, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Washington - North Central Washington -

Located where Washington State’s Pacific coast transforms into the arid desert of the eastern half, Moses Lake has over 6,800 acres of surface area encircled by over 62 miles of shoreline. Moses Lake offers a wide array of boating, fishing, camping, and swimming opportunities in Grant County.

The dusty and dry conditions of Central Washington led to the creation of Moses Lake. Windblown sand created a natural dam which impounded ice age glaciers and ancient floods that moved across eastern Washington. Today, Crab Creek and Rocky Ford Creek flow into Moses Lake. The 20-mile long, irregularly shaped lake has three major arms or “horns.” Rocky Ford Creek flows into the northern main arm. Parker Horn and Pelican Horn, which are separated by a peninsula, comprise the southern end of Moses Lake. Crab Creek flows into Lewis Horn, a smaller embayment connected to Parker Horn.The average depth of Moses Lake is 18.5 feet, with a maximum depth of 43 feet.

Moses Lake has provided vital irrigation water to local farmers since the early 1900s. Area residents built a dam to maintain water levels for irrigation, repairing the dam multiple times after flooding. Farmers formed the Moses Lake Irrigation District in 1928, and built a dam with control gates to regulate the lake level. After another wash-out in 1941, the re-built dam is still in operation.

Moses Lake is part of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Columbia River Project. The centerpiece of the Project was the Grand Coolee Dam, constructed across the Columbia River from 1935 to 1941. The dam supplied hydroelectric power, fueling the industrial boom in the Pacific Northwest in the 1940s. Moses Lake became part of the Columbia River Project’s vast water storage and distribution network. Although the natural outflow from Moses Lake was Crab Creek, the Project channeled water into Potholes Reservoir to the south (potholes refers to the glacial depressions in the ancient sand dunes). The Bureau of Reclamation operates two dams at the southern end of Moses Lake to control water levels. The lake’s waters are kept at high summer pool levels from March to October. Winter pool levels are about five feet lower to allow maintenance of shoreline structures and to provide storage for melting snow and spring rains.

Moses Lake received its name from Presbyterian missionaries who nicknamed the area’s ruling Native American tribal chief Moses. For much of its history, Moses Lake was a sleepy backwater. But the installation of Larson Air Force Base during World War II, located only short distance from the lake, led to the initial development of the area. In 1965 the Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District acquired Airman’s Beach from the decommissioned Larson Air Force Base, as the District expanded its activities to include parks and water quality. The District made substantial improvements to the beach area and renamed it Connelly Park. Today, the town of Moses Lake, located at the south end of the lake with much of the community stretching out into the water via a peninsula, has become a bustling residential and commercial center, home to most of the region’s attractions. Moving northward, private houses, campgrounds and resorts surround the water. About 27,000 people live around Moses Lake.

Fishing at Moses Lake rewards anglers with a chance to catch many species. Rainbow trout up to 17 inches in length populate the lake, making it one the prime trout fishing locations in the region. Fishermen may also expect to find sizeable largemouth bass and walleye populations. Crappies, bluegills and perch may also be found, but their populations aren’t as abundant.

Boats and jet skis also dot the water. Moses Lake has many boat docks, slips and marinas, making it an ideal spot for those who enjoy boating. Swimming is also popular on Moses Lake, with a few public beaches located mostly in town. Many private campgrounds and resorts offer beaches for their patrons. However, the City of Moses Lake operates Cascade Campground, which offers 85 spaces for tent campers and RVs. The campground features a boat pier as well as a swimming beach. Blue Heron Park, formerly Moses Lake State Park, covers 78 acres on the lake’s western shore. The park provides a swimming beach (unguarded), boat launch, picnic sites and picnic shelters, fishing bridge, playground, and a free disc golf course.

Visitors and locals also enjoy bird watching, as Moses Lake sits in the midst of the Pacific Flyway, the major migratory path of waterfowl flying north and south from Alaska to the southern tip of South America. Tens of thousands of mallard ducks and Canada Geese move through the area a year. Other birds observed in the area include herons, swans, sandhill cranes, American avocets, hawks, and owls.

Moses Lake is a hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest, ripe for your discovery.

Things to do at Moses Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Jet Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Moses Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Moses Lake Photo Gallery

Moses Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Surface Area: 6,800 acres

Shoreline Length: 62 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,046 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,041 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,048 feet

Average Depth: 19 feet

Maximum Depth: 38 feet

Water Volume: 131,000 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 6 months

Lake Area-Population: 27,000

Drainage Area: 2,450 sq. miles

Trophic State: Hypereutrophic

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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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