Whatcom Lake, Washington, USA

Also known as:  Lake Whatcom

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

If you’re considering Whatcom Lake 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 Whatcom Lake guide!

Whatcom Lake visitor and community guide

Whatcom Lake is a 5,000-acre natural lake surrounded by mountainous terrain located in Whatcom County, Washington. Whatcom is from a Nooksack Indian word meaning “noisy water”, and was the name of a Nooksack chief. Whatcom Lake provides recreation, flood control, and drinking water to Whatcom County and vicinity.

The Whatcom Lake Dam, located on Whatcom Creek, regulates water levels for flood storage and recreation. The dam is owned and operated by the City of Bellingham at the northwest end of the lake. Whatcom Lake is filled by runoff from its surrounding watershed and diversion water from the Nooksack River during spring and fall. From November to February, the lake is maintained at 311.5 feet. In March the water is allowed to rise to 314.5 and is maintained at that level through September for summer recreation. The spillway gates are adjusted in October to slowly lower the water level back to 311.5 feet to prepare for spring flood control.

The Whatcom Lake area has been inhabited for nearly 12,000 years by many tribal groups in the Northern Cascade Mountain Ranges. Today, Whatcom County proclaims to be one of the most sought-out areas in the country because of ample opportunities for recreation, colleges, city parks, industry and cultural events. For off-water recreation, nearby golf courses offer a challenge during the dry season, and ski resorts are close by for a snowy day diversion.

The many benefits of living on the shores of Whatcom Lake include residents’ private access to their own docks, beautiful scenery, and community parks for residents. Most private homes are located on the northern end and eastern side of Lake Whatcom. There is a wide variety of styles and ages of homes ranging from upscale lakefront property to smaller single family homes and rental properties.

Bloedel Donovan Park, located on Whatcom Lake and operated by the Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department, is a popular destination for lake visitors. This park offers swimming with a beach area, concession stands, ball fields, playground, and a pavilion that hosts year round community events. It has the lake’s only public boat launch within the city limits and offers watercraft rentals in-season.

Nearly 12 miles long and just over a mile wide at its widest point, Whatcom Lake has been managed with many undeveloped areas to allow the watershed to thrive in a natural setting with forests of western hemlock, Douglas firs, red cedar along with stands of hardwood trees. For this reason, ample fishing is available from the banks of Whatcom Lake. Available to test your angling skills are many species of fish including the popular cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch.

With its scenic beauty of natural surroundings, the modern conveniences of city living, and wide variety of entertainment opportunities, Whatcom Lake is worth a visit.

Custom Whatcom Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Whatcom Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Golf
  • City Park
  • Playground

Fish species found at Whatcom Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout
  • Yellow Perch

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Whatcom Lake

The Whatcom 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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Whatcom Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Whatcom Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of Bellingham

Surface Area: 5,003 acres

Shoreline Length: 30 miles

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 312 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 315 feet

Average Depth: 154 feet

Maximum Depth: 330 feet

Water Volume: 767,700 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1937

Drainage Area: 56 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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