Whatcom Lake, Washington, USA

Also known as:  Lake Whatcom

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Whatcom Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

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Looking for Whatcom Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Whatcom Lake

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.

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

Find Places to Stay at Whatcom Lake

If you’re considering a Whatcom Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Whatcom Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Whatcom Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

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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Shop Whatcom Lake Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


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