Alta Lake State Park: Discover the power of nature

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Reserve a lakeside campsite this summer at Alta Lake State Park.


April 18, 2018

Do the cycles of nature intrigue you? Does the planet’s resilience inspire you?

If so, Alta Lake, in the hills of north central Washington, could be the park for you.

Recovery and resilience

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Alta Lake has continued to recover and evolve in the years since the Carlton Complex Fire.

When the Carlton Complex Fire swept across the region in 2014, its forest of pines and low brush became a landscape of twisted black trees and scarred earth.

But the story of Alta Lake State Park is one of recovery and restoration. Not only have trees and shrubs begun to grow back, diligent park staff have lovingly replanted native species.

That means you and your family can pitch your tent or hook up your RV in a campsite by the lake without feeling like you’re inside the charred remains of the fire.

As an angler or a boater, you can take off for far corners of the lake and, as a parent, you can let your children splash and laugh in the calm, roped-off swim area.

As a hiker, you can enjoy the evolving landscape on foot.

Terra firma

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Spring and early summer hiking are glorious at Alta Lake and in north central Washington.

Did you know that Alta Lake is fed by underground springs? Learn about the geology of the lake, as well as the life cycles of this unique forest on a brand-new, half-mile interpretive trail.

Need a more strenuous hike? Head out on the 1-mile bluff trail, or a 3/4-mile switchback trail up to breathtaking views from the ridgetop above the park.

Those who would rather see the scenery from the back of a gentle horse can try a guided trail ride at neighboring Whistlin’ Pines Ranch.

Love to golf? Bring the clubs! The Alta Lake Golf Course is within walking distance of the park. As the sun sinks low in the sky, the greens looks particularly inviting, and evening discounts sweeten the deal.

On the water

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The Alta Anglers, pictured in 1982, is a group of family and friends who have attended Opening Day of Fishing Season every year since 1959. Several Anglers tie boats together for a social fishing experience. Photo by Tom Anderson.

Fishing season opens April 28, and recreationists who equate an outdoor vacation with fishing will be thrilled by Alta Lake. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, Kokanee, triploid trout and others, which you can catch from your boat or the shore.

Canoeing and stand up paddling are also popular pastimes, and birders can spot red-tailed hawks, eagles, owls and a variety of ducks.

Have you been waiting all winter to dust off your personal watercraft or water skis? You can enjoy these activities between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. During fishing hours, motorized water sports are prohibited, so you won’t scare your neighbors — or your neighbors’ catch of the day.

Out-of-the-park adventures

When booking an Alta Lake vacation, it pays to find out what’s happening in the nearby towns of Pateros, Winthrop, Omak and Lake Chelan. Located less than an hour away, these communities host summer events from jazz festivals to rodeo carnivals, hydro races and apple pie jamborees.

Stay overnight

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A barbecue by the lake is an excellent way to pass a summer evening at Alta Lake. Here, the Alta Anglers get the grill going on the opening weekend of fishing season in 1997. Photo courtesy of the Alta Anglers.

Summer at Alta Lake is an annual pilgrimage for many families whose numbers have expanded to include children, grandchildren and greats. This fun, friendly, welcoming park attracts visitors from all over the world, which makes for a rich tapestry of languages and cooking traditions.

The park’s 91 tent sites, 32 utility sites and two group camps allow you to snuggle up with your family in your tent or RV, or enjoy a cookout with friends and fellow campers.

As Alta Lake State Park recovers from the fire, it continues to offer a social lakeside experience, and now it provides something new: a chance to witness the power of nature.

A lake legacy: Alta Anglers mark 60 years of fishing at Alta Lake

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On April 28, 2018, Tom Anderson will make his 60th pilgrimage to Alta Lake State Park, where his family and friends have celebrated the first weekend of fishing season since 1959.

The Alta Anglers started as a father – son fishing trip. The annual gathering now attracts 100 people from four generations for fishing, golf tournaments and a banquet. Though Anderson is one of only two original members still living, his five high school buddies from Kirkland, who joined the group in 1967, still show up at the Alta reunion.

“We grew up and moved away, but wherever we are, we fly in for Alta,” Anderson said, adding that people come from as far as New Zealand each year. 

Sharon Soelter, Alta Lake’s ranger of 10 years, said these traditions tend to blossom in state parks.

“Most parks pride themselves on their wholesome vibe,” she said. “Kids can run around and be themselves, and campgrounds are neighborly. It’s a great tradition to start, continue and hand down to the next generation.”                                                                                                                                                              

Parting shot: Justin and Nat Hargett, ages 7 and 5, in this 1986 photo, still come to Alta Lake every spring with their dad and their own kids. They are part of the Alta Anglers group, which celebrates its 60th year opening fishing weekend at Alta Lake State Park this year. Photo courtesy of the Alta Anglers.                


Alta Lake

Alta Lake State Park
1B Otto Road
Pateros, WA 98846

Park office: 
(509) 923-2473

For reservations for campsites and group accommodations:
Call (888) 226-7688 or reserve online.

Summer hours:  
6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Winter hours: 
Closed November through  March

Fishing tips: 
Just in time for opening day of lowland lake fishing, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has released its free "Fish Washington" app. The app  is available on Google Play, Apple's App store and WDFW's website. The app offers up-to-the-minute fishing regulations for every lake, river, stream and marine area in the state.

Discover Pass: 
The Discover Pass must be displayed on your vehicle when visiting the park for day use.  Complimentary passes are issued to registered guests staying at the park.

Learn more...

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