Alta Lake State Park

A testament to the power of nature
Washington State Vacation
Washington State Vacation

Tucked in the hills between Winthrop and Lake Chelan, Alta Lake State Park has long been a hub for anglers, jet skiers and families that love to camp.

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

But the Alta story is one of recovery, replanting and restoration. Trees and shrubs have begun to grow back, and campers again pitch their tents and bring their RVs to the campsites above the lake. Boaters take off for far corners once more, and children’s laughter can be heard on the shore.

A brand-new, half-mile interpretive trail explains the life cycle of this north central Washington forest, along with the geology and ecology of the spring-fed lake.

Visitors who need more than a half-mile walk can hike above the park on a 1-mile bluff trail and a .75-mile switchback trail up to breathtaking views. Those who would rather see the scenery from the back of a gentle horse can try a guided trail ride at Whistlin’ Pines Ranch.

A good game of golf can also be had within walking distance of the park, at the Alta Lake Golf Course. As the sun sinks low in the sky, the green looks particularly inviting, and evening discounts sweeten the deal.

Many vacationers equate an outdoor holiday with fishing and time on the water, and Alta Lake does not disappoint. The lake is stocked regularly with Rainbow trout, Kokanee, Triploids and others, which people can catch from their boats or the shore. Paddling and standup paddling are also popular activities on a quiet portion of the lake, where birders can also spot red-tail hawks, eagles, owls and a variety of ducks.

Though waterskiing and jet skiing are permitted (and enjoyed) before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m., water sports enthusiasts tend to be polite at Alta Lake, to avoid scaring their neighbors and their neighbors’ catch of the day.

When booking an Alta Lake vacation, it pays to check event calendars for the nearby towns of Pateros, Winthrop, Omak and Lake Chelan. Located less than an hour from the park, these communities host summer events ranging from jazz festivals to rodeo carnivals, hydro races and apple pie jamborees.

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.

As Alta Lake State Park evolves, it continues to offer a social lakeside experience, and now it provides something new: a chance to witness the power of nature and its amazing resilience.

Park information: