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How Cold Is Lake Roosevelt, Washington (and Can I Swim in It)?

If you’re looking for your next summer exploration destination, check out Lake Roosevelt in Washington. Camp life is about enjoying the world’s natural beauties, but nature working alongside man can be especially interesting. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake is a reservoir created by the foundation of the Grand Coulee Dam. In 1941, the Columbia River needed a bit of wrangling, resulting in Roosevelt Lake’s creation. Sounds like an interesting place to investigate, right?

Let’s do some of the research work for you. Check out this brief question and answer compilation to better understand what Roosevelt Lake offers. 

Where Is Lake Roosevelt, Washington?

You’ll find Lake Roosevelt National Park and Recreation Area in the northeastern part of Washington, along the Columbia River. Spokane, Wash., lies 2 hours and 40 minutes southeast of the lake. You’ll find many small communities surrounding the lake, including Hunters and Fruitland. 

The reservoir extends into five counties. It also takes the title of the biggest lake and reservoir in the state, covering 125 square miles with 600 miles of shoreline.

Is Lake Roosevelt Federal Waters?

Lake Roosevelt is a reservoir of the nearby dam the federal government owns. However, three federal agencies and two Native American tribes manage the lake and the surrounding land. 

The parts of the lake recreation area fall within the boundaries of the nearby Reservations, which those prospective tribes manage. Other managers include The Bureau of Reclamation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

Pro Tip: Lake Roosevelt National Park is an excellent adventure. So are these Least Visited National Parks That Are Actually Worth a Visit.

Three girls swimming and paddle boarding at Lake Roosevelt
Enjoy swimming, kayaking, or fishing, while in Washington state.

What Is Lake Roosevelt Known For?

A few things make Lake Roosevelt notable, such as the area’s rich cultural and geographical history. People have used the waters of the Columbia River for more than 9,000 years. The last frontier post even stood on these shores. The people of the Spokane Tribe, fur trappers, traders, Jesuit Missions, and thousands of soldiers and settlers have sustained life through the resources provided by the Columbia River. 

The lake and the area surrounding the reservoir also have a lot of different influences working together to protect the place. The park lies in five counties, and several legal entities control it. It’s a delicate balance to maintain. 

Additionally, many anglers spend their time at the lake. Fishing in Lake Roosevelt could yield an array of different species. 

What Is the Water Temperature at Roosevelt Lake?

Most of the year, the water here is somewhat chilly. During July and August, you may find the water around 70 degrees. 

If you want to jump in the water any other month of the year, you need to prepare yourself. The water temperatures range from 30 to 60 degrees. Be cautious with temperatures this cold. 

Aerial view of Lake Roosevelt
Dive into Lake Roosevelt for a refreshing swim.

Can You Swim Roosevelt Lake?

You can swim in Roosevelt Lake in a few places, like from some campgrounds around the area and some designated spots. If you have a boat, you can take it out and swim while exploring. Just ensure you understand that the water runs a little cold, no matter the time of year. 

You can visit 10 of the day-use areas that have water access. Some have flush toilets, picnic shelters, and BBQ grills. Others have limited amenities. Additionally, the National Park Service recommends using life jackets while swimming. 

Is Lake Roosevelt Good for Fishing?

This lake is a great place to fish. The lake has rainbow trout, white sturgeon, walleye, and smallmouth bass, just to name a few. Fishing season is year-round in the area. 

Some hatcheries specifically support the lake’s rainbow trout and white sturgeon population. However, white sturgeon are more regulated, and that particular fishery is not always open season.

Pro Tip: We uncovered What is A Fishing License (and When Do You Need One) to make the process easier for you.

What Kind of Fish Are in Lake Roosevelt? 

You can find rainbow trout, white sturgeon, smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, sockeye salmon, and kokanee fish in Lake Roosevelt. Other fish include shad, steelhead trout, and smelt fish. It’s a fishermen’s playground. 

And don’t turn a blind eye to the other wildlife in the park. You may see deer, moose, big-horn sheep, turkeys, wild horses, black bears, and hundreds of birds. 

Grandpa and grandson fishing on Lake Roosevelt
Catch your dinner while fishing in Washington.

Do I Need a Pass for Lake Roosevelt? 

The park has no charge, and you don’t need passes to explore on foot. However, you’ll need a fishing license to fish legally in the waters, and the Tonto region of the park requires various passes for camping, boating, and fishing.

You’ll see the park rules and regulations posted on signs around the land and water. As long as you do your research and are respectful, you shouldn’t have any trouble with local authorities.  

Is Lake Roosevelt, Washington, Worth Visiting?

If you and the family want a close encounter with nature, you don’t want to miss out on visiting Lake Roosevelt in Washington state. Take the time to hike the trails. Take the boat out for a peaceful day of fishing. Or enjoy the beauty of the basalt cliffs lining the waterways. You can also explore a beautiful waterfall. Just make sure you go in July or August if you hope to swim. 

Would you go for a swim in Lake Roosevelt? Tell us in the comments!

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