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9 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Yakima, WA

Yakima is a pretty good getaway to lakes. It offers urban fishing ponds, Columbia River reservoirs, and spectacular mountain lakes near White Pass. Swimming, fishing, kayaking, and boating are all possible here.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Yakima Washington

Yakima has an excellent selection of lakes. There are urban fishing ponds, Columbia River reservoirs, and stunning White Pass lakes, all within an hour’s drive.

All of the options offer something unique and special. For example, Dog Lake is a fantastic fishery, Clear Lake is simply stunning, and Lake Wanalum provides the widest range of activities.

There is something for everyone here. You can rent an RV and see them all or select just a few. Check out what Yakima has to offer!

Best Lakes near Yakima Washington Comparison Table

1. Myron Lake

  • Official Page: Myron Lake
  • Distance from Yakima: 3 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking

Myron Lake is a small 14-acre reservoir near Route 12. It won’t win prizes for the best lake in the city, but it has charm and is close to home.

The two main activities on the lake are fishing and paddling. And although swimming isn’t prohibited here, you very rarely see people do it; there are better options on the list for that.

Kayaking and canoeing may be boring for experienced paddlers, but for beginners, it’s an excellent spot to put in and get some time on the water. There are no boat ramps, and gas motors aren’t allowed on this lake, so paddlers won’t be disturbed here.

Another reason to visit Myron Lake is fishing. WDFW stocks it with rainbow trout, and you can also catch local residents like largemouth bass, crappie, and perch. However, there are restrictions on gear you can use here – no live bait, no scented lures, and barbless hooks only.

The great thing about Myron Lake is that it’s connected to Yakima Greenway – an urban paved route that follows the river and offers walking, skating, and cycling. It’s one of Washington’s best rail-trails.

Related: 15 Fun Recreational Lakes near Seattle, WA

2. Rotary Lake

  • Official Page: Rotary Lake
  • Distance from Yakima: 3 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Biking

Rotary Lake is a 20-acre pond on the city’s edge, just 10 minutes from downtown. It’s a well-known fishing spot, and unlike Myron Lake, it has no gear restrictions.

What makes this lake unique is the lack of car access. To get to it, you have to walk or bike Yakima Greenway for 1/3 of a mile from the nearest parking lot

This means there is no boat ramp either, so boating isn’t possible here. However, if you are willing to carry a kayak or a paddleboard, nothing stops you from enjoying the lake.

Swimming isn’t prohibited at Rotary Lake, but very few people do it. There is no designated beach, and the water quality isn’t monitored for swimming.

Instead, Rotary Lake is an excellent fishery with stocked rainbow trout, as well as largemouth bass, channel catfish, perch, and crappie. It has fishing platforms, so there is plenty of space unless it’s a summer weekend. You won’t catch lunkers here, but the action is generally good.

Also, Yakima Greenway offers walking, skating, and biking, making activities here just a little more versatile.

Related: 13 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Olympia, WA

3. Priest Rapids Lake

Priest Rapids Lake on Columbia River near Yakima Washington
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Priest Rapids Lake
  • Distance from Yakima: 57 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Windsurfing, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Camping

Priest Rapids Lake is a 7,725-acre impoundment of Columbia River, between Priest Rapids Dam and Wanapum Dam. It’s a large reservoir with excellent facilities and no limits on water recreation.

The lake is managed by GrantPUD, which operates several recreational areas along the reservoir. The biggest and most versatile is Priest Rapids Recreational Area which offers a fantastic boat ramp, campgrounds, and a designated swimming area. It’s an excellent option for RV trips, you can rent one at RVShare and have a fantastic family break.

Like most lakes on the Columbia River, Priest Rapids doesn’t have many restrictions. You will see folks wakeboard, pull tubes, and zoom up and down on jet skis. Also, the Columbia River is notorious for its winds, making sailing, kitesurfing, and windsurfing popular here.

Another spot you don’t want to miss is the highly-rated Wanapum Heritage Center near Priest Rapids Dam. It’s free to visit and provides a glimpse into the culture and history of Wanapum Native Americans.

When it comes to fishing, Priest Rapids Lake is excellent and unique. It’s an outstanding chinook and sockeye salmon place. And it also offers warm-water fish like largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, and northern pikeminnow, not to mention a typical panfish selection.

What’s more, it’s a well-known white sturgeon fishery. Since the early 2000s, these fish were planted, and because sturgeon never stops growing, some reached incredible sizes – 11 feet and more.

Related: 9 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Leavenworth, WA

4. Lake Wanapum

Wanapum Lake on Columbia River near Yakima Washington
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Lake Wanapum
  • Distance from Yakima: 59 miles (1 h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Windsurfing, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Camping

Lake Wanapum is the bigger cousin of Priest Rapids Lake. It’s a Columbia River impoundment that stretches from Wanapum Dam to Rock Island Dam, covering 14,975 acres.

Like its smaller relative downstream, Lake Wanapum is managed by GrantPUD, which offers dozens of parks and recreational areas. There is no shortage of beaches, boat ramps, and campgrounds.

Yet, one place that stands out is Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park near Vantage. It’s not just an ideal lake destination but also a highly-regarded natural area with Wanapum Petroglyphs and fossils. Several trails in the park offer incredible views of the river canyon and are teeming with wildlife.

Another cool location is the Sand Bar. If you’re into boating, sand beaches, and partying, you’d love it here. It’s a boat-in-only spot that’s buzzing on summer weekends.

What’s more, Wanapum Lake offers a fully-fledged resort with swimming pools, restaurants, and golf courses – it’s not as wild as it seems. The Crescent Bar provides all that, plus RV parks, beaches, and condos.

Related: 15 Fun Recreational Lakes near Seattle, WA

5. Rimrock Lake

Rimrock Lake in Washington
Source: dreamstime
  • Official Page: Rimrock Lake
  • Distance from Yakima: 41 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Camping

Rimrock Lake is a 2,546-acre reservoir on the Tieton River, not far from White Pass. It’s a superb recreational lake with incredible views and plenty of activities.

The reservoir is easily accessible from Route 12, and because it sits with a national forest, it’s an excellent spot for camping. Several resorts on its shores provide developed campgrounds with RV and tent sites. Plus, there are dozens of free dispersed camping spots around.

Regarding water activities, Rimrock Lake is as diverse as it gets. From swimming and kayaking to jet skiing and wakeboarding, it’s got it all. Several public and private boat ramps are available, too.

However, the lake’s biggest drawback is fluctuating water levels. Towards the end of summer, it can be so low that you won’t be able to ski, let alone launch.

Still, Rimrock Lake is a good fishery known for kokanee, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and sockeye. And although it doesn’t get stocked by WDFW, skilled anglers get good results here.

Related: 15 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Spokane, WA

6. Clear Lake

Clear Lake on Tieton River near Yakima Washington
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Clear Lake
  • Distance from Yakima: 47 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping

Clear Lake is a 232-acre reservoir neighboring Rimrock Lake and just a few miles short of White Pass. It’s another idyllic mountain lake with gorgeous scenery and excellent fishing.

Unlike its bigger cousin, Clear Lake isn’t as hectic. It doesn’t have resorts, and boaters tend to stick to a much larger Rimrock, although there is a public boat ramp here, too.

Swimming is excellent at this reservoir, and it’s a fantastic spot for kayakers and paddleboarders who tend to explore the shoreline and visit Strawberry Island in the center of the lake.

There are many campgrounds scattered around Clear Lake. Some are designated national forest camps, but most are dispersed camping spots that are free to use. 

Another difference from Rimrock Reservoir is that Clear Lake is stocked with rainbow trout. Anglers love this lake, and it frequently gets high marks. However, the pressure is immense, and less-experienced anglers may struggle to find action.

Related: 9 Fantastic Recreational Lakes near Leavenworth, WA

7. Dog Lake

Ice Fishing
Source: pexels
  • Official Page: Dog Lake
  • Distance from Yakima: 51 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping

Although just 60 acres in size, Dog Lake has a lot going for it. Set against magnificent Spiral Butte, it packs a lot of recreation for its size.

Access to this lake is straightforward. It sits right on Route 12, and even in winter, you can safely reach it by car. 

In addition to incredible views, Dog Lakes offers swimming, kayaking, and fishing. Its modest size is unintimidating for beginners, and you don’t have to worry about fast boats, either.

Moreover, fishing here is excellent. WDFW plants thousands of rainbow trout yearly, but brook trout is still the most common catch. Plus, since the lake is easily-accessible even in winter, it makes it a wonderful ice-fishing spot.

Moreover, right across the road, you will find one of the most popular stops on Route 12 – the magnificent Clear Creek Falls. It’s a must-visit natural attraction that doesn’t take much time. If you want to see it at full flow, try visiting in late spring or early summer. 

Also, Dog Lake offers a small cozy campground run by the national forest service. It can be an excellent base for exploring and hiking the area’s various trails.

Related: 15 Fun Recreational Lakes near Seattle, WA

8. Leech Lake

Leech Lake in Washington State
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Official Page: Leech Lake
  • Distance from Yakima: 53 miles (1h 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping

Leech Lake is a small 42-acre lake on Route 12, opposite the White Pass ski area. It’s a charming spot and one of the quietest lakes on the list.

Gas motors are prohibited from this lake, making it an ideal location for kayaking and paddleboarding. Also, it’s a fly-fishing lake with certain restrictions. For example, live bait and barbed hooks are not allowed here.

WDFW plants rainbow trout once a year, and because of the little pressure, there is definitely fish to catch. So, if you’d like to practice your fly-fishing skills, it’s a nice spot.

In addition to fishing and paddling, you can swim or take one of the several trails and explore the area. Leech Lake is where a local section of PCT starts, so you can get a taste of this notorious route.

Perhaps Leech Lake isn’t worth the 1-hour drive from Yakima, but it’s an excellent option when taking Route 12 and a worthy stop for White Pass visitors.

Related: 13 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Olympia, WA

9. I-82 Ponds

Fishing Pond at Sunset
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: I-82 Ponds
  • Distance from Yakima: 12 miles (15min)
  • Activities: Fishing

No list of lakes would be complete without the renowned Freeway Ponds. Located along I-82, these seven reservoirs offer excellent fishing year-round.

Five of the seven ponds are stocked with rainbow trout (1, 2, 3, 4, and 6). Numbers 4, 5, and 6 are the most accessible access, as they have parking lots, but the rest require short walks.

Number 3 has the most fishing reports, yet it’s not the easiest to get to. The parking lot is on the opposite side of the freeway; here’s the spot.

Opinions vary as to which pond is the best, but seasoned anglers rarely return home empty-handed. Still, if you’re not into fishing, there isn’t much for you here.

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