Lake Roosevelt, Imagine…

By Christina Ulrich

Imagine Eastern Washington 17 million years ago…


Where, at one time, stood mountainous regions formed by volcanic activity and tectonic shifts, “suddenly” became an enormous layered landscape of more and more lava. According to some scientists, an Oregon meteorite impact forced a massive flood of basalt lava to expand across areas of Oregon and Washington. Four million years, and more than 40,000 cubic miles of lava later, the Columbia Plateau was becoming one of the world’s largest basalt plateaus.


Now, imagine this area about one million years ago…


As the last Ice Age cooled regional surfaces, massive ice sheets from Canada engulfed Northeastern Washington, North Idaho, and Northwestern Montana. Half-mile high ice dams formed, blocking rivers, such as North Idaho’s Clark Fork River. The formation of these ice walls created massive lakes, like historic Lake Missoula, sometimes 2000 feet deep.


As repeated climate changes and thawing occurred, around 15,000 years ago, these dams gave way, forcing deluges of ice and rock to sculpt deep plateau-topped canyons from the Columbia River toward the Pacific Ocean. “The water carried gravel and debris, icebergs and boulders, scouring bedrock into bizarre landscape we call channeled scablands, and gouging steep-walled gorges called coulees,” (National Park Service U.S. Department of Interior). This freeze and thaw process occurred about seventy-five times over a period of approximately 2,500 years…


Finally, imagine exploring these valleys and views for yourself…



With the closing of Grand Coulee Dam’s gates in 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (or Lake Roosevelt for short) was created.


Imagine boating 150 miles of waters enveloped by almost 650 miles of shoreline. The layered walls bordering Lake Roosevelt tell the story of the fascinating geological and climate processes that created the lake and surrounding areas. Lake Roosevelt Recreation Areas offer boating, hiking, camping, golfing and many other exciting outdoor activities. Hundreds of beaches, coves, and inlets wait to be discovered by nautical travelers. 23 boat ramps and 4 full service marinas provide visitors with supplies, souvenirs, and sustenance.




Hikers and beachcombers will find adventure and breathtaking views as they wander the trails and shores, oftentimes discovering artifacts from the area’s long history and heritage. However, the National Park Service reminds visitors: artifacts within National Recreation Area boundaries are protected under the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. “It is illegal to disturb, dig, remove or possess archeological objects,” (National Park Service U.S. Department of Interior, 2013). Any found artifacts must be left undisturbed and reported to a park employee. Learn more at


Boaters and anglers can visit one of the four marinas accessed along Roosevelt, such as the Seven Bays Marina just south of where the Columbia and Spokane Rivers converge. “The Seven Bays area is considered by many to have the best shoreline fishing potential on the entire lake, possibly due to the fish being stocked here,” (Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, Fish-n-Map Co.). Local and visiting fishermen and women enjoy angling for walleye, smallmouth bass, rainbows, and salmon based on seasonal breeding and migration.


Visitors can stock up on food and supplies at the Seven Bays Marina Store. The helpful members of the staff are available May through September. Contact them at (509)-725-7229 during the summer season, and (509) 721-1240 during the off-season.


The Seven Bays Restaurant opened in June and boasts a world-class, piled-high Reuben sandwich, and other daily specials, in a casual dining atmosphere. The restaurant hours of operation are Friday and Saturday: 11am – 9pm, and Sunday: 11am – 8pm. Contact restaurant manager, Ken Harlan or any of the friendly staff at (509)-725-7229.


Also, the marinas offer houseboat rentals as a means of exploring the waters of Roosevelt. Imagine gathering up to 14 family members and friends to rent one of the luxurious houseboats offered by Lake Roosevelt Adventures. Find them at (800)-816-2431 or log on to They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter @GoLakeRoosevelt.


Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area employees oversee safe recreational opportunities while preserving area resources. Visitors are strongly encouraged to be mindful of water hazards and always follow safe swimming and boating guidelines. Boaters are urged to research lake levels at all boat launches, prior to planning a trip, as Lake Roosevelt fluctuates seasonally, and sometimes daily. Find updated water level information at (800)-824-4916.


The lake is maintained and preserved by not only the National Park Service, but the Bureau of Reclamation, the Spokane Tribe of Nations, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, as well. These five agencies ask visitors to follow all rules and regulations of recreational areas. Camping and fishing may require additional permits on tribal lands.


Imagine seeing for yourself the awe-inspiring expanses of beautiful Eastern Washington. Imagine the things you will learn and the memories you will create. Lake Roosevelt and surrounding areas provide explorers with virtually limitless territories to relax and roam, turning imagination into reality.


Learn more about beautiful Lake Roosevelt at