Looking for Washington State nature tourism info?
Connect with PaddleHeaven virtual guide

You can be a virtual guide online at:
Online guide services via:
email, text, voice, skype & more!

 Puget Sound Mt Erie to M Rainer.
Puget Sound Mt Erie to Mt Rainer. George Grubb
Paddle Heaven
"Some" Washington State, British Columbia, Californial flatwater recreational kayak put in sites
"Some" day touring route wet dreams information.

| Home | Search | Browse | Contact | Blog | Paddle Heaven Updates. | Maps | Read Me | Links |

BoycottBanks.com   JusticeDemocrats.com   #drainthebanks
Fight back!

Washington State public lands parking permit.

Starts July 1, 2011.
Supports our parks.

WDFW Public Water Access sites.

Kayaking Potholes Reservoir

Roar of birds and bugs at Potholes water side campsite May 2011.

  1. Put-in
    Launch fees, parking ...

  2. Summaries
    Location, conditions, warnings, paddle route, nature ...

  3. Provisions
    Food, fuel, firewood, WIFI, local information

  4. Accommodations
    Camping, cabins

  5. Additional info
    Rating, disclaimer


The location of this particular put-in and possible paddling adventure(s) is located in Central Washington State in Grant County south of the town of Moses Lake south of I-90 about 19 miles.

There are several opportunities for launching a kayak or canoe at Potholes State Park or at other locations on the reservoir.

See the map provided here on this paddling page for the exact location and to find the various put-in responsibilities along the shore of the Potholes Reservoir.

Potholes State Park provides day use parking and car top and other boat launching as well as camping with some sites where canoes and or kayaks can be slipped into the water.

Parking including launching requires the Washington State Discover Pass. See the ling to the pass and information about it on this page.

The launch conditions range widely over a years time. The water level goes up and down. Spring time the water is generally the highest with the nicest slipping in. During the summer the water is lower and there can be some rocks and other debris.

There is adequate parking in the area of the lake at the park or at your own campsite. This can be an extremely busy crowded location with people into fishing. Like many places mid week and off season paddling and camping is more open with fewer crowds.

Longer term parking available for $10 a night so you can paddle out to one of hundreds of possible islands to camp when the water is lower then in May.


September 16, 2011 update.
Potholes reservoir is too low for any good paddling. The sand dune islands are pretty much high and dry. Better paddling is available in the Seep Lakes and Columbia National Wildlife Area just south of the O'Sullivan Dam. Camping is great at this time of year because there aren't many people around and it is first come first served so you don't have to worry about competing with reservations. The camping is so cheap at $12 for the primitive camping they can reserve and not show up.

May 2011 update
The lake is high in May especially in 2011. This creates a couple situations. One there are more mosquitoes and two the paddling is not as good in the outer islands as it can be later in the summer when the water level is lower. When the water level is up there are fewer islands. When the water levels is lower, there are tons of sandy islands and winding channels to get lost in. The paddling is not good from the lack of islands to play on and around or camp on in spring time. One and half thumbs down on paddling in the main lake.

But, Spring time BINGO!
The state park shoreline in the primitive camping area and in the Frenchman and Winchester Wasteways EXPLODE with life. The birding is unbelievable. There is wide variety of birds to see and hear. Carp spawn in May and the giant fish leap and splash along the shoreline making more noise than the frogs and bugs. At sunset and sunrise listen the science fiction stereophonic larger then life roar of zillions of bugs over the tree tops at the state park. Yup, bring repellent. :) So if you are into more primitive $12.00 camping, fewer people, and a giant feast of creatures to see and hear, May might just be the time to visit and paddle a bit at the Potholes. Enjoy the jungle type roar if you camp near the shoreline. Awesome!

See the put-in section above and the map on this page.

Spring = TONS of birds and bugs. Super cool to see and hear. This is critter heaven.

Summer = heat and lower water for better island hoping.

WIND HEAT BUGS gas prices. :)

Kayaking canoeing in and around Potholes Reservoir can be a very hot thing to do. Hot as in the peak season temperatures in this region can be in the 90s or even over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This place can also be hot because of the flora, fauna and scenic values.

Potholes State Park, the base camp for paddling in the reservoir, wasteways, and Channeled Scablands Columbia Basin National Wildlife area. Potholes is located in Central Washington State south of the city of Moses Lake and I-90 about 20 miles or about 24 miles north of the town of Othello Washington State.

Potholes State Park offers water access to the reservoir as well as camping opportunities. There are amenities like showers, picnic areas.

Potholes State Park can be a nice oasis in the middle of the dry almost desert like conditions of the area. The park is extremely well maintained with acres of green grass and tall Lombardy trees for wind break and shade.

This location is famous for fishing. It is extremely popular for the fisherman crowd. There can be a lot of boat traffic on the lake. That is because there are tons of giant fish like carp that will swim and jump around the kayak while out and about paddling. Can be rather startling when what I consider large fish splash around in otherwise quiet conditions if boats are not roaring around.

The lake/reservoir has what I assume are a hundred islands in the northern end. Most are low lying sand dunes that rise up out of the water a few feet here and there. As the reservoir is lowered in the summer, more islands appear and the channels can get very shallow.

Some major points.

Getting lost.
One important aspect to note about the islands is being careful about not getting lost. Keeping track of your locations is a big deal when in a kayak or canoe. I read where GPS will help. I don't know of a good map for the islands. The little bit I explored I did not have any problems keeping track of the route in and around and back out of the islands.

This area can have some very strong winds. In fact there is a warning system at the park boat launch. It is advised to take to land and wait out very strong storms if and when you here the sirens. Electrical storms can roll in and out. So knowing the weather is a good thing.

The state park is a good choice. Camping out can be had on some of the many islands. People with power boats and others in canoes and kayaks find a isolated dune island and setup camp for the night.

There is large boat ramp facility with parking near by. Kayaks and canoes like to use things like sandy conditions. The boat ramp and other areas nearby all vary with the time of year and level of the water being more or less rocky. When the lake is filled the launch possibilities are more plentiful from the grassy area adjacent to the boat ramp. Overall the put ins here are OK.

Besides the islands there are at least three what are called water wasteways that fill the lake. Some of the water ways can be paddled up and down. Note that in at least two there is whitewater. The Frenchman wasteway which empties into the lake on the north side, has serious whitewater you can hear roaring in the background. There are trails in the park to hike out and check the spillway area out. Paddling from the lake up the Frenchman is OK until the current makes it tough to proceed.

Winchester Wasteway empties into the lake in the northwest corner in the island area. Good luck finding the entrance from the lake. There is a route to paddle down the Winchester , but there is a spillway near the end according to what I read online someplace.

Another wasteway enters the reservoir on the north end. This water comes from Moses Lake. From what I could tell from the little experience I had paddling it from where the stream exits Moses Lake, it is fairly calm.

All three wasteways are or appear to be gentle flowing slough like water ways. But, there are little or no convenient exits from the water due to conditions like vegetation. The wasteways are isolated. Once in paddling back up stream is necessary or make arrangements to exit at points before the spillways, white water.

Links to blog posts about kayaking at Potholes Reservoir in the Moses Lake area.

  • Kayaking First night Potholes State Park

  • Kayaking In and around Potholes Reservoir Day 2 Winchester Wasteway

  • Kayaking In and around Potholes Reservoir Day 2 Frenchman Wasteway

  • Kayaking North Outlet Moses Lake Day 2 part #3


    There are no provisions other then water in the park.

    For some quickee mart style grub there is a gas station located just outside the main park gate. The store has some camping supplies as well.

    Best bet is of course park your own and bring it along.

    Othello and Moses Lake are the main communities in the area with a wider variety of food and other supplies.


    Potholes State Park offers slum primitive camping for only $12.00 a night to camp close or next to the water and paddle. There are also the uptown sites on the grassy areas for $31.00 a night. If the gas prices from the Big Shitty don't break you it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the deal here especially if your intent is to paddle the waters from your own campsite. What a deal.

    There are some rooms and places to hookup RV's outside the park east past the gas station.

    Columbia National Wildlife Area offers one of the deals of the century at $5.00 a night to lay the body down and, get this a place to launch and paddle in true silence. The Soda Lake camping area is primitive with sheltered picnic tables and million doallar views of the lake and spillway that comes in from the reservoir close by. This location can be found at the east end of the O'sullivan Dam and 1 mile on gravel road. Check the My Google Maps on this paddle page to see where Soda Lake and the camping are located.

    Other then the above the BLM, Bureau of Land Management allows people to camp on their land next door to the CNWR, Columbia National Wildlife Area. There are lakes and there also weirdos making noise out there sometimes. Check out the link regarding gangs in the sticks in Washington State.

    If you want to sleep in a stick built place and the ones near the park are not available Google Othello and Moses Lake for a place to lay the brain down for the night.

    For some budget camping, cabins, yurts, RV and hostels, check out Paddle Heaven's Coulee Corridor map and Coulee Corridor page of links as well as Paddle Heaven's Camping cabins and more.

    Additional Information

    Deliverance rating. The whacko meter is low at the extremely well managed Potholes State Park.

    Tranquility Ranking
    One way to up the tranquility rank besides taking Valium, until a National Day of Silence, no fossil fuel noise, try hearing protection. The fossil fuel roar on the lake can be a bit much at times. So if you don't know the drill already, bring some hearing protection just in case. This can be a very busy location for anglers. Off season can be more peaceful.

    NOTE: The aerial photos linked here are from the Washington State Department of Ecology Coastal Atlas.

    Check out the Coastal Atlas link above to see more of the rocky coastline and other features of this area.
    Potholes State Park aerial photograph. Can see the launch and camping areas.

    Links of interest.
    Bentler.us Flora and fauna east of the Cascades.
    Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS)
    Washington Trails Association
    WDFW nature sites, public water access.
    Fishing Reports, Stocking Reports & Fish Counts from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
    Things your need to know.
    Read Me disclaimer, warnings, paddle at your own risk.

  • Click for Moses_Lake, Washington Forecast

    See some of the weather conditions in Washington State by viewing Web Cams in diffefrent locaitons before you head out paddling.

    View East of Cascades Kayak Put Ins in a larger map

    Approximate distance from:
    Seattle 176 miles.
    Everett 197 miles.
    Bellingham 260 miles.
    Vancouver Canada 310 miles.
    Portland Oregon 287 miles.

    46.980933,-119.348903 GPS coordinates of innies and outties put in kayak launch site.

    GPS: 46.980933,-119.348903

    Click to view larger Paddle Heaven a world of flatwater kayak canoe put ins, launch sites and routes..

    Click to view larger Paddle Heaven a world of flatwater kayak canoe put ins, launch sites and routes..

    Region: Coulee Corridor

    Overall rating: 5 paddles.

    Launch: Day use or longer launch. Launching from some campsites can be possible.

    Launch rating: 5 paddles.

    Parking: Day use or longer parking available for extended paddling. Note Discover Pass required. Washington State public lands parking permit

    Miscellaneous Beginner and up.

    Route Distance: Variable

    Highlights: Fishing, paddling, islands, wildlife, birds, birding.

    Warnings: WIND, boat traffic. Can be quiet if powerboats are not roaring around and the birds are not screaming and bugs roaring. :)

    Fossil fuel noise levels: 5 on a scale of 0-10. 10 being the loudest.

    Facilities: Toilets, showers, picnic areas.

    Services: Gas and some food and camping items just outside the park.

    Budget accommodations: Tent,Cabin,Hostels,Kayak Camps,RV,Yurt.


    Views = 12087

    Last Update: 09.21.11 7:35am