If you’re looking for outdoor fun and adventure, you’ve found the center of all Washington state has to offer. With thousands of acres of water and land found only minutes from our town, you have more room than you’ll ever need to hunt, fish, bike and hike year round.
Uniquely positioned in the Columbia Basin, only Ephrata offers adventure seekers a central location from which to explore Central Washington’s unparalleled geological terrain and natural resources. So if you’re chasing after the biggest trout of your life, a strap full of ducks, a perfect technical mountain bike ride or a challenging climb among basalt monuments, you can find it all near our friendly town.
Rocky Ford Creek
Distance: 6 miles; 9 minutes
One of the best flyfishing streams in all of the Northwest, Rocky Ford is open year round and is just minutes from downtown Ephrata. You can expect rainbow trout to reach more than 24 inches in length and 7 pounds! The upper mile offers the best opportunities.
Distance: 12 miles, 16 minutes to Upper; 42 miles, 45 minutes to Lower
A small, often overlooked, stream that meanders for 163 intermittent miles through the private and public lands of Grant County, Crab Creek’s upper portion is less than 20 minutes from downtown. Anglers can find rainbow and brown trout in the diminutive waterway. Lower Crab Creek empties into the Columbia River near Beverly and helps form Nunnally, Merry and Lenice lakes. The special regulation lakes are stocked with triploid trout that grow to 8 pounds.
Oasis Park Pond
Distance: 0 miles; 0 minutes
Located on the south end of Ephrata, Oasis Pond is open only to juveniles (under 15 years of age) from the third Saturday in April through Labor Day. A Par 3 golf course, campground and RV park are adjacent to the pond. Trout are stocked for opening day when a tournament takes place. There’s a five-fish limit of all combined species.
Distance: 20 minutes; 19 miles
Less than 20 minutes from Ephrata is one of the state’s largest natural freshwater lakes. Moses Lake is more than 20 miles long, has more than 247,000 surface acres and 120 miles of shoreline. Anglers can pursue rainbow trout, large and smallmouth bass, perch, crappie, catfish, bluegill and more. It’s perhaps the best walleye fishery in the state and, according to biologists, likely has the next state record swimming in its waters.
Distance: 15 minutes; 11 miles
If a trophy trout is what you want, forget about the isolated waters of Montana. Lake Lenore, just 15 minutes from downtown, has trophy Lahontan cutthroat trout to 10 pounds swimming in its alkaline waters! Trout 2 to 4 pounds are the average for flyfishermen here during the peak seasons of spring and fall.
Distance: 40 minutes; 34 miles
One of the most popular fishing and hunting destinations in the area, Potholes Reservoir has largemouth bass, perch, walleye, smallmouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish and rainbow trout swimming it its 28,200-acre watershed. Hit the north end of the reservoir for largemouth bass and the rip-rap of O’Sullivan Dam on the southern end smallies. If waterfowl hunting is your game, then the Potholes has to be on your destination list—it’s one of the best duck and goose areas on the entire West Coast.
Distance: 24 minutes; 19 miles
Part of the Sun Lakes chain, Blue Lake is annually stocked with up to 200,000 rainbow trout annually. The genetically mutated triploid trout are also stocked here, giving anglers a shot at filling their box with meat, as well as landing a trophy fish. The lake has three resorts and a public access with toilets.
Distance: 30 minutes; 23 miles
In addition to a state park, Park Lake has a resort on its shores from which anglers can pursue rainbow, brown and triploid trout. Warm-water species like perch and bullheads exist here, too. The 346-acre lake is very popular among summer sun seekers and is located only 30 minutes from town.
Distance: 30 minutes; 27 miles
Nearly 30 miles long with more than 26,000 surface acres and 135 miles of shoreline, Banks Lake is deep and big with a varied topography that supports a multitude of gamefish species. It’s one of the most popular lakes in the area and supports fishing tournaments, recreational anglers and boaters, skiers and campers. Walleye fishing has always been excellent here, challenging Moses Lake for the best-in-state title. Smallmouth bass angling is a huge draw with bronzebacks to 4-plus pounds making themselves at home along the rocky shoreline.
Work the weedy bays in the north end for largemouth bass, and the jetties on the south end, near the north end west of Steamboat Rock and seasonally in the shallow bays of the northeast side of the lake for excellent perch fishing. Other warmwater species include crappie, bluegill and catfish. Rainbow trout and Kokanee are stocked in huge numbers every year and provide a deep, coldwater fishery. To add to its draw, Banks Lake has several public access areas, a state park, resorts and a city park from which to enjoy the action.
Dry Falls Lake
Distance: 40 minutes; 28 miles
At only 99 acres, Dry Falls Lake, located at the base of the famous Dry Falls, a prehistoric waterfall that was larger than Niagara Falls, can be fished from car-top boats, float tubes and similar small crafts. Selective gear rules have helped turn around the fishing here and anglers can pursue rainbow trout that top 20 inches, as well as brown and tiger trout.
Distance: 40 minutes; 28 miles
Long, slender and deep, this Sun Lakes State Park Lake supports a Kokanee fishery in its 115-foot depths, as well as stocked rainbow and triploid trout. A park, boat launch and toilets are available. Locals spend summers not only fishing these waters, but also use it for cliff jumping and diving.
Distance: Vantage: 30 miles, 35 minutes; Crescent Bar: 36 minutes, 26 miles; Priest Rapids: 45 minutes, 41 miles
With hundreds of miles of river shoreline less than an hour away, you can run the Columbia from several different points and ply the waters for walleye, salmon and steelhead. Some of the best smallmouth fishing in the state exists in the Vantage area, with fish pushing 6 pounds.
Billy Clapp Lake
Distance: 26 minutes; 17 miles
If you want to fish Billy Clapp, bring a boat. Steep, basalt shorelines limit your ability to fish from the bank. Walleye and rainbow trout swim in its waters, with fish going 1 to 2 pounds. Because Billy Clapp is filled by water emptied directly from Banks Lake, Kokanee trout are also available and are an overlooked fishery. With boat launches and a state park, the 1,000 acre lake is also a great spot to boat, ski and picnic.
Distance: 40 minutes; 33 miles
Located south of Potholes Reservoir, this string of lakes is fed by canals, ground water and creeks. Most of the lakes are stocked with rainbow trout every year. Among them, Heart, Corral and Blythe lakes provide the best trout opportunities. Windmill, Canal, Herman, Lyle, Teal and Lower Goose lakes offer sunfish and crappie in abundant numbers. Upper Goose Lake, with a surface area of 130 acres, supports largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, walleye, perch and bluegill.
There are a plethora of small waters here and if you like to hike and explore, the Seep lakes are the spot to do it. Most lakes are found ¾ to 1-¼ miles from parking areas. Soda (180 acres) and Long (75 acres) lakes are located on the Potholes Canal and provide good fishing walleye and bass. While not known for numbers of trout, Soda can push out trout ranging in the 5- to 8-pound range.
Crab Creek Wildlife Area
Distance: 50 minutes; 45 miles
Created by Lower Crab Creek, the lakes of Lenice (94 acres), Merry (40 acres) and Nunnally (120 acres) are quality fisheries with trophy trout. Special regulations and thousands of stocked triploid rainbows have made 28-inch, 8-pound trophies abundant and fish to 5 pounds common. Brown trout to 20 inches and Tiger trout are also stocked. In fact, Lenice Lake set the state record for Tiger trout with a near 5 pounder.
Access to Lenice is on foot (one-half mile walk), with toilets at the parking area. Foot access to Merry is from the Lenice parking area. Two access trails and parking areas for Nunnally are located at the west end and mid-lake.
Quincy Wildlife Area
Distance: 35 minutes; 26 miles
Known as the “Quincy Lakes” to locals, these managed and stocked waters are comprised of Ancient, Dusty, H, Stan Coffin, Flat, Quincy, Burke, Evergreen and Cree lakes. Stan Coffin (41 acres) is the only catch-and-release largemouth bass fishery in the state and has been stocked with thousands of adult bucketmouths. With plenty of forage species, namely pumpkinseed and perch, bass grow big and thick. Evergreen Reservoir (247 acres) holds bluegill, largemouth bass, perch, black crappie and some walleye and smallmouth bass, as well as stocked tiger muskie.
A boat launch is present at the west end. Quincy and Burke lakes are stocked with catchable-sized rainbows and provide good fishing opps early in the season. H Lake and Ancient Lake hold warm-water species, including some larger bass. Dusty Lake (83 acres), a selective-gear and quality-managed water, has rainbow trout topping 22 inches, as well as mature brown and tiger trout.
Distance: 20 minutes; 20 miles
A pretty cattail-ringed lake of 50 acres, Beda Lake pushes out big triploid rainbows and tiger trout. It’s open year round, but does fall under selective gear rules.
Distance: 22 minutes; 16 miles
Located north of Lake Lenore and south of Blue Lake in the Sun Lakes chain, Alkali Lake has a surface area of 293 acres with a mean depth of only 8.4 feet. Anglers can find largemouth bass, bluegill, perch and black crappie.
Known to serious duck hunters throughout the country, the Potholes is a magnet for migrating waterfowl. If you have a boat, you can hunt the islands throughout the north end. Foot hunters can jump shoot ducks for miles in just about any direction you choose to start walking. One of the most popular is where the Lind Coulee empties into the reservoir.
This small stream meanders on and off over state and private lands. Because of its size, it’s jump-shooters delight with miles and miles of opportunity.
Rocky Ford Creek
Like all the creeks draining throughout the Basin, Rocky Ford attracts ducks moving south and resting or watering between feeding in area fields. Walking its shoreline and jump-shooting can be productive for fat greenheads.
Another major waterway that holds ducks, Winchester Wasteway can be walked and stalked by foot hunters. Pheasants and quail hold tight to the surrounding brush and offer a true Basin mixed bag.
Frenchman Hills Wasteway
Head south on Dodson Road and park at this major waterway and you can walk for miles jump shooting ducks resting in the protected shallows. The area also offers good upland hunting for quail and pheasants, so if you have a dog, turn him loose between stalks. Pack along a half-dozen decoys and you can setup a mobile spread to help entice passing waterfowl into range.
Cycling in Ephrata
The annual Beezley Burn Mountain Bike Festival is an awesome two day event run by passionate mountain bikers, not big race promoters. It takes place the last weekend in April with short track racing on Saturday and the infamous Beezley Burn cross country mountain bike race on Sunday.
Every Monday and Wednesday Vicious Cycle meets at 5:30 p.m. at 139 E SW in Ephrata for group rides that typically last 1-2 hours at a moderate pace. Monday’s road rides are either north of town in the rolling wheat land or south of town on the flats. Wednesday’s mountain bike rides take place on Beezley Hill where there are a number of trails to choose from. All rides are “no drop,” meaning nobody is left behind.
Ephrata boasts some of the finest cycling in the area. For road riders we have endless miles of low traffic country roads set in beautiful rolling wheat land with the Cascade Mountains as a backdrop. For mountain bikers we have an ever expanding trail network featuring everything from challenging single track to gentle double track, all overlooking Ephrata on scenic Beezley Hill.
All photos courtesy Grant County Tourism and Randy Bracht, Grant County Journal