1945 saw the construction of the 300-foot Alder Dam on the Nisqually River, then one of the tallest dams in the nation. Owned and maintained by Tacoma Power, nearly all of the hydroelectric power from the dam is sent to Tacoma. The dam construction created an enormous opal reservoir, Alder Lake, which has been a home for water-based recreation and summer crowds ever since. The park sits on the northern edge of this irregularly shaped body of water, stretching from the main entrance near the dam to the banks of the bay that extends east. Just south of Bogucki Island, the large island visible from the park's campground, the reservoir extends for an impressive distance south and east toward the town of Elbe.
Alder Lake Park is designed for families and groups enjoying some time at the lake. You'll find plenty of day use facilities such as boat ramps, beaches, picnic areas, and playgrounds. The park is also home to 173 campsites that are distributed among four different campgrounds, so consider this an overnight option if you are here to play at the lake or if you are on your way to Mount Rainier National Park. The lake is a very popular spot in the summer, so whether you are staying for the night or just visiting, be prepared for some company. Given the size of the lake, however, and the ubiquitous presence of Mount Rainier in the distance, finding your own little slice of summer shouldn't be too difficult.