Motors Allowed?
Easy / Class A
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Kayaking in Alder Lake provides views of Mount Rainier, tree-shrouded foothills, and amazingly turquoise water. The lake's many different areas keep the scenery fresh and exciting.

Touching three counties and boasting 28 miles of shoreline, Alder Lake was formed in 1944 by the creation of the Alder Dam on the Nisqually River. The Alder Dam, located on the northwestern side of the lake, provides about 50,000 kilowatts of energy, most of which is sent to Tacoma.

Just to the east of the dam sits Alder Lake Park and campground. The western shore of the park features a beach and swimming area. The boat launch is located just to the southeast. The southernmost finger of the lake leads to the mouth of the Little Nisqually River.

Situated on the lake's eastern shore with a modest population of 29, Elbe may not qualify as a town, but it remains a welcome place to stop for lunch as you explore a colorful little diner made from old rail-cars.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Parking fee weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day


Great views of Mount Rainier. Lots of fingers to explore. Pretty water.


Somewhat remote. Moderate boat traffic. Tree hazards just below the surface.

Site characteristics: Water


Portage required



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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