When you think of the Tri-Cities, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the mighty Columbia River, right? Well, what if I was to tell you that the body of water between Kennewick/Richland and Pasco is actually a lake…on the Columbia River?  It’s true, and the lake is called “Lake Wallula”.

It’s officially a man-made reservoir that extends from behind the McNary Dam and continues approximately 64 miles upstream through the Tri-Cities and ends at the Department of Energy’s Hanford site. The lake also extends up the Snake River to Ice Harbor Dam.

The reservoir (lake) was created in 1954 after the construction of the McNary Dam. It was named “Lake Wallula” by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in 1958, and with 242 miles of lakeshore, Lake Wallula is one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest, if not the nation.

An interesting side note: the area near Highway 12 and Highway 730 is known as the Wallula Gap, which was formed by the ancient event known as the Great Missoula Floods, a catastrophic flood caused by a melting glacier around 14,000 years ago. We can thank this flood for the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge.

Lake Wallula is home to many species of fish and other wildlife and is one of the most visited recreational areas in the Pacific Northwest.  So, does this mean the world-famous Unlimited Hydroplane race known as the Columbia Cup should really be called the Wallula Cup? Nah, the Columbia River still flows through the reservoir (lake) – which is controlled by the dams.

Scroll down and check out some of the amazing hikes you can take along Lake Wallula.

Here's 3 Cool Hikes Near Tri-Cities

Badger and Candy Mountain are the two most popular local hikes, and for good reason, they're close, offer stunning views, easy parking, and they're fairly easy. But, if you're looking to freshen up your hiking experience without having to drive long distances, check out these three ideas, all within 30 minutes of Tri-Cities.

This Hike in the Columbia River Gorge is a Must Experience

The Labyrinth to Coyote Wall Loop. It runs 6.7 miles with an elevation gain of 1,489 feet. It features a waterfall, lava tube, rock formations, and incredible views. It’s heavily trafficked with hikers and mountain bikers on weekends and dogs are welcome on a leash. Beware, you’ll need good hiking shoes as a good portion of the trail is very rocky. It’s open all year round, but the experts recommend day use from March to November.  

Palouse Falls, A View from the Edge

Palouse Falls State Park, Washington State