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American Lake Washington is the largest natural lake in Pierce County, known for its amazing Mt. Rainier views, excellent fishing, and wide variety of water sports and activities.

American Lake playground in a park in Lakewood waAmerican Lake Park Playground
Jet ski rental on American Lake, American Lake activities

American Lake WA

American Lake in Lakewood Washington

Planning a day in the sun and water on American Lake? This page has all the details you need to do it right. Whether you're looking for a swimming area, a boat launch, the perfect picnic park, or info on American Lake WA fishing. 

American Lake Fishing: A Fisherman’s Paradise+

American Lake fishing is a popular draw for locals and visitors alike looking to spend an idyllic day on the water and return home with delicious fresh-caught fare to smoke and grill.  American Lake fishing access can be found at two convenient paved concrete boat ramps. On the north side of the lake, reach the water at American Lake Park. And on the south side, visit WDFW American Lake Boat Launch

The Joys of American Lake WA fishing

The popularity of American Lake WA fishing is no mystery with its beautiful scenery (Mt. Rainier towers of the lake on clear days). Anglers enjoy casting for a wide array of fish in American Lake such as cutthroat trout, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, rock bass, smallmouth bass, kokanee, and the most coveted, yellow perch.

American Lake Boat Launch and Boating Info+

American Lake hosts a variety of water activities, such as boating, water skiing, wake surfing, wakeboarding, tubing, sailing, and swimming. Bring your own vessels or utilize one of several high-quality rentals. Russell Landing and American Lake North Park are both great options for on-location rentals, while nearby boat rental centers like the Northwest Adventure Center, Bill's Boathouse, and Adventures Unlimited also offer an excellent selection of rental options. So, join in on the festive water fun by bringing your own or renting boating equipment at American Lake this summer.

If you’re seeking an American Lake boat launch, non-military personnel have two options. You can launch on the north end of the lake at American Lake Park. Keep in mind that the boat launch fee is $15, credit or debit cards only. If you plan on being a repeat visitor, you may want to invest in a seasonal pass. If you want access to an enclosed swim area, full bathrooms, picnic tables, and a playground, American Lake Park is the right option for you. It also tends to be easier to get in and out of.

Your other American Lake boat launch option is the WDFW American Lake Boat Launch. Be aware that this is a popular boat launch with a narrow access point. When boats and vehicles line up to launch, getting out of the parking lot can be difficult. Managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, you'll need a Discover Pass or Vehicle Access Pass to park your vehicle at this launch. On warm days, you'll see boats and jet skis anchored just off the pebbly beach adjoining the launch. There isn't much in the way of shade, so bring a shade enclosure if you want to set up a base camp on the beach.

American Lake Marinas

Russell Landing Marina is also a great starting point for your day at American Lake. The dock offers a wide variety of boat rentals, from kayaks to jet skis to ski boats. There are also reservable private pavilions so that you can enjoy a serene day lakeside. (JBLM members only). 

American Lake Parks+

The American Lake parks offer a range of activities and facilities to enjoy. There are two main public parks: American Lake Park and Harry Todd Park. The American Lake North Park is a 5-acre park located, you guessed it, on the north shore of American Lake. It offers a lakeside beach for swimming and fishing, sheltered picnic tables, a brand new nautical-themed playground, and a boat launch. Harry Todd Park’s 17 acres also feature an ideal beach for swimming, fishing, and picnic lunches, as well as two baseball fields, four basketball courts, tennis courts, and a skate park.

If you happen to be a member of the military community (DOD ID cardholders and their sponsored guests), be sure to visit one of American Lake’s two splash parks! Summer Cove is a pleasant waterfront park that includes a sandy beach leading to a shallow wading area, a huge playground structure, and a small splash park And if your family can’t get enough splashing about, you may want to head over to the Lewis Main Splash Park, which features a playground, grassy green lawns, and most excitingly, an elaborate splash play area. (note: these parks are only open to military personnel and their guests).

Shoreline Park offers a scenic waterfront park with seasonal paddling rentals and a swimming beach, in addition to luxurious pavilion rentals (check out this map for a better visual of the pavilions). Enjoy a chill day on American Lake from your picnic table, kayak, or paddleboard.  (JBLM members only).

American Lake Swimming+

As you may have already gleaned, American Lake is an excellent spot for swimming. American Lake North Park & Marina, Harry Todd Park, and Shoreline Park are your best options for a dip in the lake and a day spent by the water. But if you’re looking for more than a swim day, look no further! American Lake also offers top-of-the-class fishing, paddling, and motorized rentals so there’s no limit to the fun.

Can you fish at American Lake?+

Yes, American Lake is a prime destination for fishing in Pierce County. American Lake is open year-round to boaters, and is known for its plentiful rainbow trout, yellow perch, and kokanee populations, as well as brown bullhead catfish, rock bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and coastal cutthroat.

Can you swim at American Lake?+

Yes, the best spots for public swimming access to American Lake are American Lake North Park & Marina and Harry Todd Park. Both feature pleasant lakeside beaches for swimming, fishing, and picnicking. Bring the fam or some friends and dive in!

Is American Lake busy? +

American Lake is a popular destination for swimmers, boaters, and lakeside loungers. Weekends and afternoons are the busiest time, so if you’re looking for a quieter experience, weekdays or earlier in the day are your best bet. But as the largest natural lake in Pierce County with 1700 square miles, there is plenty of room for lake-goers to spread out and enjoy their visit.

Is American Lake on JBLM?+

American Lake shares a border with JBLM, or Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The JBLM side of the lake features some amenities like Summer's Cove and the Russell Landing Marina that are only accessible to military personnel and their families. However, the lake is accessible to civilians through American Lake Park, Harry Todd Park, and the WDFW boat ramp. 

Is American Lake open for boating?+

The American Lake Park Boat Launch is open year-round. Boat launch fees apply at a single launch rate of $15, card only, or you may purchase a seasonal pass at Lakewood City Hall. The WDFW American Lake Boat Launch located at Camp Murray is also open year-round with access to American Lake. It is free to use but parking at the WDFW lot requires a Discovery Pass. 

What is the Water Temperature of American Lake+

American Lake's water temperature ranges from a low of 35° F in December to a high of 76° in July and August. Those summer months are definitely the most popular time of year for swimming in the water, while some boating activities are enjoyed year-round.

Where to stay in Lakewood, WA

Lakewood has luxury accommodations as well as new and reasonably priced hotels.

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