Just an hour outside of Tacoma, Alder Lake-Tacoma Power Park is a beautiful waterside retreat for RV camping, fishing, and boating. Also known as Alder Lake Park, the waters here offer excellent kokanee fishing, especially in spring. You’ll find a wide range of other fish species inhabiting the waters, from large and smallmouth bass to brown bullhead catfish.
Once you’ve had enough fishing for the day, you can head to the Sunny Point Beach Area, a designated swimming beach with 20 nearby picnic sites with grills. This area just south of Seattle offers excellent bird watching, as you can spot many of the coastal species as they migrate north or south. The alder forests surrounding the lake also give you plenty of scenic hiking.
There are over 170 RV sites to choose from within the park, all of which have full hookups for campervans, trailers, and RVs. If you want a bit more privacy throughout your stay, you can drive four miles south to Rocky Point Campground, a smaller area with 25 RV sites. This off-site RV campground has a boat launch as well, so you can easily get out onto Alder Lake.
Alder Lake Park is located just outside of Tacoma, and is also a quick drive from Seattle and Portland. The park has three main campgrounds that are all easy to reach, as well as a secluded campground located four miles outside of the park.
If you are driving from Tacoma, take I-5 south and WA-7 and you’ll reach the park in around an hour. From Portland, take I-5 north and you can get to the park in just over two hours. Coming from Seattle, take I-5 south to WA-7, and you’ll arrive in around an hour and a half.
Once at the park, you can access the three main campgrounds directly from the entrance. If you are staying at Rocky Point Campground, continue south on Highway 7 past the park’s entrance for four miles. There are few obstacles that RV campers need to worry about when driving in the park, aside from occasional ice during the winter.
There are three main campground located within the park, all within a quick walk of each other. However, only two of them have RV sites. There are over 170 RV sites in total. All of the RV sites in the campground have water, electrical, and sewer hookups. The campgrounds are pet-friendly, but all dogs will have to be kept on a leash.
The park is open year round, except for a short window between December 20th and January 1st. The sites at all of the campgrounds operated by the park can be booked in advance. They tend to fill up at least a month in advance, especially during June and July. There are limited spots for larger rigs, so try to book as early as possible if you need a site with a long driveway.
Elk Plain Campground is located on the western side of the park. There are 25 sites, as well as three drinking water taps, a playground, and vault toilets. Many of the campsites are on or near the water, giving you views of the lake.
This is the largest campground in the park, with over 50 RV sites. There are modern restrooms with showers in the western portion of the campground, and flush toilets on the eastern side. The main campground is just a short walk from the lake and day use area.
There is also a smaller campground located four miles down the road that offers a more secluded camping experience. This campground has 25 sites to choose from, all of which feature electrical and water hookups. There is a boat launch located near the campground. The area near the campground is excellent for rainbow trout in the spring.
The craggy shoreline of Alder Lake makes for scenic waterside strolls. With snowy mountains in the distance and rolling hills of evergreen forests, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural sites in the Pacific Northwest.
You can also head up to the Alder Dam viewpoint, where you’ll have a scenic panorama of the lake and the dam. The park’s roads lead along the lake, if you want an easy paved hike. You can also explore on your own through the alder forest, although you’ll have to go through the forest on unmarked trails.
Alder Lake is also a great location for boating, with rolling green hills framing the pristine blue waters of the lake. Take a kayak out for a long, serene trip along the shore, or relax in a canoe with the whole family.
Alder Lake allows motorized boats in certain areas, so you can water or jet ski. There are two boat launches, one near the day use area and another by Rocky Point Campground. There is a 20 spot moorage dock that is available first-come, first-served.
If you want to take a dip in Lake Alder, you can head to the Sunny Point Beach Area, a nine-acre day use area located just a half mile from the park’s main entrance. There is a well maintained designated swimming area, as well as a sunning spot by the water. The day use area can be accessed for free by RV campers. There are 20 picnic areas near the swim beach, with easy access to grills.
Lake Alder offers plenty of opportunities for anglers. The lake is known for its kokanee, a type of freshwater sockeye salmon. You’ll also find a range of other species, including cutthroat, largemouth and smallmouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch, and brown bullhead catfish.
There are two boat launches located near the park’s day use areas. The lake is open to motorized boats, but there is also a no wake zone, as well as two non-motorized zones, should you want a quieter spot to fish.
The park is home to dozens of species throughout the year, making it a great location for RV campers interested in birdwatching. The Alder Dam viewpoint gives you the perfect perch to lookout over the lake and spot birds along the shore.
Check with park officials for more information on the bird species found in the area. You can also consult local audubon groups, many of which produce field guides and checklists of the most prominent bird species in Washington.
Wintertime visitors to the park will still find plenty of life in the area. Make sure you pack snowshoes if you come during the winter, as the alder forests are transformed into a white wonderland, packed with deer, elk, and black bears. You can also see the snow capped Mount Rainier in the distance. The park does not rent snowshoes or winter gear, so pack whatever you need with your campervan.