What to Do

Curlew Lake Recreation & Activities

Fun Things to Do

Make the most of your Curlew Lake recreation time. Enjoy water sports, until your fingers and toes look like prunes, then hike the rail trail, hunt for fossils, go for a scenic drive, explore the frontier town of Republic, WA, go for a horseback ride.  

Water Sports

When the summer heat hits, families head to Curlew Lake to cool down and enjoy water skiing, tubing, boating, and personal water craft.   All the lake resorts and Curlew Lake State Park have sandy beach areas perfect for swimming, sunning, and picnicking. Kayak sales and rentals as well as sporting and recreation supplies are available in Republic, WA.

Young girl riding inner tube across water.
Summer brings children, water tubing, and squeals of excitement.
Water skier leaning in.
Water skiers run the length of Curlew Lake’s warm summer waters.
Two riders on personal watercraft riding down Curlew Lake,WA.
Curlew Lake has miles of jet-ski accessible water, with open areas, islands, and coves to explore.
The noses of two kayaks touching. One red and the other yellow.
Kayak the southern and northern ends of the lake to see turtles and waterfowl.

Hunt for Fossils

Tucked away in the town of Republic, WA, is Stonerose. Their interpretive center and fossil site are visited by scientists, written about in National Geographic, and the source of new scientific findings and papers.  The best part is that vacationers, rock hounds, and amateur fossil hunters can search this amazing site for their own one-of-kind fossils. Warning: be careful, finding fossils is addictive.  Learn more at the Stonerose Web site.

Photo of Stonerose Fossil Site
Girl breaking rocks open at fossil site.
Bring your own rock hounding tools or rent them from Stonerose.

The Ferry County Rail Trail

Want to go for a walk, jog, dog-walk, or bicycle ride? The rail bed, once part of the Great Northern Railroad, is now a beautiful trail that passes through pastoral farm lands and Ponderosa pine forests, and along the shores of Curlew Lake and the Kettle River.  The portions of the trail that run along side the 5.5-mile section of Curlew Lake (from Herron Creek Rd north past Black Beach Resort and Tiffany’s Resort, and across the rail trestle) and the 3.1-mile section that begins in the town of Curlew and runs along the Kettle River are covered with a fine-crushed stone surface that is smooth enough for walking, jogging, and bicycle riding. Ferry County Rail Trail Map.

Ferry County Rail Trail where it runs along the Kettle River. Photo: Kelley Shelton
Friends, family, and pets crossing the trestle on the Ferry County Rail Trail.
Friends, family, and pets are drawn to Ferry County Rail Trail.
Man viewing Curlew Lake from the rail trail trestle.
Rail trail crosses the renovated trestle, affording trail goers a view of Curlew Lake.
Christine Hall, with her corgi Darcy cross-country skiing along the rail trail.  Photo: Kelley Shelton
Christine Hall, with her corgi Darcy cross-country skiing along the rail trail. Photo: Kelley Shelton

Go for a Scenic Drive

Grab the camera and head north on Hwy 21 to the community of Curlew and beautiful views of the Kettle River.  Stop at Tugboats to pick up a meal and a drink and have a picnic at one of the small parks along the river.  Get a step-by-step driving tour at the FerryCounty.com Web site.

Stop for a shake, burger, and scrumptious fries at Tugboats in Curlew, WA.
View from Customs Road Bridge of a fisherman on Kettle River, WA.
Kettle River view from the Customs Road Bridge.
View of the grass-covered hills along Hwy 21 just outside of Curlew, WA.
View of the hills along Hwy 21 just outside of Curlew, WA.
Abandoned, white farm house at Karamin, WA.
Photogenic abandoned house at Karamin on Hwy 21.

Explore Frontier Town of Republic

Ready to spend time exploring the frontier town of Republic, Washington?  There you can fossil hunt in Stonerose’s famous fossil beds, enjoy a latte at Sparky’s, browse the Slagle House Museum, shop fun main-street stores and locally-made crafts, visit the Kauffman Cabin and the Historical Center, and finish up sipping a glass of micro brew  or a custom-brewed soft drink at the Republic Brewing Company.  

Woman walking down Clark Ave. in downtown Republic, WA.
Tour downtown Republic, WA, and enjoy a tasty meal at one of Republic’s restaurants.

Horseback Riding

Want to experience the great outdoors from high on the back of a friendly horse? Drive 4 miles south from Republic, WA on Hwy 21 to the K-Diamond-K Guest Ranch for a morning of horseback riding across their beautiful 1600-acre ranch. Then, enjoy a tasty family-style meal, followed by a visit to their petting zoo where you’ll have a chance to visit with their ever-changing population of baby calves, goats, horses, and rescued deer; rabbits, ostriches, and more.  Call ahead to check availability.

Small boy strokes the mane of a gentle palomino.  K-Diamond-K Guest Ranch. Photo: Kathy McKay
Small boy strokes the mane of a gentle palomino.
Line of horseback riders at K-Diamond-K Guest Ranch.
Girls feeding baby calf, goat, and deer.  K-Diamond-K Guest Ranch.
Guests feed baby calf, goat, and deer.
The ranch kitchen serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and will even make sack lunches for you to carry with you.
Kathy McKay pets young, rescued buck deer.  K-Diamond-K Guest Ranch.
Kathy McKay pets young, rescued buck deer. Photo: Anne Erickson

Summer Fireworks

The Fourth of July brings an amateur show of amateur fireworks (provided by lake residents)  along the lake, and launches the summer season. Best views of the lake resorts and Curlew Lake State Park can be had from roads above the lake, and from your own personal boat.

Fourth of July fireworks on Curlew Lake.
Fourth of July fireworks on Curlew Lake.
Family fishing together on Curlew Lake.
Family fishing together on Curlew Lake. Photo: Diane Sims
Youngster proudly displays his catch of a rainbow trout.
Youngster proudly displays his catch of a rainbow trout. Photo: Diane Sims

Family Fishing

As early as April, fishing is excellent for tiger muskies and very good for trout. May through June, fishing is very good to excellent for all fish species. Early July continues to be good for fishing trout and largemouth bass, but falls off for trout and yellow perch in mid to late July and August, when the summer heat hits. Tiger muskie prove the exception, doing poorly in July, but excellently in August through October. January thorough mid-March, winter ice fishing is good to excellent for trout and yellow perch (no limit). Access to the lake is usually available via Curlew Lake State Park (call ahead to the ranger station for park closure information).  See the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife’s Fishing Prospects Calendar for an easy to use fishing chart.

Enjoy Nature Up Close

Curlew lake provides a rich environment for migrating birds, including swans, golden eagles, night hawks, great horned owls, geese, waterfowl, and orioles. Spring through summer, bald eagles, osprey, and colonies of great blue heron nest on the lake’s tree-lined islands, and you can often see them hunting the lake’s fish. Early spring and fall, migratory birds, like swan and snow geese layover on the lake on their way to and from Canada.

Image of osprey holding fish.

More Things to Do

Learn more about fun yearly events, like the Ferry County Fair, Prospector Days, and the Republic Fly-in.