Whatcom pools, lakes, parks ready to make a splash

Splash into summer at Birch Bay Waterslides

All ages cool off at Birch Bay Waterslides in 2013. For the 2016 season, the park will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends only May 28 to June 19; opening seven days a week June 25 to Sept. 5.
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All ages cool off at Birch Bay Waterslides in 2013. For the 2016 season, the park will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends only May 28 to June 19; opening seven days a week June 25 to Sept. 5.

It is no secret that one of Whatcom County’s most valuable resources is an abundance of places for families to hop in the water and splash around.

Though air temperatures across Western Washington don’t always get truly warm until after Independence Day, summer is a great time to enjoy local beaches, lakes and pools.

Summer also offers more opportunities for water activities as families take vacations and get outdoors. Here are some of Whatcom’s best places to enjoy the water.



4874 Birch Bay-Lynden Road, Blaine; 360-371-7500, birchbaywaterslides.net.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; May 28 to June 19 weekends only; June 25 to Sept. 5 open seven days per week.

The park, which opened in 1986, has seen a series of improvements and upgrades as different owners have taken over through the years, including resurfacing and recoating of the main slides in 2010. The current owners purchased the park in 2011.

Concession stand has full menu available. Families are allowed to bring homemade meals into the park. Coolers, glass bottles and alcohol are not allowed, and guests are asked to pack out what they pack in.

Cost: Single-day pass for ages 3 to 5 and seniors (60-plus): $12.95; Single-day pass for ages 6 and older: $19.95; Single-day pass for senior viewer (60): $5; Family season pass, good for four people, any day for the entire summer season: $399; Season pass for ages 3 to 5: $99; Season pass for those 6 and older: $149. Group, military and late-day (after 3 p.m.) rates available.


3729 Meridian St., Bellingham, 360-733-3450

Hours: Swim lessons run from 7:45 to 11:45 a.m. and 4:45 to 8:15 p.m.

Swim lesson sessions run for two-week periods starting May 30 through Aug. 19. The first two sessions, from May 30 to June 10 and June 13-24, will run in the evenings from 4:45 to 8:15 p.m. Morning sessions start June 27.

One session includes 10 30-minute lessons that run Monday through Friday.

The club offers classes for all abilities and for ages 3 through teens.

Cost: $100 per session for non-members, $70 for members, ($10 fee to change sessions). Discounts available for multiple children. Limited refunds for cancellations.

To register or find more information, visit the club’s website at bellinghamgcc.com.


1114 Potter St.,Bellingham; 360-778-7665, cob.org/services/recreation/aquatic.

Hours: Family swims, which don’t include access to the big pool, diving board, full kids pool or the slide, run from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 6:45 p.m. Friday, and 2:45 to 4:15 p.m. Saturday.

Open swims, which include access to the big pool, the diving board and half of the kid’s pool with the slide running for children who are at least 4-feet tall, run from 6:45 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 2 to 4 p.m. and 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

The center is closed on holidays, including July 4. It will also close Aug. 13-Aug. 21 for annual maintenance.

Arne Hanna Aquatic Center offers a variety of swim lesson options for people of all ages, as well as parent/child classes for youngsters 6 months old to 3 years old.

Classes follow the American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program for those 5 and older and a modified version of the program for those under age 5.

If it’s been a year or more since your child’s last lesson or you’re simply unsure of what level they are at, you can schedule a free placement test with the center. The test should take about five minutes to complete.

Sign ups for placement tests or lessons can be done in person, by calling 360-778-7665, or online at cob.org/ezreg.

Registration for lessons is on a first-come, first-served basis.

To get the resident rate, guests must provide ID with a physical address within Bellingham city limits.

Cost: Youth, senior, or disabled single admission: $3.50 resident, $4 non-resident; adult single admission: $4.50 resident, $5 non-resident; family single admission: $13.50 resident, $15 non-resident; child care single admission: $2 resident, $2.50 non-resident. Resident/non-resident rates for swimming lessons vary, and are cheaper on weekends. Private and semi-private lessons are available.

Find more pricing and a swimming schedule online at online at cob.org/services/recreation/aquatic/.

Pool rentals are available before and after facility hours.


1256 N. State St., Bellingham, 360-733-8630; 5610 Barrett Road, Ferndale, 360-380-4911 (holds swim lessons at the Super 8 Motel at Interstate 5 and Axton Road); 100 Drayton St., Lynden, 360-354-5000; 8 Barnview Court, Sudden Valley, 360-746-8444.

Hours: A full schedule of pool times, including classes, lap swim and other water sport activities is available online at whatcomymca.org.

The Whatcom Family YMCA locations offer large and small pools that are open year-round. Lessons are available throughout the day, and there are various swim teams for different age groups. Summer swim lessons also will be held at outdoor pools in Sudden Valley, Glenhaven and at the Regency Park apartments.

The Y offers a variety of swim lesson options for people of all ages, as well as parent/child classes for youngsters 6 months old to 3 years old.

Lesson levels are named for different fish and aquatic creatures, starting with pike, eel and ray/starfish, and rising to flying fish/shark.

During open swim times, those under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult.

Cost: Fees vary based on the number of lessons, whether they are group or private, and membership status. Prices: Ten lessons $60 members, $75 swim program members; five-lesson Saturday sessions are $30 members, $37.50 swim program members; private lessons $20 per lesson members, $23 per lesson program members.

To schedule private swim lessons contact the aquatics departments in Bellingham, 360-733-8630, or Lynden, 360-354-5000.

Pools at the Lynden and Bellingham locations are available for youth party rentals on weekends. Along with renting a small or large pool, party hosts can also choose to rent the aquatrack — an inflatable obstacle course with a bridge, cliff, pond and slide, which is available from the Lynden Aquatics Department, 360-733-5000.


1880 Bill McDonald Parkway, Bellingham, 360-650-4094, wwu.edu/campusrec.

The Wade King Student Recreation Center at Western Washington University offers swim lessons to the public throughout the year at its indoor pool.

Group sessions are available in six or eight-lesson groupings over six or four weeks respectively, with each lesson lasting 30 minutes.

Classes follow the American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program. Children older than 3 can be enrolled in lessons without a parent; children younger than 3 can sign up for private parent-and-child classes on Saturdays.

Cost for a six-week, six-lesson session is $35 for members and $50 for non-members. Cost for a four-week, eight-lesson session is $45 for members and $60 for non-members.

The recreation center also offers private lessons, which can be scheduled for a date and time that works for both the child and the instructor. To schedule a private lesson or for more information call 360-650-4094 or email swim.lessons@wwu.edu.

More resources and information for parents can be found online at wwu.edu/campusrec/swimlessons.shtml.


4191 Meridian St., Bellingham, 360-676-1800, bellinghamathleticclub.com.

Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A full schedule of pool activities is available online.

The Bellingham Athletic Club offers swim lessons for ages 6 months through adults. Lessons are available Tuesdays and Thursdays at a variety of times throughout the day.

Swim lessons at the club are named for different aquatic creatures, starting with Angelfish and rising through the ranks toward Manatee. Those who have completed the Manatee level can join the Blue Baracudas Swim Team.

Cost: Eight half-hour lessons over a four-week period is $40 for members, $45 for children of members, and $50 for non-members.

The club can provide private and semi-private lessons. For more information on prices or to schedule a lesson, call the Cordata location front desk at 360-676-1800.



Started in 1968, Samish Park on Lake Samish was the first county park opened in Whatcom County.

Hours: Open sunrise to sunset.

The 39-acre park features an enclosed swimming area, fishing dock, moderate and strenuous hiking trails, picnic tables and a playground.

For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation main office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 360-733-2900.

Park staff can be reached at 360-733-2362.

Directions: From Interstate 5 take the North Lake Samish exit, number 246; if southbound, take a left at the stop sign, if northbound, take a right at the stop sign and cross over the freeway.


Established in 1972, Lake Padden Park includes a variety of recreational opportunities, including picnic shelters, a boat launch, a fishing dock, a playground, trails and a swimming beach.

Like most outdoor swim areas, the beach is not monitored by a lifeguard, so parents need to supervise their kids while they’re in the water.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

The lake is home to a slew of water events during the summer:

The Bellingham Canoe and Kayak Sprint Team Regatta will take place at the west entrance from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 18. The event is mostly for youth spring canoe or kayak racing, but other classes of boats will be allowed. Races will start every few minutes and last all day.

The Padden Triathlon will take place Saturday, June 25, at the west entrance. The event will block the main entrance with a transition area, and participants must enter via Wilkin Street.

Location: 4882 Samish Way. There are two entrances to the park: use the east entrance to get to the Lake Padden Golf Course, a boat launch, the playground, picnic shelters, ball fields, and an off-leash dog area. Use the west entrance to get to the tennis courts and fishing dock.

For more information, contact the Bellingham Parks and Recreation main office at 360-778-7000.


This county park is located off of Mount Baker Highway and just south of the Canadian border.

Located in the beautiful foothills of the North Cascades, the park plays host to campers and day visitors and offers a variety of boating and fishing activities on the small lake.

With 89 individual campsites, a handful of cabins for rent and a day lodge that can be rented, the park offers a variety of summer trip options. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire pit, and some sites have water and electrical hook-ups for RVs. Each campsite can host up to six people.

Visitors can rent canoes, pedal boats, and rowboats on the lake by the hour or the day.

Directions: The park is located just north of Maple Falls. From Interstate 5, take the exit to Sunset Drive (255), turn east onto Sunset Drive. Sunset turns into Mount Baker Highway. Continue past Kendall and turn left onto Silver Lake Road.

Cost: There is no fee to enter the park for the day, but camping fees vary for county residents, non-residents and depending on group size, water and electrical hook-ups, or if renting a cabin. If traveling for the day, a Discover Pass may be required for access to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife water-access site. Regular fishing license restrictions apply.



Boulevard Park is located on Bellingham Bay along South State Street and Bay View Drive.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Recent shoreline work has created a rocky, sand and gravel beach suitable for dipping one’s toes in Bellingham Bay. By August the maximum temps for the bay’s water reach 55 degrees, so swimming is for the hearty.


107 Chuckanut Drive North, Bellingham.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

In addition to the park’s playground equipment, shelters and picnic tables, it hosts a summertime favorite: the water spray park.

The spray park uses fresh, potable water, and is open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily from mid-June through Labor Day.


3424 Meridian St., Bellingham.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

In addition to outdoor basketball, tennis and pickleball courts, horseshoe pits, picnic tables, playgrounds and gardens, Cornwall Park also offers a water spray park.

The spray park uses fresh, potable water, and is open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily from mid-June through Labor Day.


2214 Electric Ave., Bellingham.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

This park offers access to Lake Whatcom for boating and swimming, as well as an off-leash dog area, a boat launch, community buildings, multipurpose fields, outdoor basketball and volleyball courts, picnic tables and a playground.

The unsupervised swimming area is extremely popular on hot summer days, with plenty of kids and teens jumping and splashing around as they cool off in the water.

The park also connects to the Railroad Trail and walkers, runners, bikers and the like can also get to nearby Whatcom Falls Park.


1401 Electric Ave., Bellingham.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Whatcom Falls Park provides miles of trails along Whatcom Creek on a more than 240-acre parcel of land in the heart of Bellingham.

The creek’s cold water can be disarmingly swift and parents should supervise children at all times. There are no supervised swimming areas in the park.

Although the waterfalls are popular with cliff-jumpers, the city advises that the water is shallow in many spots and has large rocks under the surface. Falling, jumping, diving and swimming have result in deaths and serious injuries.

A safer alternative to swimming at the park is using the trails to walk near the water and observe the plant life and little creatures that live in the area.


This park is located on the edge of Point Roberts, Whatcom’s small peninsula that hangs below the Canadian border, only accessible by boat or by crossing through the neighboring nation.

Lighthouse offers 30 campsites, each with a fire pit, picnic table and parking. The sites are open from April 1 through Oct. 31.

Visitors have access to the beach, fishing, boardwalk and can view orcas from land.

Hours: Except for camping, the park is open from sunrise to sunset.

For more information contact Whatcom County Parks and Recreation at 360-733-2900, or email lthouse@pointroberts.net.

Directions: Take Interstate 5 north through the border at Peace Arch State Park in Blaine. Drive north on Highway 99 in B.C. for about 18 miles, then take Highway 17 west, then turn left onto 56th Street and follow it to the Point Roberts border crossing. Once in Point Roberts, go straight on Tyee Drive and follow it for about 2.5 miles, past the marina, until you reach Lighthouse Marine Park on the left.



Private facility rentals available from 6:15 to 9 p.m. daily. Call 360-371-7500 for rates and availability.


Birthday party rentals at the Y are available on weekends. Rates are for two-hour parties, which include one hour in the pool and one hour in a party room afterward.

Small pool (Bellingham location) for up to 20 youth participants: $100;

Large pool (Bellingham): $125;

Large pool (Lynden): $125, with an additional fee for more than 25 participants;

Big Wave Party (Bellingham): $150 with flotation devices available while up to 20 youth participants enjoy waves in the large pool. An additional fee may apply if extra lifeguards are needed;

AquaTrack Birthday Party (Bellingham and Lynden): $150. An additional fee may apply if two or more lifeguards are required for groups with more than 25 participants. Parties can add the small pool to their rental at the Bellingham location for $25.

To rent, call Bellingham at 360-733-8630 or Lynden at 360-354-5000.


Pool rentals are available before the pool opens and after it closes. The most popular rental times are starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and before 1 p.m. Sundays.

Rentals need to be at least one hour long, and the staff needs notice at least two weeks in advance.

Rates cover up to 50 swimmers.

Full facility: $150 per hour;

Instructional Pool: $70 per hour without waterslide, $110 per hour with waterslide;

Dive Tank: $70 per hour;

Lap Lanes: $15 per lane per hour (five lane minimum);

For groups with more than 50 swimmers, the price is $1.50 per extra person.

To rent call 360-778-7665.