COULEE DAM, Wash. -Houseboat rentals on Lake Roosevelt seemed a logical
enterprise to administrators in the Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation
(CTEC). The lake, which was formed when Coulee Dam blocked waters of the
Columbia River many years ago, is 110 miles in length with a shoreline in
excess of 630 miles. Much of the shoreline is either tribally owned or
government owned so beach access for anchoring a boat overnight was not a
problem. Small bays indent the shoreline and sandy beaches where a boat can
be safely moored are abundant.
CTEC was founded in 1984 and is now one of the largest and most diverse
American Indian businesses in the state of Washington. Fourteen separate
enterprises are managed under the umbrella of CTEC, one being Roosevelt
Recreational Enterprises (RRE) which operates
The houseboat rentals on Lake Roosevelt along with Rainbow Beach Resort on
Twin Lakes, a small lake a few miles north and west of Lake Roosevelt.
Houseboat rentals began in 1987 when 40 boats were purchased. Some of the
original boats still remain but changes have occurred due to public
preference and the emergence of new models. The biggest change has been
toward larger boats. This past spring two more 59-foot boats were added,
they now run four boats that size. The total fleet presently numbers 31
boats as old ones are retired or sold and upgraded to larger vessels. Kevin
Rosenbaum, Colville, is RRE general manager. He said the boats would last
for many years if properly maintained "if you don't hit rocks - or at least
don't hit them very often."
The boats come fully equipped so renters only need to bring food and
drinks. The smaller boats range in size from 46 to 54 feet and are
comparable to a camper although larger, but it's the 59-footers that are
really deluxe. They include two bathrooms and two bedrooms plus other
sleeping areas that provide room for 15 passengers. A fully-equipped
kitchen includes full-size oven and range, refrigerator, microwave and
toaster plus all the pots, pans, silverware and dishes that one might need.
A dining table with built in circular padded bench adjoins the kitchen with
a fireplace occupying another corner. A TV rests above the fireplace with a
CD/DVD player attached.
A barbecue sits on the front deck and the upper deck boasts a hot tub and
mini-bar. A slide runs from the upper deck down and over the lake to keep
kids occupied for long hours. Slides are included on all the houseboats
regardless of size.
The boats can be skippered from indoors on the lower deck or under a canvas
shelter from the upper deck.
The four largest boats are powered with 3-liter Mercury inboard motors and
the other boats have two 70-horse out-boards. The boats obviously aren't
built for speed although they move at a reasonable rate. People wanting
more speed often bring their own boats and tow them. RRE also has several
ski boats for rent should customers so desire.
Peak season runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day and the boats are
generally booked up. But as Rosenbaum said, "The weather here in September
and October is pretty warm during the day but cools down at night - just
beautiful actually." Scenery is great as hillsides take on the colors of
fall. Rosenbaum added, "We give them a nice discount after Labor Day," as
the demand drops off and youngsters are back in school.
Michelle Campobasso, Colville, heads up public relations and marketing for
CTEC and pointed out, "It's one of our operations along with gaming that's
open year-round. There are a lot of areas you can only get to in these
boats so it's never really crowded - you have plenty of room." She added,
"It's something different. For Seattleites they don't have to travel that
far, only about four-and-a-half hours. From Spokane it's about an
Fishing for trout, walleye and bass is generally good in Lake Roosevelt and
that interests many visitors. Others simply want to cruise the shoreline
and enjoy the sights: High rocky cliffs, timbered hillsides, quiet cozy
bays and gorgeous sunsets. A small herd of wild horses is sometimes seen.
Deer are common as are a variety of other animals. On a recent visit an
adult bald eagle posed on a dead branch near its nest while its newly
fledged youngster perched nearby.
Most of the houseboat fleet is docked at Keller's Ferry, north of Wilbur on
Highway 21. It's a well-run operation and provides work for 18 employees.
Boats must be inventoried and cleaned after each trip. Motors are regularly
maintained, and Campobasso added, "This operation has also helped business
for nearby communities too. It's different, not many tribes own businesses