Features Apr 10, 2013 at 4:00 am

I Don't Know About the Healing Powers, But the Characters You Meet in This Eastern Washington Dive-Town Are Out of This World By Kelly O

All photos by Kelly O


Sounds like an interesting off-the-wall place.
I felt the same way the summer I drove through Soap Lake and discovered the town's Art Museum, which is some guy's apartment modified to boast a fully public downstairs with some decent pieces of modern art and a semi-public upstairs which I think is also the guy's bedroom.

Great place. Makes the fictional town of Cicily, Alaska look mundane.
Now I really want to go to Soap Lake.

Can you better describe an "Easter-egg" fart? You're really telling folks where your are, from home!
I live not far from there, and it sounds from this article like a fabulous place to come, rather than the dumpy little E WA Bumfuck town it is. Not that I want to discourage a single Seattle $ from making it here- they need all the help they can get.
My great-grandparents (Seattle/Tacoma lifers) used to trek over here in the '20's for the healing waters. Things have gone down hill from those days.
My parents currently live in Soap Lake. This article is entirely accurate. I lived there for one summer in college and grew up not to far way. This town is magic and is surprisingly charming in its own weird way.
I have lived here for more than 47 years and the town has been taken over by hippie transplants that have done nothing but make the welfare, drug problem and drunk bum problem worse. The eldery pony tailed artsy freakin weirdo's with their lava lamp idea are bringing the wrong crowd to our little town.
Tell it like it is, Its a broke little town full of drunks and third generation welfare bums.
I'm a Seattle girl, and nearly every summer during elementary school my extended family and I would go stay in the little cabins at Soap Lake. I saw my first rattlesnake there, and remember being fascinated by the foamy shore. When I moved to Missoula, I would drive I-90 regularly and see Soap lake, also pleased it hasn't done anything but be it's Soap lakiest as I remember it from the mid-90s. Thanks for the article, I think this Summer I plan my glorious return :D
Hot tip: If you stay in the Notaras Lodge, they have SOAP LAKE WATER piped into the bathrooms. Bathe in it! Shower in it! Drink it! (Don't drink it.)
I went to Soap Lake one summer with my grandparents. We stayed in my grandparents' fifth wheel and my grandmother and I wondered why the RV lanes were named Palmolive, Dove, and Irish Spring...until my grandfather set us straight, haha. I would swim to the floating dock in the center of Soap Lake but was always kinda creeped out by the horse flies living in the muck on the shore. Until reading this article I had never viewed Soap Lake as a magical place.
I live in Moses lake. If you haven't visited Soap Lake, do so, its a must; you will appreciate home more.
I don't remember ever not knowing about the magic of Soap Lake--the lake itself. The town never struck me as magical, but I was desperate to get the hell out of Eastern Washington from a young age.

I floated in Soap Lake many times as a kid. My grandmother touted the water as a cure for all kinds of ailments. (Yes, she drank it.) On our way to her funeral, my siblings and I stopped to fill a jug with Soap Lake water to sprinkle on her casket.
In it's hey days it was a great place to spend a couple of weeks each summer and the best place to water ski as long as you didn't get a mouthful of the lake water. The black mud not so great, the better was the blue mud. If you do go there be sure to stop at Don's for dinner or lunch. The food is outstanding and you won't be disappointed. I actually miss it, but it is not the same as it once was and the resort we stayed in is not partially burnt down. They had a great spot right on the lake with an Esther Williams swimming pool for real. We played red light green light on the large lawn and could walk to town. The resort owner had a boat and would teach us to water ski. In the middle of the night you would hear sirens all over town calling the volunteer firefighters out. There was a variety store - now long gone. The A & W is still there and has coney island dogs on sale on Tuesdays and great rootbeer floats. I actually had a Soap Lake Library card and would check out books to read over the vacation. The weather was always great and one night we saw the aurora lights from Alaska, for real. When Mt. St. Helens blew, it landed in town over everything. It is too bad that someone doesn't build a nice resort there for the mineral water. I used to enjoy the Soap Lake baths, it would make your skin and hair soft. Lots of great memories, including when the Indians used to come there for Suds n Sun Festival and have a salmon bake and they would bring in pro wrestlers for matches on an outdoor ring at the beach. Be sure to get Don's dressing on your salad and I highly recommend the ground steak dinner or the salmon.. everything is great at Don's. We actually knew the original owner Don, but Marina and her family has kept up the high quality food, worth a sidetrack on the way to somewhere or nearby camping at Sun Lakes. This was a weird article, there is so much more to Soap Lake, like exploring caves and looking for artifacts like arrowheads and of course the healing waters, which really do heal ailments and is the only lake of it's kind. Stay at Notoras Lodge or the Inn at Soap Lake or stay in Ephrata about 5 miles down the road, but give it a try this summer for a weekend or a daytrip.
I lived there (with my family) all during the '90s and had a great view of the lake. It gets HOT in the Summer and COLD in the Winter. We only got around 7 inches of precipitation all year long. We also had a HUGE car show each August (Soap Lake Pig Run)in the City Park and HUNDREDS of Hot Rods and Customs would show up from all over the Pacific Northwest. I always entered at least one of my Muscle Cars each year for the fun of it and the food was great! It's a great retirement town and the electric rates are some of the lowest in the state!!
I am a LOCAL...and I do swim in the lake! I love it! But, the article was correct - not many locals will swim in it. Silly peeps!! Come visit us in Soap Lake - it's quiet, SUNNY, WARM (even the lake water is warm!!), NO TRAFFIC and just a few miles from Dry Falls -(and Grand Coulee Dam) a truly spectacular place to visit!! I will personally buy you a cuppa coffee at the Daisy Street Espresso or a bottle of your favorite "spirit" from Cougar Liquor!! How to find me? Just ask where Ronda lives! :-)
Great article. I am a recent local. I love this little town. Rhonda (comment 19) is spot on with her description. Since her post, Cougar Liquor has added a bistro and now serves great breakfast and lunch food. I don't swim in the lake, but it's more about my insecurities than about the lake itself. I do often walk down to the lake on summer evenings to enjoy the view. It's spectacular!
Live 5 mi. down the road in Ephrata, and before spending about 30 years in the Seattle area I lived in Soap Lake briefly in the early '80's. As the comments here imply, the town is a strange mix of unique and unforgettable while at the same time echoes the feel of a dying ghost town that has refused to die many times before. The town's population clear to the Chamber of Commerce are deeply divided on a host of issues, including the mothballed massive Lava Lamp project. A lot of troubling drug and alcohol abuse pervades the region in the winter months when the Ag-based economy all but dries up and blows away. And even in the summer the tourist-oriented interests don't really improve the situation and there's not much else to do anyway but escape.
I did get coerced into doing the first leg of Lake Lenore in the old Sun Basin Paddle & Portage Canoe Race in '83' and I thought my arm was gonna' fall off.
And now I'm back here to retire in Sun Country.
BTW: The Coney Dog Tuesday special at the A&W from comment 17 is actually an old local place called The B&B Drive In. Sadly, they finally fell fate to the recent levels of gaunt economic stagnation in the area and closed down late last summer as well.
Soap Lake is a beautiful town. Sadly, though, the police chief is a corrupt man who allows terrible crime to happen right under his nose. So if you go there to visit, take along a Doberman or Pitbull to keep you safe. No kidding.
Soap Lake is a beautiful town. Sadly, though, the local police chief is a corrupt man who allows terrible crime to happen right under his nose. So if you go there to visit, take along a Doberman or Pitbull to keep you safe. No kidding.
Soap Lake is a beautiful town. Sadly, though, the police chief is a corrupt man who allows terrible crime to happen right under his nose. So if you go there to visit, take along a Doberman or Pitbull to keep you safe. No kidding.
I don't know why my comment posted 3 times, sorry about that. Note: the B&B Drive-in closed because of the owner's health, not because of the "gaunt economic stagnation in the area". I heard about his illness at church, so I know it's true.
Dude you are a jerk. You don't know shit about anything and the guys name is Kenny Gutte, not Sandy, and your article is full of outdated lies and rumors.

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