Boating and Fishing

Kayaking in Ross Lake
Kayakers explore Devil's Creek on Ross Lake.

Photo by Parrish, courtesy of REI



Kayaking, canoeing, and motor boating are popular activities on Gorge, Diablo, and Ross lakes, and Lake Chelan. Ramps and launches are located at Gorge Lake, Diablo Lake, Lake Chelan and the north end of Ross Lake at Hozomeen. There is no boat launch on the south end of Ross Lake.

Boat-in camping is available on Ross and Diablo lakes, and Lake Chelan. See also the guide to boating on Ross Lake.

The Ross Lake Resort rents motorboats, kayaks, canoe, and other equipment for Ross Lake, as well as operates a water taxi service. Limited paddle rentals are available at Stehekin on Lake Chelan.

There is no boat rental option for Diablo or Gorge Lakes.

Be aware that:

  • Personal watercraft (jet skis, etc.) are not allowed in any part of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex.
  • Four stroke engines are required for motorboats on Ross Lake, Diablo Lake, and Gorge Lake.
  • Water sports that involve towing behind a boat, such as waterskiing or tubing, are prohibited in any part of North Cascades National Park Service Complex.
  • Boating under the influence is illegal and not permitted on Ross Lake.

The Skagit and Stehekin rivers attract whitewater enthusiasts for rafting and kayaking. Find a local outfitters at the Guided Services page to help you plan your trip.


Portage Notice for Ross and Diablo Lake Boaters

There is no boat launch on the south end of Ross Lake. Boats must be portaged between Diablo and Ross Lakes, and only boats that can be carried by hand may be portaged. For boaters approaching from Diablo Lake: Use the portage dock for all canoe and kayak portage activities. Do not use the ferry dock. The portage is 1.2 miles over a gravel road, with an elevation gain of 525 feet, elevation loss of 100 feet. Ross Lake Resort offers portage service. It is not possible to portage larger power boats, or any other boat that can not be carried between Diablo and Ross lakes. A 2010 rockslide eliminated the old road access, and the new road segment could not be constructed down to lake level. Boaters must carry boats and gear to the portage vehicle.

A portage phone is installed near the dock for visitors to call and request portage service from Ross Lake Resort. For portage questions or updates regarding portage service call Ross Lake Resort at 206-386-4437. For all other questions, contact the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount at 360-854-7245

The Ross Dam Trail (milepost 134 off State Route 20) could also be used as a portage route to Ross Lake if needed. This is a rocky, switchbacking trail that descends one mile and 900 feet to reach the lake.



The Skagit River, one of Washington's major watersheds, is home to seven species of anadromous fish (five salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout) and freshwater trout and char. At Ross, Diablo and Gorge Lakes you may fish for native naturally occuring rainbow trout.

Lake Chelan has fresh water cod, trout and kokanee (land-locked salmon.) The Stehekin River offers rainbow and cutthroat trout.

Fishing anywhere in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex is subject to all WA State fishing regulations and requires a valid Washington State fishing license. Fishing seasons vary by water body. Fishing licenses are not sold at any ranger station, and you must obtain a license before visiting. Visit Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife for information on Washington state fishing licenses.

In order to protect spawning fish populations, it is necessary to comply with special regulations including closures, seasons, catch limits and gear restrictions. This information is available at ranger stations or from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Last updated: September 9, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


(360) 854-7200

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