Boating and Fishing

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kayak on still mountain lake with distant peaks obscured by smoke

NPS Photo

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, the north end of Ross Lake at Hozomeen, and Lake Chelan. There is not a boat launch on the south end of Ross Lake, and Ross Lake is not accessible by car from State Route 20.

Boat Rentals

There are no boat rental options for either Diablo or Gorge Lakes.

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

Boat Camping

Boat-in camping is available on Ross and Diablo lakes, and Lake Chelan. See also the guide to boating on Ross Lake. Please note that boat-in camping on Ross Lake and Diablo Lake requires a backcountry permit issued from the Wilderness Information Center. Boat-in camping on Lake Chelan requires a federal dock permit.



  • 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 all parts of North Cascades National Park Service Complex.
  • Boating under the influence is illegal and prohibited in all parts of North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Operating a vessel while intoxicated is dangerous, and alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents . Always have a designated operator.


The Skagit and Stehekin rivers attract many whitewater enthusiasts for rafting and kayaking, especially during the summer months.

The Skagit River is accessible via a boat launch near Goodell Creek Campground at mile post 119 on State Route 20 and the Copper Creek Take-Out near mile post 112. The approximately 9 miles of river between the two access points features class II to class III rapids with few options for taking out and portaging around the whitewater.

The Stehekin River is accessible via a boat launch at the Harlequin Campground.

Find local outfitters on 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. 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 a portage service. It is not possible to portage larger power boats, or any other boat that cannot be carried between Diablo and Ross lakes.

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.

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 from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Last updated: September 19, 2020

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810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


(360) 854-7200

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