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.
There are no boat rental options for either Diablo or Gorge Lakes.
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.
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.
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 and Stehekin rivers attract many whitewater enthusiasts for rafting and kayaking, especially during the summer months.
Water temperatures in the park complex seldom reach above 50°F (10°C). Accidental cold-water immersion can be fatal within minutes. Hand powered watercraft overturn frequently and it can be extremely difficult to get to shore or out of the water.
Last updated: October 8, 2020