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.
The Skagit and Stehekin rivers attract many whitewater enthusiasts for rafting and kayaking, especially during the summer months.
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 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.
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.
Last updated: September 19, 2020