Ross Lake, WA

I was fortunate to grab a North Cascades Early Access Lottery Permit and plan to use it for a canoe trip on Ross Lake, WA.

Looking to plan about 4 days and I’m hoping to get some advice on the better campsites on the lake.

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Use caution. This a cold lake with plenty of afternoon winds. Paddle in the morning. If you had to win a lottery to go there, finding camp spots should be easy.

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Selecting the “good” sites is what I’m after. Pretty sure sites with a southern exposure will be nice. Any sites on the islands should be decent and have fewer mosquitoes.

Just looking for some Beta.

Few bad sites in the North Cascades on a lake.
You will know it when you see it.

Beta? You must be looking for the Outside magazine description which does not exist.

Both of your responses can be categorized as “Purposefully unhelpful”.

I have camped on Cat Island, which is a lovely solo spot place with good boat access. At the time, I had rented a rowboat with about a five horsepower motor from the lodge, and reached the place in 2-3 hours I think. You need to coordinate your schedule with ferry tug and pick-up times to be taken to the lodge starting place. I remember that we arrived at the lodge in the early afternoon after leaving Seattle in the morning . Or, hikers and boaters can descend the access path from the parking area up top. It is quite a drop, others can maybe speak to how it is bringing a kayak up and down.

Quite a few people also access Ross Lake from the Canadian end, which apparently is more launch friendly.

Thanks @pbenter

I’m planning to paddle Diablo and call the shuttle for a lift up to Ross. If Cat Island is reservable, it’s one on my list.

I plan to canoe all the way to Canada and back; but we’ll see how the weather cooperates.

So long.

Ross Lake as a human-powered boat friendly location has been ruined by the rentals of the 10hp aluminum boats that people take to the non-dock sites meant for canoes and kayaks. Plus they’re noisy. Sad.

@jefffski That’s too bad.

Hi, jefffski,

Seems like the National Park Service should get on top of that problem and declare the non-dock sites to be for paddle craft only. On the NPS’s Ross Lake National Recreation Area web site there’s no mention of the non-dock sites being for paddlers. The NPS should make that clear if that’s the intent and start ticketing people thereafter.


I have made one trip on Ross Lake. We put in on Diablo, camped one night on Diablo, and did the truck portage to Ross the next morning. I think we spent 4 nights on Ross and then one more on Diablo on the way out.

It was a great trip. We did not go all the way to Canada.

Must see areas are Lighting Creek and Devil’s Creek, especially Devil’s Creek. Don’t pass them by.

You would have a hard time finding a bad campground on Ross Lake.

We are planning another trip for August.

@CaptainOllieWest I’ll be sure to visit those areas! Thank you!

Trip report?

We have a Ross Lake trip planned for early August.

It has been 5 years since my last Ross Lake trip.