Ross Lake, Washington USA & British Columbia Canada

Also known as:  Ross Reservoir

Spectacular Ross Lake is one of the seldom seen gems in north-central Washington. This fantastic 22-mile long reservoir covers 11,680 acres along the flooded Skagit River Valley. Nestled between high sloping banks and against a backdrop of what are often called the Washington Alps, those who visit here are in for a wilderness experience like few others. And the best part is, Ross Lake is only three hours from Seattle. – READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Ross Lake! Article topics include:

Looking for Ross Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Ross Lake! Article topics include:

Looking for Ross Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

All About Ross Lake

Spectacular Ross Lake is one of the seldom seen gems in north-central Washington. This fantastic 22-mile long reservoir covers 11,680 acres along the flooded Skagit River Valley. Nestled between high sloping banks and against a backdrop of what are often called the Washington Alps, those who visit here are in for a wilderness experience like few others. And the best part is, Ross Lake is only three hours from Seattle. The northern end of the lake extends into British Columbia, Canada.

There are no city amusements or signs of civilization on the banks of Ross Lake except for one resort property that has existed there for 60 years. Nearly 20 camping areas lie along the shoreline and on islands in the lake. Only two of them can be reached by car. Camp sites are either reached on foot or by boat, with the majority of them having a boat dock. Accessing the shoreline from the USA side is across rough gravel roads, so the resort camp wisely rents canoes, single and double kayaks, and 14-foot fishing boats with motors. Visitors cannot reach the resort’s floating cabins by car; those coming by canoe paddle upstream along RipRap Creek from Diablo Lake and portage a mile across the dam, then paddle up the lake to the resort. The resort operates a water taxi service that picks up their guests and other lake visitors by prior arrangement in trucks downstream, then transports them by boat to either their rentals or to one of the lakeshore campsites.

A Backcountry permit is required to camp at Ross Lake and can be obtained from the Ranger Station or the resort store. Most campsites are rather primitive, with no real facilities other than a fire ring and boat dock. Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden trout or char can be caught in the lake’s clear, cold waters, although tackle is limited to artificial lures and barbless hooks. Fishing season is from July 1 to October 31st. A total of three rainbows can be kept; the char must be released. An appropriate fishing license is required for the country one is fishing in (USA or Canada). The dividing line for the two countries is clearly marked, but those desiring to fish the full range of the lake might be well advised to purchase both permits.

Swimming in Ross Lake is possible, but the only sandy beach areas are at the two largest campgrounds. The water remains quite cold year round. Ross Campground on the Canadian side offers more developed amenities and a day-use area within the 88-site campground. As water levels vary dramatically from season to season, the Canadian shoreline is often high and dry except between June and October. Many of the boat docks are not usable in times of low water. Luckily, water levels correspond quite well to fishing season.

Tucked within the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Ross Lake is further surrounded by North Cascades National Park, Okanogan National Forest, Skagit Valley Provincial Park, and EC Manning Provincial Park. All of these parks are blessed with great hiking trails among abundant wildlife and pristine woods. Those who enjoy mountain hiking will find that Hozomeen Mountain, Ruby Mountain, and Desolation Peak are within sight from much of the lake. Nearby Jack Mountain towers a full 7000 feet above the surface of the water. The National Park Service provides trail maps for download on their website, and more detailed maps may be purchased at the Visitors Center.

The heavily wooded slopes along Ross Lake support a wealth of flowers in spring, including lupine, honeysuckle, columbine and wild roses. Great blue herons, eagles, owls and kingfishers are often seen near the shore. Observant hikers may glimpse coyote, grey wolves, deer, beaver, martin, chipmunk and even an occasional black bear. Very rarely a cougar may be seen. In this pristine wilderness, it isn’t hard to imagine the lives of the ancient forest dwellers that archaeological evidence shows once traveled through the valley. Pottery shards from the American southwest give evidence that the Skagit River Valley was once part of an important native trade route.

Most first-time visitors coming from the south will want to stop at the North Cascades Visitor Center near the village of Newhalem for access to maps, information on local trails, conditions and special alerts. Those not intending to camp or stay at the floating resort on Ross Lake will find all types of alternate lodgings along Route 20 between I-5 and Ross Lake National Recreation Area. Guest houses, rental cabins and small motels are all available. This scenic area has long attracted nature lovers and free spirits who enjoy waking up to wilderness and pure air. There are plenty of local artisan shops, small cafes and guest cottages available to entertain visitors. Even if serious hiking or fishing is not on your personal agenda, there is plenty of scenery to be seen from the highway and refreshingly quaint places to stop and recharge.

The dam impounding the Skagit River that forms Ross Lake was built in several stages, beginning in 1937. The Skagit Hydroelectric Project builders first built what was then called Ruby Dam to impound a storage pool for two other dams downstream that provided hydroelectric power to the City of Seattle. The dam was later enlarged and still later renamed Ross Dam after the late director of the project. The last enlargement caused 480 acres in British Columbia to become part of the growing lake. Generating turbines were eventually added to provide even more electricity. A ‘Ross High Dam’ project to raise the water levels another 100+ feet ran into major environmental protests, causing the planned expansion to be placed on hold for 80 years. An agreement was signed between the two countries for BC Hydro to provide electric power to Seattle for the cost of what it would have spent to enlarge the dam. The electricity from the Skagit Project and that from the agreement result in Seattle being one of the ‘greenest’ cities in the United States. Won’t you come and visit beautiful Ross Lake?

Things to Do at Ross Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park
  • National Park
  • National Forest

Fish Species Found at Ross Lake

  • Char
  • Dolly Varden Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

All About Ross Lake

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Ross Lake

The Ross Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.


More Ways to Book a Ross Lake Vacation

While our interactive map above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME rental homes (with VRBO) and nearby hotels (with Booking.com), there might be times when you need to expand your search with a different type of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you might want to explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our full disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Ross Lake Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Ross Lake Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


Recommended Sites to Book a Ross Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Ross Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
ALL TRAVEL RESOURCES

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

[get-post-images]

divider

Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Seattle City Light

Surface Area: 11,680 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,603 feet

Average Depth: 123 feet

Maximum Depth: 400 feet

Water Volume: 770,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1949

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

More Ross Lake news from LakeLubbers.com

  • Advertise your vacation rental property or local business: DETAILS HERE
  • The Ross Lake forum has been discontinued: HERE’S WHY
  • New Ross Lake photos coming soon!
  • You’re invited to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!
  • Share this Ross Lake article with your fellow LakeLubbers:

Do you have a vacation rental property at Ross Lake? Coming in 2022, LakeLubbers will have an opportunity for you to showcase your listing and put it in front of thousands of lake lovers searching our site for homes, condos or townhomes to rent for their upcoming lake trip this season.

Please get in touch with our advertising team HERE and we’ll provide you more details on this upcoming advertising opportunity.

divider

Looking for the Ross Lake forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.

We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!

Click here to advertise your Ross Lake vacation rental or local business.

The former Ross Lake forum is closed. Find out why here.

New Ross Lake photo gallery is coming soon.

Please share this article with your fellow lake lovers!

Spread the word! Share our Ross Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Explore local Ross Lake vacation rentals and hotel accommodations using our interactive map. Clicking on listings below will allow you to compare nearby properties, best rates and availability for your dates.

Looking for the old Ross Lake forum group? Click Here

New Ross Lake photos coming soon!

Vacation Home Name

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam consequat a neque id hendrerit. Mauris ut commodo erat. Praesent at fermentum sem. Vivamus dui turpis, posuere sed auctor a, luctus semper nibh. Etiam quis neque vehicula, finibus sem sit amet, condimentum turpis….

  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • hot tub
  • wifi