The most accessible part of the North Cascades National Complex, surrounded by scenic views of cascading waterfalls, tall mountains and deep valleys, with an endless list of historical and cultural attractions, Ross Lake National Recreation Area is one of Washington's premium tourist attractions.
Located in north-central Washington, just south of the Canada - US border, Ross Lake is among a trio of resorts that form the North Cascades National Complex, which also includes North Cascades National Park and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.
All three resorts complement each other, providing visitors with a long list of camping and recreational options. From hiking, to birding and boating, there are a lot of ways to keep yourself busy at Ross Lake; The Diablo Lake Trail and Thunder Creek Trail are two of the most popular hiking trails at the resort, animal and bird lovers will also enjoy the region's diverse ecosystem. Animals with fin, fur and wings all call North Cascades home, making for some spectacular birding and wild life viewing opportunities.
Ross Lake and its neighbouring resorts have a lot of camping options for visitors. The campgrounds are scenic and comfortable and provide basic amenities to ensure that visitors enjoy their stay at the resort.
Ross Lake is the easiest of the three areas to access. It can be accessed by car, boat, kayak and small air crafts. The north side of the resort can be accessed via a gravel road from Hope, British Columbia. There is no clear road access from the south but canoes and kayaks can be launched from Diablo Lake to the resort. Movement of large vehicles are restricted in some parts of the resort, so visitors should read the park's directories carefully.
There is no designated campground at Ross Lake. The resort has 19 pet friendly boat-in sites along the shores all equipped with fire rigs, picnic tables, pit toilets and good storage boxes. There are no electricity or water RV hook ups but water pumps are provided at the site. The lake is less than 150 feet from every campsite with numerous kiosk and convenience stores located around the resort where visitors can purchase provisions.
North Cascades Complex has hundreds of miles of biking trails all around the complex for visitors to enjoy. Trails are interlocked and give you different unique views of the complex .
The Diablo Lake Trail gives bikers a view of the beautiful clear water lake; The Ross Dam Trail and Pyramid Lake Trails are also brilliant hiking trails at the complex.
River rafting at Ross Lake is one of the most rewarding activities at the complex. The wide lake is surrounded by scenic mountain views and grasslands making boating one of the best ways to experience the resort's beauty. Kayaking and canoeing are also available at the Lake.
There are several boat launches at the complex. Boat rentals are available at affordable prices and personal water crafts like jet skis are not allowed at the complex.
Ross Lake offers a wonderful mountaineering experience due to its diverse climbing terrain. The resort offers climbing routes with aesthetic appeal, and the high quality routes making for a challenging climb.
The physical strain that comes with climbing at Ross Lake makes standing at the summit of rock overlooking the mountain range all the more rewarding. Visitors climb at their own risk and are encouraged to be self sufficient when out at the resort.
From short scenic trails, to grueling long hikes, North Cascades has a trial for every hiker. The trails offer hikers a different experience of the resort with trails offering mountain views, lake views, birding opportunities and lots more.
The Happy Panther Trail and Ladder Creeks Falls Trail are two popular hiking trails at the complex. Most are dry and weather is harsh during summer months, so off season is the best time to hike the complex.
Bird lovers should bring their binoculars to Ross Lake no matter the time of their visit or the season as the lake has a wonderful collection of birds. Nearly 200 bird species have been recorded at North Cascades Complex and most of the species can be found at or near Ross Lake.
Different species of ospreys, hawks, and eagle's all live on the tall trees near the lake, with swans, sandpipers and mallards also often sighted by visitors. Birds can be spotted easier by hikers and boaters.
Ross Lake and Diablo Lake share largely the same fish species. Hundreds of fish species swim at these lakes, with a lot of salt and fresh water fish available to catch. Trout are native to Ross Lake and are the most common fish at the complex with cod and salmon also popular catches.
Fishing at Ross Lake and North Cascades is subject to Washington fishing laws and require a valid Washington fishing permit. In order to protect fish populations at the complex, it is necessary to comply with special regulations including closures, seasons and catch limits