Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
(milepost 134) Ross Lake stretches north for 23 miles, all the way across the Canadian
border, but - in keeping with the wild Cascades terrain - is accessible only by trail or
water. Incorporated into the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, the lake was formed by
the building between 1937 and 1949 of the Ross Dam , an ambitious hydroelectric pro-
ject that was designed to generate much-needed electricity for the fast-growing Seattle
area. You can hike down to the Ross Dam from a trailhead on Hwy 20. The trail des-
cends for 1 mile and crosses over the dam. For an extra leg-stretch you can follow the
west bank of Ross Lake another mile to Ross Lake Resort.
(supply ferries adult/child 1 way $10/5) Just below Ross Lake, Diablo Lake is held back by
the similarly huge 389ft Diablo Dam . A pullout off Hwy 20 known as the Diablo Dam
Overlook provides incredible views of the turquoise-green lake framed by glacier-
capped peaks. Diablo was the world's highest arch-type dam at the time of its completion
in 1930, and building it in such a hostile region with no road access was one of the
greatest engineering feats of the interwar age.
Diablo Lake is popular with kayakers and canoeists (there's a launch site at Colonial
Creek campground). The water's turquoise hue is a result of powdered rock ground down
by glaciers.
North Cascades Environmental Learning Center ( ) , on the
lake's northern banks, is operated by the North Cascades Institute in partnership with the
National Park Service. The center offers a bevy of activities, many of them educationally
oriented such as Lake Diablo Lake tours ($35) and Powerhouse tours ($40), as well as a
variety of weekend retreats from $245, including on-site food and accommodation. If
you just want lodging, you can rent rooms from $125 per night. Note that many of the
excursions and lodging sell out even before summer starts. See the website for more de-
Free permits are required for backcountry camping in the park and must be obtained in
person from the Wilderness Information Center ( Click here ) or at a park ranger station.
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