Ross Lake National Recreation Area is the most accessible part of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. The national recreation area includes three reservoirs: Ross Lake, Diablo Lake, and Gorge Lake—water gateways to more remote areas. Ringed by mountains, Ross Lake camping offers many outdoor recreation opportunities along the upper reaches of the Skagit River.
We do an annual hiking trip at Ross Lake. Amazing hikes, glacier-fed lake - which is icy cold if you decide to hike all the way up to Desolation Outlook and need to cool down your body after the evaluation climb. You can rent motorized boats to access even more campgrounds. Canoe or stand up paddleboard. There are always rangers refilling toilet paper and checking on the conditions of the pit toilets which I always appreciate and bear boxes to keep your food safe.
Love coming out here. I came out here last summer with a group of friends. Great place to relax for the weekend. Fantastic place to go out on a boat if you got one, or go swimming :)
The recreation area has a number of backcountry camping options and at times, sites can get busy in the peak season but the permitting system will provide peace of mind that you'll have a spot for the night. Some sites are right on the lake while others are a bit tucked in. Most sites have fire rings, picnic tables and a few have grills. There's plenty of space to pitch a tent at each spot.
As for all waste, pack it in and pack it out. There are a lot of mice roaming around these campsites so be sure to secure your food appropriately as well as any overly salty clothing (turns out mice really love salt soaked fabric). Some sites have heavy duty bear boxes for food storage.
The great thing about these sites is that you can get to them by foot or by boat. We spent several days traveling along the lake, ending in Hozameen and taking a boat ride the length of Ross Lake back to our vehicle at the end.
There are also several day hike options if you are canoeing/boating to your site or from site to site. Desolation Peak is one of my favorites and has some cool ties to Jack Kerouac. This spot is a gem and totally worth spending a few days here.
This is a great campground to visit for boating. You do have to take a boat to get here. This can be done easily by renting a canoe or bringing your own. Since you have to boat in, that's a dead giveaway that it's a super secluded site. The water is very calm and still. It's a super relaxing experience.
If you don't have a lot of experience packing gear and bringing only what's necessary you may have a little trouble getting everything you want over on a canoe. If you plan on boating in via a smaller canoe, definitely give your gear a double take and make sure you're only bringing the essentials.