I got invited to go. Wow, how amazing! I was just told to pack my clothing and planning on boating and hiking. Rest was packed by girlfriend who’s been going there pretty much all her life every summer.
Now I understand why it is hard to book this place. So if you’re lucky enough to book a room or get invited, GO.
Like everybody says, it’s a small village of floating cabins with office/rental/employee common area. Most people take ferry from Diablo lake bringing food and whatever your toys of your choice. I suppose you could hike down and around Ross Lake dam, bringing food and such isn’t going to be easy.
Rooms/kitchen/bathroom is clean and it has a wood burning stove with firewood stocked. I didn’t use it but I heard it works well when cold.
No cell or tv service, so people bring books or borrow games from the office. We were too tired from hiking and boating all day so after cooking dinner we just sat on the deck to watch sunset before we passed out. Oh by the way, they have a bbq grill in between cabins to use when you’re thinking of what kind of food to bring.
Sadly, many people will not be able to stay here because it’s always booked out with same people year after year but that’s probably the reason why it’s so beautiful and kept up nice. They treat it like it’s there own cabin. Who’s going to trash it when you are going to stay there next year? And people know each other after going there year after year.
However there are many camp spots on Ross Lake and some are only accessible via boat/kayak/canoe. Ross Lake resort rent them and they are worth every penny. We had a boat and it was so nice to see the lake. They told me that full tank of gas gets you to the other end of the lake, back and half way there. I also would want to rent a canoe. I think it’s a fun way to get to a camp site and that’s what I want to do sometime.
First, it is extremely difficult to get a cabin and their wait list is typically many pages long. If you are lucky and persistent, you will eventually be able to visit this incredible and special place. There is no wifi and no televisions; You will be up close and personal with the North Cascades wilderness and have access to the Big Beaver Trail and Desolation Peak, and many other trails. The cabins are well appointed, very clean, and very comfortable. The modern cabins have a separate room with bunk beds, as well as two twin beds in the main room. You can rent a boat from the resort and travel up the lake 22 miles and see the profoundly beautiful and unique landscape surrounding Ross Lake. If you are able to devote yourself to an appreciation of nature free of the distractions of your cell phone and the Internet, you will enjoy this resort.
A high school friend of mine and I first saw the Ross Lake Resort in the summer of 1956 when we hiked up the side of Ross Dam, rented a rowboat from the then fledging resort and rowed miles up the lake to Couger Island to camp out for a week and fish. We caught so many trout we had to row back down, have them put the fish in the freezer, and then rowed back up.
All of our trips since then have been much easier -- no more hiking up the sides of dams or rowing. But getting there is still an event in its own right. First, you drive to the Seattle City Light dock at Diablo Lake and unload your food and clothes. You have to bring all of your own food as there is no food available for puchase at the resort. Then you load it onto the City Light boat taht takes you up Lake Diablo to the foot of Ross Dam, where you unload your belongings onto the dock. A flatbed truck waits nearby, and you then load you cooler, luggage, etc onto the truck, then jump in to ride on the bench seats on either side. Then starts a very slow trek up the switchback dirt and gravel road, all in compound low, to get up and over the side of Ross Dam. And then, there you are, at Ross Lake, where you unload all your stuff off the truck. Tom, the owner of the resort, or one of his employees, then comes roaring over in a very old 1950s style speedboat, that someclaim was designed by the famous Stan Seyers, owner of the unlimited hydroplanes, Slo-Mo-Shun. Whatever, they take you across the lake at warp factor 10 with a roostertail flying behind you, and then pull right up to the floating boardwalk that runs in front of the cabins. You step out, unload your stuff once again, and take one step into your cabin. Cool, what? The resort complex is all floating on the lake with cables running ashore. It includes 12 "modern" cabins and two large cabins at the end of the string of cabins. It also includes a bunkhouse for groups and two or three of the smaller original cabins I remembered seeing when first going there in 1956. The "modern" cabins are plainly furnished, but come complete with a full bathroom with flush toilet, hot and cold running water, a stove and oven, medium-size refrigerator and a stove against the back wall. A corner placement of two day beds is at one corner, and in the small bedroom are two bunk beds with the bathroom next to that.
After you get your stuff stowed, you can relax and enjoy the stupendous view of the surrounding mountains and the huge thundering waterfall across the way. Also in front of you is an arm of Ross Lake, called Ruby Creek, just waiting for you to explore it. And up the lake past Couger Island, are two clefts in the rocks, that go back close to 100 yards, with the cleft in the rocks becoming more and more narrow, with sheer cliffs of granite and basilt rocks rising straight up. It gets so narrow toward the end, that it can block out the sun, and the silence, broken only by a rushing stream of water at the very end, is stunning.
Rent a boat for a day with a 9.9 or 10 horsepower outboard, and take off to explore this wonderful, pristine and remote lake. A little uplake on the west side is Big Beaver campground and creek which empties into the lake. If you beach your boat at Big Beaver, you can find the path along the shore for a wonderful walk in the woods, across a footbridge and then if you continue on far enough, you will come to the last strand of old-growth, huge cedar trees left in the area. (I think its cedar, but not positive). Up the lake a few miles is Ten Mile Island, so named because, well, its about ten miles up the lake. And here and there as you go uptake, you will see campgrounds and floating docks. The lake goes a short distance into Canada, but that for us was a "one and done" kind of thing as there is very little there to see or do.
Many people make their reservations each year before they leave, for the next year, and as a result, Ross Lake Resort is very, very difficult to get a reservation. And the season is short -- they don't open until early June and close down in mid or late October. Many of them come for the great fishing, but many others, such as we, come just for the feeling of being away from it all -- sort of like the back of beyond, with no phones, no TV, no radio. But it is more than worth the time and energy spent in trying to obtain one, and if you do, be sure to go for at least two nights, giving you at least one full day to explore the lake in all of its magnificent, beautiful setting.
My wife and I stayed at the Ross Lake Resort October 13-15, 2014. It is located on Ross Lake in the North Cascades National Park/Recreational Area. It is one of the few parks in the National Park system that does not charge an entrance fee. We had a great time. To get there you will have to take two boats and a flatbed truck. The resort has about 12-14 cabins that sit on a floating boardwalk on the lake. You really do not feel the motion unless a boat causes wake waves, then you feel a slight rocking motion. You will see some of the most spectacular scenery this side of Glacier National Park! It is beyond breathtaking!
Let's start with the name "resort". It is somewhat misleading. There is no restaurant, spa, horseshoe pits or volleyball courts. There are basically 3 major activities: hiking, boating and fishing. Since we went in October, it rained just about every day we were there. It was great! You're going to get wet if you go then. I went hiking in the rain and it was wonderful so dress appropriately. They do have boat rentals that you can rent and put right in front of your cabin to use whenever you want to go fishing or boating or just exploring this beautiful area.
Now for the cabins. We were lucky and got reservations due to a cancellation. There are 3 types of cabins available: a Little Cabin, Modern Cabin and the Peak Cabin (see their web site for specific info on these) We scored the Modern Cabin. All cabins have a fully stocked kitchen (pots, pans, bowls, plates, knives, forks etc.), linen, beds, large table that has 6 chairs. etc. In our modern cabin, (#8 called the Rainbow's End) we had 5 single beds, a great shower and an electric heater that was controlled by thermostat. So, if you want to "cuddle with your cutie" in bed it will be crowded. There are two rooms, one has a set of bunk beds and the other room had 3 single beds. You will need to bring paper products (napkins, paper towels etc) and any condiments you like (Tabasco, mustard etc), as the only ones they stock for you is salt and pepper. All the other cabins have wood stoves. The wood is provided but stored outside so it gets wet. You will need to bring in the wood so it will dry out before using it. Because our cabin #8 had an electric heater, the other ones had wood stoves and take the space of one of the single beds so there are 4 beds instead of 5 in the modern cabins.
Food: You will need to bring your own food. Get a cooler, and bring as much as you will need for the time you are there. The office has snack items only (candy bars, cookies etc) Also bring ice as they do have ice cub trays in the fridge, but if you want your own ice then bring a bag or buy it in the office.
Internet/Cell phones: NONE..there is no cell phone service or internet connections. The ONLY reason you would bring your cell phone is to play music, take pictures or play games.
Misc activities: My wife spent most of the rainy days doing puzzles and playing cards with me, but I went hiking in the rain which was great! The office has games and books you can check out for free, so bring inside activities if the weather is a concern for you.
Summary: This was one of the most beautiful places we have visited. We have visited 13 National Parks and this is in the top 3. The scenery is amazing. It is remote and perfect for just getting away. There was a sister pair who did scrap booking and crafts most days. So plan on solitude, meeting new friends and outdoor activities that will take your breath away.