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Experience the Beauty of the North Cascades Aboard a Diablo Lake Boat Tour

Glide along glacial aquamarine waters deep in a natural recreation area.

Presented by Seattle City Light May 25, 2023

A unique feature – The top of Diablo Dam serves as a bridge for cars to cross the lake.

Breezing along on a glass-roof boat through the stunning turquoise waters of Diablo Lake in the North Cascades is the most immersive way to enjoy pristine nature without a kayak.

Surrounded by evergreen-covered mountains, a summer boat trip with Skagit Tours across the lake and up the canyon to the base of Ross Dam allows passengers to experience the best of the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty.

Providing boat tours for decades, Skagit Tours is returning to a full schedule after a two-year hiatus. Booking registration has begun. Get the details and register here.

About a two-hour drive from the center of Seattle, visitors turn off I-5 into Skagit Valley, a popular getaway for campers, hikers and flower seekers. Driving northeast, visitors wind along scenic roads dotted with farms, farm stands and quaint towns as the road enters the North Cascades mountain range.

At the Skagit Tour dock near Diablo Dam, visitors board the Alice Ross IV, a tour boat with an open-air deck and glass roof/sides. On the tour, the boat passes through natural areas typically hidden from view by highways or trails. The guide shares stories of the area’s geology, ecosystem and wildlife as well as local cultural history and how the hydroelectric project relates to the North Cascades environment.

Journey across the emerald-green lake and enjoy the views of the canyon.

“A hundred years ago, J.D. Ross, the father of Seattle City Light, had a vision of power generation on the Skagit River combined with recreational opportunities,” said Jenn Strang, media relations manager for Seattle City Light. “Our boats are named for his wife, Alice, and providing recreation services has always been a priority for Seattle City Light.”

The glacier-fed reservoir at Diablo Lake gets its bright turquoise coloring in the summer from sunlight bouncing off tiny rock particles suspended in the water. The particles are created when rock from the surrounding mountains is eroded by ice and then carried down to the river and lake by glacial streams.

“The boat tour gets you up-close access to a remote location,” Strang said. “You may even spot some of the wildlife the area is famous for.”

Tourists take in the sights aboard the glass-roofed boat, Alice Ross IV.

The tour season begins June 29 when the popular Diablo Lake and Lunch Cruises get underway.

  • Lunch cruises: Offered Thursday through Monday, check-in begins at 10:45 a.m. Including an organic, home-cooked lunch at the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, the tour lasts about two hours. Ticket prices are $45 per adult, $42 for adults 62 and above and youth ages 3-17 are $22. This tour is offered until Sept. 4.
  • Afternoon cruises: Available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 30 to Sept. 3. Check-in begins at 2 p.m. All tours are approximately one and a half hours. Ticket prices are $30 per adult, $28 for adults 62 and above and youth ages 3-17 are $15.
  • Fall morning cruises: Running Fridays and Saturdays from Sept. 9 - Oct. 1. Check-in begins at 10:45 a.m. Tours are approximately one and a half hours. Ticket prices are $30 per adult, $28 for adults 62 and above and youth ages 3-17 are $15.

If you’re not taking the lunch cruise, visitors may want to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy before or after the tour as well as sunscreen and a light jacket, Strang recommends.

“And don’t forget a camera, because it’s the perfect outing for making memories,” Strang said. “We get a lot of Seattleites eager to bring out-of-town guests seeking a special experience.”

In addition to the boat tours, visitors can add to their adventures by taking a self-guided walking tour of historic Newhalem or enjoy other recreational opportunities.

Off the water, tourists venture up the path to Ladder Creek Falls.

The Trail of Cedars is a short loop nature trail that begins at the suspension bridge at the end of Main Street in Newhalem and follows along the Skagit River through old-growth forest. Slightly longer, the loop trail through Ladder Creek Falls and Garden at the east side of Newhalem crosses an old railroad bridge to the Gorge Powerhouse. More advanced hikers will enjoy the 7.6-mile out-and-back Diablo Lake Trail with magnificent views of Pyramid, Snowfield, Davis and Colonial peaks.

Other attractions in the area include the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, which offers programs for all ages, the historic Skagit general store, and the Gorge Powerhouse Visitor Gallery. Plan your excursion today!

For more information about Skagit Tours, including reservations, visit Skagittours.com, email [email protected] or call (360) 854-2589. To learn more about where your power comes from, visit the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project.






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