Q: Can We Rent Canoes on Diablo Lake at Colonial Creek Campground?

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Dear TripFinder,

Hi there. I was wondering if you could give me some information regarding canoe rentals in North Cascades National Park. Do you know if they have canoe rentals available at Colonial Creek Campground? Thanks!


Dear Vicky,

Diablo Lake, photo by “nein09” via Flickr Creative Commons.

The waters of Diablo Lake are a brilliant jade green color, created by cold glacial runoff full of tiny rock particles and silt. Paddling through Diablo Lake in summertime is worthy of any Pacific Northwesterner’s bucket list. And, you can launch canoes, kayaks and other portable craft right from Colonial Creek Campground, then paddle up to five miles to the end of Diablo Lake.

Unfortunately, it seems you do need to bring your own canoe or kayak to launch from Colonial Creek Campground. There are currently no concessionaires that rent boats from this location, and we were unable to find any canoe rentals in the immediate vicinity except for Ross Lake Resort.

On nearby Ross Lake, the Ross Lake Resort rents canoes and kayaks, but getting there is tricky. You can’t just drive from your campsite at Colonial Creek up to Ross Lake Resort to rent a canoe for the day; you have to take a passenger boat there that departs once per morning at the cost of about $28 per person round trip–a lot of hassle just to rent a canoe for a day of paddling.

I want to point out that North Cascades Institute offers several tours in the area that might make a nice substitute for a day of paddling.

For more information on visiting this area, contact Visitor Information at North Cascades National Park.

Hope this helps!

Got a burning travel question? You ask, we’ll answer.

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7 Responses

  1. You can also hike to Ross Lake Resort and their canoe rentals. I forget the exact distance, but pretty sure it’s less than two miles from Ross Lake Trailhead. Or walk just the first half-mile to Ross lakeshore and the Resort would probably pick you up in their motorboat for much less than the $28 option described above. (Ask them when you’re reserving your canoe.)

  2. I would like to know if there are any showers close to Colonial Creek Campground? I am planning on going there this weekend and interested in showers?
    Also, are reservations needed?

    1. Daiana, Colonial Creek Campground does not accept reservations, so no you don’t need them. You will want to show up early though to make sure you get a campsite, like Friday before noon. There are a few other campgrounds on the North Cascades Highway you could have as a backup (Goodell is no-reservations, half the 112 campsites at Newhalem are no-reservations). We have a free guide to last-minute campgrounds – get it here: https://nwtripfinder.com/subscribe

      As for showers… none of the national park campgrounds have them. The nearest showers I know of are 30 miles back down Highway 20 towards Rockport, at Howard Miller Steelhead Park Campground. This Skagit County park has coin-op showers.

    2. The Howard Miller Steelhead Park Campground showers are not available to outside people, even if you pay for them. The showers /are/ coin-op, but the doors are locked.

  3. Does anyone have experience in canoeing or kayaking from colonial creek campground to the dam and then hiking with their craft to Ross Lake?
    On a map it looks like there’s a 1mi long trail that essentially connects Diablo Lake to Ross Lake.

    1. A few years ago we took a group scouts by bringing our own canoes and paddling out from the colonial campground area. There is a portage service for about $20 per canoe including 2 people and all your stuff, if you search for the resort on Ross lake youll find more info on where to meet, how to contact them, etc. They have a large flatbed truck and haul everything. Doing it manually unless you are travelling very light would be brutal. Ross lake is awesome, one stop not to miss is devil’s creek, paddle up the creek and deadeND at a waterfall. We went to the north end and made lunch in canada. Have fun.

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