Ross Lake Resort Review: Floating Lakefront Paradise

Ross Lake Resort in the North Cascades National Park

Deep within the seldom-visited North Cascades National Park lies the most amazing resort that you’ve probably never heard of: Ross Lake Resort. Floating on the edge of an aqua-colored lake with stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks and recreation opportunities abound, this might be one of the best-kept secrets in the United States, and it’s why the same guests keep coming back year after year.

Ross Lake Resort Cabins in North Cascades National Park

Secluded Location in the North Cascades National Park

The location of this resort is what makes it so unique and out of sight. The whole resort floats over Ross Lake, surrounded by dense forest, making it inaccessible by car. The most popular way to reach this resort is to park your car in a small, dirt parking lot off North Cascades Highway 20 and hike for a mile through a narrow but well-traveled dirt path, at which point there are two options: ride the ferry that will take you across the lake, or hike another mile across the dam. The alternative route is to ride in two ferries plus the back of a truck, the closest guests will get to bell service typically found at large resorts. However, this route is pricey at $28 per person and can take a while, so most visitors opt for the forest hike even if it means carrying all of their luggage and food along the way. Oh yes, this hotel does not have a restaurant or a shop nearby so the guests have to bring their own food for their entire stay. So if the resort is so inaccessible and such a hassle to get to, why do the hotel patrons keep coming back year after year?

Ross Lake Resort from Ross Lake Dam

Ross Lake Resort: Amazing Cabins with Breathtaking Views

The seclusion is what makes this hotel so great. If you REALLY want to go off the grid and enjoy the peace and serenity of the great outdoors while staying in a comfortable, “Hamptons” like resort, this place is for you. The cabins are built in a cute, wooden cabin style and include basic amenities like bathrooms and full kitchens. In the middle of the living spaces are antique wood fireplaces, and every cabin has astonishing views of the lake and the surrounding mountains through the large windows. There are 15 cabins, ranging from small, single-room cabins perfect for a couple, to two-story cabins with magnificent glass walls, vaulted ceilings, and upstairs lofts, perfect for larger groups. Just outside each independent cabin are wooden private decks with Adirondack lounge chairs and propane grills so every guest can lounge by the water, enjoying a glass of wine or taking a dip in the lake right outside their doorstep. The resort also offers kayak, canoe, and motorboat rentals for the more active outdoors enthusiasts, as well as fishing gear to try your luck with the native rainbow trout. You can also find many great day hikes around the resort since it’s located in the midst of a forest, and there are numerous boat-in and hike-in camping spots all around for those that truly want to get away. All in all, Ross Lake Resort is any outdoors vacationers dream.

Ross Lake Resort North Cascade National Park
Individual Cabins at Ross Lake Resort in North Cascades National Park
View from Ross Lake Resort North Cascades National Park
Inside Cabin at Ross Lake Resort in North Cascades National Park

Fully Booked Year After Year

Ross Lake Resort is a closely kept secret destination passed down from generation to generation, secluded from the rest of the world not only by its location but by its lack of need for marketing. Year after year, this resort is sold out from its opening day in June until it closes its doors in October. It is such a hit within the guests that the resort doesn’t need any promotions or marketing. Instead, every guest reserves their room for the next year during their departure because they know how difficult it is to get a room and they don’t want to give up their spot for the upcoming year. Many of the guests have been visiting the hotel for decades, and some guests claim that their spots were passed down to them from their parents. However long they’ve been staying there, there’s one thing all guests have in common: they all feel incredibly lucky to be able to visit such an amazing, little-known resort, and they have every intention of returning year after year.

Ross Lake Resort at North Cascades National Park
Ross Lake Resort

How To Make a Reservation

If this resort sounds like the vacation dreamland for you, how can you get in? Well there are three main ways:

  • You can check the Ross Lake Availability Calendar online for openings. Although the resort is always booked for the entire season, there are the occasional cancellations. Hotel guests have until 30 days before their visit to cancel and get a refund of their deposit, so if something comes up, it is usually at least 30 days in advance. Also, most of the cancellations happen late in the season in late September and October, so this is the best chance to get in. If any rooms open up, they are posted HERE.
  • Get on the waiting list. The staff keeps a waitlist of potential guests, which you can be included in by calling 206-386-4437.
  • As the resort gears up each spring for the upcoming season, they start collecting deposits in late April. Most cancellations happen during this time in late April and early May, so give them a call during this time and get in before the openings are published online.

Even if you are unable to book a reservation and stay at this gorgeous hotel, don’t miss out on visiting the Ross Lake Resort by just hiking over for the day and renting a kayak or enjoying lunch at one of their picnic tables set on a floating platform. The hotel staff is friendly and inviting to all visitors, whether you are staying at the resort or just stopping by out of curiosity.

Canoe, kayak and motorboat rentals at Ross Lake Resort in North Cascade National Park

With a serene location, plentiful outdoor opportunities, and great hospitality, everyone should experience the Ross Lake Resort once in their lifetime. Whether that means snagging up an available opening to make the perfect weekend getaway or just hiking down to catch some stunning views while visiting the North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake Resort offers something for everyone well worth the hike.

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6 thoughts on “Ross Lake Resort Review: Floating Lakefront Paradise”

  1. xavier le gaffric

    i m xavier i live to spain and i have 3 children , i would like too know if it s posible too ir to 23 to 28 agust and rent one place . tell me some thing i know that is late …..

    1. We visited Ross Lake Resort as day guests. The resort was fully booked up during our North Cascade National Park visit so we were not able to stay there overnight but the staff was very friendly and showed us around the property.


    1. Hi Debbie,

      You have to hike and carry everything in, including food, clothes, and all the essentials. While we visited these cabins just for the day, we did see overnight guests carrying large coolers and gear into these cabins for several miles.


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