Skagit Tours and Recreation

The Skagit River Hydroelectric Project, surrounded by the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, is located in one of the most scenic areas of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle City Light provides a variety of recreational programs to help foster visitors’ enjoyment and stewardship of this special landscape.

A view of Diablo Lake over the front of a tour boat

Skagit Tours

There's nothing like the beauty of the North Cascades. You can experience it all on one of our Skagit Tours—designed for fun and education for all ages. Presented in partnership with North Cascades Institute and National Park Service, Skagit Tours have connected visitors to the natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest and our clean hydro resources for nearly 100 years.

Enjoy the stunning beauty of Diablo Lake aboard the Alice Ross IV—a glass roof boat designed to provide the best views from inside or outside the boat. As you cruise the glacier-fed lake, you will learn about the surrounding ecosystem, enjoy spectacular views, and hear stories about the development of the local dams and powerhouses.

Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, tour capacity is currently reduced from normal operations. Our tours comply with current health and capacity guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable tour experience for all. Reservations are required.

Skagit Tours Schedule
Jul. 1 – Sept. 6 Sept. 11 – Sept. 26
Mon. 11:30 am
2:30 pm
Tues.
Wed.
Thurs. 11:30 am
2:30 pm
Fri. 11:30 am
2:30 pm
Sat. 11:30 am
2:30 pm
11:30 am
2:30 pm
Sun. 11:30 am
2:30 pm
11:30 am
2:30 pm

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Hikers walking up a trail through the trees

Outdoor Recreation

City Light works with local partners to provide access to the abundant recreational opportunities in the Skagit Project area. One of the highlights of the Skagit Project is the Environmental Learning Center, constructed by City Light on the shores of Diablo Lake and operated by North Cascades Institute. City Light also provides annual funding to the National Park Service and US Forest Service for construction of new facilities, operation and maintenance of existing facilities, and development of educational materials.

Skagit Project attractions include:

Trail of the Cedars is three-quarter-mile loop with a short spur trail to the Newhalem Creek Powerhouse. Sights include large western red cedar trees, Douglas fir trees and vegetation regenerating from the 2015 Goodell Creek Wildfire. The bridge from Main Street to the trail provides great views of the Skagit River.

A group of hikers at the Trail of the Cedars trailhead
Photo credit: North Cascades Institute

Hours:
Open daily year-round.

Location:
End of Main St. in Newhalem

Ladder Creek Falls is one of the most spectacular and accessible waterfalls in the area. The trail continues through the Ladder Creek Gardens to Gorge Powerhouse. Finish the loop by crossing back over the river on the walkway along an old railroad bridge. For a visual treat, visit at night for a light show that illuminates the falls from dusk to 11:00 PM. Visit the National Park Service website for more information.

Ladder Creek Falls trail at night
Photo credit: North Cascades Institute

Hours:
Open daily year-round. Lighted from dusk to 11:00 p.m.

Location:
Newhalem
Trail starts at the parking lot across the river from Gorge Powerhouse. Follow the trail to the right and cross the suspension foot bridge.

In the summer, City Light operates a ferry on Diablo Lake to provide transportation for guests and customers of the Ross Lake Resort, which offers lodging and equipment rentals on Ross Lake. For additional information or to contact the Ross Lake Resort, visit Ross Lake Resort's website.

Ross Lake Resort cabins
Photo credit: Ross Lake Resort

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ferry is currently only operating for guests with reservations at Ross Lake Resort; face coverings required.

The award-winning North Cascades Environmental Learning Center is a hub of discovery for all ages, offering programs for adults, teachers, families, and children.

North Cascades Environmental Learning Center building
Photo credit: North Cascades Institute

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the campus is currently closed to the general public, but you can sign up for programs in advance on North Cascades Institute’s website.

Visitors looking down at the Gorge Powerhouse machinery

Tourist Attractions

Come see history come to life in the City Light company town of Newhalem, founded in 1918. Once home to more than 300 City Light workers and their families, Newhalem now provides a welcoming experience to travelers along State Route 20.

Attractions include:

Stop in the Skagit Information Center on Main Street to view interpretive displays, shop for unique souvenirs and books, and get all your questions answered by our friendly staff.

Skagit Information Center building

Hours:
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Open Friday–Sunday through Jun. 30.
Open seven days a week Jul. 1–Sept. 30.

Location:
Main St.
Newhalem, WA

Print out or stop by the Skagit Information Center to pick up a free copy of the Walk Historic Newhalem self-guided walking tour. The walking tour will introduce you to the historic features of the town and the nearby hydroelectric facilities—Gorge and Newhalem Creek.

Download the Walking Tour

Descarga la Caminata Guiada

Historic aerial photo of the town of Newhalem

Built in 1920, the General Store is one of four existing buildings on Main Street from the original town. The company store serves residents and visitors alike. Stop in for some famous homemade Skagit fudge!

Fudge for sale at the Skagit General Store

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Skagit General Store will be closed in 2021.

Location:
Main St.
Newhalem, WA

Renovated in 2013, the Gorge Inn was originally a cookhouse providing meals to City Light crews and tourists. Visit to see the displays on the people who lived and worked in the area before and during construction of the Skagit Project.

Exterior of the Gorge Inn
Photo credit: Bassetti Architects

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Gorge Inn will be closed in 2021.

Location:
Main St.
Newhalem, WA

Stop by the visitor gallery inside Gorge Powerhouse to learn more about how power is produced at the Skagit Hydroelectric Project. The gallery offers a great view of the generator floor, interpretive displays, and a historic photographic timeline of the Skagit Project.

Visitors inside the Gorge Powerhouse Visitor Gallery
Photo credit: North Cascades Institute

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Gorge Powerhouse Visitor Gallery will be closed in 2021.

Location:
Gorge Powerhouse
Newhalem, WA

Contact Us

For more information about Skagit Tours, including reservation information, visit the North Cascades Institute website, contact us online or call (360) 854-2589.

For more information about recreational and educational programs at the Skagit Project, contact us online or call (206) 386-4478.