Boating in Washington

Going boating in Washington? Washington state offers outdoor enthusiasts a rugged playground that’s gorgeous and straight-up hard to beat. Between the Cascade Range and the Olympic Mountains the options for outdoor activity are endless. You can go boating, wakeboarding, whitewater rafting, kayaking, hardcore rock climbing or mountain biking through an old-growth forest. Take your pick! There’s always something awesome to do in Washington state’s big, beautiful backyard.

Spending time on the water is where it’s at for us. Combining the Pacific Coastline, the extensive tidal waterways and the island perimeters of Washington, there are 3,000+ miles of coastline to explore. Now that’s cool. Visit a big city like Seattle or Olympia. Visit a small town like Long Beach or cozy Leavenworth, known for it’s awesome rock-climbing. Washington has a water venue for every type of boater and paddler. So grab a map and start exploring!


Best Boating Trips

With popular boating and paddling options and organized tours located all over Washington state, your on-water activity options are limitless. So to get you started, we thought we’d name just a few of our favorite ways to hit the water in Washington.


Ross Lake

Ross lake, seen from the Washington Pass on the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20), provides excellent boating and angling opportunities.  There is a 23 mile long impoundment to the lake which creates a bit of a barrier to those who aren’t determine to access what the lake has to offer.  You can portage a canoe or kayak via water taxi via Diablo Lake. If you wish to access the lake by boat the nearest available boat ramp is in British Columbia.

At the far north end of the lake is the Hozomeen Campground. You can access the boat ramp after a 40 mile drive from Hope, British Columbia. Once on the lake you get incredible views of the North Cascades.


Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan is a 50 mile long body of water with many smaller lakes and waterways nearby. With the Columbia River four miles east of the lake there are plenty of watersport opportunities. The lake is a playground for watersport enthusiasts. Sports like waterskiing, jetskiing, parasailing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, tubing, boat cruising, windsurfing, and sailing.  Winds are stronger up the lake in the Lucrene Basic and near Stekekin.


Lake Cle Elum

Year-round relaxation can be found at Lake Cle Elum.  Find this little gem just minutes from Roslyn, Washington, nestled in the surrounding mountain ranges.  Water skiing, jet skiing, fishing, fly fishing, wind surfing, rafting, and swimming are all popular activities.


Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands

Magnificent orca (or killer) whales live in the San Juan Islands year round, and this is the best place in the world to see them. You can also view humpbacks, minkes and even gray whales.  The “Southern Residents” reside in the area and can be seen between spring and fall. Other interlopers can also be seen including sea lions, seals, porpoises, bald eagles, and more. There are many wildlife tour boat operators in the area due to the plethora of wildlife viewing opportunities here.


Kayaking the White Salmon River

The wild and beautifully scenic White Salmon river begins on the glaciers of Mount Adams and flows into the Columbia River.  It offers whitewater, a noteworthy forested canyon and the Husum Falls, a large commercially run waterfall which is a haven for kayakers.  With no internet flow gauge many use the visual foot gague below the Husum Falls as a measurement for the level of the river before making the trip.


State Parks

Washington State Parks offer outdoor enthusiasts over 80 parks across the state and endless stretches of pristine terrain. So grab your Discover Pass and start your Washington state boating adventure!

If you’re into sailboarding, some of the world’s best windsurfing conditions can be found on the waterways of Washington State Parks. The scenic Columbia River Gorge has more than a half-dozen state parks located along it where you’ll find ideal sailboarding conditions. Doug’s Beach is rated for advanced windsurfers. Nearby Columbia Hills has the perfect combination of calm water and high winds for beginners.


Best Boating Trips

Many of the lakes in Washington’s State Parks are regularly stocked with Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout and Kokanee Trout. Cascade Lake at Moran State Park is one such place and has become a really popular fishing destination (it’s an awesome place to camp out too!)

If you’re after salmon or trout, plan on fishing at Seaquest State Park, nicely nestled under Mount St. Helens. If you’re looking for Largemouth Bass, you can reel them in at Curlew Lake in the Okanogan Highlands. Or at Triton Cove on the Hood Canal, where you can also catch offshore salmon, red snapper, and cod.

Keep in mind, a current Washington state fishing license is required for all but a few game species. For fishing license information, call the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) at 360-902-2464. For current season openings, call the WDFW Fishing Hotline at 360-902-2500.