The Skagit Valley is a vast expanse of mostly undeveloped wilderness. The 32,577 hectare park extends 23km north of the Canada/US border and is bordered on the east by Manning Provincial Park. This area was carved by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago, leaving behind steep-sided valleys and rugged mountain landscapes. Its diverse ecosystems provide habitat for over 250 species of animals and protects stands of precious rhododendrons and old-growth forests. Artifacts found in the park confirm that aboriginals inhabited the valley as far back as 8000 years ago!
In 1906, the Seattle City Light Company began building a hydroelectric dam with the intention of flooding the Skagit Valley, which straddles the Canada/US border. But after years of protesting, the Canadian portion of the Skagit Valley was saved. The water level of Ross Lake Reservoir however, is controlled by the hydro dam and is subject to fluctuations. During July and August, the lake is at its fullest, but at other times, the lake may be completely empty on the Canadian side.
There are three separate campgrounds in this park, Silvertip at 42 km (43 sites), Ross Lake at 60 km (88 sites) and a Whitworth Horse Camp at 54 km with 11 pull-through sites (near Whitworth Meadows). At Silvertip Provincial Campground, the forest is a thick mix of Douglas fir and western red cedar. The wind whistling through their branches, combined with the Skagit’s rushing water, soundproofs the environment around each campsite and gives campers a sense of privacy. Mount Rideout rears up behind Silvertip, at 8,029 feet (2447 m) so tall (and the campground so close) that its peak is obscured from view here by its lower ridges. You only get a true sense of its grandeur when you look up as you journey farther south towards Ross Lake.
Ross Lake Provincial Campground, has vehicle/tent campsites on the lake’s north shore. Some sites sit in an open area beside the lake, while the majority are set back in the shelter of the nearby woods. Although not as cozy a setting as Silvertip, the views from here are stunning, as several major peaks rise above the lake. Owing to their height, the tops of these Cascade Mountain peaks escaped the most recent period of glaciation and boast a more rugged, less rounded appearance than their Coast Mountain counterparts to the north. Only basic facilities are provided – picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits, firewood and water. A group campground is available at Ross Lake, but reservations are required. Wilderness camping is also permitted in the park, but no facilities are provided and campers should practice “no trace” camping. The park is open from May 1 to October 9.
There is a day-use/picnic area at the Ross Lake campground, which provides a swimming area and a children’s playground. Swimming is subject to water levels in the Ross Lake Reservoir. There is a boat launch in this area as well, but motorized watercrafts are not permitted on the lake. Without any motorboats, Ross Lake is very tranquil and is excellent for canoeing and kayaking.
For those interested in fishing, the Skagit River is one of the premier rainbow trout rivers in Western North America. The river contains Dolly Varden, char, eastern brook trout and cutthroat trout. Angling is particularly popular along the Silver-Skagit Rd between 26-Mile Bridge day-use area and Chittenden Bar day-use area. A BC freshwater angling licence must be purchased before arriving in the park. These are available locally in Hope and Silver Creek. Fishing is strictly catch-and-release with barbless hooks on the Skagit River.
Hiking trails are present along the Skagit River and around Ross Lake, which include: Chittenden Meadow Self-Guiding Interpretive Trail, Skagit River Trail, Skyline II Trail, Centennial Trail, Silverdaisy Trail and the Galene Lakes Trail. Horseback riding is permitted on the Skagit River Trail, Centennial Trail and the Skyline II Trail, which travels into neighbouring Manning Provincial Park. There is a 11 unit horse camp near Whitworth Meadows near the Skyline II Trail head.
The entrance to the park is located 37km southeast of Hope on the Silver-Skagit Road, but the main campground at Ross Lake is an additional 26km.
Nearby Regions & Towns