The experience of boating in the Northwest is highlighted by scenic mountain views and lush forested coastline. Serene freshwater lakes here offer adventures for boaters of every skill level, while spots like Puget Sound and the Columbia River are better geared toward those who have more experience behind the helm.
Just as with any other boat trip, make sure you have your boat registration and all of the required safety equipment before boating in the Pacific Northwest.
Wondering where to boat specifically while you’re there? Learn about a few of the most popular Pacific Northwest boating destinations
1. Ross Lake, Washington
Situated 34 miles from Seattle, Ross Lake is a boating gem set within the rugged mountain wilderness. You can take in stunning views of the North Cascades, experience boat-in camping, and fish for chunky rainbow trout. Best access is via the water taxi provided by Seattle City Power and Light on Diablo Lake, accessible via Diablo Dam Road between mile markers 127 and 128.
2. Lake Chelan, Washington
Located in the north-central portion of the state, access to Lake Chelan is convenient due to a number of public boat launches as well as boat-in campsites. Recreational boaters and water sports lovers often name Lake Chelan as a favorite northwest boating spot due to the beautiful crystal clear waters of this 50.5-mile long lake.
3. Columbia River, Oregon
A trip focused on boating in the Pacific Northwest wouldn’t be complete unless it meant at least a few days on the Columbia River. As the largest river in the Pacific Northwest, the Columbia is rich in history and anchorage spots. Plan to traverse the Multnomah Channel going upstream toward Portland where you’ll find plenty of moorages for boats and prime fishing opportunities for spring-run Chinook salmon.
4. Puget Sound, Washington
More than just a gateway to secluded bays and beautiful beaches, South Puget Sound is home to several amazing State Parks. Check out Penrose Point State Park, Cutts Island State Park, and Jarrell Cove State Park. Be sure to reference a local tide chart before heading out since currents and tides can vary dramatically.
After reading about these spots, how can you not be ready to go boating in the Northwest? Pack your camera and your base layers because the beautiful Pacific Northwest waterways are waiting.