Riding off the road is not allowed in the park, but there are several good biking routes. Keep in mind that biking is usually best in late July and August, but even then, bad weather can descend suddenly, ruining views and soaking riders.
The trip along Wash. State Rte. 20 through the park and west of the park between Rockport and Marblemount is strenuous but beautiful. The road has a wide shoulder in many (though not all) places, and developed campgrounds. There are some extremely steep stretches.
Mountain bikers will want to try the Stehekin Valley Road route, a 21-mile stretch from the community of Stehekin to Flat Creek, on Lake Chelan. The road parallels the glacier-fed Stehekin River and provides plenty of great views of the North Cascades peaks. The 312-foot-high Rainbow Falls is a wonderful stop along the way.
Cross-Country and Downhill Skiing
West of the park complex, the Mount Baker Ski Area (tel. 360/671-0211; www.mtbaker.us) is where most downhill skiers end up. Another good source of information is www.nooksacknordicskiclub.org for cross-country skiing in the North Cascades area. If you want to do some cross-country skiing away from the crowds, consider Stehekin. The chance to ski past 312-foot-tall Rainbow Falls should not be missed.
Anglers must have Washington State fishing licenses, which are available at sporting goods stores. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (tel. 360/902-2200 or 360/902-2500 for the fishing regulation hotline; www.wdfw.wa.gov) publishes a pamphlet that lists regulations and seasons.
Ross Lake contains populations of both native rainbow and cutthroat trout, as well as eastern brook trout and a few bull trout (which must be released). The Ross Lake Resort (tel. 206/386-4437) rents fishing boats. Fishing season on Ross Lake is July 1 to October 31.
Lake Chelan, although it looks like an awesome fishing hole, is so large, so deep, and so cold that it doesn't support a large fish population. However, it does have quite a variety, including kokanee; landlocked Chinook salmon; cutthroat, rainbow, and Mackinaw trout; and freshwater ling cod (burbot). The Stehekin River and its tributary streams offer excellent fly-fishing. Check fishing regulations for seasons.
Hang Gliding & Paragliding
In recent years, Lake Chelan has become one of the nation's hang gliding and paragliding meccas. However, neither activity is allowed in the national park or the adjacent national recreation area. Strong winds and thermals allow flyers to sail for 100 miles or more from the Chelan Sky Park atop Chelan Butte, on the outskirts of town. Paragliding lessons (starting at $350 for 2 days) are available here through Aerial Paragliding School (tel. 509/782-5543; www.paragliding.us). The website for the local Chelan Flyers club, www.chelanflyers.com, is another good resource.
Kayaking & Canoeing
Diablo Lake and Ross Lake both offer excellent flat-water paddling. They are among the few inland waters in the Northwest with extensive boat-in campsites. However, there is no road access to Ross Lake in the U.S. (the unpaved Silver Skagit Rd. enters the park from Hope, British Columbia, and leads 40 miles to the north end of the lake). Ross Lake Resort (tel. 206/386-4437) offers a canoe and kayak shuttle service from Diablo Lake (which is accessible by car) around Ross Dam to Ross Lake. Check with the resort for charges per canoe or kayak. You can also rent outboard motorboats, kayaks, and canoes at the resort.
You'll need a backcountry permit, available at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount, to overnight on Ross Lake. A permit allows you to stay at the many campsites along the shores of Ross Lake. Backcountry permits are also available at the Hozomeen Ranger Station. Here you can explore the Narrow Ruby Arm using Green Point Campground (1 mile above the dam) as a base camp. Farther north are the Cougar Island (2 miles above the dam), Roland Point (4 miles above the dam), McMillan (5 1?2 miles above the dam), and Spencer's (6 miles above the dam) campgrounds.
Because of the 24-mile length of the lake and the strong winds that often blow in the afternoon, many paddlers stick to the lower end (unless they enter at Hozomeen at the lake's north end).
If you aren't inclined to spend the money for the shuttle, you can have a similar experience paddling on Diablo Lake, which is an amazing turquoise color due to the amounts of glacial flour suspended in the water. Diablo also has three boat-in campsites (Thunder Point, Hidden Cove, and Buster Brown), as well as a couple of small islands. Backcountry permits are needed for boat-in campgrounds on Diablo Lake. Alternatively, you can explore the lake from the drive-in Colonial Creek Campground on the Thunder Arm of the lake.
The Stehekin Valley makes an ideal snowshoeing destination, with trails that offer opportunities for exploring the mountain slopes surrounding the valley. The road is plowed to a point 9 miles north of Stehekin Landing.