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Beat the Heat: Best Summer watering holes in Skagit County

Lakes in Skagit County

There are so many unique spots in Skagit County to beat the heat and swim, kayak, or even fish. With several rivers, lakes, and even access to the Puget Sound, there is a water activity for everyone. While temperatures remain modest in Skagit County in the summertime, coastal humidity can make the area feel hot! Whether you are planning your summer vacation to the pacific northwest or you are a local looking for a new adventure, this guide will help you decide on the best activities on the water for you this summer. 

Whether you have a whole family to entertain or are looking for some quiet time by yourself this summer, Skagit County is the place to come. With over 100 lakes, two major rivers, three Islands, and miles of coastline, you are guaranteed to find an activity that suits you.  

Anacortes kayaking 

Kayaking in Anacortes

Anacortes is the entrance to the San Juan Islands. If you are looking for a saltwater adventure, Anacortes Kayak Tours may be for you. The Anacortes Kayaking Tour company requires no previous kayaking experience. You will kayak around Burrows Island and several other small islands in the area. The San Juan Islands are known for Bald Eagles, seals, porpoises, deer, and sometimes orcas, grey whales, or humpbacks.  

These trips are family-friendly and guided by knowledgeable staff that will help you get comfortable in your kayak. Depending on the direction your group takes, you may get stunning views of the Olympic Mountain Range, the North Cascades, Mt. Baker, or Mt. Rainer. Kayaking is suitable for all levels of physical fitness, and is a great way to get out on the water. Kayaking tours start at just $79 for adults and are sure to be a highlight of your summer adventures.  

Multi-Day Kayaking Trips

Suppose you are a more adventurous kayaker or have more time to spend. In that case, the Anacortes Kayak Tours co offers multi-day Island hopping tours that feature camping. Multi-day tours also feature even more exceptional views with 6 hours of kayaking a day. The San Juan’s experience many days of sun and good weather during the summer months. Another fun option is the bioluminescent night tour. Bioluminescent organisms light up the water and offer an incredible kayak experience. This trip is weather and condition dependent but is another option for a unique adventure to beat the heat.

Rosario Beach/ Deception pass 

If you are looking for a saltwater experience with excellent views, Rosario Beach in Skagit County is great. Rosario beach is connected to Bowmans Bay, a small bay home to seals, birds, calm water, hiking, and more. 

There is a small boat launch at Rosario beach perfect for launching kayaks. You can also paddleboard to cruise around the bay area. Head out toward the large rocks at the mouth of the bay! You may see seals, porpoises, or starfish on the rock itself. The bay usually has very calm water making it the perfect place to paddle or kayak for all levels. You can also often find remote control boat races happening during the summer months at Bowman’s Bay.  

There are a number of hikes at Rosario Beach that offer views of the Salish Sea and Deception pass. In the channel facing Deception Pass, you can occasionally see Orcas passing by. While the saltwater is cold, Rosario Beach is a great place to dip your toes. Walk the beach to look at crabs, beach rocks, and other sea life. 

Washington park 

Washington Park is a great water location for those who don’t necessarily want to get wet. With a cool breeze blowing in off the water, Washington Park is usually several degrees cooler than the rest of the county. Washington Park is arguably one of the best locations in the entire county to watch the sunset during the summer months. There is a number of picnic tables facing the water with park BBQs available. 

Washington Park has both a large grassy area, perfect for picnics, as well as a beach and several viewpoints. If you are looking for a place to beat the heat and spend an afternoon, this is an excellent option for families, couples, and solo adventures. Parking is free, and there is also a public boat launch if you are in need of one. 

Skagit River 

The Skagit River runs across the entirety of Skagit County. The river itself begins in southwest British Columbia in Canada and ends by flowing into the Puget Sound. The river is roughly 150 miles long. The Skagit River is excellent for fishing, swimming, boating, and fishing.

The Skagit River is the only river in the United States that is home to all five species of salmon. If you are a fishing enthusiast, then look no further. There are plenty of great areas to fish on the river. The Skagit River is home to great fishing for Silvers, King salmon, Stealhead’s, and more. Many people fish from boats, but there are plenty of areas to fish from the shore as well in the Skagit Valley.

Diablo Lake on the Skagit River

 If you want to venture just outside of Skagit County, you can follow the river up highway 20 to Diablo Lake, which is a reservoir created by the Diablo dam. The water here is often a picture-perfect blue, and there are plenty of viewpoints along highway 20 to take in the views. The Skagit river also supports one of the largest populations of Bald Eagles in the United States. No matter where you are on the river, you are bound to find lots of fish, birds, and views.  

Swimming in the Skagit River can be hazardous, so please pick carefully where you might want to take a dip. As you travel up highway 20 toward lake Diablo, there are a few safe swimming areas. Be aware that snowmelt and rain can drastically affect the water levels and how fast the water is moving. 


There are 137 lakes in Skagit County. From high alpine lakes to calm residential watering holes, there is plenty of excellent areas to cool off in the area and beat the heat.  

Lakes in Skagit County
Lakes in Skagit County

Whistle Lake

For cliff jumping, swimming and hiking, head to Anacortes to Whistle Lake. This lake is popular during the summer months because of its array of cliffs overhanging the lake, bringing in young adventures for the cliffs. Jumping. If you are looking for a nice place to float, this lake usually has plenty of lake-side spots to set up a day camp and is quiet and protected in a wooded area. It is an excellent place to lounge on a floaty for the day.  

Lake Shannon

Lake Shannon is a great place to kayak, boat, jet ski, paddleboard, and swim. This lake is near Concrete, Washington, and offers stunning views of Mt. Baker. With a public boat launch and plenty of beachside nooks to hide out in, Lake Shannon is one of the best lakes for water toys. It is large and offers enough room for boats and kayakers to enjoy the lake. If you are ready for a day at the lake, pack a lunch and paddle your way to the best shoreline spots. 

Hidden Lake

If you are looking for a trek to get to your cool-off spot, Hidden Lake is the lake for you. This 8 mile- out and back hike offers stunning views of the north cascades and a great way to enjoy new areas of Skagit county. Hidden lake is located at the top of the hike and is a great place to have lunch and enjoy the views. 

Baker Lake

Just outside of Concrete, Wa, you will find Baker Lake. Baker Lake is a massive lake situated just inside the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Park. Home to hiking, fishing, boating, kayaking, and swimming areas. With stunning views of Mt. Baker and plenty of coves and beaches to explore, it is a favorite place for many people from Skagit County. Bake lake has a few different swimming areas and public parks that often fill up during the summer months, so grab a parking spot early in the day. If you are looking for a hike, there is a trail on the south side of the lake with incredible views of the mountains and even a few spots to jump in and swim. Bake Lake is known for its trout fishing, and fisherman cruise the edges of the lake during the summertime for trout and bass. 

Sauk River 

 Sauk River is a 45-mile long river that drains a high area of the North Cascades. This river flows into the Skagit River, but it is known for its snowmelt and icy cold water year-round. The Sauk River is a popular rafting location. With plenty of class 3 and 4 rapids, it is the perfect intermediate wilderness adventure. 

Rafting Sauk River

If you are looking for an adventure in the water, check out Triad River Tours to book your rafting adventure for this summer. Rafting trips start at 85 dollars and offer a 1.5-2.5 hour raft trip with stunning mountain views. Rafting is an excellent way to get on the water and beat the heat.

Sauk river is also known for its fly fishing. The river is remote and offers exceptional views and stunning waters. The locals identify the perfect fly fishing when the water turns a clear green. If you are ready for fly fishing in the great wilderness of the foothills of the cascades, Sauk River is the stop for you. 

Beat the Heat on the coast

There are miles of coast in Skagit County and even a few islands Guemes Island, Cypress Island, and Sinclair, make a trifecta of bliss as you head into the Islands. If you are looking to take in the views and experience Island life, head to Guemes Island. You will cross a short waterway by ferry from Anacortes and land on the tiny Island. Guemes is only 8 square miles and offers stunning views of the cascades and the sound. If you have a boat or kayak, consider doing an Island tour of these three Islands to enjoy the ocean breeze and beat the heat. These islands are close enough together that you can kayak or boat around them and spend the day taking in the views, watching the seals and birds, and fellow boaters. 

Samish Island and Padilla Bay are also part of the Skagit Valley; both of these locations offer a number of beachfront areas to launch kayaks, fish, and cruise the beaches for crabs. While Samish Island is largely private property, Padilla Bay has a fantastic walking trail that sits just on the edge of the water. It is a great place to enjoy the cool air from the water, go bird watching, and watch the tide come in and out. 

Skagit County has countless places to cool off by the water and beat the heat. Skagit County has you covered whether you are looking for a salty breeze by the ocean, a lake day, or a wilderness river adventure. There is no end to the exceptional views or adventures that you can have on the water in the area. If you want to fish, kayak, swim, or simply hang by the water’s edge, you don’t have to choose. With so many options all in one county, you could start your morning rafting in the foothills of the Cascades and end the day enjoying the sunset over the ocean. 

There is always more to do and see in the Skagit Valley, so make sure to check back in to plan your next stop.  

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