Skagit Tours: New and Improved for 2016

Today marks the beginning of the season for City Light’s Skagit Tours, and the experience for guests is better than ever this year. A new vessel, the Alice Ross IV, is making its debut on the Diablo Lake Boat Tours.


The new Alice Ross IV on a test run in April 2016

As it name implies, the Alice Ross IV is the fourth vessel to show visitors to the North Cascades the wonders of Diablo Lake. The Alice Ross boats have been in service to the public for more than 80 years. They are all named in honor of Alice Ross, the wife of J.D. Ross, the man who helped make hydroelectric energy generation along the Skagit River a reality.


The Alice Ross I on Diablo Lake in 1935

The Alice Ross IV is 55 feet long and has a capacity of 49 passengers and crew. It has an air-conditioned and heated cabin, an open aft deck and an onboard head. Best of all, it has large glass windows all along its cabin sides and roof, making for an excellent viewing experience—even from inside the boat.


Guests can stay dry and comfortable in the temperature-controlled cabin of the Alice Ross IV.

Located about 128 miles northeast of Seattle, Diablo Lake is a reservoir created by the Diablo Dam, one of three dams built in the last century on the Skagit River by Seattle City Light. Lake Diablo is a beautiful jade-turquoise color due to the glacial flour found in the waters that feed it.

 An aerial view of Diablo Lake looking south

City Light offers two different types of boat tours on Diablo Lake: a full tour that begins in the morning and ends in the afternoon, with a snack and lunch provided, or a shorter tour later in the afternoon. Both options provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about the unique history of the lake, the amazing biodiversity of the surrounding habitat and its wildlife. And, of course, views of the snow-capped mountains and jade waters are even more enjoyable from the cozy cabin of the new Alice Ross IV.

The 2016 Skagit Tours season closes in September 2016, but you should book today if you’d like to embark on his adventure. Dates are filling up quickly!

Book a Diablo Lake Boat Tour here.

Seattle City Light Testing New Skagit Tours Boat, Alice Ross IV

Testing the Alice Ross IV on Padilla Bay.

Construction is complete on Seattle City Light’s new tour boat, the Alice Ross IV, and sea trials are underway to test the boat before it begins service for Skagit Tours on Diablo Lake this summer.

City Light is replacing the Alice Ross III, which spent years providing Skagit Tours visitors rides across Diablo Lake. The new boat was built by Rozema Boat Works in Mt. Vernon.

The new boat is 55 feet long with a 16-foot beam. It has a rated capacity of 49 passengers and crew and is Americans with Disabilities Act accessible. The cabin uses as much glass as possible, including in the roof, to allow for the best outward visibility possible. A heating and air conditioning system, as well as an onboard head, will increase passenger comfort over the previous boats. The heating and cooling system has the capability to be powered from shore while docked, so the boat can be warmed or cooled before a tour without the need to run the engines.

A 14-foot open aft deck also allows for passengers to enjoy the tour from outside. The boat is powered by twin 500 hp John Deere diesel engines, which turn Hamilton jet drives.

This is the fourth tour boat named for Alice Ross, the wife of City Light’s second superintendent.

The Alice Ross IV was launched Dec. 30 on Padilla Bay, east of Anacortes, for its trial runs.

“It was a very cold, but beautiful, day with calm water, perfect for our first tests of the boat,” Sr. Capital Project Manager Josh Jackson said. “Overall the boat performed really well.  It’s smooth and has plenty of power, while still being relatively quiet.  We were able to get up to about 28 knots at full RPM. The target is 12 at cruising RPM — no problem.”

Testing will continue all week, including engine tuning and a visit from Washington State Labor and Industries representatives to witness the stability tests.

This is the fourth Skagit Tours boat to be named for the wife of City Light’s second superintendent, J.D. Ross, who led the development of the Skagit Hydroelectric Project. J.D. Ross is often referred to as the father of Seattle City Light.