North Cascades National Park


The Cascade Mountains are considered to be the "American Alps" by some, with jagged peaks that tower above pristine subalpine meadows and conifer forests. Numerous cascading waterfalls, which gave this mountain range its name, tumble over high cliffs or spill into mountain lakes and rivers. The eastern part of North Cascades National Park is situated in the Cascades' "rain shadow." It receives less precipitation and has milder conditions, which allows arid-region plants such as ponderosa pine and sagebrush to thrive. The western slopes are buffeted by storms blowing in from Puget Sound. With up to 110 inches of precipitation each year, it is an ideal environment for Douglas fir, western red cedar, and hemlock. The North Cascades park complex is made up of three parts: the North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. Ross Lake National Recreation Area encompasses 118,000 acres and provides a scenic route for the North Cascades Highway and a variety of outdoor activities. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is not accessible by car, but you can get there by boat, floatplane, or on foot. The glacial lake is one of the deepest in the U.S. with its lowest point 400 feet below sea level. The wilderness area that surrounds it is located 55 miles north of Chelan, WA. Rainbow Falls and other natural beauty provide a haven for nature lovers, while the rustic architecture of Stehekin, at the head of the lake, adds distinct charm to the area. Hikers, backpackers, and climbing experts will find adventure and challenge in the mountains of North Cascades National Park. Nearly 400 miles of hiking trails provide access to over 600,000 acres of wilderness. Below 3,000 feet, trails are ready for hiking between April and May. The higher trails reach as high as 5,000 feet, giving visitors a spectacular, panoramic view of the North Cascades range, but may not be open until summer because of snow-cover. If you'd rather take a driving tour of the park, take the North Cascades Highway, which provides access to Gorge and Diablo lakes off State Route 20. Ross Lake is accessible by trail only. The Diablo Lake Overlook gives you a spectacular view of several major Cascades peaks. Stop and stretch your legs for a moment on a brief stroll through the Happy Creek Forest Walk. This short trail leads through an old growth forest and is wheelchair accessible. Along the North Cascades Highway, you can also cross over Goodell Creek Bridge for an excellent view of the Picket Range, and head into the town of Newhalem. Stop at the North Cascades Visitor Center for exhibits, educational programs, and information about the area. It's open 9 AM to 5 PM daily during the summer months and weekends in the winter and spring. There is an excellent view of the surrounding forest and the rugged Picket Range from the short boardwalk trail behind the visitor center. Climbing opportunities abound in North Cascades Park, but only for experienced climbers. Because of rugged conditions and occasional severe weather, climbing can be hazardous. Be sure you have the best equipment and stay abreast of the current weather forecast and conditions. Guidebooks can be purchased at visitor centers and ranger stations, and permits are required for all overnight trips in the park's backcountry (hiking, climbing, and boating). Most campgrounds in the North Cascades National Park complex are accessible by the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20). Ross Lake and Lake Chelan national recreation areas provide several campgrounds, but services differ, so phone ahead for details and up-to-date information. Primitive campgrounds without water or services are free and open year-round. Most campsites are first-come, first-served. Leashed pets are permitted in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. Pets are not permitted on trails or in cross-country areas within the national park.


810 State Rte 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


48.67645400, -121.24185600
Visit Website
(360) 854-7200

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