Why Should We Explore North Cascades National Park?

Read on to know which natural wonders at North Cascades National Park are waiting to be explored by you

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North Cascades National Park, the largest of the three National Park Service units, in the North Cascades National Park Complex, is spread in about 500, 000 acres. Skagit River divides this American National Park into two equal halves namely, Northern Cascades Park and Southern Cascades Park. This park is surrounded by Lake Chelan National Recreation Area lies on the southern border, two other national recreation areas, many protected national forests and wilderness areas and Canadian provincial parks in British Columbia.

North Cascades National Park the true amalgamation of nature and its wonders is definitely a heaven on earth for nature lovers.

What Is the History Of North Cascades National Park:

First populated by Paleo-Indian Native Americans the region was then captured and inhabited by Skagit tribes. This was before the arrival of Europeans. The region saw many visitors by the early 19th century because of fur. Fur was in great demand in those times and that is the reason why apart from the fur trappers, various British and American companies competed to gain control over this region for the fur trade. It was only after 1846 when Canada and the United States defined their boundaries that explorers. But the place did not experience any major human impact, other than mining and logging on small scale till the early 20th century. In the 1920s the state government decided to use the vast water resource for higher commercial purposes. Several dams were built on the Skagit River to produce hydroelectricity. The dam project soon caught the attention of environmentalists. They launched a massive protest campaign against the government's decision and to preserve the rich wilderness. On October 2, 1968, their efforts bore fruit and they won the battle and the region got the name North Cascades National Park.

The park and the two adjacent recreation areas are looked after by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) and the North Cascades NationalPark Service Complex. This whole region, which includes the Park and the two adjacent recreation areas is stretched in an area of about 1,070 square miles where the national park covers 789 square miles and the two recreation areas are spread across 281 square miles collectively.

What Is The Right Time To Visit North Cascades National Park:

Other than the harsh winters, you can enjoy the wilderness of North Cascades National Park throughout the year. Winters are difficult in North Cascades National Park. Due to continuous heavy snowfalls and avalanches specifically on the western slopes, limits the tourism here. State Route 20, which moves along the Skagit River, the main route to North Cascades National Park also remains blocked in the winters for months because of the same reasons.

Why Should You Visit North Cascades National Park:

Though not untouched by the risk of climate change and pollution, the region is still the abode of many rare native species of plants and animals. North Cascades National Park is almost untouched by the outside world and its developments. You will see very few man-made structures like roads or eating joints here. The area is preserved wilderness so much so that you won’t easily get to camp there. Nature lovers who wish to camp mostly do it in the adjacent national forests or national recreation areas. You won’t get to drive in the North Cascade National Park. Visitors can only camp by hiking in by trail, horseback or boat, that too only after getting regulated from the concerned authorities. This region is perfect for mountaineers but only unobtrusive clean climbing is allowed.

The place is full of nature’s wonders. Around 300 glaciers and numerous snowfields are found on the mountain slopes of this park. It is sad though, that due to climate change and pollution most of these glaciers, which fed all the streams, ponds and lakes within the Skagit River drainage system have reduced in size and a few of them have disappeared too.



This park abounds in waterfalls. Ladder Creek Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls. This is because of the ease of reachability here. The waterfalls give you breathtaking moments and are a favorite photography spot for most.


Hiker’s paradise

The park provides 400 miles of hiking trails, which is quite incredible. There are enormous routes here that are enough to challenge any hiking expert. The fact that the area is a complete wilderness adds to its thrill. The middle latitude of the mountain is covered by grass, flowering plants and shrubs. However, the top most regions, called alpine, are covered by grass and lichens. It is a highly recommended destination for the ones seeking complete wilderness adventure.

Go Backpacking

It is preferable, at the end of a tedious hike, to sit and relax for a while. You might also want to fix your tent at the peak and spend a night to enjoy your accomplishment. Many backpacking routes end up bringing you to Alpine lakes like Ross Lake and Thornton and Monogram Lakes. Carrying heavy weights here can be burdensome because of the steep slopes. Make sure you pack only necessary items.


Glacier Lake Boating

One of the most soothing ways to move in the park is by paddling in boats. You can self-propel the vessel along with a partner and glide smoothly through the water.

Fresh eatables

Washington is well known for its food cultivation and farming. The local ingredients make all the dishes mouth-watering. It is just the right place for all foodies.

Photography spots

The lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and rugged mountain ranges make a perfect setting for photographic. The panoramic views of landscapes genuinely deserve to be captured.


Solitude in connectivity

The park is secluded from major cities to provide wilderness to animals and privacy to the visitors. Still, it is just 2 and a half hours from Seattle. You are always in touch with the city but don’t need to worry about its buzz.

If you are a hiker, bicycler, mountaineer, photographer, or just looking for adventure, this is the place. The park offers activities ranging from adventure sports to fishing. Outdoor experience in North Cascades National Park is definitely worth a try. As the name suggests, the place has got a whole lot of waterfalls. Every change of altitude is accompanied by a waterfall. Each of them provides gorgeous views that deserve an aperture of your lens. Learn about the flora and fauna of the locality

What Are The Main Campsites In North Cascades National Park:


Gorge Lake Campground And Overlook

This exciting campground is situated on the bank of Gorge Lake, right next to the cascading Stetattle Creek on the outskirts of the community of Diablo. Those who love to reside in the close company of nature would definitely love the experience nature up close and personal in the primitive camp there with no water or services. You are guided to bring water with you and pack out all your trash with you. You would not get any major facility here other than the vault toilets. Rules are strict here and unlike other traditional campgrounds Gathering, firewood is illegal here. However, firewood is available outside the park. The boat launch is situated on Gorge Lake, you can enjoy boating, hiking, and fishing on Gorge Lake.

This viewpoint on Gorge Lake lets you enjoy a walkout and have an overlook of Gorge Lake, the bridge spanning the Gorge and its exquisite waterfall.


Camping In The North Cascade Park at Diablo Lake:

Camping overnight at a large campsite right by the Diablo Lake will give you an amazing view of the lake. You will get permission to camp here on a first come first serve basis. The place is not less than a beatitude for nature lovers or for those who are looking for heavenly moments of solitude in nature’s lap. The campsite is situated in the northeast from Seattle in the North Cascades.

The mountain lovers will surely enjoy hiking on several hiking trails in this area especially on the Thunder Creek Trail and Thunder Knob trail.

The best part is you can bring your own canoe or kayak to take out on the lake! You should come prepared for some inconvenience as this campground has flush toilets but no showers. Give yourself some rest from the daily rat race of life and rest your mind heart and soul and spend some quality time in nature’s lap.

Diablo Lake overlooks gives a splendid view of the lake below. You will get to rest your feet and enjoy some snacking and munching at the covered picnic tables.


Camping In The North Cascades Park At Ross Lake:

Camp at Ross Lake will definitely give a thrilling experience if you are a nature lover and adventure enthusiast. Be ready for sweating it out as you won’t be able to access this reservoir by car by car. You will either have to hike in or paddle from Diablo Lake up Riprap Creek. You will also need to portage your own boat overland to Ross Lake. Too much of hard work but you will definitely thank yourself for taking the pains once you reach there and get to see the snow-capped summits at your lakeside campsite and enjoy fishing from the shore, or just enjoy the blue tranquillity of the lake.

You can also enjoy a silent walk in the Pacific Northwest Trail and the East Bank Trail or go hiking along the 23-mile lake toward Canada and can climb high into the Cascades from the Sourdough Mountain. After getting the permit you can rent boats and floating cabins too at Rose Lake Resort.

The Rose Lake overlook gives you a stunning view over the breathtakingly beautiful Ross Lake.

Washington Pass Overlook

Washington Pass camping site is the most beautiful viewpoint. You can enjoy the most beautiful views of the Pass and the highway below as you hike the paved trail. Devoid of any other facilities the place only has some picnic tables and bathrooms at the parking area of the overlook.

What are The Other Lodging Options In The North Cascades National Park:

If you want to visit Cascades of North Cascades Park but want some facilities too then you should think about other lodging options here instead of the campsites. Other than VRBO AND Airbnb lodges you can also book vacation houses and cabins around Marblemount and nearby Mount Baker. However, you won’t get many hotels in the immediate area.

What Are The Top Rated Hikes In North Cascades National Park:

The Trail of The Cedars, Newhalem:

This trail is around the Visitor Center and Newhalem. Trees here are very tall and interpretive signs makes the trail more interesting. The trail is not very long. This 0.3 miles trail comes to an end at a small powerhouse on a creek from where you will be able to connect to almost all the other trails in Newhalem at the powerhouse at the end.

Gorge Overlook, near Gorge Dam:

You will get to enjoy the wonderful view of an exquisite waterfall and Gorge Lake dam from this partially paved 0.5-mile long trail. The parking area is right off Highway 20.

Thunder Creek Trail, trailhead at Colonial Creek Campground on Diablo Lake

This is the longest trail in the North Cascades National Park which goes 20 miles to Park Creek Pass. Those who are unwilling to walk that long or are short on time can limit their trail to 2 miles instead of covering the whole trail and go upriver to the first bridge before turning around. The trail is an easy hike along Thunder Creek. It is full of natural scenic beauty. You will surely enjoy walking along with tall trees and little elevation change will keep you engaged.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to experience some heavenly peace in the lap of nature. 


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