Enjoy the “American Alps” at North Cascades National Park
As part of the Cascade Range which extends from Northern California into Canada, North Cascades National Park features everything from waterfalls and glaciers to meadows and sub alpine forests. Tucked into the upper Northwest corner of Washington State, it is a huge area of unspoiled wilderness worth visiting.
Less than a three hour drive from downtown Seattle, this National Park can immediately transport you to an entirely different world. The North Cascades provides an escape year round where you can enjoy camping, fishing and hiking during the summer and snowshoeing, skiing and snowmobiling during the winter.
What makes the North Cascades National Park special is not only its immense size (it’s over 500 thousand acres) but also the diverse ecological areas it encompasses. One portion of the park is made up of the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the Stephen T. Mather Wilderness Area.
The Ross Lake area of the park is one of the more popular sections with visitors, not only because spending time enjoying the sparkling clear glacial lake is a draw, but because it’s the most accessible part of the park, just off Washington State Route 20. While this area is more developed with visitor centers and ranger stations, the rest of the park is decidedly wild, and that’s entirely on purpose.
Here is where true adventurous spirits will enjoy retracing the steps of American explorers from the early 1800s and even many of the Native American tribes that called this glacial region home for generations. Take the Cascade Pass to retrace the steps of the Native Americans who used this trail as a travel route.
For those who are looking for a bit more of the comforts of home, there are plenty of places to enjoy the park for a day or two while camping. There are a number of campsites around the park that features car and RV camping, wild camping and even boat in camping which is a truly unique experience.
When it comes to hiking, you can’t get much better than North Cascades, especially in the summer and fall. True to it’s name, the park is surrounded by flows of rushing water from rivers, creeks, dams and waterfalls that are dotted all over the terrain. The water comes rushing down from the more than 300 glaciers at the top of the range, making the water a beautiful crystal clear pure blue.
It’s easy to see why North Cascades National Park is a hidden gem of the park’s system. If you want to enjoy incredible unspoiled nature, all year round with barely any crowds, this has to be the park for you!