Washington Travel Destinations
NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK
504,780 acres. North Cascades National Park consists of two tracts in the Cascades of northern Washington, with some lands alongside the Canadian border. It’s part of a park complex which includes the
107,000-acre Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the 62,000-acre Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.
Over 90 percent of the park and recreation areas have been designated as the Stephen Mather Wilderness Area. Scenery includes jagged alpine peaks with elevations over 7,000 feet, spires, talus slopes, cirque basins, steep cliffs, and deep mountain passes.
Also in the region are alpine lakes, streams, waterfalls, and no fewer than 318 glaciers. There are old-growth forests of Douglas fir and western red cedar, plus lodgepole pine and hemlock. Among the wildlife are grizzly and black bear, blacktail and mule deer, mountain goat, wolverine, bobcat, fox, and lynx.
Activities: Backpacking and hiking are available on over 360 miles of trails, including about 14 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail (see entry page 294). Difficulty ranges from easy to strenuous. Higher trails may be under snow until July.
Horseback riding is allowed on some trails. Many trails are suitable for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during winter. Climbing and mountaineering are popular in the park. Climbers must register before starting out.
The upper Skagit River offers good rafting, and canoeing is possible in the Lake Chelan and Ross Lake areas. Fishing is another available option. Hunting is prohibited in the National Park, but permitted in parts of the National Recreation Areas.
Camping Regulations: A free permit must be obtained in order to camp in the backcountry here. There are almost 100 designated camping areas, including 30 for campers with horses.
Reservations are available by mail 30 days or less in advance for up to 50 percent of the designated sites. Permits must be picked up in person at a ranger station or visitor center.
Camping is also allowed elsewhere, but it’s necessary to be at least one-half mile from trails and one mile from established sites. Camping is not permitted in high meadows. Campfires are restricted to authorized sites. Group size is limited to 12. Pets are prohibited except on the Pacific Crest Trail.
For Further Information: North Cascades National Park, 2105 Highway 20, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284; (206)856-5700.