North Cascades National Park
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North Cascades National Park in northwestern Washington is one of the most remote and beautiful national parks in the United States. Bordering the US-Canadian border, the North Cascades National Park is home to the jagged snow-capped Cascades Mountains, turquoise blue lakes, glaciers, and fields of beautiful wildflowers.
Approximately one-third of all glaciers within the continental United States are located within the North Cascades National Park. To get close to any of the 312 glaciers, you’ll need a backcountry permit and the energy for a long but rewarding hike. Sahale Glacier is one of the most popular in the park.
Hiking, kayaking, camping, and fishing are all popular pastimes in the park. While many of the park campgrounds cater more towards tent camping, many of the larger campgrounds are RV-friendly for smaller RVs and campers. For larger RVs, there are several excellent private campgrounds just outside the park.
The best time to visit North Cascades National Park is from June through September when almost all the snow is gone, except for the highest peaks, and there is little rain. Spring and autumn have become popular times to visit Skagit, Okanogan, and Stehekin Valleys because of low traffic, colorful leaves and wildflowers, and the wildlife. While the national park is open year-round, much of the park is closed during the winter months due to snow and ice.
Over 200 birds call North Cascades National Park home, including the endangered marbled murrelet and spotted owl. Wildlife of all sizes can be found in various habitats across the park form high alpine mountain peaks to the old growth forest. You’ll find bears, mountain goats, gray wolves, deer and more.
Throughout the year, the North Cascades National Park hosts events and activities, like the Skagit Eagle Festival and National Park Week. For a list of events, visit the park calendar of events page. Whether you plan to participate in some of the park events or head off the grid for some backcountry adventures, visiting the North Cascades National Park is an incredible experience that you’ll remember for a long time.
- Spring 11-41 F
- Summer 29-54 F
- Fall 19-46 F
- Winter 7-20 F
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North Cascades National Park Hiking Trails
With jagged mountain peaks, glaciers, and incredible natural beauty, North Cascades National Park is designed to be explored with your boots on and a backpack on your back. Much of the park is very remote and require backcountry permits and best for advanced hikers. Many of the best hikes are strenuous full-day or multi-day hikes, but there are also a few beginner-friendly scenic nature trails with excellent views.
North Cascades National Park Trails
Things to do Outside North Cascades National Park
There is enough inside North Cascades National Park to keep you busy for weeks on end, but if need a little break from the mountains, head into one of the nearby small towns where you fill up on delicious food, shop for souvenirs, and check out some local history at the visitor centers.
RV Resorts & Campsites in North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades National Park offers a variety of camping from tents to RVs to wilderness backcountry spots that can only be accessed by two feet. Due to the wild weather in the park, many campgrounds are only open during the warmer months. Larger campgrounds can be booked through the recreation.gov website while other smaller campgrounds are first-come, first-served.
Campgrounds Near North Cascades National Park
Find the Best Dumpstations Near North Cascades National Park
Dumpstations Near North Cascades National Park
How to get to North Cascades National Park
Located in the northwest part of Washington, the North Cascades National Park is a remote park near the US-Canadian border. Due to its remoteness, the national park has limited access points. North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake National Recreation Area can be accessed from State Route 20 (SR 20). Many of northern parts of the park, including Hozomeen, Mount Shuksan, and Cooper Ridge, can be accessed from Silver-Skagit Road and State Route 542 (SR 542). The only way to access the Ross Lake Shoreline is by a 37-mile gravel road from B.C. Highway 1 (Exit 168) in Hope, British Columbia.
Other parts of the park, like Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, can only be accessed by foot or passenger ferry. Ferry service is available from Chelan on Route 97. For a unique experience, a float plane is another option. Stehekin can be accessed by foot on the Cascade Pass, Eagle Creek, and several other trailheads.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is the closest airport to North Cascades National Park. You can reach the main entrance of the national park via Route I-5 in about two hours. Alternatively, you can access the park via BC-99/I-5 from Vancouver International Airport in under 2.5 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, North Cascades National Park is accessible for disabled visitors. Visitor center information stations and most campgrounds have accessible restrooms and most visitor centers are fully accessible. The Sterling Munro Trail and the Happy Creek Forest Walk have accessible boardwalk paths. The park also has accessible campgrounds.
Yes, pets are allowed at North Cascades National Park but in just a few places. Leashed pets are allowed on the Pacific Crest Trail and within 50 feet of roads. Pets are also allowed within the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas.
Top things to do at North Cascades National Park include checking out the visitor center, stopping at the Diable Lake Overlook, and driving the North Cascades Highway. The park has many hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and other outdoor activities!
North Cascades National Park is 505,000 acres, or 789 square miles large. The region is often referred to as the North American Alps.
Yes, there are six drive-in campgrounds at North Cascades National Park. Many of those campgrounds accommodate RVs. There are also several boat-in campgrounds and camping areas that can only be reached by backpacking in to the sites.
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