North Cascades Place Spotlight 5: Gorge Creek Falls

Gorge-creek-falls

The North Cascades has many delights and Gorge Creek Falls is one of them. The falls is very near to Newhalem, just two miles off from the highway road on east. The visit is a total package, consisting of hiking a small trail, a dam, a river (Skagit), two waterfalls to be seen, two overlooks, and finally, believe or not, an aqua-blue lake. This is the reason the place is one of the most visited places in North Cascades National Park Complex. [Read more…]

5 Things to Do in North Cascades

The North Cascades is full with varied tourist attractions like dams, trails, lakes, waterfalls, powerhouses, wildlife, peaks, beautiful sceneries, opportunities for sporting activities and adventure. Here are 5 top things to do when you are in North Cascades.

Take a Road Trip

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Road trip especially from USA side offers stunning sceneries. On the ways you will be greeted with changing landscapes and terrains. Sometimes smooth stream of water from waterfalls cross over to the other side of roads.

The ideal place to start your road trip is Marblemount on highway 20 towards east. Be sure to stop at Newhalem and Diablo. Visit the Newhalem Visitor center, which has some great exhibitions. You can go for a quick walk to explore plenty of trails nearby. Diablo is another great place to stop by. Drive slowly over Diablo Dam Bridge and you will enjoy it. You can also pull up at Diablo Lake Overlook and can immerse yourself in the experience of viewing the stunning Diablo lake. At Diablo there is exhibits in the honor then senator M. Jackson, who helped to create the park.

Continue your journey towards east until Washington Pass Overlook. You would feel mesmerized with the stunning views surrounding you. The view of Majestic Bell Mountain is too stunning to be believed. The Washington Pass Overlook is highest point on Highway 20.

Go for Hiking

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There are many great trails in North Cascades for hiking. Unfortunately due to heavy snowing many of these trails remain closed in most part of the years. It is thus important to enquiry status of trail before you head for hiking. You can get the info from nearby visitor centers.

Newhalem is the most popular stops for hiking. Ruby Creek Trail, which is 18 miles east to Newhalem, is a popular destination. The other trails are the 1.5 km long Canyon Creek Trail and Diablo Lake trail. Once you weill hike the Diablo Lake Trail you will get a sweeping view of Diablo lake, Colonial and Pyramid peaks. These are some easiest trials for hiking especially with family and kids.

If you are adventurous type then Sourdought Mounntain Trail (10.4 miles) is good for you. The journey is strenuous but worth a try. You will be rewarded with a sweeping view of valleys and peaks including the majestic Mount Baker.

Inspect Flora/Fauna

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North Cascades region is full with diverse species of Flora and Fauna. There are over 75 mammal species including pikas, douglas squirrel, gray wolves, marmots, grizzly bears, river otters, cougars, mountain goats, bobcats, a dozen of species of bats and the famous Columbia black-tailed deer.

There are over 200 bird species in the area. Keep looking into sky and trees and you will sure to spot bald eagle, spotted owls, swallows, warblers and hummingbirds. The Skagit river banks are home to rare Pacific salmons besides Chinook, coho, pink, sockeye and chum.

The peculiar weather, topography, geology and hydrology of the region is responsible for large number of plant species found the in the National Park. There are around 1500 vascular plant species. Among others the plant species include white bark pine, California hazelnut, alpine willow, western yew, douglas fir, red aider, big leaf maple western red cedar etc. The National Park is a great spot for nature lover.

Take Photos

north-cascades-photo

During summer waters of rivers and lakes in North Cascades appear emerald or turquoise. Color of water in the region usually is green. The peculiar color is due to soil composition of the region, which is high on glacial flour concentration. Summer is great time to capture the essence of the place in photos.

Go on Excursions

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There are some excellent spots in Cascades to go for excursion. Leavenworth complete with wineries, spas, shopping and museums is a great attraction.

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, which covers an area of some 1.7 million acre is an ideal place to go for activities like picnic, boating, driving, winter sports and camping. The National Forest has ample facilities for above activities. If you go on a guided excursion then you should contact The North Cascades Institute at Rockport. This non-profit institute offer guided excursion free of charge.

Going to North Cascades Area is really exciting because major parts of the year the place remain closed due to heavy snowing. The ideal time to visit is summer. So, plan your trip accordingly. There are also facilities for differently abled tourists.

5 Amazing Photos of Newhalem

Cascad-highways

Photo credit: chelsea_alexandra (Instagram)

Cascades Highway or Highway 20 during winter. Get ready for a chilling experience amidst snow-flake rains and milk white and brownish surrounding. Blue and white clouds above match majestically with the heavenly roads under.

diablo-drive

This is Diablo Dam, few miles away from Newhalem. The big majestic dam with its almost full water level gives you an adrenaline rush as drive along on the bridge over it. This is a place must tourists don’t want to miss.

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This legendary locomotive called Old Number 6 used to ferry workers from Newhalem to nearby towns as there was no roads then. The locomotive has been preserved well and a favourite place for kids to enjoy.

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This is not a computer generated image. This is real image of crystal Ladder Creek Falls, a place that take you from the real world into a fantasy land – a kinda Alice in wonderland. An amazing place to heal mind.

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As you drive along the majestic Cascades Highway, breathtaking sceneries greet you in the wait. Changing landscapes, surprising but mild rains, fogs, deer and multiple waterfalls décor the entire highway.

North Cascades Highway: A Drive of Lifetime!

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The North Cascades Mountain Range is often termed as American Alps. Close to Newhalem the beautiful mountain range in the northern area of Washington borders Canada. Visitors will be delighted to find beautiful snowy mountain lakes, great dams, narrow but steep roads, gushing mountain streams, varieties of waterfalls and glaciers. There are more glaciers in North Cascades than any other places in United States. Every American at least once in their life time should pack his bag and set out for a ride through the Cascades.

diablo-lake

To get here you have to travel along the National Highway Number 20 – also popularly known as North Cascades Highway. Throughout your journey along the way you will be greeted with breath taking sceneries. The creepy and curvy road; finding its way over narrow bridges, through ghostly tunnels and into steep clips;  gives you an ever cherishing adrenal rush as you drive along. You will experience the true wilderness. Because of heavy snow the road remains closed usually from November to April. This makes going for a road trip when the road opens worth more cherishing.

The highway is up at some 5000 fts from sea level. Road is though of excellent quality but twisty a lot. There are plenty of deer to be seen on the way. There are around 40 waterfalls that can be viewed while driving. Road surface is wonderful and weather changes frequently. You will never forget the classy sceneries that greet you on the way.

The last point of human settlement across scenic Highway 20 is Newhalem. Just before your reach Newhalem you will experience classy scenes of Diablo and strong wind near Ross lake. The colours of the water in these dams are unusual  because of peculiar soil sediments found in the region. There are very few highways in USA that can come close to Highway 20. Once you ride across the highway you will have that never ending urge to take a trip once more.

Many tourists, especially the bikers,  make mistake of returning not coming to Newhalem and Diablo. Your Cascades trip will be incomplete if you don’t go to Newhalem. Newhalem is the very essence of North Cascades mountain region. It is around the town you will find the hidden lakes, gorges, small waterfalls, trails and wildlife.

 

Nostalgic Newhalem

Located at the foothill of North Cascades on the bank of Skagit river in Whatcom County, Newhalem is Nature’s paradise. The small unincorporated community in north-western Washington is flanked by The Ross Lake National Recreation Area from all sides. The place is the dead end inhabited place on Highway number 20. Until 1940 the place was accessible by train only.

Fascinating History

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Newhalem though a small town can boast of a fascinating history. Its history goest back to 18th century. The word ‘Newhalem’ actually not an English word but is an upper Skagit tribal word, which means a place to snare goats. In 1800s many miners attempted to mind Gold and Silver without much luck. A local named Goodell tried to build a road connecting to the place but unable to do so because the rocks of Newhalem are harder than normal rocks.

In 1917 a company got the permit for the work and developed the small settlement of Newhalem. The first superintendent of the company there resisted the idea to build road for long time because the company did not want to loose control over the place and there were also sabotage concerns. Surprisingly in the early phase of the township the place was a great  honeymoon-adventure tourist attraction. Couples had to sleep in gender-segregated barracks.

Importance of the town

Newhalem is known mostly for the tourist attractions surrounding it. But few know that the place has also some importance in literary and movie scenes in America. Well known writer Tobias Wolff lived here when he was kid in the late 1990’s. He calls this isolated paradise as Chinook in his memoire “This Boy’s Life”.

In the movie version of the book “This Boy’s Life”, starred by Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, the place along with nearby settlement Concrete called Concrete. Some portion of 1983 Hollywood film Wargames starring Matthew Broaderic were shot in New Halem.

Tourist attractions

As said before Newhalem is Nature’s paradise. People flock here, especially in summer, for camping, exploring nature and for boating across Skagit river. The town has a visitors’ center to guide tourists. The river Skagit has been life line for all scpecies of Pacific salmon found in the forest. There is a Salmon-viewing station in Newhalem Campground, which is very near to the town.

There are also several hiking trails in Newhalem such as the River Loop Trail, Rock Shelter Trail and the Trail of Cedars. The forest is inhibited by many grizzly and black bears. The North Cascades Visitor Centre is just a little over half mile walk from the town of Newhalem.

Main attractions around Newhalem are:

  1. North Cascades National Park
  2. Ross Lake National Recreation Area
  3. Newhalem Vistior Center
  4. Diablo Lake
  5. Goodell Creek
  6. North Cascades National Forest
  7. Skagit River
  8. Ladder Creek Fall

Facilities and amenities

Newhalem is a small town of around 1000 population and thus lodging and outing facilities are scarce. Newhalem Visitor centre and Newhalem Campground provide basic facilities tourists and visitors. The nearest towns/cities are Concrete, Rockport, Darrington and Marblemount. Guided tours from these places available.