My Experience of Camping in North Cascades National Park

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One of my  good friends suggested a camping trip in the North Cascades recently. I was in mood. So it seemed like an awesome idea to spend the summer. I never had a camping trip. So I was excited about my the  trip to the North Cascades.  As the tour approached, I became progressively anxious. I was  unsure of my own decision because of many factors. What about wildlife? Would it be possible for city boy to live without showers and electricity?

With lot of apprehension I took my flight to Seattle with a huge backpack in tow. The flight from Newyork to Seattle was pleasant and enjoyable. I love sleeping and so I had a Vat 69 induced nap before the announcement  of landing made. I woke up from the slumber  just in time. Or else I would have missed the awesome aerial view of Seattle city.

From Seattle we hired a self-drive cab and set off into timelessness of North Cascades. There are many campgrounds in the region. After going through internet and sites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com my friend and I settled on Newhalem Campground. Availability of bathing facility and electricity is one of the reason why we choose Newhalem Campground.  There is a popular yet historic general store in the small town of Newhalem and the store is located just few hundred meters from the campground.

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For people going to North Cascades there is another popular campground by name Colonial Creek Campground near Newhalem . For the more adventurous type tourists, backcountry camping sites are free. One advantage is the best views they offer if you’re up for the trek!

North Cascades National Park has several trails for different  levels of hikers. If you would like to challenge yourself, the place has several intense, adrenaline rushing high-incline hikes. Your labour with be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking views in the Pacific Northwest.

Our weekend tour was a lighter type. We did cycling,  kayaking, canoeing, paddling, explored nearby areas around Newhalem. We checked all  trails near Newhalem Campground, Most of these trails are locate on the edge the Skagit River. There was a moonlight  guided tours which we took. I would never forget how amazing it was. 

If you plan to go here is  this guide from the National Park Service. Plan your trips accordingly. Getting accommodation sometimes difficult because they operates on first-come-first-serve basis. 

A Novice Traveller’s Guide to Ross Lake

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Ross Lake is one of the best lakes and places to visit North Cascades Region. Its crystal pink water is a legendary of sort. Every tourist, who visited the lake liked it and carried an unforgettable memory. Unfortunately the beautiful lake cannot be accessed on road.

The lake is accessible through road from Canadian side only. If you are approaching through North Cascades Highway you have two options to reach the place: stop at Ross Dam Trail, take a hike and reach the place from where truck leaves to Ross dam or stop at Diablo dam, paddle to other site and then take truck to Ross lake. The second option is the best and most popular as tourist get a view of the breathtaking Diablo dam.

There are plenty of campgrounds nearby Ross Lake and also the popular floating Ross Lake resort. To stay in Campground you got to obtain Backcountry permit at Wilderness Information Center or National Park Service, both at Marblemount.

Ross Lake is a large lake with 37 kms of length and 2.5 km of width. It is situation at the elevation of 489 meter from sea level and its reach spread both into American and Canadian side. There are lots of high peaks all around the Ross Lake and most notables are Hozomeen Mountain, Desolation Peak and Jack mountain. Many rivers and creeks find their ways into the lake. Fish species like Salmon and Steelhead trout found aplenty int the lake.

Ross lake was originally named as Ruby Dam because it formed due to impoundment of Skagit River by Ross Dam.

Ross Lake is an important destination in the North Cascades region. Visitors who visit the lake are usually the ones having fetish for fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking or hiking.

A Visitor’s Guide to The North Cascades National Park Complex

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The North Cascades National Park Complex comprises of three areas: Ross Lake National Recreation Area, North Cascades National Park, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. The National Park Service administers all the three areas.

Ross Lake National Recreation Area (NRA)

NRA covers the scenic North Cascades Highway, three drive-up campgrounds, the North Cascades Visitor Center, and the two company towns, three dams, powerhouses, and reservoirs, the Skagit Information Center, and the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. All of them are part of Skagit River Hydroelectric Project and managed by Seattle City Light. Seattle City Light along with National Park Service provides visitor services, education, and guided tour in the national recreation area.

North Cascades National Park (NP)

NP lies northwest and southeast of the Ross Lake National Recreational Area (NRA). It includes about 600,000 acres of area with breathtaking mountain views and 300 gorgeous glaciers. Around 95% of the lands in NP are designated for protection under Wilderness Act. Hikers can access the recreational areas, national forests parklands through 400 miles of well maintained of trails. There are very few motorable roads in the area. More than 200 backcountry camping sites available for visitors.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

This area is located at the north end of Lake Chelan southeast of North Cascades National Park (NP).

The town of Newhalem comes under Ross Lake National Recreation area. In my previous posts I have given exhaustive information about places in and around Newhalem. Newhalem, though a company town, evidence of native settlement has been found.

The word “Newhalem” itself is a native (Upper Skagit Tribal) word, which means a place to snare goats. The native settlement goes back to 13th century. If you are curious about its history take the nearby Rock Shelter Trail and reach the Newhalem Creek. The rock shelter there is a natural formation and bears testimony to native camping in the area.