5 top Reasons to Visit North Cascades

5-reasons-to-visit-north-cascades

The  North Cascades is famous  for it spectacular and crggy peaks, rugged mountains, stunning lakes, the dense lively forest and breathtaking scenery all around. Nothing match the thrill of taking a bike or car and disappearing into the wilderness of the mighty cascades. Here are  5 top reasons why everyone should visit North Cascades.

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My Experience of Camping in North Cascades National Park

camping-at-newhalem

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.

ross-lake

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. 

Skagit Valley Tulip and La Conner Daffodil Festivals Are Here!

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It is season time in North Cascades. After Eagle Festival, soon you will witness Skagit Valley Tulip festival and La Conner Daffodil festival in upcoming months, i.e., March and April. These festivals have been voted  as top spring trips in 2016 by none other than National Geographic. 

18 fields and 2 fields come to life during this season in one of the most colourful displays you have ever seen. These festivals are world famous and trains from Seattle and Vancouver are scheduled specifically for this purpose. 

The two extrtanvaganzas including local activities in Mount Vernon and La Conner while the colourful tulips and daffodils are blooming all around. May be you don’t know. There are some six hundred fields within a I5 mi radius covered with beautiful flowers. You will experience sea of tulips and daffodils all around. 

During the Tulip and Daffodils tours, you’ll be taken to exquisitely arranged tulip gardens at RoozenGaarde and Tulip town. Both of these places have extensive tulip fields of varying colours. A great opportunity for photography aficionados to capture some dream snaps. Delicious  foods can be purchased at these venues and restaurants and delis all around. Don’t forget to enjoy the locally famous salmon barbecue. 

The back farm roads drive is favourite for many. If you are going to the festivals don’t miss this. Nothing matches the  experience of driving with sea of colourful tulips all arounds, swans and geese flying overhead and Mt. Bakers playing hide and seek game with you as you drive along. 

The tours also comprise of audio video presentation of tulip and daffodil sector in Skagit valley and other parts of the world as well. You will get a good lesson on origin, history, horticulture, varieties, characteristics,  human cultures and meaning f the tulip. Tulip is incidentally called ‘peace’ flower. 

The 2 hours tour also offers a visit to the historical waterside towns of La Conner or Anacortes, or a visit to Deception Pass bridge, which is North West Washington’s most visited attraction.  If kids are with you, a special stop can also  be scheduled just for them from Wednesday to Sunday. 

Tips by Newhalem.com

It should be an easy and exciting tour. Since it is a month long festival accommodation should not be problem. Nevertheless book your accommodation sufficiently in advance. If you are going from Seattle or Vancouver from Canada there are special train called Amtrak Cascades train. You can stay at Annacortes, La Conner, Bellingham or Mount Vermon because the tours pick-up location are in these places. 

You can book your tickets from here

5 Reasons to Explore North Cascades National Park

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North Cascades National Park has many  favorite naturally occurring things— amazing colored alpine lakes, vast evergreen expanses, awesome rocky mountainous peaks, and stunning waterfalls sliding down in every direction. My visit to  the place last year was not my first, nor  it will not be our last, as I have strong attachment to the place. It is  where my adventure really began, when I went there 5 year ago. The place allows you to many things. So, it is my favourite. 

Okay, here is 5 reasons to explore North Cascades National Park

  1. Glacier Lakes: The brilliantly  green alpine lakes in the Cascade Range have  still waters upon where your can self-paddle boats and glide beneath captivating views in every direction. However, you will need to take your own boat and can set out from one of the designated areas found throughout the park. Diablo and Ross Lakes are two popular areas from  you can launch on backcountry and day-paddles. Rentals are also available in some places like Ross Lake. 
  2. Photo Ops Spots: With beautiful snow-capped peaks, rocky ridge lines, hundreds of glaciers, waterfalls, valleys, wildlife, and lakes, there are so many ways to capture great snaps.  The landscape was so photogenic that it inspired well-known writer Jack Kerouac to nestle himself atop Desolation Peak for 63 days in the summer of 1956. Late he wrote his experience in his Novel The Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels.  My favorite place for photo ops was Mount Shuksan. 
  3. Backpacking: Hikes are more fun towards end of your travel. You can tent up and relax for an evening or two  in a backcountry setting. Most of the backpacking routes in the North Cascades region take you to crystal alpine lakes  including the famous Ross Lake, Thornton and Monogram Lakes. Hikes gets difficult in this area because of the steep terrain and also due to backpack your carry. So it is better to plan properly.
  4. Waterfalls: The waterfalls in North Cascades are too many to count. Whether they are falling down  forcefully from the hill high or peaking out of the vegetation as you drive along through the mountain roads, you cannot  go far without spotting a runoff from the Cascade Mountain Range. Ladder Creek Falls near Newhalem  is the most popular and the most visited as it is  easily accessible.
  5. Hiking Spots: There are around some 500 Kilometers of hiking trails in North Cascades National Park that provide more pathways of pure hiking bliss. A jungle of wilderness like that which you will explore in the North Cascades is remarkable in different  ways. The earth in the forest is thickly covered with leaves, pine  and cones that, always wet in this marine environment, mash together and devour the sound of any foot step that falls through it. When you are hiking in this area, you are not on a landscape, you are into. This place is paradise for those wishing to roam through an gusty woodland wilderness.

To have an wonderful times you need to plan properly. If your plan is for few days only it would be better to carry a light backpack and all essentials like camping gear, proper sporting shoes, torchlight, lotions to ward off flies etc.

North Cascades Will Once Again Become Home to Grizzly Bears

north-cascades-will-once-again-become-home-to-grizzly-bears

Federal officials have released a comprehensive draft plan recently for restoring grizzly bears to the North Cascades. If plan materialises the North Cascades will once again become home to Grizzly bears. [Read more…]

Where to Spot Bald Eagles in North Cascades?

bald-eagle-spotting-i-north-cascades

The Eagle Festival, 2017 has come up to life and is going full throttle in North Cascades area. The entire region is bustling with activities with swarms of visitors flocking the area. Majority of visitors come to see the peculiar bald eagles that come to the region during the January months. Here is where to spot Bald Eagles in North Cascades. [Read more…]

North Cascades Place Spotlight 4: Maple Pass Trail

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Maple Pass Trail

Maple Pass Trail is a 10 Kilometre long moderately trafficked loop trail. It is located near a small town called Mazama, WA, which also features a lake. The trail is reputed for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding activities.  Maple Pass Trail is accessible from July until October every year. You can also take you pet dog but keep it on leash.

Maple Pass trail is a must-do hike in North Cascades. You have option of adding 2 miles to include 2 lakes on the way to trail. You can either start at Lake Ann Trailhead or Rainy Lake Trailhead. It is advisable you would better  going the counterclockwise, i.e. tarting Via Lake Ann Trailhead because the trail has steeper incline if you start from clockwise.

What on Offer?

You will feel delighted with the  stunning beauty all the way till highest point of hike at 6995 Ft “Maple Pass”. You have to then descend back to trailhead. The hike to trail takes 4 to 5 hours if you are newbie  but pro hikers can do the hiking in 3 hours. The views, especially up above Ann Lake is spectacular. The trail is well maintained. You would love the variations changing from forest to alpine terrain.

Awesomeness waits you on the hiking way.  Sight of towering mountains, luscious lake Anne, wonderful waterfall. Rainy pass lakes, gorgeous Heather Meadows colorful wild flowers, chip monks and Marmots will make you fall in love with the place.

Cautions

The way near summit is slippery and thus you should be wearing proper shoes with traction. The hike is moderately difficult. There are also too much mosquito on the way. Apply anti-mosquito lotions on you skin before taking the hike. Use trekking poles to have a safe hike. The trail gets extremely busy with hikers often. Start hiking as early as possible. As the hiking is long take several breaks if you are not physical active person.

Conclusion

Maple Pass Trail has drawn effusive praises from seasoned hikers. The beauty all around the trail is such that it makes you forget the pain and inconveniences caused to you during hiking. Of late the trail has become one of the most hiked trails in North Cascades region. Here is what hiker Ginger Lange says:

Have hiked this beautiful loop several times and it never gets old. Fabulous views of mountains and lakes, incredible wildflowers, and the cutest chipmunks ever… One section is so spectacular it moved my typically very composed British friend to run down the trail, arms spread wide, singing “The Hills Are Alive…..” Yup, that good! 🙂

The Secrets of Rockport and Marblemount

Rockport is a small town in Washington that host a fine State Park and a popular County Park. You can go to Rockport by heading east on State Route 20 from I5 at Burlington, or reach there via Arlington and Darrington on State Route 530. There is a tavern and gas store in the town.

Marblemount is another small town and several miles drive from Rockport. Good facilities for tourists like gas, groceries, lodging, post office and restaurants available in this small town. From here starts the scenic 87 miles drive in wilderness  along the North Cascades Highway. The famous Skagit River Resort lies halfway between Rockport and Marblemount. After you cross the Skagit River bridge, you can take the Cascade River Road that head east into the National park. This 22 miles primitive drive is laden with visual delight. You will have amazing views of mountains, blue glaciers and waterfalls.

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Marblemount

There are two small beautiful towns of Newhalem and Diablo, along the State Route 20. Many trails, dams hydroelectric projects located around the towns and hiking can be done from these places. However, there is no facilities except a grocery store in Newhalem.

Marblemount and Rockport are  on the last river plain in the Upper Skagit River Valley as you undertake a drive on the North Cascades Highway. The highway takes the route of Indians, pioneer wagons and pack trains  as it passes through the valley along the up river course on the way to the North Cascades mountains. The Skagit River flows into Puget Sound about 60 miles west of Marblemount.

Theses days the area is bustling with small business entrepreneurs. Local artists and crafts are making full use of area’s natural resources to design their unique products. Potteries, big wood carvings, green products, hand-designed crafts, and wood crafts can be purchased here. The climate is moderate, with summer highs in the 90’s and the winter lows varies from 10′ to 30′.

It is important to note that though the highway across the North Cascades Passes closes in winter, the towns of Marblemount and Rockport remain accessible year-round for tourists coming from the Puget Sound region.

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Skagit River Resort

Alpine hiking in the Sauk Mountain trail is very popular spot. To reach here turn north on the access road that meet Highway 20 just west of Rockport State Park, and continue your drive  up the root of the mountain till you reach the parking area.  It provides an amazing view of the Skagit River Valley below. You can go for hang-gliding here. Sauk Mountain trail starts from this place and switchbacks up the south face of Sauk and near the top the trail crosses around an eastern outcropping, and continues up to the place of the former fire tower.

If you want to stay in the area for a day or two you have Skagit River Resort in the vicinity. The resort has all facilities including small parking and eatery. Marble mount is just 2.5 miles from here.

 

5 Little Known But Awesome Places in Concrete

Concrete is a small town but it has many tourist attractions. While some popular places like Sauk Mountain trail, Lake Tyee are well known yet there are many not-so-famous but great attractions yet to be explored by majority of visitors. In this post we will highlight 5 little known but awesome places in Concrete, Washington.

Henry Thompson Bridge

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The old bridge is located across state route 20. You may be surprised to know that the bridge is built in 1916-18 and still enjoys being the world’s longest single-span cement bridge. Back in old days the bride used to be the only access route across the Baker River  into the Skagit County. If you are planning trip, you should not miss the opportunity to enjoy a stroll over it.

Mountain Loop Highway

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This is a very scenic byway that loops through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest providing connection to Boulder River, Around the highway are located Henry M. Jackson and Concrete Peak Wilderness areas, and also hundreds of miles of hiking trails. The length of highway is 27 miles and take around 40 minutes to cross.

Rasar State Park

rasar-state-park

Rasar State Park is a 169 acre park. The park  has playground equipment and 4,000 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Skagit River. This spot is well known among visitors  for Eagle watching. Best season to visit the place is early fall and early winter.Mt.

Mount Baker Presbyterian Church

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This historic church is built in 1908 and still mass being held regularly for residents for Skagit county. The main structure has not been remade to keep the old structure intact.

Rockport State Park

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The park is just 8 miles from concrete. The 670 acre park is an ancient forest. The interesting thing about the forest is that it contains old grown which has never been logged. The entire ecosystem of the park in the place as it was before. Also visit David Douglas Historical Market, which is situated within the park. David Douglas, if you don’t know him, was a horticulturalist who discovered the Douglas fir in 1825.

 Concrete is a small paradise itself within the paradise of North Cascades. The beautiful little town has an amazing history and occupy a place of pride in Nation’s geography.

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

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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.