Driving On North Cascades Highway: Things To Know

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The North Cascades region is located in Western Washington. For most of the year,  the region is snow covered, making it very difficult for travellers to take a trip. Because of extreme snow from November to April, the authority were forced to close the highway indefinitely for the safety of riders. Summer season is the best time to take a ride along the scenic  Highway.

When summer arrives, snow gets cleared and roads become dray, the North Cascade region becomes a place of travel related activities. There are many beautiful mountains, green forests and heavenly coasts, dams, lakes and wildlife in the North cascades and the curvy scenic highway itself attract the tourists. If you are planning to fuel your two or four wheelers next summer to explore those nostalgic alpine meadows and sweeping vistas while driving here is the detailed guide for you.

Begin your drive from Sedro-Woolley. To reach the town, you have to take Exit 230 off, follow WA 20 East, or head directly to North on WA-9. North Cascades remain closed from mid-November to April. So. plan your trip accordingly. The drive traverse through the Skagit River and there are plenty of seasonal farms laden with apples , berries, pumpkins and honey along the way.

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As you approach Concrete, which is just 24 miles from Sedro-Woolley, giant concrete silos with ‘Welcome to Concrete’ sign will welcome you. This small tow is a beautiful town and sister town to Newhalem. There is small parking lot if you decide to stop by the town. If you take the Baker River Road you will reach Shannon Lake and Baker Lake if you drive along Baker Lake road. These places are hotspots for fishing, boating, kayaking and water-skiing.

Back on WA-20 and continue to east  from Concrete, watch out for eagles during winter. The area has second largest eagle population in the country. Squat Eagle Festival held  in the month of January with actives at Concrete, Rockport and Marblemount. The Howard Miller Steelhead Park has facilities for year-round tend and RV camping, boating tours, hiking trails, fishing and fasting. The park also houses the famous Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Centre, which offers eagle presentations and viewing stations.

Once at Rockport you can take the 4.2 mile round  trip to the summit of Sauk Mountain rewards. You will be rewarded with incredible views for the effort. Rockport State park has carefully preserved original old growth forest system. At Rockport you have two options. Continue your journey along the east on WA-20 or take WA-530, which connects to Darrington and you will access to the famous Mountain Loop Highway.

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Anyway, as you continue your journey along the east you will approach a beautiful town named Marblemount. Beyond marble mount and upto 90 miles there are very few gas stations and  facilities are scarce. So check your gas tanks at Marblemount and buy some eatables.

Six miles down the east of Marblemount is located the soul of North Cascades region – the famous Ross Lake National Recreational Area located. This area comprises of Ross Lake, Gorge Lake and Diablo Lake. Glacier-capped jagged peaks, rivers, lush green forest and waterfalls all around are breathtaking. This is the place for photography aficionados.

Just nine miles down you will reach Newhalm, which houses the North Cascades Visitor Centre. The centre offers tourists learning of the surrounding area through exhibits and video presentations. There are many trials around the Newhalem. One important trail is Picket Range that lays within the North Cascades National Park.

As you resume your journey, the George Dam is not far. Down further you will find the majestic Diablo Lake. Then there is the Lake Diablo Overlook, a must stop for incredible encircling Cascades, Diablo lake and pickets. There are hiking opportunities for all levels.

30 Miles from Diablo there is the famous Washington Pass. The pass at 5477 feet is the highest elevation point in your drive. Interestingly this pass was once at the bottom of Pacific oceans. The scenery all around, especially the views of the peaks, is breathtaking to say the least.

As you descend down the steep slope after the Washington Pass you bid goodbye to North Cascade Highway and welcome the valley of farmland. The weather is drier and hot than what you encountered in North Cascades. The next major town is the history-rich and architectural Winthrop. Even this place has facilities for kayaking, river rafting, boating, horseback riding and fly-fishing and more. The trip ideally will take 3 hours.