The North Cascades is famous for it spectacular and craggy 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 to visit North Cascades.
North Cascades National Park sets to make a grand debut in backcountry permit reservation system from March 15 this year. In an announcement authorities said the increased numbers of tourists has made it hard to get first-come, initial serve permits in some of the areas in the region.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
As you undertake a trip on North Cascades Highway along with many tourist attraction you will come across plethora of stunning lakes. Their elevations, the peculiar colours they have, the size of lakes are too surreal. Here is a guide to roadside lakes on North Cascades Highway for information of travellers.
Diablo Lake: You can view the lake right from road on State Route 20 – the North Cascades Highway. This lake is favourite for many visitors. The lake bustles with visitors doing canoeing, camping, climbing and taking classes. The colour of the water is intense turquoise because the glaciers surrounding the lake grind rocks into fine powder that find their way into lake through creeks. The powder stays suspended not he water, giving the lake water a brilliant but unnatural hue.
Nearby Diablo Lake are Ross and George Lake. Ross lake is the most popular lake in North Cascades. The headwaters of Skagit river that flow into Ross lake comes from Cana dian peaks. The lake is just 50 minutes drive from east of Burlington town. It will take 3 hours if you drive from Seattle. The water is greenish colour due to geological region. There are floating cabins on pristine water of the lake that can be rented for stay.
Lake George is surrounded by full of trails and offers a close-up view of Mount Rainier. The lake is a pristine mountain lake that nestled in the northwest side of Mount Wow. You need wilderness permit for visiting and camping around the area. Gobbler’s knob a very popular spot near the area. The watch tower at the knob offers breathtaking views of 14, 411 feet Stratovolcano. The only drawback is that you have to enter forest and do a hiking to reach the place.
Blue Lake is situated near Washington Pass at 6254 elevation. If you approach from the west, the place is some 44 miles drive from the town of Newhalem on SR 20 and before the Washington Pass overlook. From east on highway, the lake is located some 31 miles from the two of Winthrop. To reach the lake if you have to take a 2 miles hike along Blue Lake Trail off highway 20. This stunning lake sit quietly in the middle surrounded by forests, meadows, wildflowers and granite peaks that reach sky.
The beauty and peculiarity of North Cascades lakes is such that you will forget the labor you do while hiking up the trails to to reach these lakes. Each of these lakes have their own quintessential charms and are bound to enrich your memories of the North Cascades trip with their glistening beauty.
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.
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.
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.