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.
The small town of Newhalem stands with a lively past. Once this quiet town hosted hundreds of tourists who dined joyfully and danced under the stars. Visitors had dinner at Gorge Inn and then had a stroll through Ladder Creek Gardens. They marveled at the “wonders of electricity” , which illuminated the falls and provided an electrifying ambience. [Read more…]
The Skagit Eagle Festival 2017 is currently going on. It is a month-long much celebrated affair in the region. January is the eagle-watching season in eastern Skagit County. Mind-blowing activities take place in Rockport, Concrete (Near to Newhalem) and Marblemount every full weekend in January. [Read more…]
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…]
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.
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.
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.
The North Cascade Region is full of small yet very beautiful towns. Most of the towns are located by the sides of Cascades Highway (Highway 20). These towns are well known for small-scale historic architecture, inspiring sceneries and colorful festivals. During the winter the North Cascades Highway remains closed due to heavy snow and thus tourists come to the places in Summer.
If you plan a road trip it is worthwhile to be informed about places/towns in Cascades region. Let me inform you about some great towns worth visiting if you are in Cascades region.
(1) La Conner
La Conner is just an hour and half drive from Newhalem. The small town is a historic place and well knows for arts and crafts. The center of the town is listed in National Registrar of Historic Places. The town annually hosts majority of Skagit Valley Tulip Festival events. There are also plenty of wildlife including otters, wintering trumpeter swans and seals around.
Lynden is a second largest town in the state of Washington. It’s around 2 hours drive from Newhalem towards Canada border. The town is heavily influenced by Dutch and is well known for old churches, colourful festivals and windmills. The town hosts annual Northwest Washington Fair. There are also many other events/rallies being held annually
Burlington is a big town in the state of Washington. It was established as logging camp in 1882 but soon flourished with population. The town is famous for varied shopping malls, youth sports, and Berry Dairy days – an agriculture related annual event.
Concrete is just 32 miles away from Newhalem. Concrete is small like Newhalem but packed will surreal wonders. There is an haunting monument which has an industrial past. There are plenty of cement silos and thus the peculiar name Concrete. The concrete Ghost Walk, which a history-creepiest guided tour, is popular among tourists.
Just a 20 minutes drive from Newhalem. The rugged beauty of terrains, beautiful lakes, serene streams and crashing waterfalls that exist around the town will smite you. Tourists flock into the town for boating, rafting and kayaking related activities.
Rockport is one of its kind towns in North Cascade region. The place offers spectacular view of snow-capped mountain peaks and river valleys. There is a bird watching center. The town is also famous for artifacts made up of using locally available resources. Newhalem is just 23 miles away from the place.
Bellingham is both a historical place and a shopping destination in Washington state. The town has a slew of historical monuments cobblestone streets. The Fairhaven district in the town houses must of the attractions in the town. The Chuckmut Drive nearby the famous Village Books (a three storey wonder) is pleasant drive to take.
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.
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.
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:
- North Cascades National Park
- Ross Lake National Recreation Area
- Newhalem Vistior Center
- Diablo Lake
- Goodell Creek
- North Cascades National Forest
- Skagit River
- 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.