Huge slide closes North Cascades Highway: 40 Students Temporarily Stuck

landslide-closes-state-route-20

A huge snow slide has closed state Route 20 near Newhalem. As a result the North Cascades Highway aka State Route 20 is closed for visitors in both the directions.  There are around  40 students from Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett who had gone for 3 days field trip to the North Cascades Institute and are now temporarily stuck at eight miles east of the slide. [Read more…]

North Cascades Place Spotlight 1: Washington Pass Overlook

Liberty-Bell-mountains

Liberty Bell Mountain

Washington Pass Overlook is a ‘must stop’ if you ever undertake a road trip along the North Cascades Highway. Strictly speaking the pass is not located in the North Cascades National Park area but just outside in the Okanogan National Forest, and can be accessible along the State Route 20. The overlook offers magnificent panoramic view of entire valley, majestic mountain  peaks, wonderful white glaciers and coiled road underneath.

How to reach the place?

It is to note that due to heavy snowing the pass is closed between November to April every year. If you are coming from West on highway 20 turn left unto NF-500 in Washington Pass, and right fi your are heading from the East. There is a parking lot and several pull-outs along the road to park vehicles. To access the overlook you got to walk around 400 feet from the parking lot. This is an ADA compatible easy flat trail. Anyone can hike across it.

What on offer?

Once you reach the overlook you will feel awe of sights all around. You will find suddenly surrounded by high mountain peaks. The Liberty Bell group with some 8000 foot high stands out. Look for Kangaroo ridge in the east, a place abound with golden larch trees. The sight of Methow valley and hairpin road underneath the look over will make you go nostalgic. There are signboards with William Staffords moving poems on them are all around the place. Be sure to read them.

There are some short trails in the area for visitors with adventure spirit. There are not just one but series of overlooks. Just go around and find them, and your visual sense with be treated with a plethora of delights. There is a rest room and bathrooms as well near the overlook.

In Conclusion

Washington Pass Overlook is rightly called the Jewel of North Cascades. It divides Washington state into east and west. Whether you go alone or friends or family, this place is a must stop or else you will be missing a vital jewel of your north cascades visit. The temperature of the place changes suddenly whether you come from east or west. A stopover just before the sunset is recommended.

 

Newhalem Creek Falls

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Newhalem Creek Falls

Newhalem Creek Falls is an amazing waterfall near the town of Newhalem in Ross Lake Recreation Area. The large volume creek flows north into the Skagit river outside Newhalem. Around a Kilometre half above the mouth, the creek sluices amount many large boulders then falls and veils down a 168 feet tall

If viewed from above the stream looks much more vertical than what it really is, and when from below it becomes foreshortened because of its run and pitch. Due to the nature of the cliff terrain, during the season when the creek runs high, the falls spread out and look like a Fan shaped waterfall. The falls are suitably used to generate hydroelectricity and a part of the creek diverted near the top of the falls, which causes a much narrower and less impressively shaped waterfall during the late winter season.

Newhalem Creek Falls is easily one of the best waterfalls in the Ross Lake area, if not the best. The waterfall is partially visible from the road but dangerous place to venture into. You can view the fall cleanly only when you climb to the edge of the precarious canyon and finding a viewing spot through the thick and thorny forest. Another way to have a clear site of the waterfall is reaching the bottom of the falls. The  bottom is very slippery and sliding.  Visitors need to exercise  utmost caution.

Exact Location of the Falls

The Newhalem Creek Falls is located near Newhalem in the Ross Lake NRA area of the North Cascades National Park complex. If you are coming from  east on State Route 20, proceed to Newhalem, a small town 15 miles east of Marblemount, and 26 miles east to Rockport.

The highway crosses Goodell Creek before entering Newhalem. After crossing one fifth of a mile from Goodell Creek, turn right towards the North Cascades Visitors Center and the Newhalem Creek campground. Then drive  past the campground, straight ahead at the four way stop.  After you drive 2/3 of a miles on a gravel road forking to the left the visitors center comes into view. You don’t have to take permission from the center.  Just follow this gravel road for about 1.1 miles and you will spot  the falls through the trees in the canyon below.

You can continue driving the road, which ends at 1 1/2 miles at a stream gauge and trailhead.  Just turn around if you feel you have gone too far. Exercise  strict caution if you plan on scrambling down the slope to have a view the falls. The ground beneath  is crumbly,  and the canyon walls drop off sharply.

A Guide to Roadside Lakes on North Cascades Highway

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

Diablo Lake

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.

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Lake George

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.

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Ross Lake

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

Blue Lake

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.

Nostalgic North Cascades Highway

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State Route 20 in the North Cascades region is also known as North Cascades Highway. The highway is the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range in the state of Washington. Highway 20 considered to be one of the best scenic highways not only in USA but also in the world.
Highway 20 crosses Rainy Pass at 4, 860 feet and Washington Pass at 5, 477 feet. The sides of the highway is packed with picnic and hiking spots all along. The Alpine Meadows on the way are full with wildflowers in the months of July and August. Ross Lake and Diablo Dam overlooks are great for photo shoots. The green forest and blue sky compliment the teal water of Ross lake and jade water of Diablo dam. Their distinct colours is caused by finely ground rocks dust suspended in the water.
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Across the highway, Newhalem is a pretty little town, where every highway rider should stop by. The North Cascades National Park Visitor center offers audio-video exhibits, info and maps about the the park. Visitors can secure permit for camping and back country travel. Beyond Newhalem lies the majestic Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest reserve – a 1.7 million acres forest of pure delight.
However, services like food and supplies, and accommodation is very limited in the small town of Newhalem. You should be heading to Marblemount which has all the facilities including lodging. The pristine town to has many hiking trails, which you can take should time permits.
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Concrete town

The North Cascades Highway follows the course of the curvy Skagit River. The water of the river unlike the colours of waters of lakes and dames in the region is pristine white. The river is popular for fishing, rafting and boating activities. In December and January, many bald eagles fly to the spot to feed on aplenty salmon in the area. You can spot these eagles perched on tall trees. If you are a bird lover you should be taking a guided bird-watching tour.
There few miles from Newhalme, there lies the friendly little town of Concrete. The historic town was one the foremost centre for cement production in USA. The interesting thing is the town has changed very little and a stroll across its streets can evokes a feeling of nostalgia. The Concrete high school is well-known for its bridge like structure under with the highway passes.