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…]
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.
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 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.
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.