Ross Lake National Recreation Area : Things You Should Know Before Visiting

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Most tourists all over the country and Canada want to visit North Cascades National Park. What a tourist finds out when he gets there is that the National Park is the least accessible part in this corner.  Majority of tourists spend their  time checking out the more popular Ross Lake National Recreation Area with parts of the area accessible from right off WA-20 North Cascades Highway. Ross Lake NRA among others includes Gorge Lake, Diablo Lake, and Ross Lake. You will enjoy a couple of small hikes and take a look in some overlooks during your visit to the place. The Ross Lake NRA also has ample facilities  for paddling, fishing, camping, and great hiking opportunities.

Few excellent campgrounds to try in the NRA are Colonial Creek off WA-20 North Cascades Highway or Hozomeen, accessible by a gravel Skagit Road from North from Canada. If you are the one who loves  solitude like Jack Kerouac, you would want to walk your way to the top of the majestic Desolation Peak. The view of Ross Lake from the peak is quite impressive. However hiking to the peak requires stamina and good preparation.  You have to hike 6.8 mile on 4400 foot elevation after roughly 16 miles on the relatively flat East Bank trail. Of course there are other ways to go to the pick like crossing the Ross lake via boat. But hiking is real thing to do.

The Ross Lake Resort is an attractive place to stay in Ross Lake NRA. The scenery  is too amazing to be put in words.  You can  reach the resort  by hiking to it or taking a ferry from the Diablo Lake. The price of ferry ticket is $16 dollars and it will take around one hour via ferry from the Diablo Lake, which is situated near Newhalem. It is to be kept in the mind that  resort is open from June to October only. You have to book well in advance.

The only flip side about the place is that the entire National Park Service Complex consisting of of North Cascades National Park, and the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas is not the most accessible place to go. During the winter the highway is closed.  To experience the hidden  cool treasures of the area you have to  take time and plan well. It requires  effort to get to them. At the end you will take immense satisfaction that your effort is worth it.

North Cascades Place Spotlight 5: Gorge Creek Falls

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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 Secrets of Rockport and Marblemount

Rockport is a small town in Washington that host a fine State Park and a popular County Park. You can go to Rockport by heading east on State Route 20 from I5 at Burlington, or reach there via Arlington and Darrington on State Route 530. There is a tavern and gas store in the town.

Marblemount is another small town and several miles drive from Rockport. Good facilities for tourists like gas, groceries, lodging, post office and restaurants available in this small town. From here starts the scenic 87 miles drive in wilderness  along the North Cascades Highway. The famous Skagit River Resort lies halfway between Rockport and Marblemount. After you cross the Skagit River bridge, you can take the Cascade River Road that head east into the National park. This 22 miles primitive drive is laden with visual delight. You will have amazing views of mountains, blue glaciers and waterfalls.

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Marblemount

There are two small beautiful towns of Newhalem and Diablo, along the State Route 20. Many trails, dams hydroelectric projects located around the towns and hiking can be done from these places. However, there is no facilities except a grocery store in Newhalem.

Marblemount and Rockport are  on the last river plain in the Upper Skagit River Valley as you undertake a drive on the North Cascades Highway. The highway takes the route of Indians, pioneer wagons and pack trains  as it passes through the valley along the up river course on the way to the North Cascades mountains. The Skagit River flows into Puget Sound about 60 miles west of Marblemount.

Theses days the area is bustling with small business entrepreneurs. Local artists and crafts are making full use of area’s natural resources to design their unique products. Potteries, big wood carvings, green products, hand-designed crafts, and wood crafts can be purchased here. The climate is moderate, with summer highs in the 90’s and the winter lows varies from 10′ to 30′.

It is important to note that though the highway across the North Cascades Passes closes in winter, the towns of Marblemount and Rockport remain accessible year-round for tourists coming from the Puget Sound region.

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Skagit River Resort

Alpine hiking in the Sauk Mountain trail is very popular spot. To reach here turn north on the access road that meet Highway 20 just west of Rockport State Park, and continue your drive  up the root of the mountain till you reach the parking area.  It provides an amazing view of the Skagit River Valley below. You can go for hang-gliding here. Sauk Mountain trail starts from this place and switchbacks up the south face of Sauk and near the top the trail crosses around an eastern outcropping, and continues up to the place of the former fire tower.

If you want to stay in the area for a day or two you have Skagit River Resort in the vicinity. The resort has all facilities including small parking and eatery. Marble mount is just 2.5 miles from here.

 

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.

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.