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.

 

5 Things to Do in North Cascades

The North Cascades is full with varied tourist attractions like dams, trails, lakes, waterfalls, powerhouses, wildlife, peaks, beautiful sceneries, opportunities for sporting activities and adventure. Here are 5 top things to do when you are in North Cascades.

Take a Road Trip

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Road trip especially from USA side offers stunning sceneries. On the ways you will be greeted with changing landscapes and terrains. Sometimes smooth stream of water from waterfalls cross over to the other side of roads.

The ideal place to start your road trip is Marblemount on highway 20 towards east. Be sure to stop at Newhalem and Diablo. Visit the Newhalem Visitor center, which has some great exhibitions. You can go for a quick walk to explore plenty of trails nearby. Diablo is another great place to stop by. Drive slowly over Diablo Dam Bridge and you will enjoy it. You can also pull up at Diablo Lake Overlook and can immerse yourself in the experience of viewing the stunning Diablo lake. At Diablo there is exhibits in the honor then senator M. Jackson, who helped to create the park.

Continue your journey towards east until Washington Pass Overlook. You would feel mesmerized with the stunning views surrounding you. The view of Majestic Bell Mountain is too stunning to be believed. The Washington Pass Overlook is highest point on Highway 20.

Go for Hiking

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There are many great trails in North Cascades for hiking. Unfortunately due to heavy snowing many of these trails remain closed in most part of the years. It is thus important to enquiry status of trail before you head for hiking. You can get the info from nearby visitor centers.

Newhalem is the most popular stops for hiking. Ruby Creek Trail, which is 18 miles east to Newhalem, is a popular destination. The other trails are the 1.5 km long Canyon Creek Trail and Diablo Lake trail. Once you weill hike the Diablo Lake Trail you will get a sweeping view of Diablo lake, Colonial and Pyramid peaks. These are some easiest trials for hiking especially with family and kids.

If you are adventurous type then Sourdought Mounntain Trail (10.4 miles) is good for you. The journey is strenuous but worth a try. You will be rewarded with a sweeping view of valleys and peaks including the majestic Mount Baker.

Inspect Flora/Fauna

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North Cascades region is full with diverse species of Flora and Fauna. There are over 75 mammal species including pikas, douglas squirrel, gray wolves, marmots, grizzly bears, river otters, cougars, mountain goats, bobcats, a dozen of species of bats and the famous Columbia black-tailed deer.

There are over 200 bird species in the area. Keep looking into sky and trees and you will sure to spot bald eagle, spotted owls, swallows, warblers and hummingbirds. The Skagit river banks are home to rare Pacific salmons besides Chinook, coho, pink, sockeye and chum.

The peculiar weather, topography, geology and hydrology of the region is responsible for large number of plant species found the in the National Park. There are around 1500 vascular plant species. Among others the plant species include white bark pine, California hazelnut, alpine willow, western yew, douglas fir, red aider, big leaf maple western red cedar etc. The National Park is a great spot for nature lover.

Take Photos

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During summer waters of rivers and lakes in North Cascades appear emerald or turquoise. Color of water in the region usually is green. The peculiar color is due to soil composition of the region, which is high on glacial flour concentration. Summer is great time to capture the essence of the place in photos.

Go on Excursions

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There are some excellent spots in Cascades to go for excursion. Leavenworth complete with wineries, spas, shopping and museums is a great attraction.

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, which covers an area of some 1.7 million acre is an ideal place to go for activities like picnic, boating, driving, winter sports and camping. The National Forest has ample facilities for above activities. If you go on a guided excursion then you should contact The North Cascades Institute at Rockport. This non-profit institute offer guided excursion free of charge.

Going to North Cascades Area is really exciting because major parts of the year the place remain closed due to heavy snowing. The ideal time to visit is summer. So, plan your trip accordingly. There are also facilities for differently abled tourists.