Travel to the Pacific Northwest, to the top part of the northern state of Washington where you will find Cascades National Park. The park is split into two districts, the northern and southern districts. The north part lies on the border between the U.S. and Canada. The park is named after the mountain range in the region called the Cascade Range. The park consists of beautiful mountains, water features such as lakes and ponds and hundreds of glaciers. The North Cascades National Park is less than three hours from the popular city of Seattle, making a day trip to the park a convenient one. The park also has many lovely forests with cascading water features, another type of landmark appropriate to its name. The park is popular with backpackers, and mountain climbers as most of the park are protected as the Stephen Mather Wilderness. The best time to visit is during the warmer months due to severe winter weather. Experience what North Cascades National Park has to offer and see why its visitors leave impressed.

Weather and Roads in North Cascades National Park

Many of the areas and facilities of the park are only open during the summer. The extreme northern location of the park means severe winter weather and lots of snowfall. There have been instances where avalanches have cause road closures of the North Cascades Highway in the winter. Weather around the mountains can change quickly, so keep this in mind when planning your trip. The park’s website has an area for current conditions, park notices, closures and other advice and information.

North Cascades

Visitor Centers, Ranger Stations and More

There are many types of service centers to visit within the area. The visitor centers are the North Cascades visitor center which is the main center and the Golden West visitor center which can only be reached by ferry, trail, or float plane. There is a park and forest information center in Sedro-Woolley, a wilderness information center in Marblemount, the Glacier Public Service center in Glacier and the Chelan and Methow Valley ranger station. Most of these have information, maps, books, videos and more. The North Cascades visitor center also has a few trials nearby, restroom, theater area with presentation and exhibits.

Camp in Unbelievable scenery

Imagine a campsite along a lake with forest covered mountains looming in the distance as you inhale the fresh mountain air. The North Cascades National Park has several campgrounds to choose from, including the Goodell Creek, Newhalem Creek, Gorge Lake, Colonial Creek and Hozomeen Campgrounds. Try boat-in camping where you drive your boat into Diablo Lake, Ross Lake or Lake Chelan. The campgrounds vary, some with full services and some with limited to no service such as flushing toilets, recycling, garbage service, potable water, showers, etc. The park website has a list of all the campgrounds and what is available at each.

North Cascades Highway

The North Cascades Highway is a visual treat to those driving or entering the park. The highway offers lovely views of the Skagit River basin, the mountain ranges featuring jagged, snow-capped peaks and more views you have to see to believe. Many visitors say they have completed many other scenic drives in national parks and this remains as one of the top drives due to the unreal beauty of the park. Make sure you stop at the visitor center, the Gorge, Diablo Lake Overlook and Ross Lake Overlook for some of the prime places to see. Traveling east to west will give visitors the best views along the drive. This is also the best way to see the majority of the park and one of the most scenic drives in the U.S.

North Cascades Highway

Blue Lake Trail

The Blue Lake Trail is a simpler hike for most people with a rewarding ending. Catch a ride up and enjoy the gorgeous sights. The hike is approximately 4.5 miles round trip and is not too strenuous. The trail leads you down to a lake with massive mountain peaks around you. The lake itself is a nice, deep blue and during the summer you can even take a swim, although it might be a cold one. Visitors have reported seeing mountain goats nearby. The trail is scenic from start to end and one of the best hikes to experience the park with. It is family friendly and makes sure to pack a picnic for lunch by the blue water.

north cascades blue lake trail

Ladder Creek Falls

The Ladder Creek Falls are not to be missed! This stunning water feature is one of the highlights of the park and can be seen near mile marker # 120 along the North Cascades Highway. There is a loop trail that is about half a mile long that will lead to the falls. There are some steep areas along the trail, but otherwise, it is not too strenuous. There are also guided hikes to the falls as well, where a ranger can tell you about the area and the water. The waterfall is in a hydroelectric complex that is operated by the Seattle City power company. At night, the falls are illuminated for a unique and peaceful sight that many visitors love. The falls generate electricity, and the hike is relatively quick and easy making this one of the must-see stops in the park.

Ladder Creek Falls

Maple Pass Loop

This hike is an 8-mile loop that is not for beginners. One of the best times to complete this walk is in early fall as all the leaves change color for a flash of brilliance you have to see to believe. The hike can be strenuous, with many switchbacks and the extended length. However, it does have some of the prettiest views of the park. Walking along the trail, you will see Ann Lake down below, which is a visitor favorite. The hike goes high enough to see the powerful peaks of the mountains, past fields of wildflowers and on a clear day, can see for miles at the top. To truly experience the park, one must get off the road for a bit, and this hike is the perfect way to do so.

Beauty in the North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park is just stunning, and people who visit are seriously impressed and pleasantly surprised by the beauty they find there. Don’t forget the swimming, boating, and fishing that can happen during the summer. Explore trails to the many different lakes, or up to the peaks for photos, you’ll want to frame. The North Cascades has cascading water as well as the Cascade mountain range that makes for the perfect backdrop to the blue lakes and green forests of northern Washington.


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