Plan your Visit to
North Cascades National Park
Enjoy the Vast Wilderness of Washington State
The park encompasses 504,781 acres of wilderness that includes rivers, streams, and even glaciers. There are few parks that can boast such an array of varying landscapes and that makes North Cascades National Park a truly remarkable park to visit.
A Short History Lesson
The land that is now known as North Cascades National Park has always been a significant draw for wilderness enthusiasts and locals alike. The area was mined for many years and through the mining developed into a very profitable part of the country. When the national parks began to be established there was talk of turning that particular area into a national park, but locals feared that the establishment of national park status to the area would impact their economic development in a negative way. Preservationists however won out and the North Cascades National Park was established in 1968.
Visitors seem to be drawn to water when visiting national parks and when you are in North Cascades National Park, the water source a significant draw to avid boaters is Ross Lake. The lake is actually a reservoir and therefore throughout the year surrounding towns draw off the lake for their drinking water. The highest water levels within Ross Lake are found in July, but temperatures in this part of the country do not get high enough even in winter, so boaters should be aware that falling into the water can bring about hypothermia quite quickly so always exercise caution when boating.
People are so busy these days that they fail to take it easy from time to time. Skehekin is an area within North Cascades National Park that enables visitors to slow down and enjoy life. The area acts as a small town that is remarkably only accessible via foot traffic or boat. A trip to Skehekin will give you a better perspective on what life was like before we had the ability to drive a car or get anything we wanted sent to us from anywhere around the world. When traveling to this part of the park, you need to make sure that you have the supplies you need. Skehekin does have limited groceries and supplies for the weary traveler, but it is always best to have your own to ensure that you will have anything you need.
Most national parks allow visitors to camp in the backcountry of the park, but North Cascades National Park is one of the few that makes wilderness camping widely available to guests. Throughout the wilderness areas of the park are 140 available wilderness campsites. Where most wilderness campsites are merely marked by a fire pit, the ones within North Cascades National Park have toilets, picnic tables, and tent pads for the convenience of the guests. There are some established campgrounds in and around the park that offer the chance to camp for a fee, but with why not enjoy the wilderness as it was meant to be enjoyed.
Things to Know
Visitors come from all over the world for the chance to discover the untouched wilderness that is found throughout North Cascades National Park. Entrance fees are non-existent for entrance to the park, so it can be quite an inexpensive trip for individuals and families alike. There is a fee for camping in the established campgrounds and that is $16 per campsite per night. Wilderness camping is free, but does require that you retain a permit at the visitor’s center before scouting out your camping location. Camping within the park, like within all national parks in the United States to no more than 14 consecutive nights so keep that in mind.
Safety should be your biggest concern when visiting the park. Hikers can sometimes overestimate their ability and therefore become injured or stranded within North Cascades National Park. To avoid such circumstances never overestimate your ability to hike to a specific area. Some parts of the higher elevations throughout the park may be unstable and prone to rock slides so be sure before stepping in some of the rocky areas while climbing mountains or rock faces within the park.
Cell phone service may not be available in some areas of North Cascades National Park so satellite phones are recommended for anyone who may have a desire to go deep into the wilderness of the park. The park is a wonderful resource for seeing wildlife and just enjoying nature, so always remember to camp with the no trace mentality and carry out everything you bring into the park.