Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.John Muir
About the Park
North Cascades National Park in northwestern Washington State preserves the incredible mountain snowfields, glaciers, and lakes of the rugged northern Cascades. Located less than 3 hours from Seattle, this beauty of the park lies in the waterfalls, jagged peaks, and 300 glaciers, more than anywhere in the U.S. outside of Alaska.
Check out the view from the park!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- See the amazing Diablo Lake Vista Point and gorgeous bluish-green waters
- Take the Scenic Drive on North Cascades Highway and see many overlooks, trailheads and lakes
- Hike a few of the wonderful trails throughout the park. We thought the Thunder Knob Trail was great for the views of Diablo Lake
- Drive to the Washington Pass Overlook for views of Liberty Bell Mountain
We had a great stay in Washington State and saw all three National Parks, including the drive through North Cascades. We stopped to do a little work one day, and fortunately, Bev had her technical assistant with her!
Size of Park
North Cascades National Park has more plant species within its border than any other National Park.
North Cascades National Park is one of three Washington national parks and is an outstanding piece of the earth located in the northern part of Washington. The park is home to some of the most breathtaking scenery, with towering mountains, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests. Visitors can explore over 300 miles of trails, view wildlife, and enjoy activities such as camping, fishing, and boating. The park also offers plenty of educational opportunities for those interested in learning about the area’s ecology, geology, and history. Whether looking for a day of outdoor recreation or an extended backpacking trip, North Cascades National Park is an amazing place to experience nature’s beauty.
Best hiking trails
Hiking North Cascades National Park is a fantastic experience! The park offers a variety of trails for all levels of hikers, from leisurely strolls to strenuous mountain climbs. The scenery is breathtaking, with lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and snow-capped mountain peaks. You can find a variety of wildlife in the park, including deer, elk, and even the occasional bear. Make sure to plan and be prepared for any weather conditions. Pack plenty of food and water, and make sure to dress in layers. Hiking North Cascades National Park is an unforgettable experience that you won’t soon forget!
The entire park is so beautiful that even the shortest hikes showcase a unique beauty. However, you will get some of the best views on the more challenging hiking trails, some of which are listed below.
Diablo Lake Trail
Diablo Lake Trail is among the more popular hikes in the park, which goes as far as the Ross Lake Dam and can be completed in 4.5 hours. While it is 7.5 miles long, the trail is less challenging, and older people with some hiking experience can enjoy this route that shows Diablo Lake from different perspectives.
Gorge Creek Falls Loop
Gorge Creek Falls Loop is an easier hike in the park as it is half a mile long. While the views offered here are less spectacular than on some other trails, you will still witness a few breathtaking sights. It only takes 20 minutes to hike. The trail can also be crowded on weekends, so be prepared for company.
This trail is moderately challenging as it is six and a half miles long. Here, you will find some of the most sensational views of the mountains inside North Cascades National Park. You can either hike for 7.5 miles or continue till Sahale Glacier, which makes the entire hike 11.8 miles long. Either way, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the landscape.
Maple Pass Loop Trail
This 7.4-mile-long hiking trail is often considered the best trail in the park. The trail takes you to Lake Ann, which looks heavenly as it sits amidst the towering peaks of North Cascades National Park. One of the best times to hike this path is during fall, as the landscape blends green, blue, and blazing golden.
Do not be fooled by the trail’s name, as it is far from easy. Like many trails in the park, the hike begins on Forest Service lands and ends in the park, so you cannot bring dogs with you.
The hike is almost 8 miles long and can take up to 6 hours to complete. The great thing about this trail is that you enjoy scenic views throughout the hike. If you visit Easy Pass before early August, you will likely encounter a snowy trail which can make the track even more challenging.
Camping in the Park
North Cascades National Park has various camping opportunities, including scenic community campgrounds and boat-in campsites. Some of the more popular campgrounds are listed below.
Colonial Creek Campground
This is the most popular campground in the park, as guests have access to flushing restroom facilities and drinking water. Located near Diablo Lake, the campground has more than 140 campsites available that can accommodate tents and small-sized RVs.
Goodell Creek Campground
This campground is for those who want to camp in a forest. Located on the bank of the Skagit River, the campground can accommodate both tents and small RVs. Reservations for summer camping can be made up to 6 months in advance.
Newhalem Creek Campground
This campground is secluded and offers privacy to the campers with its thick foliage. There are more than 40 sites that include both individual sites as well as group sites. Amenities include a dump station, food storage lockers, portable water, and a cell phone reception.
Gorge Lake Campground
Gorge Lake Campground has six lake-side camping sites that provide access to attractions, including Diablo Lake. The sites are more suitable for tent camping or small recreational vehicles.
Camping options near the park
A few campgrounds are located near the park, including Skagit River Campsite and Londonderry Gem Camp.
- Skagit River Campsite has three RV hookups, a fire pit area, picnic tables, and water. Moreover, grocery stores and restaurants are also located nearby.
- Londonderry Gem Camp is located near the town of Marblemount, so you will have access to food and other necessities. There is a water hookup available on site, along with showers and a picnic table.
Gorge Lake Overlook
Take advantage of the Gorge Lake Overlook if you want to look at dazzling blue and green waters. You can see the Gorge Dam and the Skagit Gorge as you stand on the viewpoint. Surprisingly, the trail to this beautiful overlook is relatively short. Half of the route is paved, so you won’t have much trouble getting there.
Cutthroat Lake is another lovely place to visit. The path to get here is 4 miles long and easy as it has no elevation. Small children can easily trek here and enjoy the scenic views. As you move forward, you will cross a forest and a log footbridge just before getting to the final viewpoint.
Diablo Lake Vista Point
Diablo lake Vista Point earns its reputation as one of tourists’ favorite overlooks. The unusual color of this lake is due to the melting glaciers that grind against the rocks and form powdery dust. When the water washes this dust, or rock flour, into the lake, it creates a greenish-blue waterbody.
The alpine landscape of North Cascades National Park surrounds Rainy Lake. The water in the lake is so clear that you can even see fish swimming in it. The trail to the lake is flat and wheelchair-accessible. Sitting in the middle of the mountains, this is a beautiful sight.
Ross Lake Overlook
To get a good look at Ross Lake, you must visit Ross Lake Overlook. This viewpoint is worth a quick stop, where you can watch the blue river winding through the sea of trees. From this point, you can also see Desolation Peak in the distance, which is famous because of Jack Kerouac, who spent some time there and wrote a book.
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