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North Cascades National Park

In northwestern Washington, near Marblemount


Nearly all wilderness, the 505,000-acre North Cascades National Park contains some of America's most breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Attractions include more than 300 glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, lakes; lush forests; and diverse flora and fauna. The park was established on October 2, 1968.



Bird- and wildlife watching, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding (rentals at Stehekin Valley Ranch), mountain climbing (rentals in Ste-hekin), river running (rentals at Stehekin Valley Ranch). Facilities: Visitor center (North Cascades, milepost 120 on Rte. 20 in Newhalem), Wilderness Information Center (Marblemount, milepost 105 on Rte. 20), Glacier Public Service Center (Glacier, Rte. 542), trails, wayside exhibits. Bookstore. Programs & Events: Art exhibits (June-Sept.), talks, demonstrations, guided nature walks, children's programs, evening presentations (mostly July-Sept, and winter holidays). Earth Day and Week (Apr). Tips & Hints: Visit mid-June-late Sept. for best weather. Heavy snow and rain, depending on elevation, characterize the North Cascades from fall into spring. Snow is usually off all but the highest trails by July. Summer storms are common. Be prepared for rain and wind. Take good, light rain gear and tent if you are going into high and remote areas. Warm, waterproof clothing and a tent are virtually mandatory for spring, fall, and winter trips into the backcountry. Hang food and other items with fragrance at least 15 feet up and 5 feet out from tree trunk, away from animals, in backcountry. Be cautious crossing streams. Crossing snowfields and glaciers may require special equipment. Fragile vegetation, such as heather, particularly in sub-alpine areas, is easily damaged by foot traffic. Practice "Leave No Trace" hiking and camping techniques to minimize your impact on wilderness. Busiest July and Aug., least crowded Nov. and Jan.



Camping: Approximately 20 campgrounds in and near the park. See Lake Chelan and Ross Lake national recreation areas. Backcountry camping allowed (permit required, see below).  Hotels: In the park: see Lake Chelan and Ross Lake national recreation areas. In Winthrop: Chewuch Inn (223 White Ave., tel. 509/996-3107 or 800/747-3107; 8 rooms, 6 cabins; $75-$125). In Mazama: Freestone Inn (17798 Rte. 20, tel. 509/996-3906 or 800/639-3809; 21 rooms, 15 cabins; $100-$260). X Restaurants: In the park: see Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. In Marblemount: Buffalo Run Restaurant (60084 Rte. 20, tel. 360/873-2461; $12-$15). In Winthrop: Duck Brand Cantina, Baker & Hotel (248 Riverside Ave., tel. 509/996-2192; $8-$17).  Groceries & Gear: None in park. In Newhalem: Skagit General Store (Rte. 20,5 mi east of turnoff to the North Cascades Visitor Center, tel. 206/386-4489).



Free. Northwest Forest Pass ($5 per day or $30 annual) required for parking along the Cascade River and at some trailheads within Ross Lake National Recreation Area. Permit required (free) for backcountry camping (Wilderness Information Center, tel. 360/873-4500 Ext. 39, May-Oct. in Marblemount for any backcountry area; National Park Headquarters, tel. 360/856-5700 Ext. 515, Oct.-May). Permits issued in person only, up to one day before trip. Reservations required (tel. 360/856-5700 Ext. 340, then Ext. 14, after May 14) for park shuttle buses in Stehekin Valley that serve the south end of the park. No pets on shuttle. Leashed dogs only on Pacific Crest Trail. No pets in any other backcountry. No wood fires except in forested, low-elevation areas with iron fire grates. No grazing of horses; bring feed. Washington state fishing license required. Hunting by permit only in Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (see separate entries). No mountain or trail bikes or mechanized or motorized equipment on trails. Park open daily. Access limited by snow in winter.



The park is divided by Rte. 20, which runs from Burlington (1-5) on the west side to Okanogan on the east side, with branch routes to Baker Lake (at Concrete) and the Cascade River (at Marblemount). Hiking access and roadside views of the northwest corner of the park are available from Rte. 542, east from Bellingham. Two gravel roads enter the park: the Cascade River Rd. from Marblemount and the Stehekin Valley Rd. The latter does not connect to any roads outside the Stehekin Valley. Closest airport: Seattle-Tacoma (140 mi).



North Cascades NPS Complex (810 Rte. 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284, tel. 360/856-5700, fax 360/856-1934). Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce (Box 1007, Mount Vernon, WA 98273, tel. 360/428-8547). Sedro-Woolley Chamber of Commerce (714  Metcalf St., Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284, tel. 360/855-1841). Concrete Chamber of Commerce (Box 743, Concrete, WA 98237, tel. 360/853-7042). Winthrop Chamber of Commerce (202 Riverside St., Winthrop, WA 98862, tel. 509/996-2125). Methow Valley Central Reservations (Box 505, Winthrop, WA 98862, tel. 509/996-2148 or 800/422-3048). Chelan Chamber of Commerce (Box 216, Chelan, WA 98816, tel. 509/ 682-2022 or 800/424-3526). Wenatchee Chamber of Commerce (116 N. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA 98801, tel. 509/663-3723 or 800/ 572-7753).