North Cascades Getaways

park getaways

The North Cascades National Park Service Complex was established by Congress to preserve the majestic scenery and unique natural features of this beautiful landscape. Since its inception in 1968, the park's mission has evolved to include concerns for the entire ecosystem.

The jagged peaks of the North Cascades rise above deep forested valleys-terrain carved by moving ice. The Park Complex contains more glaciers than any other national park in the United States outside Alaska. These glaciers are an important source of water for salmon, other wildlife, plants and people in the Puget Sound region. The Complex, which adjoins public lands preserved in Canada, is the core of one of the largest protected wild areas in the United States; a substantial portion of it is designated Wilderness. Humans here are visitors, who come to enjoy nature on nature's terms. The Complex includes 49 National Register structures and sites, three National Historic Districts and over 250 archeological sites. It was home to at least four tribes whose descendants now live nearby and includes, within its boundaries, three contemporary communities.

A good place to begin your visit to North Cascades National Park is one of the visitor centers within the complex. The North Cascades Visitor Center is located near Newhalem (milepost 120 on State Route 20) in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area. It is open daily from mid-April to mid-November from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with extended hours from late May through mid-October. From mid-November through mid-April, itis open Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Golden West Visitor Center is located at Stehekin Landing in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. The center is open mid-March through mid-October, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the summer and shorter hours during the remainder of that period.

The park maintains 386 miles (618 kilometers) of trails throughout the North Cascades Complex. The trails vary in degree of difficulty and access. Information on specific trails is available by calling the Wilderness Information Center at (360) 873-4500 May through September or park headquarters at (360) 856-5700 the rest of the year. Check on trail conditions before hiking. The most up-do-date and complete information on trail and climbing conditions is available at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount (near milepost 105 on State Route 20) or the Golden West Visitor Center in Stehekin. These are the best places to obtain backcountry information and permits.

Most scheduled programs in the complex take place July through September and during winter holidays. Regularly scheduled programs during the summer range from talks and demonstrations at the visitor centers to guided hikes, children's programs and evening presentations in the campgrounds. Topics span a wide range of natural and cultural history. The park complex has many wayside exhibits, museum exhibits at both visitor centers, and five self-guiding interpretive trails. The Newhalem Creek Rockshelter Trail (universally accessible), with interpretation about archeology and the long span of human activity in the North Cascades, was completed in late May 1998. It is located off State Route 20 near the town of Newhalem in Ross Lake NRA. The Golden West Gallery in the visitor center at Stehekin features a new exhibit of locally and regionally produced arts and crafts related to the experience of people in the North Cascades every three weeks during the summer.