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North Cascades National Park Visitor Information

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Washington Cascades

North Cascades National Park

Discovering North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades National Park lies in the northernmost region of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, amid wild, forested, nearly impenetrable mountains remarkable because of their numerous glaciers, permanent snowfields, and sheer-walled cliffs, spires, and pinnacles.

These wild and dramatic mountains with their deep valleys and steep slopes are so formidable that their individual peaks inspired such names as Mt Terror, Mt Challenger, Mt Fury, Mt Despair, Mt Torment, and Desolation Peak.

Beyond the park's boundaries lie adjoining national forest lands, and provincial park, recreation areas, and Crown lands to the north.

The park complex receives some 500,000 visitors per year and is popular with local hikers, backpackers and mountain climbers.

The Ross, Diablo and Gorge dams along the upper Skagit River which cuts across the park have created lakes ideal for fishing and boating, and with hiking trails along their shores. Popular family-style walks include the Trail of the Cedars near Newhalem, Happy Creek Trail near Diablo Lake, and the Washington Pass Overlook loop.

North Cascades Act of 1968

The park is one of three units in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex which was established on October 2, 1968 by the signing of the North Cascades Act by Lyndon B. Johnson. This act is composed of:

  • North Cascades National Park, 684,242 acres.
  • Ross Lake National Recreation Area, 117,574 acres
  • Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, 425,929 acres.

This same act also created the adjacent Pasayten Wilderness of 550,000 acres and enlarged the Glacier Peak Wilderness to 464,000 acres. In 1988 Congress designated approximately 93 percent of the three areas as the Stephen Mather Wilderness to provide additional legislated protection.

Getting to the North Cascades National Park

The park complex is about a three hour drive north from Seattle on I-5. The main routes include the Interstate I-5 corridor, running north and south from the Canadian border to the Oregon border; and the North Cascades Highway, running east and west and cutting through the North Cascades Park as State Route 20.


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is about 120 miles to the south on I-5 near Seattle and is served by some 30 major airlines.

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