WUDN

March-2024

Exploring the Great Outdoors: 5 Must-Visit Features of Every National Park in the United States

WUDN Outdoor Adventure (National Park Series)

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Part 03 of Our National Park Series

North Cascades National Park

National Park Series > Pacific Northwest > North Cascades National Park

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Nestled in the rugged terrain of Washington state, North Cascades National Park beckons adventurers with its pristine wilderness, towering peaks, and crystalline waters. Encompassing a vast expanse of alpine landscapes, old-growth forests, and glaciated valleys, the park offers visitors a wealth of outdoor activities to explore. Here are the top five activities to embark on during your visit:

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North Cascades National Park - Photo by K Lee Corey on Unsplash

Top 5 Outdoor Adventures in: North Cascades National Park 

1. Hiking:

Lace up your boots and hit the trails to discover the breathtaking beauty of North Cascades National Park on foot. With over 400 miles of hiking trails traversing diverse terrain, there's a hike for every skill level and interest. Trek through lush forests, alpine meadows, and rugged peaks, and be rewarded with panoramic vistas of snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, and cascading waterfalls. Don't miss iconic hikes such as the Cascade Pass Trail, Maple Pass Loop, and Hidden Lake Trail for unforgettable alpine adventures.

2. Scenic Drives:

Embark on a scenic drive along the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20), which traverses the heart of the park and offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes. Wind your way through mountain passes, deep valleys, and dramatic vistas, stopping at overlooks and viewpoints along the way to marvel at the rugged beauty of the North Cascades. Be sure to drive the entire length of the highway, from the lush forests of the west to the arid landscapes of the east, for a truly immersive experience.

3. Wildlife Viewing:

Keep your eyes peeled for the park's diverse wildlife as you explore its pristine wilderness. North Cascades National Park is home to a variety of species, including black bears, deer, mountain goats, and bald eagles. Bring binoculars and a camera to capture sightings of these majestic creatures against the backdrop of the park's stunning scenery. Join a ranger-led wildlife viewing program or venture out on your own to spot wildlife in their natural habitat.

4. Backpacking:

Immerse yourself in the remote wilderness of North Cascades National Park with a multi-day backpacking trip into the backcountry. With numerous backcountry campsites and miles of rugged trails to explore, backpackers can experience solitude, serenity, and unparalleled beauty amidst the park's pristine landscapes. Choose from a variety of backpacking routes, ranging from easy overnight trips to challenging multi-day treks, and be prepared for a truly unforgettable wilderness adventure.

5. Photography:

Capture the awe-inspiring beauty of North Cascades National Park with your camera lens as you explore its dramatic landscapes and stunning vistas. From sunrise over snow-capped peaks to sunset reflections on alpine lakes, the park offers endless opportunities for photographers to capture the magic of the natural world. Bring your camera gear and tripod to capture the perfect shot, and don't forget to take advantage of golden hour light for truly breathtaking photos. From epic hikes to scenic drives, North Cascades National Park offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration in one of the Pacific Northwest's most iconic landscapes. Whether you're summiting rugged peaks, traversing alpine meadows, or simply soaking in the serenity of the wilderness, the park invites you to experience the wonders of nature in its purest form.

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How to Get There - North Cascades National Park

Getting to North Cascades National Park, located in Washington state, involves several transportation options depending on your starting point:

1. By Car: Driving is the most common and convenient way to reach North Cascades National Park. The park is accessible via the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20), which traverses the northern portion of the park. If you're coming from the west, you can access the park from Interstate 5 near Burlington, Washington. From the east, you can access the park from Interstate 5 near Winthrop, Washington. Follow State Route 20 to reach various park entrances and visitor centers.


2. By Air: The nearest major airport to North Cascades National Park is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Seattle, Washington. From the airport, you can rent a car and drive to the park, which is approximately 2-3 hours away depending on traffic and weather conditions. Alternatively, you can fly into smaller regional airports such as Bellingham International Airport (BLI) or Pangborn Memorial Airport (EAT) in Wenatchee, Washington, and then drive to the park.

3. By Public Transportation: While there is no direct public transportation to North Cascades National Park, you can take a Greyhound bus or another intercity bus service to nearby cities such as Burlington or Winthrop. From there, you can arrange for a shuttle service or taxi to transport you to the park. Be sure to check the bus schedule and availability of transportation options before planning your trip.

4. Guided Tours: If you prefer not to drive yourself, you can join a guided tour to North Cascades National Park from Seattle or other nearby cities. Many tour companies offer day trips and multi-day excursions to the park, providing transportation, guided activities, and accommodations for visitors. Guided tours typically include visits to popular attractions such as Diablo Lake, Washington Pass, and various hiking trails.

Regardless of how you choose to travel to North Cascades National Park, be sure to plan ahead and check road conditions, weather forecasts, and park regulations before you go. Depending on the time of year, certain park facilities and roads may be closed, so it's important to be prepared for any potential challenges during your visit.

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National Park Service Maps (North Cascades National Park)

North Cascades Berann panorama - with labels

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/Fin. North Cascades National Park

As we conclude our journey through North Cascades National Park, we're left captivated by the untamed beauty and rugged grandeur of this Pacific Northwest gem. From its towering peaks and glacier-carved valleys to its pristine alpine lakes and cascading waterfalls, North Cascades offers a sanctuary for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. Whether you're trekking along mountain trails, marveling at the vibrant wildflowers, or simply soaking in the awe-inspiring vistas, every moment in this wilderness paradise is a reminder of the profound beauty and resilience of the natural world. As you bid farewell to North Cascades, may the memories of your time spent amidst its breathtaking landscapes serve as a lasting reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our planet's most precious treasures.

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North Cascades National Park at Sunset - Photo by Jamie Pilgrim on Unsplash

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Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

About the Author

Jaimeleigh Christian

Jaimeleigh Christian

Jaime is passionate about the outdoors and traveling throughout these gorgeous United States. Especially National Parks in the Pacific Northwest. 

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Travel

Outdoor Adventure Series

National Parks

Tour Guide

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