North Cascades National Park is one of Washington State’s national parks. This remote park is one of the lesser-known parks in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it won’t make for an amazing visit. The National Park makes up part of the North Cascades Complex, which also includes Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. If you’re looking to explore, here are six great things to do.
4. Visit Diablo Lake
Diablo Lake is a gorgeous body of water known for its glistening turquoise colors. Located off of Highway 20 – the only paved road through the park, this is a great option for those wanting to see the area, but also not venture too far off the beaten path. It’s also a great option for both cars and hikers of any abilities – no need to worry about bumpy dirt roads or have professional hiking gear. You can view the lake from a lookout point off of Highway 20. If you’re looking to get your steps in, there’s also a 7.6 roundtrip mile hike down to the lakeshore that’s popular year-round.
2. Consider A Backpacking Trip
Here’s an option for the more wilderness-savvy visitors! Because of North Cascades’ remote location, it’s not recommended that you head out on a backpacking trip if you’re not prepared and have a solid plan in place. If you are, however, the park offers countless opportunities ranging from short, overnight trips – consider hiking down to Diablo Lake and camping at one of the campgrounds there for a night, before returning to next morning, – to longer trips. There are also several options for backcountry trips in the park, though you’ll want to be sure to look into what backcountry permits are needed and what conditions are – some areas remain snowy year-round.
3. Go On A Scenic Drive
Looking to enjoy the beauty of the North Cascades from the comfort of your car, or to take a breather after exploring? Consider a scenic drive down Highway 20. While this alone probably isn’t a great reason to head up to the park – it’ll take less than an hour to go through that section of the road. However, it is a great add-on to the trip to see a little more of the park even if you don’t have time to fit more exploring in. Additionally, there’s several scenic overlooks along the road, including Ross Lake Overlook.
4. Go Camping
One of the best ways to experience the area is to camp there! There’s a huge variety of camping options when it comes to the North Cascades complex. If you’re looking for a drive-in site, there are several located off of Highway 20, which runs through the park. Such campsites, which include Newhalem Creek Campground, can be reserved online. While the park may be less known that some other national parks, it’s still recommended you make plans as far in advance as possible to be sure you have time to get any needed reservations or permits.
5. Go Hiking
It should be no surprise that North Cascades is home to countless opportunities for hiking. Despite the park’s remote location, it offers a wide variety of hikes for practically all skill levels. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly hike that will offer gorgeous views along the way, check out Happy Creek Forest Walk. The first part of the hike is 0.3-miles long and is wheelchair accessible thanks to boardwalks. You can then opt to continue for an additional 2-mile round trip that will take you past a beautiful waterfall, and features minimal incline – perfect for hikers of all skill levels.
6. Go Boating
One final thing to do at North Cascades is go boating! There are several stunning lakes in the area, including the previously mentioned Ross Lake and Diablo Lake. Kayaking and canoeing are both popular on Diablo Lake, and there are even some people who choose to boat into their campsite. If you don’t have a boat of your own, though, you aren’t out of luck. Rentals are available from Ross Lake Resort.
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