North Cascades National Park is an American national park in the state of Washington. At more than 500,000 acres (200,000 ha), it is the largest of the three National Park Service units that comprise the North Cascades National Park Complex. North Cascades National Park consists of a northern and southern section, bisected by the Skagit River that flows through the reservoirs of Ross Lake National Recreation Area. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area lies on the southern border of the south unit of the park. In addition to the two national recreation areas, other protected lands including several national forests and wilderness areas, as well as Canadian provincial parks in British Columbia, nearly surround the park. North Cascades National Park features the rugged mountain peaks of the North Cascades Range, the most expansive glacial system in the contiguous United States, the headwaters of numerous waterways, and vast forests with the highest degree of flora biodiversity of any American national park
WEATHER AT NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK
Visit the North Cascades between mid-June and late-September, when the weather is perfect for a daylong hike. If you’re interested in exploring the park by car, autumn and spring have become popular times to see Skagit, Okanogan and Stehekin Valleys.
Storms are common in the North Cascades. You’ll want to pack warm, waterproof clothing, and — if you’re camping — a tent. At high elevations in the winter, heavy snow and rain are to be expected, with avalanches occurring in winter and spring. Make sure to layer up for this trip and remember, the higher you go, the more likely it is you’ll see snow.
If you’re planning to visit the east side of the Cascade Mountains, expect drier, warmer weather. At Stehekin, summer temperatures can hit 90° F.
TOURS AND CAMPING
With over 684,000 acres to explore, you’ll never be bored in the North Cascades. Plan a picnic, pick a hike, or explore the recreation areas. There’s truly something for everyone in this park!
During the summer, join ranger-led programs and naturalist tours. The North Cascades Institute also offers a variety of educational programs to help visitors understand and explore the area’s natural and cultural history.
There is a variety of camping opportunities throughout the park. Most of the car campgrounds run on a reservation system through recreation.gov. First come, first served campgrounds are also available in the North Cascades, but they do fill up quickly.
Interested in mixing up your camping experience? The park accommodates boat-in and wilderness camping with the correct permit, and even offers two bicycle campsites.
WILDLIFE IN THE PARK
From the temperate rainforest of the wet west to the dry ponderosa pine ecosystem of the east, North Cascades National Park encompasses diverse landscapes with over 9,000 feet of vertical relief. Within the park you’ll see a wide array of plants and wildlife. So far, over 1,600 species have been identified within the park’s boarders. Mule deer, black bears, mountain goats, and bobcats call this exquisite habitat home.