Expansive North Cascades National Park shows off the best of Washington’s alpine landscape, with more than 236,000 acres of old-growth forests, 500 lakes and ponds, more than 300 glaciers, and a seemingly endless inventory of waterfalls from which the Cascade Range gets its name.
The park is a haven for backpackers, mountain climbers, and recreational day hikers, as evidenced by the hundreds of miles of hiking trails (portions of the famous Pacific Crest Trail run through the park) and the array of picture-perfect vistas visible by car or bike on Highway 20.
Don’t miss glacier-fed Diablo Lake, with its azure waters. Stop for a quick view from the dam, or stay awhile and explore the lake from Colonial Creek. Nearby, the 3.6-mileround-trip Thunder Knob trail rewards hikers with a stunning view of the water, plus snow-covered Pyramid Peak and waterfalls splashing down Sourdough Mountain. For a more up-close and personal experience of Diablo, consider a boat tour with Seattle City Light(seattle.gov/light/damtours/diablotours.asp).
Learn more about the area through programs produced by the North Cascades Institute, an organization that promotes environmental stewardship through experiential learning. Programs include Base Camp, a stay-and-learn package where you can create your own itinerary and partake in family getaways, one-day natural history excursions, art classes, Skagit River tours, and special events like author readings and concerts.
By Ethan Chung
Photo Credit: Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism