North Cascades National Park is a U.S. National Park located in the state of Washington.
The park complex consists of 684,000 acres (1,069 sq mi) of the Cascade Range in four separate, yet adjoined, units: North Cascades National Park North Unit, North Cascades National Park South Unit, the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas which are managed together with the park. Several national wilderness areas and British Columbia parkland also adjoin the National Park. The park features rugged mountain peaks. Approximately 93 percent of the park was designated as wilderness in the Washington Wilderness Act of 1988, which also set aside wilderness areas in Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park.
The park had 318 glaciers with an area of 117 km² (Post et al., 1971), which is the most of any park in the lower 48 states. All the glaciers in the park have retreated significantly from 1980-2005 and the rate is increasing. The recent warmer climate has led to more summer melting and more winter melting events, reducing winter snowpack. Several glaciers in the range have melted away in the last decade. The Boston Glacier, on the north slope of Boston Peak, is the largest glacier in the park with an area of 7 km². The other large glaciers (with areas greater than 2.5 km²) are:
This park is noted for its wildlife. Due to its wilderness
nature, it is home to wolves
, and many other rare species.
Nearly all of the national park is protected as the Stephen T. Mather Wilderness
, so there are few maintained buildings and roads within the North and South units of the Park. The park is most popular with backpackers
and mountain climbers
. One of the most popular destinations in the park is Cascade Pass
, which was used as a travel route by Native Americans
. It can be accessed by a four-mile (6 km) trail at the end of a gravel road. The North and South Picket Ranges
, as well as Eldorado Peak
and the surrounding mountains, are popular with climbers due to glaciation and technical rock. Mount Shuksan
, in the northwest corner of the park, is one of the most photographed mountains in the country and the second highest peak in the park .
Another interesting way to experience the park is by boat up Lake Chelan to Stehekin. Boating, including canoeing and kayaking, as well as fishing and backcountry camping are popular on Ross Lake.
Although one gravel road open to the public enters the park, most automobile traffic in the region travels on the North Cascades Highway
(Washington State Route 20), which passes through the Ross Lake National Recreation Area
. The nearest large town on the west side of the park is Sedro-Woolley, Washington
, while Winthrop
lies to the east. Chelan
is located at the southeastern end of Lake Chelan.
- Post, A.; D. Richardson, W.V. Tangborn, and F.L. Rosselot (1971). "Inventory of glaciers in the North Cascades, Washington". USGS Prof. Paper 705-A A1–A26.