National park, northwestern Washington, U.S. Established in 1968 to preserve mountain snowfields, glaciers, alpine meadows, and lakes in the northern part of the Cascade Range, it covers an area of 504,781 acres (204,278 hectares). The Ross Lake National Recreation Area separates the park into two sections, the northern unit extending to the Canadian border and the southern unit adjoining the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.
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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: