Park: North Cascades National Park
Location: Marblemount, Washington
Established: October 1968
Size: 504,781 acres
Annual visitors: 21,000
Entrance fee: free
Times visited: 5
I was completely oblivious of our nearest national park until only a couple years ago. Now that I've had the chance to explore it, I consider it one of my favourite parks, and one of the best places to venture for a weekend of hiking.
As with many of the National Parks, North Cascades was recognized first as a key location for resource extraction. Turn-of-the-century miners built many of the original roads and trails into the park and some active mines even existed in the park after it was officially protected. Thankfully the park escaped much of the logging that was rampant through the Pacific Northwest.
Since discovering the park, I have had the chance to visit on a number of occasions and for a number of purposes. Earlier this year we ventured into the park as part of our training program as we were preparing for the John Muir Trail. In May we tackled the challenging hike to Cow Heaven, and we took advantage of a long weekend to backpack along Ross Lake.
For me, North Cascades National Park is a prime example of using National Park legislation to protect and preserve wilderness. The park is only a piece of a larger complex of National Forest, National Wilderness and National Recreation areas that protect a huge swath of the Cascade mountain range.
The front country areas of the park offer scenic drives and overlooks, lakeside campgrounds, and a variety of hikes for the whole family. But the better part of the park is explored on longer, more strenuous hikes, taking you up into alpine areas and even to the toe of glaciers. To best explore this park, I encourage you to step away from the main road and plan a night out in the backcountry.
If you've had the chance to visit this park, then please share some of your experience. Do you have a favourite hike, or perhaps a favourite spot to visit in the park? Please comment below!