North Cascades National Park Complex

Trip Start May 06, 2010
Trip End Oct 14, 2010

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Where I stayed
Darrington Motor Inn

Flag of United States  , Washington
Saturday, June 26, 2010

I visited North Cascades National Park today.  My first stop was the Visitor Center, with is not actually in the park.  It is in the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, which is another part of the North Cascades National Park Complex.  The complex is comprised of the two national park,the North Unit and the South Unit and the Ross Lake and the Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. About 93% of the national park is also designated as the Stephen Mather Wilderness Area. 

The national park was not created until 1968.  The North Cascades is extremely rugged territory with over 300 glaciers and steep rocky slopes.  In spite of the ruggedness, the area underwent a lot of abuse before it became a national park.  The entire complex has been clear-cut with the exception of a number of small areas where it was just too hard to get the lumber out.  There was a gold rush in the 1800's and trails were cut to haul in equipment and mines were dug.  A river between the two units of the park has been dammed in several spots for hydroelectric power and power lines run from the power plants to Seattle.  About 30% of the glacial ice has melted since 1850 and the shrinkage has been accelerating.  Several of the animals in the park are threatened or endangered.  In spite of all this the park still looks wild when you get away from the roads and don't look too closely.

Since most of the national park is wilderness area it's hard to get to the actual park.  There is one dirt road that extends into the park for a few miles.  All other access is by boat or on foot.

After going to the Visitor Center I went to a couple waterfalls along the road that runs between the North and South Units.  One of them is near one of the hydro plants so I visited it too.  I stopped at a number of overlooks and took some short hikes.  I then headed  dirt into the park on the only road.  By the time I reached the end it was too late to hike any of the trails so I took some pictures and then headed back to the hotel.

I had intended to go into the park tomorrow and then start driving to Prince Rupert, BC tomorrow night but there are a number of things that I haven't had a chance to take care of that I may do instead.

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