• View from Sourdough Mountain Overlook  A view looking down onto Diablo Lake. Photo Credit: NPS/Michael Silverman, 2010.

    North Cascades

    National Park Washington

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  • State Route 20 closed at Mile Post 134, Ross Dam

    After a brief closure at Newhalem due to an avalanche and unstable conditions, SR 20 has re-opened to its normal winter closure point at MP 134, Ross Dam. The highway will remain closed from Ross Dam to MP 171 (Silver Star Creek) until spring re-opening. More »

  • Ross Dam Haul Road Closure Continues

    A short segment of the Ross Dam Haul Road between the Diablo Lake suspension bridge and the tunnel remains closed to public use due to continued recovery following a March 2010 landslide. The closure will remain in effect through 2014. More »

  • Notice of planned work for the Cascade River Road, fall 2014

    Visitors planning to access the park via the Cascade River Road after Labor Day should be advised that the Park Service is planning a fall closure of this road at Eldorado Creek (3 miles before the end of the road) in order to perform permanent repairs. More »

Native Peoples

Ancient native drawing
Native people of the North Cascades were hunters, fishers and gatherers who lived in a severe and changing environment. The lives of the Native people of the North Cascades were closely tied to the natural environment and vulnerable to changes in the abundance or scarcity of the resources they depended upon. The Native people lived for thousands of years in the mountain environment. They were intimately acquainted with the land -- trees, plants, animals, rivers and peaks -- all of which had names and meaning. The mountain world was their home, supplying their needs for food and shelter and providing a base for their culture. Native American interactions with the environment were flexible and adaptable to rapidly changing conditions. They used the various mountain areas for different purposes at different seasons as food-gathering and settlement needs required.
The rugged topography of the North Cascades separates two regions that contained large Native populations: the peoples of the Columbia River Basin to the east and those of the Pacific Northwest/Puget Lowlands to the west. A trade network connected and enabled them to share locally abundant resources for any materials they lacked. They traveled across mountain passes to trade. They followed ridge crests to avoid dense brush along avalanche shoots and stream bottoms.
The difficulty of travel across these rugged mountains made intimate knowledge of them extremely important. Routes to the major mountain passes were vital to indigenous peoples. Lake Chelan and Upper Skagit groups used Cascade Pass regularly as a trade route through the mountains. They called the pass Stehekin, "the way through." The Upper Skagit people reportedly cached canoes at the head of Lake Chelan to use in their trips southward down the lake. The mountains were inhabited mainly in summer and fall, when milder weather and melting snows permitted access into the high country. But reports exist that Upper Skagit might have traversed Cascade Pass in winter en route to Lake Chelan. When traveling to the east, the Chelan people crossed by way of Twisp Pass. Recent archaeological evidence indicates that Whatcom Pass might have been used by the Chilliwack and Lower Thompson Natives as a trade route across the northern end of the range. (More)
(Adapted from "Sharing the Skagit: An Educator's Guide to the Skagit River Watershed" from the North Cascades Institute. © 1993.)

Did You Know?

Grizzly bear track in North Cascades National Park (1989). Photo Credit: NPS/NOCA/Roger Christophersen

Grizzly bear tracks can be a reliable indicator of species? Grizzly bear and black bear forepaw tracks are distinct from one another and often times better than a photo of the bear to confirm an observation. So don't just look up, look down.