• 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 »

Environmental Factors

Water, Air, Earth and Fire are continually shaping and reshaping the landscape. The seemingly permanent and immovable mountains of the North Cascades are continuously rising and changing by environmental factors. Perhaps the most potent and abundant factor, water in its many forms, is what makes the North Cascades the this place of wonder. As rain and snow, water falls on the mountaintops where it is compacted into glacial ice that will carve its legacy in every stone. Eventually it melts, cascading down the mountainsides in rivulets that become streams that become rivers carrying the mountains bit by bit to the sea.

Air and Fire do their part as well. Winds whip through the valleys and whirl around the peaks invisibly shaping the land and the life upon it. Lightning strikes down out of the skies setting the forest on fire. Small, weak trees and dead wood are burned to cinders making way for new life to spring forth from the ashes. And all three elements interact with the earth, shaping and molding it, using pieces of it—large chunks of stone dragged by a glacier or tiny pieces of silt adrift in the waterways—like a chisel to carve a new work of art from the land.

Humankind's mark does not go unnoticed either. Everything we do affects the park in ways both great and small; from our pollution to the non-native species we introduce to our efforts at preservation. Park scientists and policy makers work continuously to monitor these impacts and protect the natural wonder of the park.

Did You Know?

Cascading stream

The North Cascades are well known for the abundant waterfalls that lace the mountains. Two of the best known waterfalls are Gorge Falls between Newhalem and Diablo along State Route 20 and Rainbow Falls in the Stehekin Valley.